OHE November 9, 1997

Date: Sun, 9 Nov 1997 22:58:41 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: A Poamoho Campout

It'd been a while since I've hiked and camped out with my good friend Bill Melemai, so when he called earlier this week suggesting an outing this weekend, I didn't hesitate to join him. Bill, who's accompanied me up Mauna Loa, into Haleakala and on many Oahu treks, wanted to try the Poamoho Trail. Along with us came his son Willie, a hiking veteran even at age 12, and Bill's niece, Lisi, 12, and nephew, Keoni, 10.

We drove to the Poamoho trailhead in Bill's 4x4 Bronco and instead of leaving the vehicle there, Bill's wife Donna, who came along with us on the drive, took it back out. The dirt road from the highway to the start of the trail was in the best shape I've ever seen it, and that notorious rutted hill near the end was smooth and gravel-covered. A bonus!

We started hiking at 2:30, waving goodbye to Donna and Lia, Lisi and Keoni's older sister. We noted one other 4WD vehicle at the trailhead and hoped whoever owned it was just dayhiking and not camping at the spot where we intended to pitch our tents

The 3-mile trail to the summit can be completed in 60-70 minutes if it is dry, if just dayhiking, and if speed is of the essence. Since none of those conditions existed and since we had heavy packs and the young ones along, we hiked along at a pace that would put us at the top with enough time to set up camp before dark.

The graded path, though slightly overgrown and considerably muddy beyond the 1.5-mile mark (white plastic pipes indicate trail distances ala Waimano), wasn't difficult to negotiate. In fact, Keoni and Willie had a great ol' time sloshing about in the brown ooze and chowing down on the abundant supply of thimbleberries they found along the trail. Clidemia is an annoying presence in the middle section of the hike and I whacked away at this scourge with my machete as I plodded along.

For awhile, the summit was free of clouds, but as we neared the top, ghostly white surrounded us. At 4:30, we met a local couple and their daughter, who had hiked to the top and were heading back. We talked briefly with couple about conditions at the top (views of the windward side came and went) and about trailhead auto ripoffs and assured them their vehicle was in good stead the last we saw it.

At 5:00, we reached the campsite, situated next to a small stream in a tiny valley five minutes below the summit. Because the sun was scheduled to set at just past six and since rain appeared imminent, Bill and I hustled to get our shelters up. Bill had an 8x8 tent for himself and the keiki while I had a one-person Bivy tent for myself. After getting the tents up, we used a tarp to fashion a make-shift vestibule in front of Bill's tent. We later used this protected area to prepare our evening meal. This worked quite nicely.

While Bill and I put up the tents, the kids cleaned up at a small pool in the stream and then changed into warm clothing. Darkness indeed made its appearance at a few minutes past six and rain accompanied it soon thereafter. Dinner--hot ramen, sandwiches, and assorted other goodies, was welcomed by all. Bill shared some Hawaiian trail mix, a beautiful concoction composed of dried aku, opae, papio, crab, wasabe peas, and coconut flakes. A great trail food!!

After eating, we retired to our tents, listened to a football game between Kamehameha and Iolani on the radio (Bill and I are Kamehameha grads and Willie is a seventh grader there), and then went to sleep, or tried to.

Despite a constant drizzle and occasional wind gusts during the night, I slept reasonably well. A thermal shirt and bottom, an insulated Thermarest mattress and a small but effective wool blanket certainly contributed to my comfort level. After enduring an initial bout with a slightly soaked blanket, Bill and the kids slept restfully. The same couldn't be said for the small stream adjacent to our campsite. Fed by the constant rain, the non-flowing rivulet came alive during the night, flowing with impressive intensity.

We were up by six the next morning since we wanted to get out in time to get Willie to his 11 a.m. basketball practice. As it turned out, we hiked out too late for practice but we did make the short hike up to the summit and enjoyed a serene early morning view of Punaluu and Kahana Valleys and the three gems of the windward side--Ohulehule, Kanehoalani, and Manamana. Bill and the kids were jazzed about the sights with Lisi summing up the experience by saying, "I've never seen anything so green!"

By 8, we had eaten breakfast, packed our belongings, policed the area, and were off down the mountain. When we reached the trailhead at just past ten, Donna and Lia were waiting for us with McDonald's Egg McMuffins and apple bran muffins, greatly appreciated snacks for a quintet of muddy, tired hikers. Surprisingly, we saw no one on the trail even though the rainclouds had disappeared and the day was a beautiful one. In any event, we had a great hike and a memorable campout. We look forward to the next one.

Aloha and safe hiking to all,


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