OHE November 14, 1998

Date: Sat, 14 Nov 1998 15:47:27 -1000
From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kawainui Stream, 08NOV98

Deep within the low, mountainous terrain just north of Halemano ("House of the Hand")(1), the site of mid-18th century systemic cannibalism (1, 2), is a complex set of flumes, aqueducts, intakes, and dams. Installed this century to shuffle the waters of the northern leeward Koolau valleys to the vast sugar cane plantations of Haleiwa, the keepers of these creations used trails to access the network of emplaced concrete. In the Kawailoa Forest Reserve, several contour footpaths dip into the gulches and follow the meanderings of the Kawaiiki Stream, Opaeula Stream, and Kawainui Stream.

On November 8, 1998, the "gang", on its weekend of relaxation, trickled from the campsite along the dirt road fronting the campsite (Opaeula Road) and headed for the Kawainui trailhead. This included Dayle Turner, Stuart Ball, Kim & Judy Roy, and myself. A few hundred yards later, the relatively level road dropped off into a steep, rutted 4WD road (Paalaa Uka Pupukea Road) which began a mildly-winding descent from an elevation of 1,240 feet.

While our heels kicked up puffs of red dust and our comments reflected on the steep grade for the return walk, a mammoth USAF Lockheed C-5 Galaxy swooped in low over the foothills. I pointed out the airborne transport, one of the world's largest heavy-lifters, to the rest of the group, remarking how unusually low it was flying. I didn't make its connection to the Army's ongoing maneuvers (which had occured all weekend) until I noted that its rear cargo deck doors were open. The plane flattened out its smooth descent, its turbofan engines grinding and chewing air, and soared over a flat-topped ridge near Puu Kapu. A large, parachuted box emerged from the aircraft which immediately peeled away from its bombing run into a roaring, ascending, 180-degree, high-G turn and headed home. Seeing this sent Kim Roy and I running to the nearest roadside clearing from which we spotted the final moments of the unmanned package's descent. We cheered its successful disappearance into the wooded field on the ridge in front of ours. Remarkable aim!

That exciting moment took our minds off the rather boring road underfoot. It finally bottomed out at an elevation of 640 feet, crossed the two bridges over the Kawaiiki and Kawainui Streams, then proceeded muddily to the trailhead. A freshly placed marker signalled the start of the graded footpath just as the 4WD road diverted ridge-bound to the left

The trail started off as some mild switchbacking before reaching a contour through the forest of guava and eucalyptus with an occasional "clearing" of uluhe. The sound of the rippling Kawainui Stream cut in and out - signs that mankind had meddled its flow using tunnels and ditches. Luscious pink and red mountain apples tempted my lips - taking a juicy one for a crunchy snack along the way. I noted, in case I had reached some sort of monster hunger on the return, that huge clumps of the fruit were hidden within the 15-foot high canopy of leaves. The obvious lack of traffic made the trail a bounty of apple, guava, and thimbleberry.

The contour trail dipped down into the valley for a number of stream (and one dam) crossings, during which I spotted a hole in the wall - literally, an intake tunnel along the stream bank. Though the majority of the trail was well-defined and clear, I added several pink markers in key areas/junctions susceptible to the impending overgrowth in case the trail wasn't to be visited in the next few months. After about the tenth, or so, crossing the final destination was at a wide part of the valley, open enough for a good view of both ridges. Upon seeing the very large water-hole, suspected to be the largest on the island, I didn't need to wait for it's cool invitation to plunge in. This, after an unusual looking bee stung my right palm midway through the gulch of rocks (in the wide open! - strange!).

After getting into the water, I almost immediately lost touch with bottom. Willy and Bill Melemai, who couldn't come with us on this particular outing, had mentioned this same weekend that they once tried to plumb-line measure the placid little lake. I think the number they mentioned was at least "20" feet - and it didn't even hit bottom, they said. I breaststroked through the wide, oval pool, and proceeded, partially submerged, into a narrow ravine of water which hid a couple of neat little waterfalls, perfect for back-massages. Smaller, 2-ton boulders had lodged themselves here and there, splitting the stream into a couple of jacuzzis with gushing jets of water.

A quick lunch, a couple of gulps of water, and soon I was on my return. Dayle and the rest of the gang had left before me and I later found they had attacked a section of hau which had turned part of the footpath into a messy jungle gym. Luckily, an overcast sky kept the baking sun's rays from beating down on me. Nevertheless, I prepared myself when I got to the trailhead and 4WD road with a quick soaking in Kawaiiki Stream. I trudged back up the desolate road which now had fresh tracks of army hummers and dirt bikes. Lester Ohara, who had ventured down the road as far as the first stream (Kawaiiki) with Carole and June, was waiting at the top with his truck to give me a quick ride through the next few hundred yards of flat, monotonous roadwalk.

An excellent, novice, valley hike, the Kawainui Trail has few views but affords good fruit and a great swimming hole. However, as I was considering this as a hike recommendation for the club at my alma mater, the 30-minute road trek (comprising about a third of the entire journey) is a real anticlimax to the fun. The road is apparently in better condition now than of years back, so 4WD-vehicular passage may be possible (if one can obtain the permits to transgress into these private lands).

1 Westervelt, W.D. "Paradise of the Pacific", July 1904

2 "Some Cannibals on Oahu in Olden Times", Ka Hae Hawaii, Sept. 25, 1861


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