OHE March 16, 1998

Date: Mon, 16 Mar 1998 21:55:05 -1000
From: Nathan Yuen (nyuen@lava.net>
Subject: Koolau Summit Ridge From Waimano

Went with the trail-clearing crew of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club yesterday to the Ko'olau Summit Ridge by way of the Waimano Trail. Much of the initial portion of the trail parallels an irrigation ditch that periodically enters small tunnels bored into the rock which permit the ditch to carry water around geological features that would otherwise interrupt the flow. Those of us who felt particularly adventurous "spelunkered" through these subterranean passages which ranged from 50 feet to 1500 feet in length. Standing tall in some while hunched over in others in the dark black passageways, I managed to snap a few pictures in these tunnels which yielded some previously unseen things growing inside when I viewed them for the very first time.

As we hiked further into Waimano and crossed two of the streambeds that meander across the valley floor, we noted that except for where the deepest pools reside, the streams of Waimano are completely dry! Only the hardiest of tiny fish are swimming in the ever-shrinking remnants of the once mighty pools. Alas... El Nino is taking a major toll on the ecology of our streams.

Anyway, as we pushed onward, we ascended through a series of switchbacks which provided a magnificent view of the Waianae Mountains off in the distance. As we continued towards the top of the Koolau Summit Ridge, several sections of the trail were overgrown with Australian Tea! Hacking at the larger ones with machetes and pulling the smaller ones out by the roots, the plants so choked the area that our efforts barely made a difference. We will undoubtedly have to return to Waimano to continue this effort.

As we began the final ascent to the top, the trail meandered back and forth through several folds in the mountain until... we reached summit! Wow! Overlooking lush green Waihee Valley, the strong summit breeze felt refreshingly cool against our faces. From this vantage point some 2100 feet above the windward coastline, I took several snapshots of the incredible shades of azure, teal, and aquamarine that blend ever-so-subtly into the dark blue color of the deep blue ocean. Especially charming were the many sand bars, fishponds, and off-shore islands of Kaneohe Bay (Mokoli'i--Chinaman's Hat, Moku O Loe--Coconut Island, Moku Manu, and Kipapa)! What a magnificent sight! As we dangled our legs over the edge of the precipice, we ate our lunches and watched the wind blow a large cloud bank looming off in the distance towards us. With a matter of half-an-hour, the summit ridge was completely enshrouded by clouds.

After completing lunch we headed back down the trail to continue the effort to remove the Australian Tea. Fortunately for us, the clouds provided much needed respite from the bright hot sun as we toiled. After removing a considerable (but insignificant in the larger scheme) amount of these pesky plants from the trail, we headed back. Returning back the way we had come, I was pleased as ever to have seen the magnificent views from the top. Waimano has got to be one of my favorite hikes--a trek I will undoubtedly make many times again.

If any of you would like to see snapshots from within the neat tunnel system along the Waimano trail, views of lush green Waihee Valley from the Koolau Summit, and the sandbars, fishponds, and off-shore islands of Kaneohe Bay from high-above on the edge of the mountains, point your web browser to:

http://www.lava.net/~nyuen/hiking/waimano


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