OHE October 6, 1998

Date: Tue, 6 Oct 1998 21:11:40 -1000
From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kapalama Loop, 04OCT98

This past Sunday, my friend Suzanne and I tagged along with members of the HTMC on a joint trail clearing venture with Hui Lama - an outdoors club at Kamehameha School. The trail to be cleared was Kapalama Loop: a closed hike on Bishop Estate land just behind the KSBE campus. HTMC members included Mabel Kekina (da boss!), Grant Oka, Georgina Oka, Carole K. Moon, June Miyasato, Erin Reagan, Lynn Agena, Jason Sunada, Pat (Paka-lolo) Rorie, Ralph Valentino, Ken Suzuki, Bill Gorst, John Hall, Kim Roy, Judy Roy, Nathan Yuen, Steve Brown, and Dayle Turner.

After a briefing with HTMC's Mabel Kekina and Kamehameha Schools science teacher Dr. Chuck Burrows, our rather large gathering filtered past the curious gaze of resident students. Past the girls' dormitory, we followed a road leading to a water tank on the north end of the KSBE campus. About halfway up this paved road (elev. 840 feet) the group side-stepped onto the parallel, ungraded trail along Kapalama Ridge. We soon split up: HTMC members continued straight along the ascent while the Hui Lama members crossed left (northbound) and down toward the Kapalama Streambed on the opposite leg of the loop. Uluhe overgrowth was primarily on the southeastern ridge, so both groups were to work toward each other between the trailhead and loop's junction.

The trail itself was relatively smooth and gentle, starting with a forest of pine and ironwood. However, pesky bushes soon nipped at our ankles and knees as the trees thinned. Speedy members (e.g. Dayle, Pat, Nathan) blazed ahead, plowing a path through the sometimes waist-high clumps of uluhe. The rest of us did our share of widening the path and tossing the cut greens to the sides. The more ambitious tackled the large outcroppings of Australian Tea, tearing them at the limbs. In no time, the Hui Lama members (about 5 in all) intercepted us before reaching the junction. We exchanged smiles and laughs and continued on our way while Hui Lama returned to the trailhead.

During the course of our clearing efforts, Mabel kept Suzanne and I smiling with stories of her hiking experiences and "interesting" HTMC gossip. She pointed out some adventures in the Nuuanu Valley to our right as well as the native vegetation we were to avoid cutting. Before we knew it, we had entered another forest of tall trees and clear paths. A few steps further, and we had arrived at the junction.

The junction is just beyond Napuumaia (elev. 1,870 feet).

With so much time at hand, the group decided to break for lunch in an area clear of the tall treeline. Instead of turning left at the junction, we went right and ascended toward Puu Lanihuli. About 15 minutes later (through guava and ohia lehua groves), Suzanne and I stumbled upon the group sprawled about at a clearing. Breaking for lunch at this spot (elev. 2,160 feet), we had a spotty view of both Nuuanu and Kalihi Valleys. Puu Kahuauli, Puu Lanihuli, and Konahuanui were shrouded in misty clouds. Overcast skies made the entire hike cool and pleasant.

The return was uneventful as we trotted back to the junction, clearing on the way down. We continued straight along the northwestern ridge on a "freeway" of a trail. This part of the trail was completely surrounded and canopied by tall trees. Toward the ridge's end, a series of switchbacks on the right led us down to the Kapalama Streambed. The smaller fallen trees and branches blocking the trail were assaulted by saw-armed members, such as Ken and Grant. It was easy to overshoot the switchbacks because of the fallen leaves and branches covering the grade. Pat blocked off these spots with tree limb "fences".

Because of the tree enclosure, I became disoriented and believed (for quite a while) that since we turned right, off the ridge, we were headed north toward Kamanaiki Stream. In actuality, the right turn happened after the trail had gently rounded left around one of the northwestern ridge's fingers. By the time we hit the streambed, we were about 160 feet below the loop's entrance (near the water tank), heading back up the southeastern ridge. Voila, five minutes later and we were back where we started! Plus, we had lots of sunlight left to spare...

As is the HTMC's tradition, we relaxed at our cars with snacks and conversation. Mabel's dessert of banana creme pie definitely needs mention!

