OHE October 25, 1998 (b)

Date: Sun, 25 Oct 1998 20:49:26 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kokokahi Ridge hike & Halawa Ridge TM

Yesterday (10/24), I was one of 45 folks who joined coordinators Sandy & Dusty Klein (he's an OHE-L member) for the HTMC outing on Kokokahi Ridge in Kaneohe. We met initially on Mokulele Drive near where Dusty lives (and where we'd end the hike) then carpooled over to Friendship Garden on Kokokahi Place where we started the hike.

The trail was billed as a three-mile, intermediate route, and with so many folks on hand the pace was casual. In the early going, we enjoyed a relaxing jaunt thru the loop route in Friendship Garden. Ted Talbott has been the driving force for the work done in the Garden, and kudos are extended to him for his efforts.

Once the ridgetop is gained, the trail takes on a rollercoaster personality. I was impressed with the some of the senior hikers in the group, several probably in their 70s, for the ridge trail isn't a cupcake, and a fair amount of stamina and dexterity is required to progess from beginning to end.

As far as I know, everyone, young and not-so-young, made it all the way, including OHE-L members Wing Ng, Fred Boll, Steve Brown, and a friendly wahine who introduced herself but whose name I didn't catch (apologies).

Mahalo Sandy and Dusty.

Today (10/25), I joined the HTMC maintenance gang to work on the Halawa Ridge trail. Most of the group ascended the usual trail to gain the crest of the ridge on the Koko Head side of Halawa Valley.

A small group of us, however, went up a side ridge 20 minutes further mauka, and gained the ridge in the section of the trail littered with an array of fallen eucalyptus trees. I had gone up this side ridge a couple years ago when I arrived late to trail clearing and didn't know where to ascend, and today I persuaded Bill Gorst, Charlotte Yamane (my idol), Jay Feldman, and Judy Roy to join me. The ridge we ascended is mauka of the heiau and is situated about midway between emergency phones 11 and 12 on H3.

We did some clearing on the way up, and Charlotte put up some ribbons for future reference. All told, we needed about 45 minutes to get from access road to the ridgetop via this side ridge route.

When we reached the main ridge, we met Reuben Mateo and Volker Hildebrandt (Charlotte's husband), who were attacking fallen trees with a chainsaw Reuben had toted. Kudos to Reuben for spending several hours clearing the trail of timber. The segment he worked on is 100% better and a pleasure to hike as a result.

Beyond the eucaplyptus segment, the trail passes thru strawberry guava and then uluhe country. While these flora were a bit overgrown, the worst pest was palm grass, which has grown profusely since our last trail clearing of Halawa nine months ago (1/18/98). Halawa obviously sees little hiker/hunter traffic, and the efforts of the HTMC and Sierra Club in the past several years have helped keep the trail from becoming dinosaurs ala the KST, Kipapa, and Waikane.

And losing Halawa would be a pity because it's a fine trail, offering hikers a gentle (save for the initial steep ascent), scenic avenue to the Koolau summit.

The terminus of Halawa, btw, is at a saddle at 2,200. To get there, there's a seven-mile approach, initially on a Koko Head-facing contour, then on a H3-facing segment, then on a steady climb of a graded trail that winds in and out of a seemingly endless string of gulleys and small gulches.

The bulk of the trail work was needed on the Koko-facing side of the route. At the crossover and beyond to the summit, the trail is distinct although not wide open. Five of us pushed to the summit today, including Kim Roy, Thomas Yoza, Jim (?), and Harold Chinen. We were fortunate to have clear views to windward, and we spotted a couple of folks climbing the Haiku Stairs (*wave* to da Monitor). :-)

In addition to the folks I've already mentioned, also on hand were Grant Oka (HTMC Prez), his daughter Georgina, Mabel Kekina, John Hall (who'll coordinate the club hike of Halawa on 11/8), Carole K. Moon, June Miyasato, Erin Reagan, Thomas' buddy Cary, Ralph Valentino, Greg Kingsley, and Naomi Nasu. Pat Rorie was off on a mainland trip and a couple other maintenance gang regulars were doing the club hike (Konahuanui) today.

One of the nice things about Halawa is that the descent is relatively quick (2.5 hours from the summit) and painless. Thanks to some ribbons ill-placed by some of our colleagues, a bunch of us were led on a less than ideal side trail expedition that had us expend extra time and energy but provided an added workout that made the post-hike refreshments all the more enjoyable. John promised to remove these ribbons so that no one else is led astray.

