OHE November 17, 1997 (b)

Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 12:19:05 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@hekili.k12.hi.us>
Subject: Castle-Kamapua'a Loop

Between 9:45 a.m. and 10 I met Steve Poor near his car in the Sacred Falls parking lot on Saturday, Nov. 15. It was a beautiful day (the Ko'olau Summit Ridge was completely clear). The winds were variable creating humid, muggy conditions. We drove to Punalu'u Beach Park and waited for the others. Art Nielson and his buddy Mike Adams arrived after 10 a.m. Dayle Turner was a no-show.

The four of us car pooled in my car into Punalu'u Valley. We parked on the right past some realtor signs before the entrance to a private road. Mike, myself, Art and Steve proceeded on foot at 10:19 a.m. and walked quietly along the road with the goal of reaching the Castle trailhead. While in route we saw signs which said to call 531-8181 to get permission to hunt/hike. About half way in we were confronted by a vehicle. The man inside claimed to be security. I didn't argue. He said we needed permission to do the hike. I told him that we would not be returning the same way and he let us go. I highly doubt Bishop Estate will let anyone on their land to go hiking.

Reached the trailhead at 10:38 a.m. and began going up the trail immediately. Mike and Steve lead the way with Art and I bringing up the rear. I got out my hand held cutters and cut guava branches which protruded into the trail. The first part of the trail was in the valley and proceeded thru lots of guava trees. Some eucalyptus (cedar ? they had soft brown bark) trees were observed nearby. We eventually encountered uluhe. It didn't take long for Mike and Steve to move well ahead of Art and I. The trail eventually reached the base of the steep west wall of Punalu'u Valley. It contoured in and out of a couple of stream areas and then continued to contour switching back five times to gain elevation.

The views were simply marvalous of the Pacific Ocean on the far left with the waves breaking nicely off of the coast, Punalu'u Valley directly below, Pu'u Piei across, the true Manamana, Kahana Valley, Pu'u Kanehoalani, Kaneohe Bay in the distance, Mount Ohulehule in the middle and the Ko'olau Mountain Range to the right.

After completing the switchbacks the four of us climbed somewhat steeply up a ridge which formerly served as a shortcut but now is the only way to reach the top of the west wall (the other switchbacks were badly overgrown - what a shame !).

At approx. 1:30 p.m. we reached the location of the trail where it departs the ridge crest and heads toward Kaluanui Stream. Just before moving toward the stream the four of us savored the awesome views and Mike pointed out a beautiful lobelia plant in bloom above the trail.

Steve lead the way as we continued the hike. When he began pushing thru thick clidemia I jumped in front of him to ram-rod. I spoke loudly to warn pua'a that we were in the area. Steve, Mike and I reached the stream. Mike stopped for a break and to wait for Art while Steve and I kept going. The trail from the stream to the junction with the Kamapua'a Trail was badly overgrown with clidemia. It was not a very pleasant experience to travel along. Steve and I moved well ahead of Mike and Art. I yelled to Mike to make sure he knew which way to go. When Steve and I reached an open area well above the stream where the trail bent we enjoyed the view of the jumbled topography of the upper Sacred Falls region. Right above the dip (low spot) where the Castle Trail moves from the ridge crest toward the stream we could see the Mokulua Islands. The two of us were grateful for the sights because we knew that the area was normally clouded in.

Around 2:40 p.m. Steve and I reached the junction with Kamapua'a marked with three pink ribbons. After a short break Steve took off toward Sacred Falls and his car while I waited for Mike and Art. They arrived following the 3 o'clock hour and stopped to relax (drank some beers). We didn't have enough time to go to the summit. Bummers. Mike pointed out another lobelia and I tied a ribbon to it.

Shortly before 3:30 p.m. the three of us began heading toward Sacred Falls along the Kamapua'a Trail. On one of the ridge tops we stopped to take in the incredible 360 degree views (the Laie coast on the left, the Ko'olaus behind, and the stream on the right far below). I could see the Ko'olau Summit Trail cut into the side of the mountain toward Kawailoa. I moved well ahead of Mike and Art because of my familiarity with the trail. We started yelling to each other again to make sure we stayed relatively close together. We also maintained visual contact. On the way down I stopped briefly to enjoy the view of three of the upper Ma'akua Gulch falls on the left. Later, some of the upper Sacred Falls were visible. The three of us had to endure some rollercoaster action. Thick uluhe was encountered on the lower sections.

At 5:18 p.m. I stopped to wait for Mike and Art at the top of the Nipple Trail (also called Waiahilahila because of a benchmark located at the top of the rock formation). Mike arrived first followed a few minutes later by Art. While we waited for Art, Mike and I climbed to the top of the rock formation and enjoyed the excellent views.

At 5:45 p.m. all of us started descending Waiahilahila. I had forgotten to bring my flashlight so I was anxious to get down. On the way down we noticed the long upper falls of Sacred Falls. It was very beautiful !

By 6:15 p.m. Mike, Art and I were on the road just beyond the Nipple Trailhead. There was still enough twilight to see the road without a flashlight.

At approx. 6:45 p.m. we reached the Sacred Falls parking lot and 5 minutes later began to walk along Kam. Hwy. toward Punalu'u. On the way to Art's truck which was parked across from the Punalu'u Beach Park we almost saw a dog get run over and we witnessed the nearly full moon rise. It was orange in color as it emerged across the horizon.

The three of us reached Art's truck and after Mike and Art did some cleaning up we got into the vehicle and drove into Punalu'u Valley. It was very dark and I was praying that my car was still there and had not been broken into. Art drove up right behind my vehicle and I jumped out immediately. A couple of barking, loose dogs greeted us as I opened my trunk. At 7:50 p.m. I started my car and Art and I exchanged farewells. As I drove away the dogs ran along side my car continuing to bark !

== Patrick

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