OHE May 10, 1999 (Waiahole/Waikane/Kaaumakua)

Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 08:16:47 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Super Hike 5--Waiahole to Ka'aumakua

This past Saturday (5/8), fourteen HTMC members joined Pat Rorie and I for the fifth Super Hike. This one would have us travel along the Waiahole Ditch Trail, continue to the Koolau summit on the Waikane Trail, and finish at Pu'u Ka'aumakua (elev. 2,681 ft.) after a short southward tramp on the Koolau Summit Trail. Billed as ten miles, the hike may have been a mile or two longer.

In the group were OHE-L members, including Dick Beaton, Lin Black, Brandon Stone, and Dave Webb.

The segment along the ditch trail took about two hours and the distance was about four to five miles. From the get-go, our party evolved into two groups, with Pat leading the speed hikers and I sticking with those in the trailing pack. The route we followed wound in and out of small ravines, and at times there were nice views makai and of Pu'u Ohulehule. We ducked under or climbed over fallen trees at times, and moved carefully along parts of the trail reduced to rubble and scree. Along the way was a gated & locked access point to the ditch. Overall, though not heavily traveled, the ditch trail wasn't too difficult to manage.

Phase two of the hike was the spectacular climb to the summit of the Koolaus via the Waikane Trail. This began by an intake of the Waiahole Ditch (a good place for a cool dip). The trail then ascended for a half mile to the crest of the ridge that divides Waikane from Kahana Valley. The trail heads upslope along the crest briefly, then is cut into the Kahana-facing side of the ridge, bending in and around a first then a larger gully.

Rounding the corner of the larger gully, we had the first clear glimpse of the Koolau crest north toward Poamoho. Even more inspiring was the sight of the upper trail cut into the almost vertical side of the mountain--certainly one of the most awesome scenes in Oahu hiking. Negotiating the upper trail required concentration because it was narrow and eroded in places. Recent work by the club's maintenance crew has widened the footpath, making it safer than it was. Many hikers on Saturday commented favorably about the work of the maintenance crew.

From the ditch intake to the junction with the Koolau Summit trail, the Waikane trail was about 1.5 to 2 miles, with a rusted three-foot high metal stake marking the KST-Waikane junction. From that point, one can head north along the summit trail about 20-30 minutes to the terminus of Schofield. Another two hours further is Poamoho.

On Saturday, we turned left (south) on the KST. Fifteen minutes along the summit trail, at a lee-facing segment marked by a dead loulu palm, we climbed a slope to Ka'aumakua, a triple-benchmarked pu'u that offered a fine panorama of sites around Oahu. Clouds blocked views at times, but when we had clear visibility, we could see Waikane and Kahana below us, the ocean beyond, and many points to leeward, including massive Mount Ka'ala, the entire spread of the Waianae Range, Kipapa Ridge (marked by trademark pine trees), and further off to the Pearl Harbor area.

Many members of the group snapped pictures from atop Ka'aumakua. We also spent time eating lunch, resting, and examining the array of native plants atop the pu'u. Kay Lynch, Brandon Stone, and Lin Black were the most helpful, flora-wise.

The fastest hikers, including Pat, Steve Haus, Peter Kempf, Evelia Torres, and Hiroshi Sakae, reached Ka'aumakua just before noon. The rest of our group summited at varying intervals thereafter.

By 1:30 the last of us departed our summit perch to commence the return leg to civilization. On the Waikane leg, Pat and I hiked together with Brandon and Kay at a botanical pace, and they pointed out species of lobelia and many other native plants.

After descending Waikane to the intake, we hiked out via the valley road down Waikane Valley instead of backtracking on the ditch trail. The road walk segment was 3 to 3.5 miles and took a bit over an hour.

At 4:30, we emerged at Kamehameha Hwy where Waikane Valley Road meets it, ending the club's fifth super hike. Super Hike 6 will take us to Waimalu Middle Ridge, which we'll ascend to the crest of the Koolaus with an overlook of Kahaluu and Waihee Valley to the north.

For the record, the previous HTMC super hikes were

1. Manana to Waimano
2. Konahuanui to Olympus
3. Kaupo Cliffs to Kulepeamoa
4. Malaekahana to Laie


Reply From: Ralph Valentino (RalphV@huntbuilding.com>


I agree with your comment that the view of the trail etched into the side of that enormous shear mountain face is spectacular, and if one doesn't look up to stop and reflect, then one could miss it. All to often, we watch our footsteps (as is necessary) or are too busy clearing, and don't look up to take in the scenery (except for Patrick, who we often wait for because he is doing just that). That view reminded me of other island locations, it was something I wasn't used to seeing on Oahu. It still blows me away on how much effort was involved, way back before mechanized equipment, in putting all these trails, ditches, tunnels, roads, etc., in place, and it's such a shame most of it's gone by the wayside. I think that history would make a great book. Kudos go out to you and Pat, as well as all the others who push to discover these lost treasures.


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