OHE November 11, 1998

Date: Wed, 11 Nov 1998 21:13:41 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: A Weekend at Palama Uka

Palama Uka, a camp run by Palama Settlement, is located in the Koolau foothills between Haleiwa and Wahiawa, and a bunch of us spent the past weekend there, logging time for hiking and some R&R. On hand were Bill Melemai, his son Willy, Pat Rorie, Carole K. Moon, Greg Kingsley, Judy and Kim Roy, Lester Ohara, June Miyasato, and Stuart Ball.

We headed to the camp on Friday afternoon (11/6), needing about 30 minutes to drive seven miles of dirt road from Haleiwa. There was some confusion at the outset, causing a delay in the arrival of Lester, June, and Carole, and stirring some unanticipated alarm by some members of the HTMC, several who drove up to the camp on Saturday afternoon to make sure all was well.

And all was well, although I was on the receiving end of a firm whack on the noggin from Mabel Kekina, who I had neglected to call to report that June, Lester, and Carole had arrived safely on Friday night.

But I digress.

The weather reports for the weekend were ominous, with forecasters predicting mauka showers for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Accordingly, we expected a deluge but all we received was a micro drizzle during our stay. Good deal for us.

On Saturday, we tackled Opaeula and Kawai Iki, trails with launch points five minutes from camp. Remotely located, both are lightly hiked, especially the latter. But we were prepared to do some work, with the majority of the group brandishing cutting tools to hack down encroaching vegetation. June, unfortunately, suffered a nasty, self-inflicted sickle wound on her thumb during the Kawai Iki segment. Lester drove her to Wahiawa General, where her thumb was stitched. Ouch.

We hiked Opaeula first. The trail dropped down into a lovely valley, home to Opaeula Stream and Opaeula ditch, a manmade waterway used to irrigate the former cane and pineapple lands further makai. On the initial descent, hundreds of rotting strawberry guavas lay underfoot, with clouds of fruit flies enjoying the bounty. So ubiquitous were these flies that I joked we were sucking in dozens of them with every breath. We also encountered some hunters and their dogs, greeting them as we passed.

The route we hiked followed the ditch for most of the way before crossing Opaeula Stream three times to lead to a pleasant swimming hole. Stuart, who was making note of any changes to the route for an upcoming revised version of his well-known *Hikers Guide to Oahu*, opted to cross a dam in the stream to avoid the three river crossings. Since we arrived at the pool early (it was only 9:30 a.m.) and since the skies overhead were overcast, no one was up for a dip. That would come later for some of us.

From the swimming hole, we proceeded upstream a couple hundred yards to a gaging station and then reversed course to an old jeep road that climbed to the side of the valley opposite the one we initially descended. When the old road topped out, we headed right to descend steeply on a trail to the dam Stuart had crossed earlier.

Instead of using the same route we had entered the valley, we climbed a side ridge that brought us to a large, grassy plateau where we watched a large military chopper hovering about 100 yards away. In fact, a number of choppers swooped over and around the camp during the weekend, undoubtedly as part of a large scale military training operation that was mentioned in the local news.

After the chopper flew off, we continued on our way, arriving in a few minutes at the junction with the Kawai Iki trail which was constructed to build and maintain the Kawai Iki ditch. The route descended initially, then commenced contouring on the Pupukea-facing side of the ridge. There was clidemia to chop as we hiked along and the trail at times was a victim of slippage and erosion; otherwise, it wasn't overly bad, considering the lack of hiker and hunter traffic.

There were some pleasant views to the left to Kawai Iki stream, with a grove of eye-catching palm trees worthy of mention. Later, we came upon two trestles, elevated concrete flumes which allow ditch water to flow over an intermittent stream and later Kawai Iki stream itself. We moved past these trestles several ways--some opting to wade in them, some choosing to follow the trail under them, and some deciding to hang along the side in an interesting balancing act.

We ate lunch at a dam across the stream, with Stuart, Pat, Bill, Greg, and I pushing on after lunch to a swimming hole about a quarter mile further mauka. Stuart mentioned that when the club hiked this trail, the swimming hole was the terminal point. Pat wasn't in the swimming mood but the rest of us took the plunge in the chilly but refreshing water.

The return leg went by quickly thanks to the clearing work we did on the way in. Pat pushed ahead since he had designs on heading to the Kawainui trail to complete a tripleheader. Meanwhile, after reaching the trailhead, Bill and I did some additional exploring to try and locate a large pool a couple folks had told Bill about. Our exploratory jaunt had us descend a first then a second ridge to Opaeula Stream. We also located the extension of the Opaeula ditch trail which will be worth a more extended look when we return to Palama Uka in the future. BTW, we think we located the large pool although it wasn't as idyllic as portrayed. A good rainstorm to flush out the stagnant water will certainly change the complexion of what we saw.

On Sunday, because of other commitments, Pat, Bill, and Willy packed up and were civilization bound by 7 a.m. The rest of us, on the other hand, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and then prepared to hike the Kawainui trail. From the camp, there is a 30 minute walk along the Pa'ala'a Uka Pupukea Road, a military thoroughfare that begins at Helemano Military Reservation outside Wahiawa and continues to exit points at Kahuku and Pupukea. The segment we hiked descended steeply and was heavily rutted in places, but the ruts weren't nearly as deep and menacing as I'd seen them on past visits. Surely, the military engineers had regraded the road recently to make it more passable for army maneuvers.

When the road bottomed out, we crossed a low concrete bridge over Kawai Iki Stream and then another across Kawainui Stream. Soon after the second is the Kawainui trailhead, located at a point where the road turns sharply left and up.

The Kawainui trail, compared to Kawai Iki, is in much better shape. Kawainui appears to be used more often. I do know, for instance, that the Sierra Club hikes it from time to time and that a handful of HTMC members pitched in for a maintenance outing prior to the most recent SC trek.

The day before, Pat made it from trailhead to the large circular pool in 40 minutes. On this day, we needed about 20 minutes longer to reach the pool, completing the requisite ten stream crossings to do the deed. En route, we spotted and picked some mountain apples, an unusual find since the peak season for these is usually July and August.

Billed as the largest on Oahu, the Kawainui pool was a delight to swim in on this warm, sticky day. Stuart, Judy, and I did some exploring upstream, pausing to enjoy the whooshing whirlpool effect of water gushing through a narrow gap between rocks. Kim and Greg also took dips before eating lunch and departing.

In all, it was great weekend of hiking and relaxing with some good friends. For those interested, Bill has booked Palama Uka for a three-day weekend in mid-January. I'll make another announcement as the date nears for those wanting to join us.


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