OHE 3/24/97

On Friday (3/21), I began a 10-day vacation (Spring Break!!) and celebrated the occasion by hiking up Hawaii Loa ridge with Doug Walker, a '66 Punahou grad now living and working in New York as a hospital administrator. Prior to returning to Oahu for a R&R trip, he emailed me to set up a hike.

He decided on Hawaii Loa since it provides a decent workout without getting dicey. And Friday's weather was sparkling clear, adding to the enjoyment. Once we reached the top, I suggest an exploratory sojourn along the summit toward Wiliwilinui. Doug declined, so I pushed my way through for 10 minutes solo before backtracking.

Pu'u Kalena was penciled in for Saturday but that trek was scratched for another weekend. Hopefully, time and schedule will permit us to head up Schofield way to scale Kumakalii (2572) and then Oahu's second highest peak (3504).

With Kalena a no-go, Plan B for Saturday was to hike up the Bowman shortcut trail to Kahuauli then continue along the spine to Keahiakahoe and then descend the Haiku Stairs. Then I got a call from my buddy Bill Melemai inviting me to join him and his ohana at Palama Uka out in the leeward Koolaus between Helemano and Haleiwa. So Palama Uka it would be.

I met Bill them at the camp, getting there on the military's Paalaa Uka Pupukea road (dirt) via Helemano Military Reservation. Bill and his family drove up on Opaeula Road, the traditional route to the camp from Haleiwa.

Bill's son Willie, 12, and Bill's nephew Keoni, 10, accompanied me on an exploratory hike down a steep ridge that tops out at the northwest corner of the Palama Uka grounds and descends about a third of a mile to Kawai Iki Stream.

The descent took longer than anticipated because after the initial 60-70 yards, the trail disappeared and we had to slide and hack our way downslope. About 150 yards from the river, we encountered a 20-foot rocky cliff that we negotiated with the help of a rope I brought along.

When we reached the river, I told the boys that instead of returning to the camp the way we came, we'd head downstream until we reached the point where Paalaa Uka Pupukea road crossed it on a bridge at the bottom of a valley. I figured that we could reach the bridge in about 30 minutes (we actually made it in 20). Along the way, we passed a beautiful and inviting swimming hole at the base of a towering, overhanging rock wall.

After reaching the bridge, we returned to Palama Uka in 20-25 minutes on the heavily rutted gravel and dirt road, which ascended steeply out of the valley.

On Sunday, I joined the HTMC clearing crew atop Maunalani Heights to prepare the Lanipo trail for an upcoming club hike. The initial plan was to hike up and clear Lanipo, traverse the summit crest, and descend the adjacent Waialae Nui ridge. A lingering rainstorm and heavy cloud cover on the slopes forced us to scrub the jaunt along the spine and the Waialae Nui descent.

But we did slosh and chop our way up Lanipo, finally stopping and turning back at the 3.5-hour mark at about the point where the trail makes its final steep climb to the summit. The clouds were so thick that we never saw the main Koolau ridge nor Palolo Valley for the duration of the hike.

I talked to a HTMC trail gang member, Patrick Rorie, who told me that on 3/22, he and a buddy had climbed Ohulehule via a Kahana Valley approach, making it to the top just short of three hours. Patrick said he and his friend had hacked down some clidemia at the top so that a view is now possible. They even briefly explored a path that headed down Ohulehule's southeast ridge, called by Stuart Ball as the most dangerous route on Oahu.

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