OHE May 17, 1999 (Olona Valley)

From (Dayle Turner) turner@hawaii.edu Sat May 22 06:58:37 1999
Date: Mon, 17 May 1999 09:16:45 -1000
Subject: Olona Valley

Wahine hiking great Charlotte Yamane let me borrow a copy of an old write-up about Hidden Valley, also referred to as Kahekili by the HTMC. She was given the piece by one of the Morgans, the family that owns Kualoa Ranch (Charlotte used to work for the ranch).

The article refers to the place as Olona Valley, which is curious, says Charlotte, since she's seen little or no olona there during the times she's explored it.


-----Begin Narrative-----

Record of a June 25, 1927 Visit to Olona Valley
Written by Charles S. Judd on July 4, 1927

Olona Valley, heretofore called "Lost Valley," is a high wooded valley set into the ridge between Kaaawa and Kahana Valleys in Koolauloa, Oahu. The head of the valley is 2,100 feet above sea level. It breaks away suddenly towards the ocean at a dry waterfall 1,200 feet above the sea and the streambed of the valley enters the ocean at the northern limits of Kualoa Ranch.

Olona Valley is, therefore, inaccessible at the lower or makai end and, on account of the steep ridge slopes into Kahana and Kaaawa Valleys, is unattainable except by way of one spur ridge rising up from Kaaawa Valley about opposite Kanehoalani.

So far as known, Olona Valley has been visited by white people only three times:

1. In about 1900 by Charles H. Judd, Allan W., Charles S., and Gerrit P. Judd and Henry F. Damon, who climbed up into the valley and down to the top of the waterfall and then, with great difficulty, down the pali to the lowlands back of the Kaaawa School.

2. In about 1921 by Rosamond Swanzy and James Placidus Morgan who attained only the valley ridge.

3. On June 25, 1927, by Rosamond Swanzy and James Placidus Morgan and Charles S. Judd. This third visit is recorded in these pages.

Be it known, first, that Olona Valley is one of the most isolated, inaccessible, and unfrequented of any small valley in the Hawaiian Group.

Outside, the strong trade winds blow against the cliffs, the roar of the surf booms up from the fringing reef, and the rumble of trucks on the new concrete highway adds to the noise of the outside world.

Inside this secluded valley, all is serene and calm; scarcely a breath stirs the leaves of the tall banana trees, the elepaios flit in and out of the still branches of the lehua, and the cloud water drips quietly on to the pointed leaves of the olona shrubs.

It is the region of the clouds which moisten the best example of an original, unmolested forest to be found anywhere.

The ascent began about nine o'clock in the morning after dubious glances at the lowering sky and a fortunate decision that the day would probably turn out all right, also and as soon as young Richard, ten months old, had concluded his morning bath.

Leaving the auto in an old pineapple field, the walk began at a peanut patch and took us along the new barbed wire fence, dipping at the red earth scar across a small gulch to begin the real climb up the ridge which was to be conquered in three hours.

Short lantana mixed with maulike (similar to Hilo grass), pili grass, ilima bushes, ulei (wild native rose with dark, shiny pinnate leaves), and kokoolau with its attractive daisy-like yellow blossoms made this part of the climb not too difficult.

At the first rock outcrop we looked westward and discovered a hole, new to us, through a rocky side ridge on the Kahana slope of Kaaawa which is visible only from this point.

An eroded pinnacle on the side ridge next mauka to us resembled a stone man. It was here that we came across the first lehua tree, wind-pressed against the ridge, the first olopua or Hawaiian olive with ripe, purple fruit, and a true iliahi or sandalwood. Here also, maile bravely lifted its shining leaves above the palaa fern.

More outcrops between grassy slopes until the ridge narrowed to a knife edge and the world dropped away from us on both sides, the silvery green kukuis clustering in the valley bottoms below the cliffs.

A scramble up the side of a pali where only toe holds were available in addition to the friendly hand holds afforded by the ulei and lantana and we paused on a bench to catch our breath and gaze again on the changing vegetation beneath us.

We now discovered the kahili-like halapepe, the ohe which is deciduous, the akia which was used as a fish poison, and more olopua, in addition to lehua and kukui.

As we entered the dwarf forest just to one side of the edge of the ridge and continued the ascent, we noted the first kopiko and ahakea (the "yellow wood" which supplied the natives with canoe rims and carved ends and also with the poi boards) and saw close at hand the huge clusters of tuberose-like blossoms of the halapepe just about to open.

Here the rare native casia with its pungent, pale-yellow blossoms and the still rarer nioi disclosed themselves.

And now the black stems of the lama clustered valiantly at the very brow of the steep slope, growing in the teeth of the wind on the crumbling rock, the seeds no doubt brought there by birds.

