OHE March 1, 1999 (Schofield-Waikane sideroute)

Date: Mon, 1 Mar 1999 09:43:10 -1000
From: "STONE, J. BRANDON" (802005%cchpd@co.honolulu.hi.us>
Subject: schofield masochism/ohe-l


I make this report not to tempt you into a trip that you might regret, but merely for the sake of tying up loose threads. If you might be lured into perdition merely by reading this account, then by all means stop right now: you have been forewarned.

Last November, I mentioned a couple of sidetrails that descend from the Schofield-Waikane Trail, one towards the North Fork and the other towards the South Fork of the Kaukonahua. Dayle had also noted these, but no one, to our knowledge, had tried them. These trails are about an hour from the S-W trailhead and 45 minutes beyond the well-known turnoff to the north which HTMC uses for its Kaukonahua hike. The one leading north starts descends the spur which is just after a "1600'" marker on the topo and which runs north between the "V" and "E" of the word RESERVE. The trail is obvious if you're looking for it, and if you descend it, you will soon find our pink ribbons.

We wanted to do an exploratory overnighter, so down that sidetrail we went. It cruised pretty easily and obviously along the crest of the spur for ten or fifteen minutes and I assumed it would just keep on going, all the way down to the main strean. But NOOOO! It took a sharp right and dove off the crest of the spur down into a gully on the right. We chose to follow it, rather than bushwhacking forward. It looked so genuine, we figured it must go somewhere interesting. As we descended steeply but safely because of ample handholds, we started running into overgrowth that sometimes completely obscured the trail. At one point we had to get around a little waterfall. It was too dangerous to slide down the dry watercourse, but the trail appeared to end. After much fumbling around, I finally broke through solid uluhe and picked up the trail again, skirting to the right on the other side of the steep watercourse. Down some more, until we finally made our way to an intersection with another tiny, flowing streamlet coming in from the right. Right at that point we found an interesting lobeliod. No flowers or fruits, though, so unless one of my friends can ID it from my photos, I won't know what it is. Also, in that same area we started seeing groves of native white hibiscus. It was practically the dominant tree in the area, sharing that distinction with hame, koa, and 'ohia. We also saw at least two somewhat unusual Labordia trees. (And in order to get all the botany out of the way, we saw native orchids and an Ochrosia near the trailhead.)

We followed the flowing streamlet down its course, crossing back and forth, fighting through horrible tangles of Clidemia and thimbleberry. Oddly, we still saw occasional traces of a very clear trail, though not one trail marker. I noted in particular a guava tree that had obviously been sawed off by someone. We persevered, and finally got to a still-larger stream coming in from the right. Only fifty feet or so downstream from that junction, we decided we had to stop and set up camp, about 30' up on the hillside on a little shelf. By dark, we were exhausted, but we had eaten a good meal, we were warm and dry, the sky was clear, and there were few mosquitoes even in this very narrow cleft where we had made our home. The nearly-full moon was straight overhead when I got out in the middle of the night.

Next morning, I was aware first of one bird, then a whole chorus joined in within minutes. I'm not able to ID these from their calls, but I wondered how many of them might be natives. After breakfast, we got packed up and then headed straight up the slop behind our camp, trying to gain a vantage point so we could see where we were and how far it was to the main stream. I eventually got a view, and I think I know where we were. My guess is that it would have taken a lot more slogging to get to the main stream by continuing along the little streamlet beside which we had camped.

We left the campsite around 11am, and the sunny trip back up into the gully and above to the S-W trail went surprisingly quickly; it only took an hour. It went much more quickly than the previous day because we had already broken through the weeds and marked the trail, and we were not stopping much to look at plants. We ate lunch at the junction with the S-W trail. By 12:45 we were hiking out, and we arrived back at the car by around 2:30pm.

While we had a great time and found some interesting plants, we didn't get to the type of genuine destination that I prefer, the kind of place that says, "Stop. You are here. This is home." That kind of place usually has a lovely pool and an open feel to it if it's in a valley, or tremendous views if it's on a ridge. We only got to a place that said, "OK, you can stay one night if you must, but don't get too comfortable."

I am baffled as to who might have made the trail and why. Crazy botanists? Hunters? The military? I have no idea. Might it once have led to a more compelling destination? Who knows. I couldn't understand why, even down in the dankest recesses of the gully, there were spots where the trail was quite easy to follow, though the overgrowths of uluhe in other spots meant that no one could have been down there in months, if not years. I guess pigs might be doing some of the trail tending, but they certainly didn't make this trail in the first place.

So, if you're interested in some punishment, you now have another place to go. And if you make it all the way out of the gully to the main stream, please let me know. If you are of sound mind and body, however, you might just want to forget you read this.


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