OHE March 15, 1998 (c)

Date: Sun, 15 Mar 1998 16:46:46 -1000
From: ALEX H OKIHARA (OKIHARA@prodigy.net>
Subject: Waianae Kaala / Waianae Kai

Date:  Sunday, February 15, 1998
Hike:  Waianae Kaala / Waianae Kai
Party:  Wayne Shibata, Alex Okihara
Weather:  Sunny and clear
Time Started:  7:45 AM
Time Finished:  4:30 PM
Round trip duration:  7 hours, 45 minutes
Time to Peak:  2 hours, 45 minutes

The Story:

Since two people (who normally like to sleep in) cancelled on me today, I decided that it would be good if we started out on the hike a little earlier than usual. So I woke up at 5:30 AM to gather my gear and pick Wayne up at 6:00 AM. I wanted to get to Kaala before the clouds did.

Along the way to the Waianae side, we stopped for our traditional hiking meal of zip pacs, which I now order by phone to save time. I also stopped for some apples, bananas, and salt and vinegar chips (yum yum!). After all of our pit stops, we were finally on our way to Kaala.

After turning right onto Waianae Valley Road from Farrington Highway, we started paying very close attention to the directions in the Hiker's Guide. At a bus turnaround area marked by white curbing, we turned left onto a one-lane road.

The book then says that the pavement would end and start up again. We looked for this point. Up and up we drove, further into the valley. We looked for any clues that would tell us that we were on the right path (junctions, signs, the water tank), but we found nothing. We finally ended up at a sign that read: Waianae Hunting Area (or something like that). Ahead, a locked gate stood in our path. I wasn't convinced that we were on the right path. So we doubled back to check out another road at the beginning. No luck. We headed back to the Hunting Area.

As we headed back, I noticed a water tank that was on the left side. The water tank was beyond the gate. We parked on the side of the road before the gate, and checked-in in the Hunter/ Hiker check-in mailbox. It was 7:45 AM.

We grabbed our gear and walked around the gate. After 5 minutes of walking uphill on a concrete road, we reached the water tank on the left. Fifteen minutes later, we reached the first pair of concrete structures. Ten minutes later, we reached the second pair of concrete structures. The locked gate costed us half an hour.

As we headed up past the second pair of concrete buildings, I noticed that the air was very sweet smelling. I don't know what was causing it, but it smelled good! It was very invigorating. Up we went, encountering several side-trails. We paid close attention to the directions in the Hiker's Guide. At the 40 minute mark, we reached the first utility pole. Ten minutes later, we reached an open section marked by many ferns. There is a nice lookout point here, and you can see what I believe to be Ohikilolo. We took a short break for water and pictures.

Continuing on, the ridge narrowed, and we took a left down into a gully. We then crossed the streambed and arrived at point B. It was about an hour from the bottom where we parked the car.

From here, it was all uphill. Very steep and tiring. As I looked up the trail, all I could see was a steep climb. I wondered if it would ever end. Finally, it did. It took us about half an hour to reach the top of Kamaile'unu Ridge which is marked by 3 metal utility poles.

Looking to the left was the continuation of the Waianae Kai trail. To the right was Mt. Kaala and the bright morning sun. At this point, I was very glad that we had started out so early. We could beat the heat.

We continued on the ridge which dipped, ascended, and then leveled off momentarily. After more climbing, we reached the first set of boulders. It was about 10:00 AM. A ladder fashioned out of rope and pvc was there to assist us, along with another cable. This was the most difficult area of the trail. Once you pass this, there are no really dangerous spots.

We continued on, encountering steep climbs with more cables. Up and up we went, and before we knew it, we were at the top of Kaala. It was about 10:30 AM. Since there were no clouds up there, we decided to get a view of the north shore. We walked through the bog, out through a gate, and then crossed the road. We headed up on a trail to the left of the FAA installation just before the entrance, and got a beautiful view of the country side. Although it was clear at the top, everything looked so hazy.

We continued along the left side of the installation to see if we could get a nice view of Puu Kalena. I had to bust out my pruners to cut the blackberry bushes. After using Kurt Heilbron's pruners on the Ohulehule hike, I knew that I needed a pair for myself. They worked out very well, and I was able to make a clear path. However, the blackberry bushes fought back, and I pricked my finger when reaching deeply into the heart of a blackberry bush.

After getting a little carried away at cutting blackberry bushes, we reached two wooden poles and a lookout point of Puu Kalena. After taking some pictures, we headed back for a shady place to grind our zip pacs. All that cutting made me hungry!

We decided to eat in the shadows of several trees beside the road. It was very hot, and we only got an occasional cool breeze. There were also many bugs bugging us as we ate. I had to remove some bugs that had flown into my rice.

After eating, we decided it was time to head back down. It was 1:00 PM. We had spent about 2 and a half hours at the top (mostly because I had gotten carried away with the pruners). Along the way down, we took several more pictures of the views and of the steep parts of the trail. By 2:30 PM, we had reached the 3 utility poles. We decided to take the Waianae Kai trail, just to check it out. There were many tall trees that blocked our view of the valley along the way. However, there were some nice open sections along the way.

At about 3 PM, we reached point D of the Waianae Kai trail. We took a short break and headed back to the junction at point C. We reached point C at about 3:30 PM. By 4:30 PM, we were back at our car. I was so happy to sit back down in a chair.

Notes:

The Waianae Kaala trail is probably the fastest way to get up to Oahu's highest point. At a leisurely pace, you can reach the peak in under 3 hours. The trail isn't as dangerous as I thought it would be, and the climb isn't as long either. Before we knew it, we were at the top.

We also saw all kinds of plants including coffee, macadamia nut, and guava.


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