OHE May 3, 1999 (Waikane-Kaaumakua)

Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 12:03:59 -1000
From: Nathan Yuen (nyuen@lava.net>
Subject: Waiahole-Waikane Trail to Kaaumakua

After hearing so much about the incredible panoramic views of Koolauloa from the summit of Kaaumakua, I could not help but join the HTMC trail maintenance crew yesterday to clear the Waiahole-Waikane Trail.

Making our way along on a dirt road for several miles, we climbed steeply up the side of a ridge next to an exposed section of the Waiahole Ditch to bypass the severely-clogged start of the trail. As we pushed forward, we were confronted by a series of obstacles--fallen trees, landslides, and a thick overgrowth of strawberry guava, rosy apple, inkwood, clidemia and uluhe. Attacking them with chainsaws, hedge trimmers, picks, sickles, and machetes, we made considerably headway in opening-up the trail.

The most dangerous section of the contour trail was thickly overgrown with clidemia and uluhe which had pushed the trail to edge. Giving a false impression of solid footing beneath, the vegetation along the edge hid gaping eroded holes that could easily send a hiker plummeting several hundred feet below. [shudder] Fortunately, we were able to clear much of the vegetation and pushed several sections of the trail back to the wall.

Just before we reached the end of the Waikane trail which joins with the Koolau Summit Trail (KST), we remarked how the character of the trail changed. As we pushed onward for Kaaumakua, we enjoyed seeing many lovely native plants--akolea with their broad mamaki-like leaves with red veins on the underside of the leaves, na'ena'e with their bright light-green leaves and bunches of tiny brown flowers, and amau ferns with their beautiful new growths of light-pink fronds.

As we reached the KST and backtracked to reach the summit of Kaaumakua, we encountered quite a few loulu palms trees with broad fan-like corrugated leaves that resonated loudly when brushing past them. When we finally reached the lone dead loulu palm (it's no longer merely sickly-looking) that marks the way to Kaaumakua, we began the short climb up a small gully that lead to the top. When we reached the summit of Kaaumakua [cheer!], we were disappointed that the clouds completely shrouded the spectacular panoramic view we had heard so much about. [groan] Well... all this means is that we will all have to return.

Turning back, we descended the mountain-side to return the way we had come. When we returned to the exposed section of the Waiahole Ditch, several of us removed our hiking gear to float in the cool pristine waters as it gushed from a tunnel into a small U-shaped flume no more than 30 feet long before disappearing into a chasm-like tunnel that eventually emerges on the leeward-side of the Koolau. The water was wonderfully refreshing as we splashed in the water and floated down the short length of the flume.

Making our way back to our vehicles, we were pleased of our progress to opening-up the trail. It is much clearer and safer than it had been before. But due to decades of neglect, considerable more work is needed. If we vow to undertake a yearly trail-clearing pilgrimage to the top of Kaaumakua, the trail can be restored in a matter of just a few years. An undertaking that is well worth effort.

      o    o     __ __
       \  /    '       `
        |/   /     __    \      Mai hehi ia'u (Don't Tread on Me!)
      (`  \ '    '    \   '
        \  \|   |   @_/   |        Nathan Yuen 
         \   \   \       /--/
          ` ___ ___ ___ __ '

Return to OHE top | Return to Oahu Hike Tales | Email Dayle