With rainy conditions prevailing and with a big event looming later, I could only manage a short hike in Hoomaluhia Gardens near where I live in Kaneohe. Many trails there have been closed off because of lack of maintenance which is a shame because I'm sure people would enjoy roaming around along the stream trail and up and down some gentle hills in the area. I hiked one of the closed routes on this day, the result being an unwanted collection of those sticky seeds (we call them kukus) on my socks and shoe laces. The rain meant waterfalls in the Koolaus and there were several healthy ones streaming down from Lanihuli which looms directly above the Garden grounds. Nice.
The big event of the day was the first annual Uluhe Fest, a name suggested by Gene Robinson, who also volunteered the use of the community pavilion above where he lives in Pearlridge Heights. The pavilion was a beautiful place for our gathering, providing a roomy venue to meet, talk story, share pictures, enjoy a potluck feast, and take in the view of the Oahu coast from Pearl Harbor to Ewa Beach. Attending the Fest were Wing Ng (who arrived early and hiked the ridge mauka of the pavilion for an hour), Mae Moriwaki and her friend Sam, Pat Rorie, Jarrod Kinoshita, Pete Caldwell, and Gene and his girlfriend and son.
Jarrod, Pat and I brought photos we had of hikes we'd been on and these were great conversation pieces. Most of Jarrod's pics, complete with typed captions, were in a well-organized album. Pat brought a ton of snapshots, including many of his beloved Pu'u Ohulehule. After we all had eaten, Pete wowed us with a great slideshow presentation that included shots of the Waimalu Middle Ridge hike and a couple of Koolau Summit Trail adventures. He also shared some slides he had of blooming lobelia, a rare native plant species found mostly on high, isolated ridges.
To sum up, the food was great, the talk-story sessions and rehashing of past hikes taken were even better, and we all agreed we'd do it again, with more advance notice so more OHE-L folks could make plans to join us. The first of us arrived at 5:30 and the last left at 11. Good, good fun from beginning to end. Mahalo to Gene for hosting us and to members of the OHE gang who were able to attend.
Just like the day before, rain was a steady presence on Oahu, at least in the morning hours, so that played a role in the kinds of hike outings to consider. I persuaded Paka-lolo Rorie to meet me at Keaiwa Heiau State Park in Aiea Heights where we intended to meet some HTMC members to clear the Aiea Bisectual (or Bisectional) Trail which follows a ridge that bisects the Aiea Loop Trail. We also invited Wing Ng to join us but he declined, perhaps because he was tired from the shindig the night before and his pre-Uluhe-Fest hike.
After the clearing work, Paka-lolo and I planned to descend to Kalauao Valley, find a route up to Waimalu Ridge (the one Gene lives on), and descend it to Onikiniki Place where I left my vehicle.
As it turned out, we departed our vehicles at the parking lot at the uppermost part of Keaiwa Park at 10:30 and our late start meant we had arrived too late to help Mabel Kekina and crew clear the bisectional trail. Since Pat had never traversed the route before, we hiked it, starting at the stream crossing at the lowest/makai-most part of the loop trail and ascending to a point above the second powerline tower on the upper section of the loop. Mahalo to Mabel and gang for their work.
The 30-minute ascent of the bisectional trail was a good warmup for what was coming up later in the day. Once we reached the loop trail again, Pat and I headed down it for a few minutes until we arrived at a scenic spot with a nice view of Kalauao Valley below and the Waianae Range in the distance. We took a break there, and using a topo map and the view from the overlook, we scoped out possible ascent routes to Waimalu Ridge from Kalauao Stream.
After the break, we continued down the loop trail for a few more minutes and began our descent to Kalauao at a trail just above the second powerline tower. That route descends fairly steeply for about a hundred yards and then contours mauka along the Diamond-Head-side slope of Kalauao Valley for maybe half a mile before eventually bottoming out at Kalauao Stream. On the way down, we passed a couple of small intermittent streams, one with a waterfall. We also passed on the right the junction with the trail that descends a ridge from the high point of the Aiea Loop at Pu'u Uau.
We arrived at Mike Uslan's beloved Kalauao Stream at a point maybe a quarter mile above the waterfall and pool Stuart Ball mentions in his book (I'm pleased to report that the area didn't appear trashed nor trampled). Pat and I headed makai, crossing the stream a couple times. On the right bank at one point are several tall palm trees. Rising up behind them is a distinct ridge, the one we'd climb to reach Waimalu Ridge.
The 1/4 mile, 700-foot elevation-gain ascent took us over an hour. Near the top we found cut branches that indicated others, probably hunters, had used the route before. Further down, though, we had to hack out our own path and search for the line of least resistance up the steep, heavily vegetation-covered (guava, ti, ieie, lama, kukui, koa) slope. With Pat marking our route with pink ribbon, we worked our way around or over a few small rock faces, one with a small, ominous cave. As we approached the crest of the ridge, the ascent angle lessened and we found a clear path through uluhe in the final 50 yards.
Once the ridgetop was gained, we went off course initially and bashed our way downridge through uluhe on a non-trail. After a few minutes, we reached a trail that wasn't a freeway but was still distinct. While I took a break in the shade of a small koa (it was a magnificent, sunny day at that point), Pat backtracked to put ribbons at points along the trail leading to the place where we had topped out (for future reference). When Paka-lolo returned, we continued makai on the trail which eventually turned into an old jeep road and led us back to Onikiniki Place. We reached my vehicle at 3 p.m., ending an interesting 4.5-hour day of hiking.
I joined the HTMC maintenance gang at the end of California Avenue at 8 a.m. to help work on the Wahiawa Hills trail. Members in attendance were Mabel Kekina, Deetsie Chave, Bill Gorst, Charlotte Yamane, John Hall, Jay Feldman, Thomas Yoza, Ken Suzuki, Steve Poor, June Miyasato, Naomi Nasu, Ralph Valentino and his nine-year-old son Michael.
In the first 20-minutes of the hike, Jay slipped on a rock right before the first stream crossing and when he used his hand to break his fall, fractured a bone in his left wrist. Deetsie drove our injured colleague back to Pearl City where he had left his car and then accompanied him to the hospital. Here's hoping for an uncomplicated and quick recovery period for Jay.
After wishing Jay well, the rest of us continued on, climbing and descending a succession of ridges (the trail is named Wahiawa Hills for good reason) and clearing as we hiked. At noon, we took a break to rest and eat at the traditional lunch spot by a sizable pool along Kaukonahua Stream. Rain fell from time to time, including a couple brief flickers during lunch.
We continued our labor at 12:30 and whacked away at uluhe for the next 2.5 hours. Not much clearing was needed in the final half hour and by 3:30 we had returned to our starting point by the big water tank at the end of California Avenue where a group of neighborhood kids were playing touch football in the street.
As I sat by my vehicle taking off my muddy boots, a young girl, maybe about nine, came by and struck up a short conversation.
"Did you go hiking?" she asked.
I smiled and nodded.
"Was it fun?"
"Yeah, it was," I replied.
Hearing us, the nine-year-old's sister, probably around six and undoubtedly curious about this mysterious, alledgedly fun activity that led a burly stranger to become so wet and muddy, joined in the conversation.
"What's hiking?" asked the younger sib.
Before I could think of an answer digestable for a six-year-old, her older sister ably chimed in: "It's when people go walking around in the bushes."
Couldn't have defined it any better. Ahh, the wisdom of our youth.
So went my weekend of walking around in the bushes.
Safe hiking to you all,