OHE March 15, 2000 (Pat's Labor of Love)

Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 15:58:57 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (ohulehule@yahoo.com)
Subject: Labor of Love in the Northern Ko'olaus

This past Saturday, March 11, I decided to sojourn in an area recently cleared by the HTM trail clearers, a day before the actual clubhike (Pupukea-La'ie), to do some touch-up work and attempt to reopen a few of the overgrown leeward sections of the Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST) between the La'ie and Malaekahana trails.

I drove to Po'ohaili St. in La'ie and parked on the grass near a baseball field. Enticed by the completely clear Ko'olau summit ridge, I started tramping mauka at 8:21 a.m. Steamy conditions prevailed due to a lack of trade winds together with an abundance of blue sky and sunshine. I reached a gate (the beginning of the La'ie hike) ten minutes later, and not far on the trail I caught up to and passed a small jovial group of local young people on their way to the falls. Once at the beautiful Norfolk Island pine grove, I sat down for a breather at 9:06 a.m.

After the break and further ahead, a short distance below the junction with the falls trail, I encountered two young attractive wahines on their way back to civilization, having enjoyed the pools for a time and who had started hiking at 7:30 a.m. I said hello to them, but, for some reason, the second gal was rather rude. Must have been due to the fact that I'm haole, older (35) and suffer from frontal balding, so I look like a total dumb ass (donkey!). :-( :-( :-(

Pressing on, I passed the junction with the falls trail without pausing at 9:35 a.m. From there, I began recognizing the recent (and terrific!) job of clearing the HTM trail maintenance crew had done and an increase in native vegetation; specifically, koa, ohi'a lehua and ohi'a papa trees, tall loulu palms.

At 10:06 a.m. I reached the point on the footpath where the trail crosses over from the left side of the ridge to the right as one faces mauka, and, in slightly more than half an hour, found myself sitting inside the foxhole on the Ko'olau summit (elev. 2,240 ft). For a few minutes I enjoyed the superb panorama of the hazy but recognizable Wai'anae Range featuring massive Mount Ka'ala, the Wahiawa Plain and the northshore between Hale'iwa and Ka'ena Pt. to leeward and the La'ie coast including Mokuauia (Goat Island) and Laniloa (La'ie Point).

Leaving the foxhole behind, I headed north in search of overgrown leeward sections of the KST. I found the first just beyond a prominent group (line) of a dozen tall loulu palms on the summit ridge (unless the crest is socked in, the landmark is easily distinguished in the distance from the foxhole), and cleared it of uluhe, guava, and woody clidemia hirta. The final touches involved blocking each end of the windward bypass trail with guava sticks and tying "hot" pink ribbon to tree limbs leading to the original route so that hikers would switch to leeward instead of tramping on the native flora of the windward facing slope. I worked part way through a few other leeward sections up to and beyond the junction with the Malaekahana trail, but came to realize that they are far too choked with uluhe for one person to clear.

Backtracking to the Malaekahana terminus, I paused to study the wooden, celtic green trail signs placed there by Mike Algiers. Nice job, Mike!

Upon arriving at the La'ie/KST junction at 1:45 p.m. I decided to explore another region prior to commencing the return leg of the La'ie hike. I continued south on the KST for half a mile until reaching the Kawailoa camping area.

First, I paid a visit to the small waterfall a short distance from the campsite to windward of the marsh and dead Australian tea grove. Only one problem - the waterfall wasn't flowing! Nevertheless, I did obtain a liter of water from a pool at the base of the dormant cascade. Next, I traveled to the top of the helipad (elev. 2,360 ft and the terminus of the Kawailoa Ridge Trail) where I sat down to hydrate and take in the leeward views at 2:20 p.m. By now, dark, high overcast clouds had moved in causing the temperature to drop, a welcome relief from the high humidity of the morning and midday.

Continuing west, I ventured down the graded contour Kawailoa Ridge Trail built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). It had been over a year since I last hiked the trail from start to finish (January 2, 1999 to be exact), and I remembered the worst part being just prior to the relatively open, final half mile to the helipad. Therefore, I decided to invest what little time I had left before I needed to be back at La'ie to improve the bad section. Prior to reaching it, I noticed fresh boot prints in the mud. They looked only days old and were heading down the trail. "Had someone hiked Kawailoa recently?!" I asked in utter astonishment.

After a sharp bend in the footpath, I encountered a thicket of guava trees and woody clidemia. "This is it!" I told myself as I halted to remove saw, loppers and bolo knife from my pack. For the next hour, I created a swath through the guava, trimmed woody in-your-face clidemia to the nub, and hiked for about a mile beyond the bad segment on the surprisingly obvious contour trail. Long pants are highly recommended, however.

Finding no other blockages, I turned around at 4:01 p.m. and started heading back to the Ko'olau summit. At 5:13 p.m. I reached the La'ie/KST junction and kept moving. Finally, I approached the pat-mobile at 7:15 p.m., darkness having already set in.


Stuart Ball writes "Kawailoa is a bear of a hike through extremely wild and rugged terrain." and "The Kawailoa Ridge Trail receives little or no maintenance."* Although rarely used, Kawailoa has a special place in my heart. It is a classic CCC trail constructed with incredible human effort. The next time HTM conducts a campout at Palama Uka, perhaps I can talk some people (the botonists?) into joining me for a day hike of Kawailoa.


* Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE HIKERS GUIDE TO O'AHU. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1993.

== Paka

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