Mynahs and Chinese thrush filled the air, respectively with squawks and music and as we paused to look at the panorama below us we knew what the view from an airplane must be like.

We discovered that we were now higher than the end of the bluff at Ka Lae o Ka Oio and the waters of Kaalaea Bay appeared as an inland lake to the south of Kanehoalani. The Kualoa Range opposite us stood up for all the world like a cardboard mountain and we speculated as to how the kukui trees came to grow near the summit in the pockets which surmounted cliffs hundreds of feet high.

And now our large knife came in very handy for slashing a way through the entangling lantana. Up and up we climbed, yet the top seemed to be no nearer.

At last we reached "The Pyramid" and as we rested on its bunch grassed slopes in the refreshing trade wind an airplane quite suddenly leaped over Kanehoalani and hummed toward us. Frantic wavings brought no answering signal and the artificial bird just as suddenly disappeared over the ridge of Olona Valley bound in the direction of Kahuku.

A few more struggles through the brush on the narrow ridge and we came to what appeared an impasse. The slopes dropped away precipitously on both sides making going around impossible. The ridge above us narrowed to a cockscomb only eighteen inches wide. Here J.P's memory came to the rescue and it was decided that our way lay "over the top". A few lehua branches cut to prevent us from tripping and pitching off into eternity and we braved the narrow top on our hands and knees, breathing more freely when lantana gave hand holds for mounting the chimney-like exit from this dangerous spot.

The low trees now covered with damp moss told us that we were near the cloud belt, and, therefore, approaching the top of the ridge.

With J.P. now in the lead, a true Boston subway was hewn through the engulfing mantle of uluhe which we now encountered.

The first landshells were encountered here on kolea and kawau (Hawaiian holly) trees and a gasp of satisfaction from above told me that J.P. and Rosamond had finally reached the top of the ridge and were resting at ease on the edge of Olona Valley.

The watch said that it was then ten minutes past twelve.

A first pull at the water bottle and then straight down the steep slope into the valley under the staghorn tangle we slid, entering shortly a grove of tall banana trees which had a wet undergrowth of tree ferns, lobelias, and olona.

We were soon in the streambed and while there was no copious running stream of water we did find pools of deliciously cool water somewhat brownish from the humic acid of the vegetation but fresh and very satisfying especially when imbibed as crystal drops from taro leaf cups.

After our light lunch, enlivened with a discussion as to how banana trees are started, and concluded with a Chesterfield, we wandered down the streambed in the attempt to reach the top of the waterfall.

The bottom of the valley soon narrowed to a steep-sided box canyon and the only way now lay through pools of cold water. At first we tried to scramble around these but when once wet, we found that the easiest way was to wade right through them.

A widening of the canyon bottom disclosed long festoons of ie ie roots suspended like solid rain from ohia ha trees.

More bananas and mamaki and around a sharp turn we came suddenly upon the streambed of a side valley, almost as large as the main streambed.

Another large pool into which J.P. went up to his neck and then we came upon a drop too deep to descend easily. An attempt to go around on one side led us away from the streambed and the further we went, the steeper became the slope and the deeper down the streambed.

With disappointment at not reaching the top of the great waterfall, we took one last look at the valley, tidied up the lunch papers, drank more of the delicious water, and then scrambled up the very steep slope to the ridge again, not failing to bring a hand of green bananas for proof of the existence of this much-rat-eaten fruit in Olona Valley.

The descent into Kaaawa again exercised different muscles and in some ways was more perilous but it was made in better time and by 4:30 p.m. we were glad to be greeted at Kanenelu by our children and wife and to partake of Cousin Julie Swanzy's refreshing tea.

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

I was surprised to read about the uluhe on the mountain, way back then. I didn't think it was prolific on the island back then. Those folks had some real guts to be hiking where they were back then...no synthetic ropes (no stores to just get some, either), no Nike Sharks or even Vibram soled shoes, no polypropylene shirts, no sunscreen, I'm sure corrective lenses were for the rich only, and even at that it wasn't as advanced as today, so most people just got along with what they could see, no energy bars, no lightweight hydration bags...

Some day, people will be writing about Dayle and Patrick, and Mable and Charlotte this way.


Reply from: Oka Grant A [mailto:OkaGA@phnsy.navy.mil]

Dayle, thanks for that remarkable narrative on Olona Valley by Charles S. Judd. I enjoyed reading about one of my favorite hikes from the eyes of another hiker in another time. can't help but wish that i was there hiking with them.

I might even change my name to Rosamond Oka or Placidus Oka. yeah, its got a nice ring to it.

Happy Trails,

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