OHE November 15, 1997

Date: Sat, 15 Nov 1997 02:50:58 -1000
From: Nathan Yuen (nyuen@lava.net>
Subject: Ko'olau Summit from Waimano

(A copy of this has also been posted to the newsgroup "soc.culture.hawaii")

Went on a wonderful hike this morning to the Ko'olau Ridge Summit by way of the Waimano Upper Trail. The Waimano Upper Trail is a graded trail, making the ascent to the summit relatively easy despite its considerable distance. For much of the beginning of the hike, the trail follows an irrigation ditch which periodically enters small tunnels that are bored into the rock. There must be at least half-a-dozen of these subteranean passages some up to 50 feet long which permit the ditch to carry water around features that would otherwise interupt the flow.

Much of the trail traverses the very heart of Waimano Valley. For much of the way, I could hear the soothing sound of trickling water as the stream meandered through fields of basaltic boulders on the valley floor, some splattered with ringlets of white lichen while others were covered with fluffy green moss. One portion of the streambed was particularly beautiful as the silvery-green color of Kukui Nut Trees contrasted against the dark-green heart-shaped leaves of Hau Trees which entangled themselves into an impenetrable thicket, and the light-green crowns of the Loulu Palms which extended their fronds high above the canopies of surrounding trees. Truly a stunning sight.

After the trail descended to cross the stream a couple of times, it ascended once more through a series of switchbacks affording a magnificent view of the Wai'anae Mountains. Along a portion of the trail beyond the switchbacks, I saw the characteristic flat-top profile of Mount Ka'ala, the highest point on O'ahu, off in the distance. Particularly fascinating along this section of the trail were Mamaki with some of the largest pointed fan-shaped leaves I had ever seen--some almost a foot long! Noting that the Mamaki were bearing fruit, I could not resist eating several of the odd brain-shaped white fruit.

After passing through a section of the trail dominated by stout Koa Trees above and Australian Tea beside the trail, I noticed a charming little valley nestled within the folds of a ridge. With the steep mountain-side channeling the water into a small waterfall within this mini-valley, I was enchanted to see the fluffy red blossoms of 'Ohia Lehua contrasting themselves against the dark-green crowns of 'Ie'ie vines which spiraled themselves up the branches of the tree, and the light-green 'Uluhe Ferns which sprawled-up the steep mountain-side.

As I began the final ascent to the top, the trail meandered back and forth through several folds in the ridges until... I finally reached the summit! Wow! Perched some 2100 feet above lush green Waihe'e Valley, I was exhilerated to feel the strong summit breeze against my face. From this clear unobstructed vantage point, I saw the tiny off-shore islands of Mokoli'i (Chinaman's Hat) and Moku Loe (Coconut Island), and the many coral reefs, sand bars, and fishponds within Kane'ohe Bay. It was just spectactular to see the fantastic shades of azure, blue, and aquamarine within Kane'ohe Bay blend ever-so-subtly into the dark blue color of the deep ocean beyond. Truly a magnificent sight!

Being my very first time to the Ko'olau Ridge Summit without clouds blocking the view, I was thankful to experience the summit and to see just how small the island really is. If you haven't hiked the Waimano Upper Trail, I highly recommend you try it, even if you do not hike all the way to the summit. Waimano Valley is, in my opinion, one of the more beautiful unspoiled valleys on O'ahu. And the Ko'olau Ridge Summit above Waihe'e Valley is stunning! A trek I am sure to make again in the future.

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