OHE November 15, 1999 (Waikakalaua-Mililani Mauka)

Date: Mon, 15 Nov 1999 07:24:50 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Waikakalaua-Mililani Mauka Loop

More stream-of-c from dkt :-)

With a respite from trail clearing, a bunch of us got together to do some exploring yesterday (11/14). The club hike was Three Corners. Did that last Sunday with Paka so no-go for that for me.

Hike recap:

We meet at 8 at the fifth street on the right up in Mililani Mauka. Obviously I can't recall the name nor do I have a street map handy else I'd mention da name. There are 13 of us: Brandon Stone, Kay Lynch, Ken Suzuki, June Miyasato, Inger Lidman, Lester Ohara, Lynn Agena, Thomas Yoza, Ralph Valentino, Steve Montgomery, Bill Gorst, Lita Komura, and I. A baker's dozen, says Thomas, who never fails to take a headcount.

The weather is fair to midland (expression used by my Arizona-raised roommate in grad school). That is, it is cloudy with a threat of rain.

From the fifth street on the right, we walk up the main drag (Meheula Parkway?) and turn left on the last street. Most houses on it are still under construction and this access will be lost eventually when the construction is pau, says Lester. Other ways still exist to get to where we need to go, so it's not like all access will be lost. This is Lester's stomping ground since he lives nearby.

We pick up a muddy jeep road, follow it for 5-10 minutes and turn left and down on an older overgrown jeep road (junction is obscure) that drops down into Waikakalaua Gulch. This older road is on the topo map. Halfway down the old road, we pass a fairly new Honda (we joke that it's Grant Oka's car) thieves have stripped and left there. We speculate how they put the car there. "Drove it here" says someone. Don't see how since the road down isn't really a road. "The wonders of front-wheel drive," says Ralph.

Eventually, the old road reaches the stream. Plenty of water (yucky brown kine). We turn left and follow the trail/old road downstream, passing a huge grove of bamboo. Cross the stream. Pass a large pool. Locals call this pool "Paradise." Don't know why since the muddy banks and water seem more like a cesspool. Climb the bank on the far side and pick up a trail that takes us up to a jeep road that leads past/into the Waikakalaua tunnels (see Stuart's book page 89).

Several people have flashlights so we walk thru the (very) dark tunnel. Brandon and Ralph do mantra-like "ohhmms" as we walk thru. This rattles Lynn a little so Brandon and Ralph turn up the volume. We comment about the graffiti we see. The tunnel walk takes 5-10 minutes. On the mauka end, we climb up a steep slope on the left to gain a trail on the ridgetop. I'll refer to this as Waikakalaua Ridge.

The trail is well-defined and is a contour. Built by military? Probably. Plenty of low-paid labor with plenty of time on their hands. Plenty of eucalyptus. Ken tells us later that the state (or whoever was in authority) had five million eucalyptus trees planted in Hawaii at one point as a reforestation project. What we are seeing are trees and/or relatives of that 5M, says Ken, a man who knows his flora.

Do we have a terminus? asks Thomas. Time is our terminus, I reply.

Walking in clouds even though our elevation is relatively low, we pass a couple of benchmarks and stay on the ridge, avoiding some sidetrails that head down spurs left and right. Continue on the rollercoaster ridge. Muddy and slippery in places. A few of us flop, yours truly included. Am wearing my worn down Reebok cleats instead of my trusty Nike Sharks. Grabbed the Rees by mistake while leaving home in haste. Bonehead.

We keep going and at 10:45 or so we run out of a defined trail. Ken and Ralph ramrod us upridge and at about 11:15 we stop to eat lunch at a nice pu'u under a koa tree, mostly because the peanut gallery is barking. Good views upridge. Looking mauka, we can see the Schofield Trail cut into the ridge to our left. Way, way up is the Koolau summit and Pu'u Ka'aumakua. Getting to the summit on this outing is out of the question. Too dog-gone far.

Facing the summit, the ridge on our right (I'll call it Mililani Mauka Ridge) also looks interesting and we decide that after lunch we'll drop down into Waikakalaua Gulch and climb a spur to get to it. Brandon really likes this idea.

