OHE March 22, 1999 (Mauumae to Laulaupoe)

Date: Mon, 22 Mar 1999 07:19:39 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Mau`umae to Laulaupoe

I remember reading somewhere that luck favors the bold. While "bold" could be an appropriate adjective to describe the HTMC trail clearing gang, "lucky" surely applies, especially during yesterday's trail maintenance outing.

Yesterday's hike-n-chop bullseye was the Lanipo trail, and over two dozen fortunate folks turned out despite windy, rainy conditions. A handful of us met initially at the end of Hao Street in Wailupe Valley, left some vehicles there, and then carpooled up to Maunalani Heights to begin the maintenance trek. Our stated objective was to clear the trail atop Mauumae Ridge (aka Lanipo) and once we reached the Koolau summit at Kainawa`aunui (elev. 2,520), we'd head east on the crest to the summit of Wiliwilinui and then descend to Wailupe Valley via two different routes.

When we shoved off at 8:20, the likelihood of a pleasant outing looked bleak since we were pummelled by wind gusts in the 40+ MPH range and dampened by sheets of rain sailing makai. However, as good fortune would have it, after about a half hour, the winds diminished and the rain disappeared. In fact, high clouds kept the temps so comfortable I only had to drink a half liter of water on the ascent, a quarter of what I normally gulp down while on a ridge hike on a normal tradewind day.

The trail was also in fairly decent condition, with no significant blockages and not-too-slippery footing. To make the trail easier to navigate for club hikers on April 4, we cut a fair share of uluhe and clidemia. Jay Feldman and Will Kawano will coordinate the 4/4 outing (meeting time is 8 a.m. behind Iolani Palace). Feel free to join them if time, energy, and motivation permit.

Three hours after setting out, the majority of us reached Kainawa`aunui and began the eastbound crossover on the crest. The high winds of the early morning had not returned and the views to windward, leeward, and along the backbone were crystal clear, so we had ideal conditions for summit hiking. Benchmarked Pu'u Lanipo (2,621) is two humps east of Kainawa`aunui, and the distance along the crest is a quarter of a mile, give or take. Based on the existing swath, this section seems to get some hiker traffic and, as a result, isn't too difficult to navigate.

From Pu'u Lanipo, the crest dips briefly then ascends to an unnamed pu'u that marks the terminus of the Waialae Nui trail (it's about .2 mi. from Lanipo to Waialae Nui). In recent years, the trail clearing gang has used Waialae Nui as a descent route after working on Mauumae Ridge, but we decided to try our luck and go for a bit more yesterday, hence the continuation to Wiliwilinui and the staging of cars on Hao Street in Wailupe Valley.

From the Waialae Nui terminus clearing, the crest dips steeply, swinging windward as it does, akin to the big eastbound drop from Olympus. The ridge also narrows in places, but if one pays attention and takes care, there'll be no problems. Looking west from Wiliwilinui, this slope looks imposing, even undoable, as does the similar slope on Olympus, but looks aren't always what they seem, and by 12:30 we were all able to make the .4 mile crossover from Waialae Nui to the Wiliwilinui summit clearing and its trademark white lawn chair. Enjoying each other's company and spectacular windward views, we plopped down at the clearing for lunch.

Normal trades and sparkling vistas never left us during our time on the crest. Few of us would have predicted that based on what the weather was like when we shoved off four hours earlier. Our luck was holding.

After lunch, a handful of folks opted to descend Wiliwilinui and then take the steep trail through guava back to Wailupe Valley and then Hao Street. The majority, on the other hand, continued another half mile east on the crest, ascending a first then a second pu'u enroute. At the latter pu'u is a junction with a trail the club uses for its Wailupe Gulch hike. It was at this junction that we ended our eastbound summit trek and headed south to descend to Wailupe Valley.

Less than 100 meters down the spur, we reached a junction and proceeded straight down Laulaupoe Ridge (to the left was the trail the club uses). Kudos to whoever opened up Laulaupoe (Brandon Stone made mention of this ridge in a December OHE-L post). The trailmaker of Laulaupoe uses trademark red cloth "ribbons," which appear to be shards of a red t-shirt, and these mark the ridge all the way down to the valley floor.

Flora-wise, Ken Suzuki and Thomas Yoza mentioned seeing an array of native plants on Laulaupoe, and those of us who opted for this descent option agreed it was much more interesting than hiking down Wiliwilinui and then taking the steep guava spur to the valley.

Before Laulaupoe bottoms out, the trail veers right and then contours mauka for a while before dropping down to a grove of Norfolk pine trees. There's a nice area for camping amongst the pines, and there's a nearby stream with some small, pretty pools.

From the pine grove, the valley trail follows the stream on its Koko Head-side bank, crosses to the Ewa-side bank just mauka of a bamboo grove, and then continues makai for a few minutes to reach the junction with the guava spur trail from Wiliwilinui. From the Wiliwilinui summit clearing to Wailupe Valley, the Wiliwilinui descent option is faster than Laulaupoe, for the group who came down Wiliwilinui had already reached the valley floor before the Laulaupoe descent group.

Everyone was out on Hao Street by 3:30. About that time, the weather deteriorated and high winds and rain, similar to what we experienced in the morning, returned. Fortunate to have completed our outing prior to the souring of the weather, we loaded into the available vehicles and headed up to Maunalani Heights where HTMC member Deetsie Chave hosted us at her home for a post-clearing gathering.

Whether by luck, good karma, or simple coincidence, we all were happy to have had the day we did.

Safe hiking,


Return to OHE top | Return to Oahu Hike Tales | Email Dayle