OHE March 8, 1999 (Waiahole Ditch)

Date: Mon, 8 Mar 1999 10:41:59 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@mailhost.k12.hi.us>
Subject: The Waiahole Ditch Trail

Played hookie from trail clearing yesterday (3/7) to check out a trail which could be used in a future super hike.

After meeting with hikers at Iolani Palace to give them directions to the HTM Peacock Flats to Mount Ka'ala Lookout event, I sped off to windward Oahu, drove along the coast and entered Waiahole Valley. 2.5 miles into the valley I parking in the driveway of the uppermost homestead (Doug Klein acquired special permission for me to do so - he may appear to be a gruff fellow but deep inside he's a really terrific person).

Continued on foot at 9:05 a.m. crossing a gate and entering a heavily forested region with a stream on the left. Tramped gradually up a dirt road until I reached its terminus (about twenty minutes later). Mabel Kekina had told me to look for a ridge marked with ribbons that she and a group of trail clearers had explored in October of last year.

Unable to find the ridge I poked around for the Waiahole Ditch Trail, a graded contour footpath that winds in and out of gullies from Waiahole Valley to the west end of Kahana Valley. It wasn't hard to find and at 9:40 a.m. I began traveling on the trail bound for the true Waikane Saddle (a low point on the ridge which separates Waikane and Kahana Valleys). Considering its age the initial section was in remarkably good shape with only a few low bridges (blown down trees one must duck under) and the obvious thoroughfare of pig hunters (dog tracks in the mud, occasional rubbish hanging on trees). Sheets of rubble from small landslides had to be carefully negotiated, however.

At approx. 10 a.m. I arrived at the point where the footpath crosses the ridge which represents the boundary of Waiahole and Waikane. Noticed an abundance of hala trees along the footpath as I contoured above Waikane Valley. Twenty minutes later in the back of a deep gully I entered a small cave which had a locked gate inside, the rushing waters of the Waiahole Ditch very apparent. Exited the cave and worked in and out of three more gullies.

Huge fifty foot tall kukui, albezia and guava trees lined the trail and during most of the trek oceanward views were obstructed by the branches and leaves of surrounding trees. Although infrequent, I did enjoy nice overlooks of lush, pristine Waikane Valley with Pu'u Pueo of Ohulehule's southeast ridge in the background.

Eventually, I encountered stretches where the footpath was heavily damaged by landslides and overgrown with vegetation but not impassable. Dropped down to a dirt road which originates off of Waikane Valley Road and passed the remains of Waikane Camp around the next bend.

A short distance ahead and at approx. 11:42 a.m. I reached the flume. Took a short break to hydrate then regained the ditch trail. Unlike the previous sections of the trail, I spent quality time clearing obstacles (i.e. lopping guava branches, sawing blow downs asunder).

Found myself on the Waikane Saddle atop its apex eating lunch and taking pleasure from the excellent panorama featuring massive Mount Ohulehule dead ahead and Waikane Valley stretched out toward Kaneohe Bay on the right a few minutes after 1 p.m.

Following lunch I opted to work on the lower part of the Waikane contour trail rather than heading for the Ko'olau summit primarily because of socked in conditions on the summit ridge. From 1:37 p.m. until nearly 3 p.m. I labored engaging almost exclusively in the tedious task of lopping clidemia one stem at a time. At the first overlook I proceeded no further and gazed up at the summit crest now clear of clouds recognizing the Schofield-Waikane terminus, the KST cut magnificently into the summit ridge, Pu'u Pauao and Pu'u Ka'aumakua.

Backtracked to the saddle, put my tools away and started down the ditch trail at 3:25 p.m. Retraced my steps to Waiahole Valley and approached the pat-mobile at 6:15 p.m.

== Paka

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