OHE May 24, 1999 (Three Corners)

Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 15:54:02 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@mailhost.k12.hi.us>
Subject: Three Corners

"It's called Three Corners. It's where three valleys meet on a Waianae Mountain Range ridge line: Makaha, Ohikilolo, and Makua.

Looking west, the valleys dive to brilliant blue ocean off the Leeward Coast. Looking north, gullies sweep down to Mokuleia and out across the plain to Kahuku. Looking south, Mount Ka'ala, Oahu's tallest at 4,000-plus feet, looms with its flat verdant head.

From a 20-foot-square knoll at 2,600 feet above sea level the view boggles the senses.

Sgt. Eric Pilgrim, from Schofield Barracks' public relations office, lets his words out slowly like a long whistle:

'I haven't ever seen any mountains this beautiful. Not the Rockies, the Blue Ridge Mountains. Nothing as pretty as this.'"*

Laredo Murray and I met in the Moanalua Library parking lot this past Saturday (May 22, 1999) to pay a visit to "Three Corners".

At 9:30 a.m. the two of us departed the Salt Lake area in Laredo's truck bound for Mokuleia on Oahu's northshore. Took the H-1 freeway to Pearl City, traveled along H-2 to Wahiawa but bypassed Wahiawa using Rte 99 north. Drove along acres and acres of pineapple, passed Waialua High School and entered Mokuleia. Soon after making the left onto the paved Dillingham Road we noticed a sign which read "High Theft Zone". I knew of this threat before seeing the sign so I had Laredo drive his truck and made sure he didn't leave anything of value inside while we were away.

Following final preps, Laredo and I continued mauka on foot past two locked gates at 10:20 a.m. Saturday was a scorcher on Oahu, light and variable winds combined with early summer heat, and the two of us felt it as we ascended gradually via the road. Eventually, Laredo and I departed the road and entered a kukui forest on a trail (the one used recently by HTMC called "Peacock Flats to Mt. Ka'ala Lookout"). Initially, the trail followed a stream then ascended steeply to gain the crest of a middle ridge. Further up it entered the Pahole NAR transitioning to dryland forest.

Upon reaching the Mokuleia Trail (constructed by the CCC in 1934), we traveled along the graded contour footpath to the Mokuleia Campsite stopping for a breather inside the shelter at 12 noon. I noticed that the shelter, now equipped with a water catchment system, had a small plastic barrel attached to its rear outer wall with the word non-potable written above the tap.

Pressing on, Laredo and I ascended to the fenced Makua Rim Trail and enjoyed the terrific vistas of Makua Valley in route to the terminus of the "Peacock Flats to Mt. Ka'ala Lookout" Trail (elev. 2,678 ft). After a steep descent, we endured roller coaster action and encountered a significant amount of uluhe. Noticed an increase in native flora, esp. ohia lehua and koa trees as we completed the final stretch to "Three Corners" arriving there at 1:04 p.m. While resting and hydrating the two of us took pleasure from the magnificent panorama featuring the northshore, Mt. Ka'ala, pristine, undeveloped upper Makaha Valley, Kamaileunu Ridge, the unnamed peak of Keaau Ridge, and Makua Valley.

Laredo had gone far enough but I desired to explore the section of Ohikilolo Ridge between "Three Corners" and the triangular peak (aka the Ohikilolo pyramid). While I used the fence to descend steeply along Ohikilolo Ridge, Laredo watched attentively. Surprisingly, the fence came to an end a short distance later and I delighted in the excitement of getting there tramping carefully across narrow dikes similar to those found on Kalena and between Kawiwi/broken tooth, and scrambling up and over peaks on loose crumbly rock. Periodically, I came upon steel poles protruding out of the soil which will be used to secure the fence sometime in the near future. I spotted spectacular knife edge ridges on the Makaha side as well as dike rock similar to that found below the Keaau/Ohikilolo junction. After gaining each peak along the ridge, I turned around to face my hiking comrade and we acknowledged each other with uplifted arms. Laredo told me when I returned that it was amazing to watch a small white dot (my shirt) as it went across dikes and over the peaks.

After traveling about half the distance between "Three Corners" and the Ohikilolo pyramid, I gained a prominent peak (elev. 2,736 ft). On the ocean side of the peak I discovered a rope tied to one of the poles allowing for more progress, but I also spotted a near vertical cliff on the backside of a pinnacle further ahead. As a result, I stopped and studied the main ridge as it stretched toward the triangular peak (hidden throughout the entire exploratory jaunt). I decided to head back and rejoin Laredo at "Three Corners".

Reunited at 2:27 p.m., the two of us marveled at the surrounding topography for about another half hour then reluctantly commenced the return leg. At the Makua Rim/"Peacock Flats to Mt. Ka'ala Lookout" intersection we took a short cut veering away from the fence and onto the "Peacock Flats to Mt. Ka'ala Lookout" Trail. Descended to the Mokuleia Trail but continued on the ridge losing elevation all the way back to Laredo's truck reaching it at 5:10 p.m.

Notes: With the completion of the fence imminent (due to be finished this summer), the excitement of hiking Ohikilolo Ridge between "Three Corners" and the triangular peak will be lost forever. At a meeting with the Army this past Wednesday, May 19th, I was reassured that the fence will contour on the Makua facing slope of the Ohikilolo pyramid instead of over the top thus preserving one of the finest panoramas on Oahu and sparing the pinnacle the same fate as most of Ohikilolo Ridge. On the one hand the fence will help save rare native plants and tree snails in Makua Valley from destruction. But on the other, it has forever ruined a superb hiking trail.


* Taken from THE HONOLULU ADVERTISER - Thursday, April 24, 1997 Oahu section, page B3. Article written by Bunky Bakutis, Advertiser Leeward Oahu Bureau.

== Paka

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