OHE May 16, 1999 (Keahiakahoe)

Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 20:37:48 -1000
From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Keahiakahoe Scorcher

Wanting to do this particular hike for some time, I opted to join a regular HTMC hike instead of the Kaukonahua Stream trail clearing. By the time I reached the end of Ala Aolani Street, a group of about 16 had already gathered at the entrance of Moanalua Neighborhood Park, preparing for the hike to Puu Keahi A Kahoe.

The 2,820-foot peak stands high in the back of Moanalua Valley. It is the highest peak along the portion of the Koolau crest which forms the southern arm of Haiku Valley. Ke-ahi-a-kahoe, or "Kahoe's fire", was named for a story of brotherly revenge. The brother of Kahoe, Pahu, only brought bait-fish to him despite his frequently successful catch while Kahoe always gave Pahu ample helpings of poi. Kahoe eventually found out his brother's deception. When a famine set in on the area, but Kahoe had ample food, Pahu was found looking longingly at Haiku Valley, where Kahoe lived. His sister found him and said, "so, standing with eyes gazing at Kahoe's fire?" But Pahu, knowing his past misdeeds, had nothing to reply.

After the hike leader briefing by usual-TC'ers Kim & Judy Roy, we set out to the back of the park (elev. 240 feet) and through a metal gate blocking vehicular traffic from entering the dirt/gravel road. Ralph Valentino, another TC'er was acting as "sweep" today. Among the faces, I recognized Mike Algiers, Wing Ng, Janice (a "Let's Go Hiking!" star), Naomi Nasu (and friend), and a couple of regulars.

The festivities began with a grueling road walk - grueling because of the temperature. Judy and I were engaged in conversation throughout the ordeal. Although a gentle grade and relatively interesting as far as road walks are concerned, the hot, sweltering conditions left most of the hikers sweaty and aggrevated by the time we hit the trailhead. After about an hour of over three miles of wind-less, humid conditions, we turned left off the gravel road (elev. 1,000 feet) and headed into the lush forest. About 15 minutes later, we started the climb up the side of Tripler Ridge, beginning with a bunch of switch-backs. From now until the point where we reached the straight-up, powerline ridge, 500-foot ascent to the Tripler ridgeline, seven people turned back (for various reasons).

The heat had not subsided and it had taken a toll on me through the vegetated switchbacks. An occasional breeze would filter by, but I could sense the onset of heat exhaustion coming. Thinking I was hallucinating, I later confirmed with others that what we saw (on an individual basis) during this ascent was actually steam coming off of our bodies! I felt myself dragging by the time I reached the more exposed powerline side-ridge. The sun was unrelenting as I finally emerged on top of Tripler Ridge. Ironically, I've had a cooler time on Kamaileunu Ridge.

Looking down the ridge, I realized the lengthy road walk cut out most of the rollercoaster action common to Koolau ridges. I pressed on past the false summit and ascended the junction with the Koolau crest (elev. 2,760 feet). From here, Wing Ng, Kim Roy, Ralph Valentino, and I suffered the pounding of the sun with unusual crest conditions: absolutely no wind. I forced myself to down a half of a potato though my stomach threatened a personal revolt. However, we were treated to awesome views from Kaneohe through Makapuu Point and everything in between, with West Honolulu and Pearl Harbor behind us. We yearned to take a dip in the nearby Hoomaluhia Reservoir, just 2,500 below.

After Kim resumed his quick pace to the goal, the three of us headed off the junction before 1 PM and continued along the narrow Koolau crest passing powerline towers, an abandoned radar, a knob, and a 2,720-foot false peak before making the ascent to Puu Keahi A Kahoe. The crest wasn't as knife-edged as other crest sections, such as the section between Kuliouou and Hawaii Loa Ridges, but it was exhilirating, nonetheless. We came across two narrowly-graded trails leading off the right side down extremely steep side-ridges to Likelike Hwy and wondered who built those.

After topping out Puu Keahi A Kahoe and finding the benchmark, we headed left and down the "middle ridge". (The path to the right led to a shorter peak with a radar "house" which, on the USGS topo's is mistakenly named and benchmarked "Puu Keahiakahoe".) Wing and I enjoyed the company and story-telling of Ralph while we descended the 2-mile ridge into the middle of Moanalua Valley. We were treated to sudden overcast skies which cut down the temperature by about 20-degrees. What a godsend! Halfway down the ridge, the clouds began to tap us on the shoulders with an occasional drop of rain, urging us to get off the ridge before an eventual downpour. I also began to feel the pain-killer's effect on my left knee wearing out, so I picked up the pace and scooted off the drizzled ridge - only to give Wing a pig-scare at the bottom (*grin*).

By the time we met at the junction with the gravel road, the rain had already fallen on our party. Ralph and I quickened the pace and were treated with an invigorating drenching throughout the walk back. Whereas we both were running low on our primary water supplies about an hour prior, the wet weather afforded us a wonderful cool-down. I felt anew!

Ralph and I made it out between 3:30 and 4:00 PM, just five minutes behind Kim and Judy. I finally got my appetite back and ate in the park with shared chips and soda ala Kim, Judy, and Ralph. Wing emerged about 15 minutes later, just as soaked as the rest of us. And the rain hasn't stopped since...

Happy Hiking!


About Moanalua Valley: How did this once royal land come to be owned by the Damon Estate?

"I give, devise and bequeath unto my friend, Samuel M. Damon of said Honolulu, all of that tract of land known as the Ahupuaa of Moanalua, situated in the district of Honolulu, Island of Oahu; and also the fishery of Kaliawa to have and to hold with the appurtenances to him, his heirs, and assigns for ever." -- Bernice Pauahi Bishop, October 31, 1883


ThE HIKERS GUIDE TO OAHU, Ball, Stuart. University of Hawaii Press, 1993 SITES OF OAHU, Sterling & Summers. Bishop Museum Press, 1997

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