OHE October 24, 1999 (Little Waimalu Loop)

Date: Sun, 24 Oct 1999 23:34:42 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Little Waimalu Loop (10/24/99)

HTMC trail clearing today was supposed to be Waiawa aka Manana Ditch aka Ahern Ditch. However, a security guard for Gentry wouldn't allow us on the trail so we had to go to Plan B, which took us over to Kaonohi Street and Onikiniki Place (Pearl Ridge Heights).

Having had her troops bounced from Waiawa, Mabel designated the day as an exploration/take-it-easy one. While we did plenty of exploring, there wasn't much that was easy about the outing. There were over two dozen of us on hand, and instead of using the Waimalu Ditch trail to head into the hills, we marched through the gated community (home of Gene Robinson), trying to be as inconspicuous as a couple dozen machete- and lopper-lugging folks can be.

At the uppermost point of the community, we followed a road past a watertank and then continued mauka on an old jeep road that eventually terminated at a puu where a powerline tower is situated. Beyond that was uluhe-land. I'd been through the lower part of the ridge before with Pat (we came up from Kalauao Valley), and the swath that I recall from that time has been swallowed up, likely from a lack of steady traffic from hunters, hikers, and our good friend Dr. Robinson.

A wall of uluhe being the norm, we took turns in the ramrod to push and grunt our way up the ridge. To our right was Kalauao Valley and Aiea Ridge and to our left was Little Waimalu Valley and Little Waimalu Ridge (LWR). At about the 3.5 mile mark, the ridge we were on (I'll call it Onikiniki Ridge) eventually converges with LWR and our goal was to push through to the convergence point and then head makai on LWR and then return to our morning start point via the Waimalu Ditch Trail.

By noon, we still hadn't reached the convergence point, so we found a semi-breezy spot on the ridge to settle down for lunch. Just about everyone who showed up made it to the lunch spot, and about half headed back down the way we'd come up after lunch, citing fatigue, other obligations, or a desire to avoid further abuse by flora.

The intrepid (or masochistic) among us plowed on, and the group included Ralph Valentino, Jim Pushaw, Ken Suzuki, Tom Yoza, Pat Rorie, Greg Kingsley, Bill Gorst, Jason Sunada, Jay Feldman, Lynn Agena, and I.

From our lunch spot, we needed about 45 minutes to reach the convergence point and then we followed LWR makai as we had planned. It was drizzly by this time but we still had nice views down into Big Waimalu Valley and Waimalu Middle Ridge. Ken pointed out lobelia and other native plants along the way, and we kept an eye out from tree snails but saw none. Periodically, we made walkie-talkie contact with Mabel (or vice versa) to let her know where we were and how we were progressing.

Someone has done saw and lopper work on the ridge but the uluhe was usually trackless, indicating a lack of hunter/hiker traffic in recent months. There was some rollercoaster action to endure, and the ridge was muddy in places, but we continued to progress fairly steadily by switching the lead position now and then.

We rested briefly on a puu-top clearing created by hunters. At that puu, a distinct middle ridge drops into little Waimalu Valley and since we had our bearings together, we avoided going down the wrong ridge.

Our next rest break was at the cresting out point of Burnt Ridge, a spur that comes up from the Waimalu Ditch Trail by a koa tree clearing just before the first crossing of (Big) Waimalu Stream. John Hall had marked this ridgetop junction with a pink ribbon, and we spotted a couple others on Burnt Ridge.

From there, we continued makai on LWR, negotiating some small humps in the ridge. Just past a powerline tower, we headed left toward Little Waimalu Valley, following pink ribbons down the steep hillside. There was guava aplenty to assist in our descent, and the trail switchbacked a couple times across the face of a significant band of rocks facing LWV.

In about twenty minutes, we reached Little Waimalu Stream, just a trickle even though light rain had been falling for a couple hours. We crossed the narrow stream at an old concrete dam, and followed the ditch trail back to Onikiniki, emerging a bit past 4:30. Waiting for us in the drizzle was Mabel, Carole Moon, June Miyasato, Deetsie Chave, and Georgina Oka. They had been in the group that backtracked after lunch, getting out around 3 p.m.

Even though the loop we hiked (about 7 to 8 miles, all told) would be nice for a club outing, it's unlikely that will ever come to pass since the large tracts of uluhe to be cleared would be too difficult to open up and then maintain. The problem is compounded since only a few hunters frequent the ridge, so any swath created would then be lost due to a lack of foot traffic. Plus, Gene and his neighbors might not be too eager to have tribes of hikers/hunters parading through their street, and I can't blame them for that.

It also appears that the Waiawa approach to the Ahern Ditch Trail may be no more for the club. What that means is the upcoming club hike will be moved to the Waimalu Ditch Trail (Dusty Klein and Steve Brown did some work on it today). Also, any future use of the ADT may have to be done via Pacific Palisades, an approach that includes some big roller coaster action. We'll see what happens.

Whatever the case, I'm happy to have had a chance to hike where we did today even though my knees are scratched up a bit from plowing through uluhe for six-plus hours.

Imua HTMC!


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