Date: Tue, 1 Dec 1998 05:29:16 -1000 From: Greg Kingsley (email@example.com> Subject: Kamaileunu Ridge, 29NOV98
Sunday, November 29, was the trail clearing of Kamaileunu Ridge - as Paka calls it: "a nasty hunk of rock" which divides the huge leeward bowl into Waianae and Makaha Valleys. Toward the middle I would dub this "decision" ridge, for it became a constant quest for foot placement and trail choice. In participation were (in no particular order): Dayle Turner, Pat Rorie, Nathan Yuen, Arnold Fujioka (club-hike leader), June Miyasato, Lynn Agena, Ralph Valentino, Kim & Judy Roy, Grant & Georgina Oka, Jim Pushaw, Dusty Klein, Erin Reagan, Ken Suzuki, and Deetsie Chave.
Morning light saw myself hitting the trail early (7:00 AM) thanks to Paka and the Pat-mobile. I followed the recently-placed pink markers over the derelict metal pipe and toward the northern slope of the ridge. The Mikiula Flume I had just crossed can be found on the topographic map and was once wooden and used to water the taro patches of the Lualualei homestead area in olden days, the water source: Kekoo Spring (aka "Kamaile Spring") at the base of the ridge(1). I made the sunrise-stroked ridgeline from time to time, but found myself maintaining a Makaha-side trek in avoid sunlight, heiau, and wasps. Morning light had just tipped the crest of nearby Keeau Ridge by the time I found myself gaining the ridge once more, this time behind the neatly-stacked walls of stone of Kamaile Heiau (elev. 320 feet). I paused to enjoy the sight of this ancient site measuring 60 feet in width by 134 feet in length(2).
The strong ascent continued up through Puu Kamaileunu (elev. 1,085 feet) to "flatten" out at about 1,200 feet. From then on it was a half-mile of very wide, rock-scattered ridge. It provided a nice cooling-off period for the sun had not reached its apex yet. At one point, I thought I was seeing a bluish-white ghost of a person standing ahead on the ridge, staring at me with rifle in hand. It turned out to be a benchmark's vaned pole (BM "Makaha", elev. 1,312 feet) leaning to one side. Dayle reached me about five minutes later, carrying on with his usual quick pace.
The ridge narrowed into a sharp boulder dike with no bypass on either side: short, but not-so-sweet. Immediately after this rather eye-opening experience came the beginning of the next heart-pumping assault on the ridge (elev. 1,420 feet) - a lengthy set of steep rocky climbs through cactus-country which tops out at Puu Kepauula (elev. 2,678 feet). After gaining each "false"-peak, the view of another comes to sight - again, and again. Most of this was spent busting old tree limbs, ridding the path of loose rocks, and slicing through dangerously-positioned cacti. I had originally planned to leave all the cacti alone, save the ones right at my toes. But I quickly learned my lesson when I gracefully leaned into a pair of porcupine Mickey-Mouse ears while I was climbing. The positive side to this was that I finally got to try the fruit born of the cacti - a deep-purple, sweet, seedy, starchy flesh resembling the consistency of a mushy pear. Pat had caught up with me at this point and his antics made the time fly by.
Kamaileunu Ridge, despite what I heard, has saddles - the first one a minor depression just as you top out at Puu Kepauula. The 70-foot drop was followed by a contouring goat trail which we marked off to avoid a nasty length of actual ridgeline. Once again, we returned to the ridgeline (after I had successfully negotiated another goat trail which contoured around the next peak).
From then on it became "decision" ridge for me, for goat trails criss-crossed at literally 5-foot elevation intervals. In addition to this "over-the-top" versus "around-on-a-goat-trail" routine came the change of rock type. After the many thousands of years, this parched, layered lava rock, under constant exposure to the sun's beating, turned the ridge into a crumbling, porous mass. As a result, the rock-climbs were over deceptively perilous foot and hand holds. A good example of this came as I made a very steep ascent from goat-trail back to the ridge. Just as I shifted my weight to my right foot on this particular climb, the nestled rock under my left suddenly gave way. I didn't bother to look down, but I heard the rockslide crashing down the slope. Another eye-opener? You bet...
