OHE November 13, 1997 (b)

Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 15:39:30 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@hekili.k12.hi.us>
Subject: Exploring Red Hill Ridge 

Aiea Ridge, Halawa Ridge, Tripler Ridge and Bowman are popular routes to the Ko'olau summit ridge. But what about the ridge which separates Moanalua Valley from Halawa Valley ? I asked this question of HTMC flora/fauna guru Ken Suzuki while we were clearing the Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe trail on August 31. He told me that he would like to eventually check it out. Dayle K. Turner and I decided to do so this past Tuesday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day). Its true that I did a pau hana hike of the ridge on Sept. 4th but I was only able to get to the large grove of Norfolk Island pines. The trail continues beyond this landmark. I did not have time to proceed any further.

At approx. 8:30 a.m. Dayle and I met in the parking lot of the park at the end of Ala Aolani in Moanalua Valley. After final preps we went to the right of the basketball courts and headed up the trail at 8:52 a.m. I lead the way and got confused a couple of times due to the existance of various side trails. Eventually we worked our way up the side ridge thru a combination of guava and other trees past two cable sections to reach an old jeep road. It took about half an hour to do so.

Next Dayle and I walked up the dirt road past a single tall Norfolk Island pine tree. It had been overcast and raining earlier that morning but the clouds were starting to break up revealing blue sky. As the two of us passed under electric power lines we enjoyed views of Moanalua Valley below and Tripler Ridge with its famous twin Norfolk Island pines. Behind us at the beginning of Halawa Valley was Halawa Prison. One of the buildings inside the prison looked like a glorified chicken coop designed to house men. Pearl Harbor and the Waianae Range were beyond in the distance.

Pressing on DKT and I headed for a trail which went thru a thick grove of guava trees. We marked the route with ribbon and did some trail maintenance. After exiting the guava the two of us crossed some open eroded areas and passed a large landslide on the right. More guava followed and eventually a long uluhe section was encountered. Dayle and I got a break from the uluhe when we reached a small grove of Norfolk Island pines. The trail then took us thru guava trees again as we began ascending gradually toward the large Norfolk Island pine grove which can easily be seen from many points south of Moanalua Valley.

At 11:45 a.m. Professor Turner and I passed thru the middle of the grove and reached a nice view spot on its outer edge. We enjoyed the view of the back of Moanalua Valley featuring the Moanalua Saddle and the middle ridge despite the thick clouds and rain encompassing Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe. Dayle told me that he would stay for about 15 more minutes and then head back.

I departed his position and continued along the trail toward the Ko'olau summit. 5 minutes later I began to descend gradually. The trail remained open for a good distance then low level vegetation slowed my progress. Uluhe was encountered again but not as much as before. The ridge formed an 'S' shape as I made steady progress. Although it was raining at the location where Red Hill Ridge and the Ko'olaus converge, it was not socked in which led me to believe that I could reach the summit ridge and come down the Moanalua Valley Trail. I startled a large light brown wild boar which frightened me but I kept going. The trail soon became strictly a pig hunters trail, narrow with obsticles to negotiate.

At about 12:40 p.m. I reached a narrow dike covered with thick vegetation. I did not see any sign of the trail I had been following. I looked on both sides of the ridge to see if it contoured but there was nothing. I crossed the dike very carefully using my bolo knife to cut thru. More vegetation followed so I decided to turn back. As I backtracked I continued to look for the trail but all I found were pig trails going down into Moanalua and Halawa Valleys.

I didn't want Dayle to become concerned so I started heading back to the pines at 12:45 p.m. I reached them at 1:10 p.m. and began moving very rapidly down the trail. At 1:45 p.m. I arrived at the park. Dayle had finished cleaning up and was about to enter his jeep cherokee.

Notes: Dayle and I agree that a hike from the park to the large Norfolk Island pine grove would be a nice one for intermediates. We are not sure why HTMC does not include Red Hill Ridge in its schedule. I have been told that it is possible to reach the Ko'olau summit from Red Hill Ridge because Stuart Ball did so a few years ago. However, one must be prepared for slow going and lots of bushwacking beyond the end of the pig hunter trail.

== Patrick

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