Halawa isn't in the best shape that I've seen it, but it's certainly ready for the upcoming club outing. I'd like to encourage list members to join John and assistant coordinator Pat Rorie on 11/8. If interested, email Pat (prorie@hekili.k12.hi.us) for details.


Reply From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>

Dayle did a great write-up of our trail clearing efforts today. Since I arrived late and hit the trail alone, I wanted to add some of my impressions...

Having gotten to sleep at 2 AM the previous night, I overslept and awoke at 6:55 AM knowing full-well the set departure time for the HTMC Trail Maintenance gang was 07:15. I considered another hike the HTMC was doing today (Konahuanui) which I had wanted to do for quite some time, then pondered if I should just stay home, catch some much needed Z's, and run some errands. I bit my lip, decided that if I didn't go I'd kick myself later, and set out for Halawa Ridge. I figured my share of maintenance work might help out the upcoming hike and hikers.

Thankfully, Dayle left me a message regarding which street to meet the gang at (since we weren't starting at the original trailhead). After making a film-stop, then making two wrong turns along the way, I found the unattended cars of the TC gang gathered roadside. I felt an irony coming on akin to Dayle's experience of a few years ago and I wondered what next would be waiting for me. It was then I noticed Ralph Valentino's infamous HTMC TC-gang 4WD truck "taxi" missing and my first thought was, "uh oh, they all set off somewhere else!" Quitting was not an option so I disembarked from my motorcycle, lugged my pack, and tried to calculate my bearings with my topographic map. Seeing the diagonal cut across the top of the ridge, I surmised the gang might have hitched a ride on the 4WD path all the way to the footpath. I figured I could intercept them on the way down if this was indeed what they did. However, this was not the case - Ralph just didn't bring the truck this time. Paranoid me...

Soon enough, I found fresh markers tagging a path past the trickling, fish-inhabited brook of Halawa Stream and under the H-3 viaduct. My hopes of bumping into the gang were rising, especially since the markers were leading me up the steep side of the North Halawa Ridge. After some huffing and puffing, my sore (unstretched) muscles found relief as I broke out onto the ridge at about 560 feet. The actual Halawa Ridge Trail at this point was simply a red-dirt gently-rising 4WD road lined with sulking, sun-ripened, yellow strawberry guavas. This progressed for about 3/4ths a mile. A wide footpath through two types of forest continued beyond the two "Halawa Barrel" geodetic benchmarks (c1927). The topo shows this to be a 4WD trail all the way - but don't count on it.

Hearing the buzzing a good distance away, I ran into Charlotte and Volker standing by to assist Reuben with his chainsawing. As Dayle mentioned, definite kudos to Reuben for his awesome work - he transformed the trail from the "land of fallen trees" to something similar to Aiea Loop Trail! We shall knight thee the official HTMC-TC "Amputator"!

Continuing on, I tried to widen some sections of the trail on my own until I found the next batch of members. Carole Moon, June Miyasato, Jay Feldman, and Judy Roy were busy making a "freeway" through the huge growth of uhule layers. Grant & Georgina Oka and Bill Gorst were just ahead of them, too, lopping away at the palm-grass (which has a will to survive most machete and sickle blows). However, it was shaping up to be a terrific clearing! Since I started over an hour late, I decided to stay with this group and help them out until meeting the first group who had pressed on toward the summit over Haiku Valley.

All in all, this was an awesome display of the difference between graded and ungraded ridges. Take its neighboring "sister" ridge across the valley, for example. Do the Aiea Ridge Trail, then try the Halawa Ridge Trail - what a difference grading makes! Even though Halawa Ridge is much longer (since it starts at about 200 feet and Aiea Ridge starts at about 1,650 feet), it's a lot easier. Plus, Halawa Ridge has elements of various trails, such as Lanipo, Aiea Loop, Aiea Ridge. Thanks to the CCC efforts of so long ago!

Another thing that surprised me was how well the noisy H-3 was masked along the first half of the trail. Since it's on the Koko Head side of the ridge, it's a quiet stroll above a pristine, untouched valley. A gentle shower and overcast skies made the trek wonderful. Finally, a cute little brown bird (I forgot the name) fluttered amidst our group, scoping us out from above, then moving within 5 feet of us, seemingly inspecting us individually as it moved laterally from branch to branch. It was a nice way to bring our trail clearing to a close..

On the way down (from just short of the "crossover"), Grant stepped into Ken Suzuki's shoes (who was out leading the Konahuanui hike) and pointed out some plant species I was interested in.

I'm definitely looking forward to returning and completing this trail to the summit.

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