At one point, I was messing around with a particular rock behind which a wriggling 7-inch centipede was lurking, after it had made its zig-zag beeline toward my hand. Gloves or not, I don't care for those things anywhere near me. Suddenly, I heard a baying followed by a rumbling. I turned to spot a huge herd of plump goats (later counted at 29) making passage along a contour about 50-feet down. Ironically, I had wished, earlier that week, for two things: to *finally* see a goat or pig on a trail and for some breeze along this one. The herd soon disappeared around a bend with the exception of a few young stragglers. With the barrage of distant gunshots deep in the valleys, I realized that Kamaileunu Ridge must be a safe-haven for goats. No hunter would ever try to bag an animal along these slopes, then try to retrieve the body. Even if the carnage had yielded a catch directly on the trail, it was one heck of a journey down the ridge to be lugging 50 - 100 pounds of cut meat.
Finally, my goal was at hand: the unnamed peak (elev. 3,210 feet) and highest point along the ridge destined for Kaala. I took in the sights from atop this giant, spotting the water just past Kuaokala, the distant Barber's Point Harbor, even the Koolau Range beyond Mauna Kaala. In the immediate vicinity were the quiet upper reaches of Makaha Valley and sparsely-inhabitated Waianae Valley. I tried to spot the Kaneaki Heiau in Makaha, which I had read so much about, but to no avail.
I pressed on from the summit into a series of three or four smaller peaks along the narrowing, vegetation-free ridge-top. Again, the ridge, at a couple of places, turned into a collection of beaten rocks stuck together with a cement of dirt and packed dust. At one point I opted for a goat trail around a jagged peak only to come across another. I decided to forego the trail's conclusion while its terminus was in sight.about 200 yards away. where the trail abruptly produces a sudden vertical drop in view of Puu Kawiwi. It wasn't the height that bothered me, but the crumbly rocky path and the gusts which had suddenly entered the Waianae arena. I'd have done it just once, but didn't want to return through it again. So, I plopped down and munched on my trail mix halfway between the apex and terminus.
We began our return as soon as the first group connected with my "lunch" spot. I tagged behind, returning to the highest-peak to find the rest of the HTMC clearing gang hanging out there. We continued passed them, re-tracing our steps. I tried some "over-the-tops" on jutting areas where I had originally bypassed on goat trails: in some cases faster and slower in others. As we hiked, one of Arnold's foot or hand-holds gave way, showering the slope with a barrage of pebbles and dust. He had shifted his weight just in time, so no slips or falls..
At Puu Kepauula, we banked left down a side ridge into Waianae Valley instead of staying on the main bulk. This yielded a faster way off the mountain, but the nearly 2,700-foot descent banged the heck out of feet and legs. I took my time, trying to alleviate the effects. However, I left some blood on some bare shrubs and jagged rocks. The ridge, itself, was wide, proceeded at a relatively even grade, and was rather easy to negotiate. It occasionally edged-off into a rock-wall drop ranging from five to ten feet. The angle was considerably better than, say, Tom-Tom. However, my second wish (for breeze) had come true - a bit too true, and what great timing. There's nothing like being wind-whipped with gusts upward to 50 MPH (no kidding) while plodding down a steep ridgeline.
The "southern Kepauula finger" maintained its angle all the way to the base of the mountain where a water pumping station dwelt. So, there I emerged, with sore soles, scratched-up arms, slightly bloody legs, and a mighty large afro (thanks to the wind). The faster hikers had cleared out already as the rest of us assembled to wait for our fellow T-Cers. Poor Erin got whacked by an airborne strap, sending one of her contacts flying. Imagine doing the same ridge, with the wind, without correct vision. Good job, Erin, and to Grant for assisting! Judy, Kim, and Ralph scored some neat goat heads and have plans to include them at the table of their respective, upcoming, family dinners.
The T-Cers gathered street-side for some refreshments and conversation until sundown.
Thanks to ferrying gang, including Mabel Kekina and John Hall, for arranging our transport back to the staging point. Thanks to Arnold for giving Ralph, Pat, and I the ride.
Next week: the return to the lush Koolaus...
1 "Haleiwa Hotele", "Ka Nupepa Kuokoa", August 11, 1899
2 McAllister, J. Gilbert, "Archaeology of Oahu", 1933