OHE March 18, 2000 (Kuliouou to Manoa super hike)

Date: Sat, 18 Mar 2000 21:14:30 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu)
Subject: Kuliouou to Manoa (3/18/00)

I'm happy to report today's HTMC hike went well, with all who participated making it to the end point on Alani Drive in Manoa. Club members joining me for the outing were Dave Webb, Liz Wolff, Dave Waller, Steve Haus, Rich Jacobson, Hermann and Myra Dombrowski, Don Piburn, Janice Nako-Piburn, Steve Poor, Peter Kempf, Robb Geer, Dick and Brenda Cowan, and Justin Ohara. I was especially pleased that six of the above were Super Hike first-timers. Good to have some new faces on these treks.

Except for a few folks who drove directly to Kuliouou, our contingent met in Manoa at 7 this morning then carpooled to Kala'au Place in Kuliouou Valley to start the hike. We were on the trail right around 8 a.m. The route the majority of us used to ascend to the Ko'olau summit was the Kuliouou Valley trail and then a steep trail that climbed to the west ridge of Kuliouou. For sake of reference, we called this the Kuliouou waterfall trail, for a small part of the climb involves scrambling up a waterfall chute, which thankfully was devoid of water today. The ascent beyond the chute provided a heck of workout and the danger level is relatively low since the ridge climbed is broad and includes multitudes of hand and footholds via trees and rocks. One steep rockface is encountered en route, and a blue rope is there for assistance.

On the way up, I thought of L'Alpe D'Huez, a notorious climb which often makes or breaks riders in the annual Tour de France bicycle race. The climb to Kuliouou west via the waterfall trail is similar in that it is steep and unrelenting. Nobody cracked on today's ascent, which isn't always the case on L'Alpe D'Huez, where riders have been known to abandon the Tour. But I digress.

Brisk, refreshing tradewinds and high overcast conditions were the order of the day, and we all moved along at a relatively speedy clip as a result of the cool, pleasant conditions. This was in contrast to last Saturday's steamy, windless outing where suffering was the order of the day, at least for me.

In order of their appearance along the summit section were Kulepeamoa, Hawaii Loa (marked by trail sign), Wailupe Middle, Wiliwilinui (trail sign), Waialae Nui, Kainawa'aunui (end of Lanipo trail), Palikea (east ridge of Ka'au), west ridge of Ka'au, Mount Olympus, sedan rock, and Manoa Middle Ridge.

Hikers today moved along so speedily that the lunchspots were either at Kainawa'aunui or Palikea. If some of the leaders wanted to, they might have reached Olympus in time for lunch at noon! In fact, I'm sure some of the faster ones could have made it to Konahuanui and then returned to Manoa via Aihualama well before dark. Without a doubt, there are many strong hikers in the club.

During lunch (roughly between 11:45 and 12:15), clouds rolled in from the windward side , creating partial white-out conditions on the summit. The wind also picked up a bit, throwing some folks off balance. I should note I am pleased no one complained, at least when I was nearby, about the generally brushy state of the trail along the summit (I have disdain for whiners). In fact, the most frequent comment throughout the day was "Great hike!" I was happy about that.

By the time I reached the start of the climb to Olympus, the clouds had blown by for a spell. Resting at the summit were two hikers who'd come up the Wa'ahila trail. In the small-world department, one of the two was Keith Minn, a small-kid-time friend of HTMC president Grant Oka. We chatted with Keith for a few minutes--an interesting guy, for sure.

On the ewa-facing side of Olympus is the junction with the Olympus-Castle trail (Wing Ng's baby). Water was staged there last Sunday for anyone who might need some supplemental H20 today. All the water was consumed today. Much thanks to the folks who hauled it up last week and who helped carry out empty bottles today.

At the junction, five folks opted to head down Wa'ahila Ridge and then Kolowalu to return to the cars in Manoa. Meanwhile, everyone else continued on along the summit, negotiating sedan rock and the ironwood razor without a hitch. From the ironwoods, the climb to Manoa Middle's summit takes ten to fifteen minutes. I assured everyoned the left-hand turn to descend Manoa Middle would be unmistakable, given the evident swath and multitude of ribbons there. And everyone found it okay.

Between 1 and 1:30, we were pelted with a short, intense rainshower. On the one hand, I was worried the rain would create slippery and potentially dangerous conditions on the summit and during the descent into Manoa. However, I also was glad for the rain since Oahu has received virtually none during the last month. Today's rain didn't last long, and the trail never became slick. The precipitation, though not much, was still welcome.

Because of some extensive hiker traffic during the past month, the trail down Manoa Middle is now well-defined. I hope at some point the club will use the route for an annual outing, perhaps as a loop incorporating Kolowalu, Olympus, and the stretch along the summit. From members of the club's leadership team, I've heard both support and opposition to the idea, so I'm not sure what will happen. We'll see.

One of the curiosities of the Middle Ridge is a rope that extends down a steep slope toward Waiakeakua Stream. I mentioned in a recent narrative that I might check to see if this rope leads to a route down to Waiakeakua Stream. And today I did check this out and found a steep trail with ample handholds leading down to the Waiakeakua Stream trail. The descent from ridgetop to stream trail took five minutes, and in another ten minutes, I passed the Gladstone Wright memorial stone and the small, tranquil pool (sparkling clear today) a minute downstream of it. Since it was overcast and a bit breezy, I decided against a dip. However, Don did take the plunge and reported feeling invigorated as a result.

For others descending Manoa Middle, I'd recommend using the rope route to get to the stream. This way avoids the dark bamboo grove and is faster and more direct. I should point out that the point where the rope trail meets the stream trail is unmarked (and I didn't flag it today), so I'm uncertain if I could find the way up from the stream trail if I went there again. What is clear is someone uses the rope trail to access Manoa Middle. What they do when the get to the ridge, I'm not sure.

The last group completed the 10-mile outing by 4:45. Mahalo to Dick, Brenda, and Dave Webb for providing rides to those of us who'd left vehicles on the Kuliouou end. Much thanks to Mabel Kekina and her trail maintenance crew for their work on the Olympus and middle ridge trails. Nice job by all the hikers who were on hand today.

Hike on,


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