Date: Wed, 27 May 1998 17:23:28 -1000 From: Patrick Rorie (email@example.com> Subject: The Hike Of All Hikes - Laie to Waimano - Day 1
Twenty five years ago (April, 1973) hiking legend Silver Piliwale and a female companion traversed the Ko'olau summit crest from Pupukea to Moanalua Valley in five days to celebrate his 72nd birthday. Dayle Turner discovered a Star-Bulletin article about the trip in the Kailua library in late March of this year and posted it on the OHE-L.
Having completed all the sections in parts and with this year being the silver anniversary of Silver's trek, I decided to put together a similar trip. Gene Robinson, a swift hiker and experienced Ko'olau summit traveler, had expressed a desire to hike the entire Ko'olau Range at some point. Everything came together as the two of us set out to conquer some of the wildest and most difficult terrain on Oahu.
On Saturday morning, May 23rd, I drove to Moanalua Valley and picked up Gene at 7 a.m. sharp near the entrance to Moanalua Valley Park where we hoped to emerge four days later. The two of us then headed to Kaneohe in the pat-mobile to Dayle Turner's residence. From there Dayle drove us in his jeep cherokee to Laie. On the way I made final preps while Dayle and Gene talked about the trip.
Upon arriving at Po'ohaili Street in Laie, we proceeded to the end of a plantation (dirt) road where a new metal fence blocked further vehicular progress.
The three of us got out and Dayle assisted Gene and I as we unloaded our heavy backpacks. A few "before" photos later and at 8:21 a.m. Gene and I began moving toward the Laie Trailhead. Meanwhile, Dayle drove back to the park along Po'ohaili to meet Wing Ng (they would be doing a day hike loop of the Laie/Malaekahana Trails). The short walk to the actual trailhead was good because it allowed the two of us to get used to the weight of our packs.
Our goal for the day was to ascend the Laie Trail, contour along part of the Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST) and camp for the night at Poamoho, 12.4 miles total. It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine, a nice tradewind breeze and high puffy clouds above us, idea hiking conditions.
Gene and I steadily worked our way up the Laie Trail, first over a dirt road and then as the road narrowed, along a trail flanked by uluhe ferns and strawberry guavas. We reached a grove of lovely Norfolk Island pines at 9:08 a.m. and paused briefly to rest. Gene had never done the trail before and commented that it was beautiful and in great shape.
Pressing on, the two of us descended briefly through the last of the pines and climbed gradually, contouring along the left side of the ridge through a long stretch of strawberry guavas. The going went smoothly except for an occasional fallen tree which required us to bend down almost to the ground to get our packs underneath the obstacle. As we gained significant elevation the guavas gave way to uluhe ferns accompanied by a few loulu palms.
Gene and I stopped at a couple of open bends in the contour trail to enjoy the gorgeous views of the Laie shoreline below with the islands just off the coast. At 10 a.m. the two of us reached a junction and I pointed out the side trail leading down to Kahawainui Stream, the location of two waterfalls and a small pool. Next we passed an open stretch with a "steep cliff on the right and sharp drop-off on the left"**. Further up Gene and I dropped down into and scrambled out of a gully to cross a large landslide. A short time later, Dayle appeared on the trail some distance below us and shouted to make his presence known.
Gene and I reached the cross over point of the Laie Trail, the place where it switches from the left side of the ridge to the right side, at 10:24 a.m., nearly tripping over a tent setup in the small grassy area there. Continuing on after a brief interim, the two of us moved along the trail, now a "rough wet slog"*, through native rain forest. It was a good preview of the upcoming KST. All around was "the convoluted topography of the northern Ko'olau Range"*. We saw Dayle again not far behind and Gene yelled,"Da bear, da bear!!!" in reference to the nickname (the Ko'olau Teddy Bear) given to our good friend.
At 10:53 a.m. Gene and I arrived at the KST/Laie junction marked by a wooden sign with the word "LAIE" carved into it. Brandon Stone and his female companion greeted us as we dropped our packs and took a break. Dayle joined the group a few minutes later and he and Brandon spoke as Gene and I climbed the side of a bowl in the summit ridge to the foxhole (elev. 2,240 ft). From there we took in the excellent panoramic views including the windward coast featuring the towns of Kahuku and Laie and the Wahiawa plain and the Waianae Range to leeward. A very distinct grove of tall loulu palms toward Pupukea also caught our attention.
Gene and I bid the threesome a fond farewell just before heading south on the KST at 11:15 a.m. After calling his children, Gene followed me as we contoured below a series of low hills on the summit ridge.
The subsequent 1/2-mile stretch of the trail took us to a position across from the Kawailoa Helipad, a flat-topped mound and the topping out point of the Kawailoa Ridge Trail. A collapsed wooden platform was visible on its windward side. Next Gene lead the way as we pushed through a grove of Australian tea shrubs in a marshy area, crossed a sluggish stream (potential water source), and ascended past a metal grating to the top of the helipad (elev. 2,360 ft) arriving there at 11:52 a.m.
Once again the two of us took off our packs followed by the consumption of lunch. From the helipad we faced leeward and could see "the north shore from Hale'iwa town to Ka'ena Point"**; the entire Waianae Range including Kolekole Pass, the prominent peaks of Kaua, Kalena, and Ka'ala; and the south shore. Clouds had moved in behind us blocking most of the windward vistas.