No one wants to keep going up Waikakalaua Ridge (WR) after lunch. So we head back down WR for 10-15 minutes. At a pu'u with a pipe (1,529 on Waipahu quad topo?), we find a trail going down a spur to Waikakalaua Stream (we'd crossed this further down in the a.m.). Ralph, Brandon, and I surge ahead, remarking about how good the trail is. Brandon spots an unusual species of lama (lama lau nui?) and waits to show it to the plant folks (Ken and Kay). Ralph and I reach the stream without a problem and whoop out to the others that we've made it. The descent from the ridgetop takes maybe 15 minutes.

The others are close behind. I find out that Lester, Lynn, June, and Inger aren't with us, opting to stay up on Waikakalaua Ridge and return to the cars the way we came in the a.m.

We cross the stream (gently flowing), follow a pig trail on the far bank for 10-20 meters and then bash our way up a spur. Ralph starts out as the sacrificial lamb and I fill in after a while. I hear Steve laughing at many points. No shortage of a sense of humor in him for sure. We need about half an hour to get to the top of Mililani Mauka Ridge. Take a welcome rest break there. Kenji shares some cookies and Nestle crunch candy. Steve shares some li hing mango. Lita is in good form even though she hasn't hiked much in '99. She's given up smoking so that's probably helped.

To our delight, we pick up a good trail heading down MMR. Ken says several times how much he loves this ridge/trail. Why haven't we heard about this trail before? he asks. We'll find out the answer later. The ridge is gentle, with no big ups and downs. We make good time heading down. Over to the left we can see Kipapa Ridge w/ trademark pines two ridge humps away.

MMR is partly uluhe covered and mostly open. A swath is always there. Hunters must use this, we theorize. Lita is jabbering a lot. Ahh, there's a hill coming up, say Steve, Ken, and I. That'll quiet her down. Hills--the great silencers.

We reach a small saddle and climb up a hill. Lita still jabbers until halfway up. Her last words are "I'm tired." Hills--the great silencers.

At the top of the climb we enter a dark eucalyptus forest. We've heard we might come upon a plantation with unfriendly owners and dogs. We joke that the first person will be dog-bait, allowing the rest of us to get by while he/she gets mauled. Hearing this, no one is fully enthused about being in the lead. At one point I'm in front. I intentionally go off the trail and make like I'm lost so someone else is in front (I didn't go to college for nothing). As it turns out, Steve is the dog-bait candidate when we finally reach the plantation. Just before it, we see NO TRESPASSING signs. Pulse rates rise. We're on dog alert.

We pause and whisper. Steve hesitates. Ken tiptoes ahead, his head on a swivel looking for attack dogs. He waves us on and we march down the gravel road through the plantation, waiting for the verbal reprimand axe to fall. I have my hiking poles for defense in case of canine attack. There is strength in numbers, someone says.

We pass an unoccupied house on the left and a bigger mansion-like one on the right. Nobody home? Looks like it. We pass another house on the right with angry pitbulls. They're in a kennel but are barking like hell.

Further down, we see people at a house on the right. Brandon tells us to invoke "The Law of the Splintered Paddle." I volunteer Brandon to be our spokesperson when we are confronted. "Private property is a foolish human notion," he says. Right you are, Mr. Spokesman.

The people at the house don't seem upset that we're coming through. Ken and Steve ask them who we need to see to get permission to hike through the property. They get a name.

As we reach the makai end of the plantation property, a white truck comes rumbling down the road to confront us. Ken talks to the guy (the property manager) who makes it clear we are trespassing. The mgr. isn't angry but the point is clear that we have come through an off-limits area. The mgr. says we can access MMR via Waikakalaua Gulch but not through the plantation nor the gulch on the Kipapa side (the plantation property extends down there). Understood, says Ken.

Beyond the plantation, there is a 20-30 min. road walk to get back to our vehicles. We arrive there at 3 p.m. We started at 8:15 so we have been out and about for about seven hours. Lester, Lynn, June, and Inger get back at 4:30. We do refreshments (Lynn's sweet potato pie & bean dip and Bill's chocolate-dipped strawberries the highlights) until 5:30 then head home.

A good day on the trail. We'll be back, we agree, to find a way around the plantation for further exploration of MMR.

It's a ridge you'll love, says Ken.


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