Special thanks to Hui Lama and faculty advisor, Dr. Burrows, for allowing us access to this trail. I hope our efforts helped the students of Kamehameha Schools.

Greg =)

P.S. We found a Gatorade can on the trail - heavy walled, pull-tab type, and (once was) carbonated! Didn't realize the stuff was around that long!

Reply From: "STONE, J. BRANDON" <802005%cchpd@co.honolulu.hi.us>

Dayle Turner wrote this:

> At Napuumaia, by the way, is a junction with a trail that leads down
> Kekoalele ridge to Nuuanu by the Oahu Country Club.  Further upridge on
> Kapalama, at the first hump mauka of the top of the loop, we located
> another trail that also led down a ridge into Nuuanu above Waokanaka
> Drive.  Ken Suzuki mentioned that Brandon Stone and friends may have
> forged this route.

You've got that exactly right, Dayle, and Ken has a good memory of our conversation a few weeks ago. My friend Thomas (who has since moved to Maui) and I decided to find a shortcut up to the ridgetop and the trail to Lanihuli. We could see one decent route on the topo, but it was hard to find it on the ground. One week we ascended a spur that became horribly steep, narrow, and overgrown, and finally decided to make a strategic retreat. A couple of weeks later we tried again, first wasting time on another deadend but then coming upon the wonderful dogleg route to the top that we'd been seeking. This route was much more gradual, much less overgrown, and much safer than our prior deadends. We were elated when we finally burst out on top "at the first hump mauka of the top of the loop." This point is also just a hump or two makai of the spot on the ridge marked 2160' on the topo.

A couple of months later a group of us again went up this "shortcut" (I can't swear that it really saves much time, but it's fun) and continued mauka to the narrow dike on the way to Lanihuli.

It is extremely difficult to find the way up this spur from below. I had trouble myself when I returned a few months ago, and took a long time to locate it. You can approach the spur from either end of Mo'ole Valley, but those of you who've been in that area know that there is no easy way to describe a route on paper. The forest is confusing, there are many similar-looking spurs rising up very close together from the valley floor, and there are lots of faint pig trails and hunter trails to throw you off. I'm reluctant to mark the valley routes clearly because I know from experience that hunters will remove the ribbons. Our ribbons should be apparent, though, once you are on your way up the right spur. It's a long way up, about a thousand feet, but the vegetation and the views change in delightful ways as you proceed.

I would caution anyone who wants to find this route by starting from the top. The turnoff from the ridgeline is obvious enough, so getting started should be fairly easy. The problem is that a number of tempting sidespurs diverge from the correct route, and most of them become dangerous or impossible as you descend. If you don't see our ribbons from time to time, then you're not on the right spur. There is a deep ravine that you must keep on your right as you go down. Next time we do this route, we'll put up many more ribbons. (Our recent trip to the Kohala Mountains was an education in this respect. The DLNR workers had placed blue ribbons about every 20', far more frequently than I've ever seen on an Oahu trail, but those ribbons were very helpful in guiding us through the baffling terrain.)

I'm giving my injured heel a rest for a couple of weeks, but after that, assuming that I'm back in good shape, I'd be glad to show anyone who's interested this "shortcut."

A bonus connected to this area: Those of you who are familiar with the 1915 article in The Mid-Pacific Magazine, "Lost on Lanihuli," might have been motivated, as was I, by this passage:

"Gilbert Brown is an expert trail and mountain climber. He led the way up Hillebrand Glen [which I believe to be Mo'ole Valley], climbing and crawling up and around Seven Falls, over a route never before essayed. It was in the afternoon when he and his party reached the summit of Lanihuli and looked down toward the Pali about two thousand feet below."

Seven Falls!? Have any of you been past the first high one? We have looked several times for a way around the first high falls, with no success. The rock is crumbly, loose boulders tumble down easily (as would loose hikers), and the valley walls are very steep. Our alternative idea is to descend into Mo'ole Valley from the ridge that we reach via our "shortcut," though the descent into the valley would have to take place far mauka, almost to Lanihuli itself. We could then presumably work downstream in search of the other six falls. Just an idea to pique some OHEer's interest.

Email me directly if you're interested in an expedition. I can't set a date yet, but I look forward to going back up the "shortcut" in the next couple of months.


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