OHE November 29, 1999 (Three Corners-Ohikilolo)

Date: Mon, 29 Nov 1999 13:54:10 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@k12.hi.us>
Subject: A day hike to Three Corners and along Ohikilolo Ridge

Woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, Nov. 21st, to the sound of LESTER OHARA'S voice shouting "Good morning, CAROLE!". Upon emerging from my tent, I noticed that blue sky had returned but could feel soreness in my muscles from the previous day's trip - 6.6 miles and 1,100 feet elevation gain. Sometime after 7 a.m. JUNE, KEN and LESTER got busy fixing breakfast which they shared with the entire group. A big mahalo to them for all the food and sodas the three provided over the weekend. Meanwhile, I broke down my tent and loaded my backpack for our eventual 3 p.m. departure.

After breakfast and once everyone had prepared for a day hike, LESTER drove us up the dirt road in his truck to the Mokuleia trailhead. We began hiking at 9 a.m. and I broke away from the gang almost immediately. At a nice overlook on the Makua Rim Trail where the Mount Ka'ala Road first comes into view, the group split up into three parties. BRANDON and KAY, map in hand, decided anew to look for the elusive springs. LESTER, JUNE, and INGER went exploring down a side ridge that intersects the Mokuleia Trail, and KEN, RALPH, LYNN, CARMEN, and CAROLE followed me toward Three Corners. On the way to Three Corners I noticed that someone (State DLNR or Army) had made repairs to the fence thus preventing pigs and other ungulates from entering Makua Valley.

I reached the peak at 10 a.m., paused briefly to hydrate, then began descending next to the fence on Ohikilolo Ridge. The fence came to an end not far from Three Corners and beyond its terminus I enjoyed excellent open ridge walking over several narrow but relatively level dikes leading to prominent peaks along the crest. Spectacular views of massive, air craft carrier shaped Mount Ka'ala, Makaha Valley, Kamaileunu Ridge, Makua Valley and the Makua Valley middle ridge were mine to savor. The back of Makua Valley between the middle ridge and Ohikilolo Ridge is a classic amphitheater shaped region and like spokes on a wheel, smaller ridges dive steeply down to the valley floor. At times I had to smash through Christmas berry branches for the sake of safety and exercise extra caution when climbing over crumbly rotten rock. However, the stretch is not as dangerous as Kamaileunu Ridge between Kawiwi and Noname peaks.

Just past a pinnacle (elev. 2,736 ft - refer to the Kaena quad, island of Oahu, topo map to get a better idea of my position), I arrived at the first of four rope sections anchored by a metal fence post and descended steeply along the crest. A narrow dike followed leading to the second rope which took me off the crest 25 feet down the Makaha Valley facing slope to a ledge containing a goat trail. I spotted a handful of goats on the peak ahead but they quickly dispersed when they saw me moving in their direction. I carefully walked on the ledge until I regained the crest, then contoured a short distance on the Makaha Valley side of the ridge until an adequate entry up to the next pinnacle presented itself. Once I completed the climb to the top of the peak (BDY on the topo), I descended to a very steep dropoff and the location of the third rope (more like a shoe string due to its slender width!). I scanned ahead and recognized a fourth rope spanning a notch in the ridge. There also appeared to be a steep climb over a narrow part of the ridge beyond the fourth rope. The Norfolk Island pine didn't look that far away! Alone and desiring to meet the group heading to Three Corners, I turned back making a mental note to check out the ridge starting from the triangular peak (the terminus of the former HTM Ohikilolo hike).

Retraced my steps to the Makua Rim Trail reaching Three Corners at 11:30 a.m. where I found KEN, RALPH, CAROLE, LYNN and CARMEN enjoying the awesome panorama of Ka'ala, the north shore, Makua Valley, Makaha Valley and Kamaileunu Ridge. After exchanging small talk, the six of us reluctantly departed the pu'u at 12 noon and made our way to the Mokuleia Trail. While the others headed back to Peacock Flats, I descended a ridge HTM had used on Nov. 14th during the Three Corners club hike to remove red ribbons tied periodically to trees along the route, a stipulation the DLNR required for hiking in the area. At the sign marking the boundary of the Pahole NAR, I turned around and backtracked to the Mokuleia Trail and ultimately ended up at the Peacock Flats campground arriving there at 2:20 p.m. I found my colleagues in full pack up mode with most of the tents no longer visible.

At 3 p.m. a caravan of three vehicles (LESTER'S truck, KEN'S Honda 4X4, and RALPH'S truck) loaded with tired campers departed Peacock Flats bound for the Ka'ena Point Satellite Tracking Station. The sometimes dusty ride took all of 45 minutes and featured scenic views of the Oahu's north shore. At the dirt lot where LYNN, CARMEN, and I had parked on Saturday morning, the gang reassembled briefly one final time to finish off LESTER'S sodas and bid each other farewell.

While the others headed for home, I drove to the entrance of the former First Hawaiian Bank rec center in Ohikilolo Valley to prep the initial ascent of the upcoming Kea'au Ridge super hike. Although a new policy of not clearing super hikes is now in place, I felt it necessary to do a little bit of work on this one due to the existence of a grove of kiawe trees (known for their long, sharp thorns) along the first section of the trail. It was a good thing I did because I discovered that tall grass had grown up beyond the kiawe all the way to the ridge crest. Using loppers to cut an opening between kiawe, I tied red ribbon periodically to branches to mark the route. Unfortunately, I ran out of ribbon in the tall grass and told myself that one more visit to finish the job would be prudent.

At 5:45 p.m. I gained the crest of a side ridge which the super hikers will use to reach the summit of Pu'u Kea'au and watched the sun set in the western sky. Returned pretty much the way I came arriving at my vehicle at 6:10 p.m. Breathed a sigh of relief when I observed the gate on Farrington Highway still open.

== Paka

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