At 12:18 p.m. Gene and I continued our opening day journey toward Poamoho. While facing windward the two of us turned right and proceeded on a narrow trail along the ridge. Soon after, we dropped down to the left and returned to the KST.
From there we contoured below Pu'u Ka'inapua'a (pig procession hill). Gene remarked that the hill was given that name for a reason. As a result I began speaking loudly using phrases like "Coming at ya!", "Move away!", "There's no need for a confrontation!" as I lead us through probably the muddiest, wildest stretch of the KST. Gene joined in by barking like a dog!
Further ahead we saw one of the upper Kawainui waterfalls, a steep gentle flow of water.
Clouds completely engulfed us and we had to negotiate many tree branches protruding into our path struggling hard not to get hung up in the foliage. Ankle deep mud pits and overgrown trail were also a problem (take a look at the top photo on the last page of photo section number two in Ball's "Backpackers"). During this stretch Gene noticed a large white container to the left of the footpath with the words "Poison. Do not open. U.H. Zoology" written on it. I recognized many ohi'a trees containing cherry red flowers on both sides of the trail as well as an abundance of tall loulu palms with periodic lapalapa sightings.
Gene, who is into birds, heard a rare bird call nearby and stopped immediately. He returned the call and the bird called back to him. The exchange went on for a minute or so as he and I tried to make visual contact with the feathered creature. After several unsuccessful attempts at locating the bird the two of us continued the hike.
Next I lost my footing and fell face first off the trail. Fortunately it was a level section. Gene helped me up and as I began to move forward again he noticed my camelbak lying on the ground below some vegetation. He quickly alerted me of this and I retrieved it promptly. Good thing he saw the receptacle or else water storage might have been a problem for the remainder of the trip.
Lots of fresh hoof marks were observed and I witnessed a small pua'a run down into a gully.
We reached the stacked remains of the Kahuku Cabin at 1:38 p.m. and Gene took a photo of me standing in the middle of the area. The two of us descended briefly through a narrow passage which lead to a wonderful windward section. Before switching back to leeward, Gene and I dropped down into and climbed out of a deep gut in the solid mud/rock trail. We took a detour below a boulder in the middle of the footpath climbing steadily once beyond it.
The stretch which followed was the worst all day featuring a small landslide choked with clidemia and uluhe. Footing was always a concern but whenever we encountered a slide the weight of our backpacks made tumbling down into a side gulch much more possible.
The cloudy conditions with gusty trades continued, limiting our visibility. The hike became a grind as it seemed to take forever to arrive at the Castle Trail junction marked by a rusty metal stake. But reach it we did at 3:13 p.m. and a much needed rest period ensued.
Twenty minutes later Gene and I departed for Poamoho. We passed some metal landing mats on the left, walked on top of wooden planks and identified the foundation of a wooden structure just off the trail.
It began to rain and the strong winds caused the droplets to sting our faces. I was cold and my short pants and long sleeved shirt were soaked. My gators were down to my ankles (I had given up trying to keep them in the fully extended position) and my legs were covered with mud. However, I got my second wind and reminded myself to stay focused on the theme of the trip - one day at a time.
This stretch of the KST crossed the broad level region of the Ko'olau Summit Ridge on its way to the summit crest. Although mostly muddy and at times overgrown, it was rather pleasant.
At 4:17 p.m. Gene and I noticed one of my "hot" pink ribbons I had left a week earlier while making a water stash trip with Dayle and Nathan Yuen. The discovery gave me a huge psychological lift because I knew we weren't much more than an hour from Poamoho. The two of us eventually emerged onto a windswept grassy area with the top of a waterfall notch on the left.
At 4:55 p.m. we reached a "windy grassy area covered with landing mats"**. I retrieved the food and water I had hidden there the previous Saturday while we took a break. After crossing the region and as the KST turned sharp left I pointed out the Pe'ahinai'a Trail to Gene which goes down to Hale'iwa.
The two of us continued on the KST as it went generally along the summit crest but on the leeward side. The clouds opened up briefly revealing the very back of Punalu'u Valley while we descended the final windward section before the Poamoho Summit (elev. 2,520 ft) and Cline Memorial.
Arrived at the stone Cline Memorial at 5:48 p.m., turned right and after crossing a small marshy tract removed containers full of water from between some trees and other foliage that had been placed there a week before.
Immediately headed down to the Poamoho Campsite reaching it at 5:56 p.m. Gene attempted to use his cell phone but he couldn't get a connection (later that evening before going to sleep Gene went down the Poamoho Trail a short distance and called his children and Dayle). With the remaining light, Gene and I set up our tents and prepared dinner. I also took a few minutes to clean up at the stream. It would be long pants and rain gear for the rest of the trip I told myself.
The evening meal was consumed and darkness set in. Gene retired early while I wrote in my journal about the day's events inside my tent. I went to sleep around 9:15 p.m.
Next: Day 2 - Heaven and Hell.
* Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE HIKER'S GUIDE TO O'AHU. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1993.
** Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE BACKPACKER'S GUIDE TO HAWAI'I. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1996.