OHE May 30, 1999 (Hauula Ridge)

Date: Sun, 30 May 1999 21:14:52 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Hauula Ridge

I began today with the goal of making the connection to upper Castle from the HTMC's Hauula Uka trail. This ridge, according to an HTMC veteran, is the longest on Oahu from ocean to summit. Conditions were quite good for the attempt, with high overcast skies, a nice breeze, and not-too-muddy footing along the ridge. Even given all that, I crapped out about a mile and a half before Castle.

As has been the case for recent trail maintenance outings for the club, a big gang of volunteers was on hand. Our primary mission was to clear the Hauula Uka Loop, an extension of the Hauula Loop. For those who've never hiked it, Hauula Uka is very short, maybe four miles all told, and if we did just that, we'd be finished with the whole deal before lunch. Accordingly, Mabel gave the green light to proceed up the ridge toward Castle to anyone interested.

OHE-L member Mark Short indicated that he and son would be camping along upper Castle yesterday and then descending today the ridge the trail clearing gang would be coming up, so I was motivated to proceed upridge as far as time and energy permitted so that the Shorts wouldn't have to battle vegetation more than necessary.

Just past the high point of the Uka Loop (elev. 1,520), the ridge dipped and narrowed for a short span with a sizable vertical drop to the right to Kaipapau Gulch. Thereafter, there were two or three good-sized hills to scale. Though overgrown, the ridge trail wasn't hard to track.

After some huff-n-puff ascending, there's a nice pu'u (elev. 1,920) that most folks stopped at to eat lunch and went no further. Beyond that pu'u, the ridge dipped and narrowed again before climbing to another pu'u (2,120 feet). Ahead of the group at the time, I reached the latter hill at 11:30 and sat down to wait for my colleagues. While I did, I took in the surrounding landscape. To my left, I looked down into upper Maakua Gulch and to my right to upper Kaipapau. The Koolau summit area was cloud-free, and I could discern a windward section of the KST midway between Castle and Kawailoa. Along the face of the summit mass above Kaipapau was a massive landslide scar to the right of which was a small waterfall. In the upper part of Maakua was another small waterfall.

I could also see the extension of the ridge I was hiking all the way to its intersection with upper Castle. Unlike the part I'd just ascended, the upper segment of Hauula Ridge is fairly gentle, with no big ups or downs. Prior to today's outing, Bill Gorst had told me this was the case, based on a past trek where he was dropped by helicopter near upper Castle prior to descend Hauula Ridge.

By noon, to my disappointment none of my hiking mates had joined me, so I decided I'd eat lunch and then decide afterward what I'd do. At 12:15, Jim Pushaw emerged over the crest of a hill just downslope of my position, and in a few minutes he arrived where I was seated. As I suspected, none of the others were coming up, citing fatigue, among other reasons.

I was disappointed after spending nearly an hour waiting when I could have been plowing forth upridge. My guess is that I could have made Castle in at least three hours, perhaps less if the ridge were as decent as reported by Bill. But with an hour frittered and no one willing to push on with me (I'm not sure Jim was willing to do so), I nixed the try for Castle and headed back. Another time.

Before leaving, I spent time scanning the ridge to look for Mark Short and son. No sign. I also yelled out many times but heard no return shout. Hopefully, all is well with them.

While heading down, Jim and I spent an hour clearing the segment between the 2,120 pu'u and the 1,920 pu'u. One confusing segment traversed a small, muddy ravine and passed through a tangle of hau, an unusual find high up in the Koolaus.

When Jim and I arrived back at 1,920, only Jason Sunada was waiting there. It was 1:30. While most had left in the last 30 minutes, some had left by noon. While hiking down the trail, we noticed many freshly cut guava trees. Come to find out these were felled by Brandon Stone and his heavy duty loppers, a tool that would make lopper-king Wing Ng envious.

By 2:00, we were back at pu'u 1,520, where Brandon, Ken Suzuki, Thomas Yoza, Kay Lynch, Kost Pankiwskyj, and Gina Goodman were assembled. By 3:00, I was back at my car on Kam Hwy by Hauula Homestead Road. As usual, we enjoyed an array of snack items and soft drinks before heading home.


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