OHE November 30, 1998 (b)

Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 15:11:27 -1000
From: Dayle Turner (dkt@aloha.net>
Subject: Kamaileunu

The HTMC trail maintenance outing yesterday (11/29/98) was Kamaileunu and a bunch of us went up the mighty mountain to encounter the strongest wind gusts I've ever experienced while hiking. On hand were Pat Rorie, Greg Kingsley, Grant Oka, Georgina Oka, Ken Suzuki, Ralph Valentino, Arnold Fujioka (who'll coordinate the Kamaileunu hike), Jim Pushaw, Dusty Klein, Kim and Judy Roy, Mabel Kekina, Deetsie Chave, Bill Gorst, Lynn Agena, Nathan Yuen, Erin Reagan, John Hall, and June Miyasato.

For better vehicle security, we parked on Ala Akau Street off of Farrington Highway and walked about a half mile to the trailhead. Pat, Greg, and I shoved off earlier than the main group, and while Greg pushed on up-mountain, Paka and I explored the cave at the base of the ridge, a wide-mouthed, low-ceiling affair complete with a bit of carpet, a couple of wooden posts, and a bedroom in the rear. Interesting.

Initially, there is a steep climb past Kamaile Heiau, which we were careful to skirt on the Makaha side. In the past, we've hiked through the heiau; however, out of respect we decided a bypass route would be better. A few weeks ago, Pat, Wing Ng, Steve Poor, and I were subjected to a wasp attack while hiking near the heiau, but we were spared by the stinging insects yesterday even though they were still in residence. Maybe the windy conditions or the early hour saved us.

The steep climb to Pu'u Kamaileunu (1,085) takes 20 to 30 minutes and is followed by a long, relatively level segment of the ridge. The trail passes the Makaha benchmark (1,312), where a triangulation sign is also located. Looming ahead is the huge bulk of mountain where serious climbing recommences. So after about 30 minutes of cruising along on a lovely level segment, huff and puff hiking resumed.

From a distance, the slope to be climbed appears imposing. However, like many Waianae ridges, what looks bad isn't. For first timers to the trail, this segment can be mentally devastating, for once one pu'u is acquired, another unseen one higher up comes into view. And on and on goes the parade of false summits until the ridge at last bends to the right to meet Pu'u Kepau'ula (2678).

A few weeks back, Wing, Pat, Steve, and I ascended to Kepau'ula via a side ridge from Waianae Valley. Although steep, no big danger exists on the climb so we planned to use this as a descent route yesterday. I was the first to reach Kepau'ula yesterday, and while I rested for a few minutes there, I affixed a double ribbon to a lantana branch and watched in stand-still amazement as a billy goat (50-60 lbs) trotted by within 30 feet of where I stood. I've been told that goats have poor eyesight but excellent hearing and smell. Apparently, because I stood still and because the wind was blowing just right, the goat never knew I was there. If I were a hunter, I could have easily bagged it, for it stood with its flank exposed for a good 10 to 15 seconds easily in range of a bullet or arrow. Since I'm a non-hunter, I watched the animal trot mauka on the Waianae Valley-side slope where a myriad of goat trails web the mountainside.

In fact, traversing the initial section beyond Kepau'ula involves a rocky descent, a traverse through an ironwood grove (there's a hunters' campsite there) and then a contour below the ridgeline on goat trails. Following the goat highway is helpful since we avoid some dike sections and steep climbing, at least for a while. To the right in this section is a precipitous gulch and beyond it Waianae Valley. The winds were fairly gentle compared to what we'd face later in the day, but the temps were quite mild, probably in the low 80s, making for pleasant hiking, not always the norm on the rugged slopes of Kamaileunu ridge.

After contouring along the slope around a couple of corners in the ridge, following ribbons all the while, we regained the main crest just prior to a second ironwood grove. We hacked open a trail all the way through the grove to replace a bypass route that took the trail to the right alongside the slope. I christened this segment the Wing Ng ironwood trail since he's been the main proponent for its creation.

Beyond the grove is the 3,210 pu'u, and beyond that are several small humps along a narrowing ridge. The terminus of the club hike is at an overlook where the ridge drops steeply to a saddle. The view here is superb, with Waianae Valley to the right and Makaha to the left. Dead ahead along the crest are Pu'u Kawiwi (2,975), No Name Peak (3,000) and massive, flat-topped Kaala, the roof-topper of Oahu.

As the first terminus arrivers prepared to eat lunch, we spotted a sizable herd of goats, maybe 30 in all. The animals were contouring about 50 yards below us on the Waianae-side slope and the herd included some good-sized billies, one with an impressive rack and beard. The ease which the goats cruised along the steep hillside amazed us.

At the terminal spot, Nathan, Jim, Dusty, Pat, Arnold, and I hunkered down to eat lunch, relax, and stay warm, given the constancy of ka makani. Those who cared to took turns signing the summit log, which includes entries by Bu Laia and the famous local chef Sam Choy (you'll have to climb Kamaileunu to read these for yourself). Meanwhile, the others stopped at Kepau'ula or Pu'u 3,210 to eat, with most continuing on to the terminus after lunch.

I should mention that the terminal peak is unnamed and conjecture exists whether it or Pu'u 3,210 is the apex of Kamaileunu Ridge. Whatever the case, there is a goodly amount of exertion required to reach these points and if the day is warm and windless, six to eight liters of water are necessary to ease the suffering. Yesterday, with strong wind gusts whipping most of the day to cool us off, I drank maybe three of the eight liters I lugged. Ken remarked that he'd never imagine needing a jacket to stay warm on Kamaileunu, but such was needed yesterday.

After lunch, we backtracked to Kepau'ula, needing about 30 minutes to complete this leg. On the way, we saw more goats, likely from the same batch we'd watched earlier before lunch. Hunters could have gunned down a bunch of these with ease, but the problem would be descending steep slopes to retrieve the carcasses and hauling the load back up.

Instead of backtracking all the way, we descended to Waianae Valley via the Kepau'ula side ridge. This descent route is steeper but shorter than exiting via the main ridge, and completing the side ridge took about an hour, give or take. The winds intensified during this final leg, and there was even a bit of rain and a pleasant rainbow arching over upper Waianae Valley. So strong was the wind that Erin had a contact whooshed off her eye.

Mabel was waiting for us in Waianae Valley at a residential area near Kawiwi Way, and she ferried the early arrivers to Ala Akau, so they in turn could return to the residential area to transport others.

As we usually do, we enjoyed refreshments and each other's company before heading home. I especially enjoy the drive back along the west side coast, always a pleasant capper to a day in the Waianae mountains.

--DKT (testing out a new internet account)

Return to OHE top | Return to Oahu Hike Tales | Email Dayle