OHE May 19, 1999 (Makapuu Ramble)

Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 08:17:44 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Makapu'u ramble

When I was in high school, I used to spend many a weekend bodysurfing and hanging out on Oahu's southeast end at Makapuu, Sandy Beach, and Bellows. Even though I don't head out that way as often nowadays, my affinity for the area is still strong.

With some vacation time to spend, I headed out to Makapu'u yesterday morning to do some hiking, arriving under sunny skies at the lookout vehicle pulloff around 11. Tourist cars moved in and out of the lookout during the time I spent putting on my Nike Sharks and readying my pack. Nearby, a young tourist couple rubbed sun block on each other then set off up the rocky uphill path toward the lighthouse. Just as I was about to shove off, a cop in a Cushman pulled up next to my vehicle. I saw this same officer a bit further down the highway later when I finished the hike; apparently, HPD patrols the area to deter theft. Good to know.

A pleasant breeze accompanied me as I began the climb to the ridgecrest that overlooks the lighthouse. About midway up, I encountered a long-haired haole guy sitting on a rock cross-legged in a yoga position. He advised me to be on guard for sudden wind gusts, and I thanked him for the advice and continued climbing, stopping at a couple points to admire the view of Rabbit Island and the bodysurfing beach below where I used to cavort with my Duck Feet fins as a young whipper-snapper.

Just before the crest of the ridge, I veered left on a path that contoured along the Makapu'u side of the hill. This path is a fantastic section, with superb views of the wind-tossed ocean beyond sheer sea cliffs hundreds of feet below.

The trail drops to the lighthouse road, which I followed to the observation deck. I poked around for a possible path that might lead down to the bottom of the cliffs directly below the lighthouse but didn't find anything promising. At the HTMC clubhouse a few months ago, I saw a picture of a hiker preparing to ascend a rock wall with the aid of a fixed rope. I believe this pic was taken below the lighthouse. Anyone know about this route?

I continued to explore and found myself following the railed walkway leading to the lighthouse. About 50 feet from the lighthouse, a fence and gate halted further progress, and a sign warned of arrest for trespassers. Instead of trespassing or retracing my steps, I scaled a rocky segment to gain the top of a dike that ascended to the observation deck. Once on the dike, I moved upward, wary about foot placement and the gusts the long-haired guy warned of.

A few people had assembled on the observation deck when I reached it, and I continued by them without a word. I hiked down the lighthouse road, passing a husband and wife with young children and several other day hikers heading for the lighthouse. Not wanting to walk on the road if I could help it, I headed right on a path that took me the to ridgetop overlooking Kalanianaole Hwy. I spotted my vehicle far below and a suspicious-looking truck next to it. I decided not to worry about it, hoping the HPD presence would scare off potential thieves.

The ridgetop also provided a view of the open maw of Koko Crater and the ridge section of the Koolaus leading toward TomTom. It was a nice day for hiking and I'm glad I stopped to enjoy the sights.

After winding along the ridgetop for a while, I headed left to rejoin the lighthouse road further down. I exchanged hellos with a group of six shirtless (kane), bikini-topped (wahine) 20-ish tourists right at the point where a trail down to the tidepools and blowhole is. The group continued up the road to the observation deck while I descended the trail down the steep slope to the ocean. Dried mud, probably from Sunday's rains, made the otherwise dry, rocky trail easy to follow.

Once at the bottom, I explored along the coast toward the lighthouse. High tide and large waves crashing on the shoreline lava bench kept me from venturing too far. While rockhopping, I scanned for opihi but saw none. If this were the Big Island, opihi would be plentiful, but here at Makapuu and probably along every piece of coast on Oahu, finding opihi is rare, if any can be found at all.

I gave some thought to taking a dip in the tidepools but decided not to because I was too lazy to take off my shoes. There is also a trail that leads along the shore to a cave, but I nixeda plan to go there because of the rough ocean.

So after spending 20 minutes in explore mode, up the rocky trail I climbed, passing the descending tourist sixsome about 2/3rds of the way up. Once at the lighthouse road, I stopped to use a binoculars viewing instrument (no coins needed) and to read a sign about whales that often pass by offshore.

That done, I followed the road only briefly then cut left to follow a path to a small hill with a bunker atop it. I had great views of the rocky coast below and stopped when I spotted a lone kayaker about 100 meters from the rocks paddling toward Sandy Beach. I thought of some friends who'd kayaked this segment and told myself to tackle this stretch at some point.

Eventually, the ridgetop trail descended to a rock formation called Pele's Chair, which I explored then scaled. Some fools have spray painted names and offensive remarks on the rock, but most of this trash has thankfully faded from exposure to sun, wind, and rain. I did not a name and date carved on the ocean-facing side of the Chair. I can't recall the name but the date was distant (1927?), making me wonder if the carving was done way back then.

From the chair, I made my way back to my (unmolested) vehicle via a jeep road, a short tramp on the paved lighthouse road, and another segment of jeep road. In all, I spent about 2.5 hours hiking and exploring. A good day.

Today, I'll be hiking in the Hauula area with Charlotte Yamane, Jay Feldman, Kirby Young, and Jason Sunada. I'll report on that outing later tonight or tomorrow.

Safe hiking to all,


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