OHE May 11, 1998

Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 06:52:10 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Koloa-Kaipapau

A sizable army of trail clearers showed up for yesterday's HTMC maintenance outing of the loop route called Koloa-Kaipapau. Grant Oka, subbing for Joyce Tomlinson, will coordinate the club hike on May 30, Saturday. Join him if you have the time.

The infantry assembled at 8 a.m. out Hauula way at the beach park that once was the site of a CYO camp. Before we set off, several folks drove their vehicles to the end of Kawaikini Street, where we'd end the outing, and were shuttled back to the park by trail boss Mabel Kekina.

Once the drivers were back, Mabel debriefed us about our battle plans and sent us off to invade the hills. That done, down Kamehameha Highway we marched, bound for the head of the Koloa trail. A couple hundred yards from the park toward Laie is a dirt road heading mauka. Just around the bend in the highway is Pounder's Beach so if you get that far you've overshot the mark.

The dirt road terminates at a turnaround area with a flagpole and a memorial to a Boy Scout who perished in a flash flood in Koloa Stream. After the memorial, the trail commences through a corridor of buffalo grass. The gate at the trailhead is no longer there. I'm not sure why.

In a few minutes we left the buffalo grass pasture behind and began a steady climb up Koloa ridge, much which is badly scarred by erosion. A couple ridges over to the right was Laie, easily recognizable by its large pine grove. In two weeks, Pat Rorie and Gene Robinson will ascend Laie to begin their epic Laie to Moanalua hike-of-all-hikes.

As for the trail clearing army, we didn't need to do much work until the route veered off the ridgecrest and contoured to the left down into A'akaki'i Gulch. At one point, we reached a junction where we were supposed to turn left and begin climbing steeply up an ironwood-covered slope. I was leading at the time and missed this left turn and took the lead group on another trail further up A'akaki'i. About 100 yards into this interlude we encountered pig hunters and their pack of assorted pitbulls and poi dogs heading makai. They were pigless but didn't appear too concerned about that.

A couple minutes after the meeting with the hunters, whistles and shouts advised us to backtrack because of my mistaken turn. Bill Gorst later told me that continuing up A'akaki'i would eventually have led us to a route to the Koolau summit on the west ridge of Kaipapau Gulch. Back in February, several of us went up a good ways on the east ridge of Kaipapau when we worked on the HTMC Hauula Uka route. From both sides, there are fantastic views into the gulch.

After backtracking (I was the butt of jokes regarding my wrong turn), we began ascending the ironwood slope. As we neared its top, the real work began. Uluhe and guava were assaulted by the machete-wielding troops and as we pressed forward, a clear swath was left in our wake. About 10:45, meeting less resistance from the enemy than anticipated, we reached the high point of the loop (elev. ~1,300 ft.). Since it was so early, Pat Rorie, Bill Gorst, and I decided to follow a mauka-extending ridge for a bit while the others opted to head makai to continue the uluhe attack on the other half of the loop.

For Pat, Bill and I, the going was fairly smooth and we found recent branch cuttings indicating that someone had pushed through in the last couple months. The ridge undulated in a gentle Koolau rollercoaster fashion and on it was an increased quantity of native plants including lama, sandalwood, naupaka, ohia, and koa. The views to the left into upper Kaipapau Gulch were marvelous.

After moving through a gentle saddle, we climbed to an open dike section marked by several large boulders (Bill had decided to turn back by this time). There were super views to the left down into Kaipapau Gulch at that point.

About 80 yards mauka of the boulders, the ridge dipped to a considerable saddle then climbed up to intersect the main west ridge of Kaipapau. Pat went down into the saddle while I waited. After a few minutes, he returned to my position and we decided to retreat instead of pushing any further upridge. A posthike topo map review revealed that we were still two miles (3 to 4 hours) away from the Koolau crest at a topping-out point about a mile south of the end of the Kawailoa trail and Pu'u Kainapua'a.

On the return leg, we hacked at guava and Christmas berry branches to open up the trail for future considerations. In fact, after completing the hike, we suggested to Mabel that the club consider extending the loop to include the section Pat, Bill, and I explored and beyond. She seemed open to the suggestion.

Pat and I ended our 1-hour-plus sidetrip at 11:55 and began making our way down the loop trail, now hacked wide open by the battalion of trail clearers in front of us. A few minutes later we caught sight of them downslope from the top of an eroded pu'u with a superb view of the ridge below and the Laie and Hauula coastline beyond it. Beautiful.

By 12:15, we rejoined the troops who told us they had finished lunch at noon. While the majority in attendance worked their way down a gully and a switchback section through Christmas berry, eight of us continued makai on the ridge to a bunker at the 518 point on the topo map. The bunker was marked with graffiti but not the typical vulgar variety. Someone suggested the lack of profanities on the bunker walls was a consequence of being "in the heart of Mormon country." Maybe so.

Pat and I used the bunker pitstop to eat lunch while the others talked story and enjoyed the view. When a rain squall approached, we all retreated into the bunker to wait it out. While the short shower passed, we discussed, among other things, Mauna Loa, with stories about past treks and possible future outings up the long mountain.

After the squall blew by, we backtracked upridge for 10 minutes and then descended the gully and switchback trail the gang in front of us had cleared nicely.

We reached Kawaikini Street at 1:45 where Kost Pankiwskyj's truck and Ken Suzuki's car were waiting to ferry the final eight a mile back to the beach park. Our comrades in machetes were waiting for us at the park and we enjoyed our traditional post-clearing snacks and cold drinks.

A successful battled waged.

Aloha and safe hiking to all.


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