OHE May 16, 1999 (Kaukonahua extended)

Date: Sun, 16 May 1999 22:16:45 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kaukonahua Extended

The HTMC trail clearing crew has been doing some rugged maintenance outings lately; as a consequence, our beloved leader Mabel Kekina scheduled something less intense for us today to give us a break, namely Kaukonahua Stream, a short route that stems north off the Schofield Trail. I had hiked this once before with the Sierra Club a few years ago. Stuart also mentions the stream trail in his description of Schofield-Waikane. In the scheme of things, Kaukonahua Stream is a nice hike but it's short and easy.

Last weekend, when we heard what was on tap for today, Pat and I expressed interest in something more strenuous and challenging, perhaps today's scheduled club hike (Keahiakahoe). However, during an email discussion during the week, Pat and Brandon Stone tossed around the idea of trying to find a route from Kaukonahua to the Poamoho Trail. A man with an affinity for maps, Brandon identified the most direct route. It looked promising, and we agreed to see if we could make the connection.

The initial approach for today's outing was via the Army's East Range training area with an entrance near the end of California Avenue. In addition to Pat, Brandon, Mabel, and I, on hand were Grant Oka, his daughter Georgina, Jason Sunada, Carole K. Moon, June Miyasato, Charlotte Yamane (my idol), Thomas Yoza, Joe Bussen, Nathan Yuen, Jim Pushaw, his daughter Kristy, Lynn Agena, Dusty Klein, Jay Feldman, Bill Gorst, Arnold Fujioka, Kris Corliss, her hubby Larry Oswald, their daughter Ginger, and Ginger's friend Tiare.

About 8:15, we boarded 4x4 vehicles driven by Pat, Thomas, Joe, and Mabel and drove ~three miles on a muddy, rutted dirt road to the Schofield trailhead.

From the Schofield trail start point, we trudged along on a short 10-minute hike to the junction with the stream trail. Just hiking, the descent to the stream from the junction would take 15 minutes. But we had some clearing to do and needed about 45 minutes to reach the stream.

After a short snack break at a spot overlooking an inviting pool, a bunch of us headed upstream along the old graded Mauka Ditch Trail, which undulates with the stream on its right bank (the Hauula topo map shows the ditch). This trail was a bit brushy but it seems to see some foot traffic and is passable. We eyed some beautiful, deep pools along the way, and I had visions of taking a plunge in one or more of these on the return leg later in the day. In some of the pools, we spotted some large (1 lb+) fish. They looked like tilapia but someone said they might be bass.

The contour trail passed a sizable (but dark and forboding) entrance tunnel into the ditch. I don't think anyone explored it. At one point, the trail narrowed to a couple feet as it skirted along the base of a vertical eroded wall. After last weekend's Sacred Falls tragedy, you can be sure that I eyed the upper sections of the steep cliffs along the stream for potential landslides. No problems today.

Right before we reached a gaging station (the map shows this too), the ditch trail ended and the stream forked. A bit below the fork, we rockhopped across the stream to the left bank and headed up the left fork (the gaging station is on the right fork). In about five minutes, we came upon a small intermittent stream on the left. Just past this streamlet, we reached our objective--a heavily uluhed spur that ascended north toward Poamoho.

Initially, and at times later in the day, we found signs of a swath on this spur (we also saw some old cuttings and a plastic bottle hanging from a tree branch). For the most part, we had to pound open a trail--never an easy undertaking, especially while ascending and even moreso when the air is still and thick as day-old melted ice cream. Why we put ourselves through this brutality is something I'm still trying to figure out. When I do, I'll let you all know.

For the record, along for this masochistic ride were Pat, Brandon, Nathan, Jim, Kristy, Thomas, Lynn, Jay, and I. June and Arnold, not in the mood for self-abuse, turned back after making the initial climb from the stream. As things turned out, the men-folk took turns ramrodding since the thickness of vegetation, steepness of grade, and humidness of air zapped anyone who stayed in front for more than 15 minutes. I felt weaker and crappier than I have in a while and after a couple pulls as the lead, I faded into the pack, sweating buckets and sucking air in gasps.

Even though I was hurting, the hike was a gem, with an interesting array of native flora higher up and some knife edge sections (protected by ample vegetation). For most of the day, the summit crest to the east was free of clouds. Pat pointed out massive Pu'u Pauao, the highpoint of the ridge that forms the north wall of Kahana Valley.

I should note that the elevation at the stream when we began climbing was 1,200 ft and the highest pu'u we reached on the spur was ~2,000 ft. The length of the spur to its high point is 3/4 of a mile, but this was a tough .75 miles. We put up pink ribbons on the spur and did as well as we could clearing a swath.

From the apex, we were at a pu'u where we looked across to the Poamoho trail cut into facing side of the adjacent ridge. As the crow flies, Poamoho was a quarter mile away, but to reach it we would have to descend a spur to Poamoho Stream and then climb another to reach the trail proper. Tired and short of time (we reached the overlook at 2 p.m.), we marked our end point and commenced the return leg. Pat and I are considering suggesting a big loop for a club hike that will include the route we hiked today, a continuation to the Poamoho Trail and subsequent ascent of it to the Koolau summit, a spectacular jaunt along the KST to the terminus of the Schofield Trail, and a concluding descent of Schofield to the start point (total miles = ~16).

From the overlook pu'u, we needed two hours to reach the Schofield trailhead. The climb up the stream trail to the junction with Schofield was tough. However, thunder echoing off the faroff summit and a rain-bearing sky darkening by the minute kept me moving as fast as I could and negated plans to leap into one of the inviting pools we passed earlier in the day.

At the trailhead, Brandon, Lynn, and I loaded into Thomas' orange 4x4 just as the rain hit. The others had already departed, some a couple hours prior. The dirt road resembled a stream more than a road, but Thomas and his vehicle were more than up to the task of getting us out safely.

At our post-hike refreshment gathering, the masochists found out that our saner colleagues had spent a relaxing day swimming and exploring the stream. While I'm all for relaxing, Sundays have evolved into a day of toil, exhilaration, and, at times, suffering.

I had all of this on this particular Sunday. As such, the day was a good one, as inexplicable as that may seem.



BTW, next Sunday's trail clearing is in Kahana Valley. Meeting time is 8 a.m. in the parking area mauka of Kam Hwy across from Kahana Beach Park. The plan is ascend to Pauao Ridge and head mauka toward the summit. There are some options we talked about, including sending a crew up Poamoho and having it come down Pauao Ridge. Transport logistics may stifle that plan.

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