Visited the Hawaii Nature Center in Makiki to begin what may become, what with my advancing age, a more regular hiking hangout. Spent 2.5 hours hiking a network of trails that took me up to the top of Tantalus (Kanealole-Nahuina), around it (Manoa Cliffs), and back to my NC starting point (Moleka-Maunalaha). No, there were no narrow dikes, steep dropoffs, or cable sections, but I enjoyed the hike still. As I remarked to Pat "Paka-lolo" Rorie, it's good to hike once in a while where imminent death isn't a factor in the equation. Saw maybe 12 to 15 people during the hike, most in the area near the Nature Center. Good fun and a decent, quick workout.
Joined Honolulu City Councilmember Steve Holmes and a posse of other hikers for a sanctioned ascent/descent of the Haiku Stairs (mahalo to OHE-L member MaryAnne Long for getting myself and several other folks placed on the hike roster).
In addition to CM Holmes and I, in the lineup for the outing were Pat Rorie, Chris Thomas (a Kamehameha classmate), Wing Ng (lopperless--a rarity), Ralph Valentino, Torrey "G.I. Jane" Goodman, Laredo "Rainbowman" Murray (blue hair today), Bill Gorst, Steve Poor (hauoli la hanau to him), Jarrod Kinoshita and his uncle, former councilmember Gary Gill and his wife, and two other gentlemen whose names I can't recall. A nice collection of interesting folks, no doubt.
We parked our vehicles near the main building on the Coast Guard Omega Station grounds and after a short walk, hit the stairs trailhead at 8:50 a.m. CM Holmes, wanting to keep the "gonzo hikers" (his term--a veiled reference to Rorie?) in check, led the slow, break-filled ascent. Paka-lolo and I took advantage of the turtle-like climb to do some trail maintenance with our handheld shears.
When we reached the breakspot plateau at about the 1-hour mark, Holmes gathered the group together to share some of recent happenings with windward-side trails, such as Ulupaina, Maelieli, Kawaewae, and the stairs itself. It seems all looks favorable for the city/state to acquire the land in Haiku Valley so that the stairs will be saved. What's more, funds earmarked for dismantling the stairs (reportedly around $200K) will be used to renovate them. As to the issue of access and governance, (i.e. who gets to use the stairs and when), that issue remains nebulous. Our input is welcome is what I gathered.
Back to the hike. The summit crest was clouded in when we began the ascent but by the time we resumed climbing after the respite at the breakspot plateau, conditions topside began looking favorable. In fact, by the time we reached the concrete enginehouse on the edge of the summit spine, we had clear views of the windward side, including the magnificent sight of the sister peaks Ohulehule, true Manamana, Kanehoalani, and Piei. Nice.
We reached the terminal point of the stairs at the abandoned radar tower at 11:10, and spent the next hour kicking back there eating lunch, relaxing, enjoying the views, and talking story. Highlights of this hour: seeing Molokai (and Maui?) in the distance, discovering a different method of fluid storage for hiking from Gary Gill, cockaroaching some of Chris' Zip-Pack lunch (t'anks, eh, Chris), listening to Torrey describe her upcoming work assignment in the Himalayas (at 12,000 feet for three months, no less), pointing out my house to da gang, snapping some hopefully-killah photos, and more. Good, good fun.
We descended without problem, with Paka-lolo prodding us to join him for another hike in the afternoon. I think he had no takers. Am looking forward to finding out where he went, if anywhere. Mahalo to CM Holmes for sponsoring the outing. Anyone wanting to email him can do so at email@example.com
Take a look at some pics of the hike.
Joined the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club trail maintenance gang in Palolo Valley to work on the Kaau Crater trail.
A long, humid day it was for us. We started out on Waiomao Road in upper Palolo Valley at 8:15am and the bulk of us didn't return till 4:45pm. In between, with Paka-lolo Rorie taking the ramrod spot almost just about all day, we cleared the overgrown trail that leads up Waiomao Stream, past two large waterfalls, and up a third. Thereafter, we climbed an eroded trail up the east ridge of Kaau Crater to a peak called Palikea (2,600 feet) and cleared the cross-over route on the Koolau summit to the high point of the west ridge, which we descended and hacked open. Eventually we reached a powerline tower at the makai rim of Kaau and followed a trail that eventually descended a ridge to Waiomao Stream.
The fourteen other crew members in attendance today were Mabel Kekina, John Hall, Carole Moon, Gerald Leao, Deetsie Chave, Charlotte Yamane, Lita Komura, Ralph Valentino, Mike Mottl, Mel Yoshioka, Patrick Rorie, Will Kawano, Jason Sunada, and Jay Feldman. Hopefully I didn't forget to mention anyone.
Highlights: swimming in the pool at the base of the first big waterfall, a welcome relief because of scorchingly humid conditions; climbing the ropes up the cascade section of what is considered the third falls; making the ascent of the east ridge of Kaau and recalling how Wing Ng said he had nearly fallen to his death along the route; reading the journal entries of prior visitors to Palikea left in a capped plastic bottle at the summit clearing; crossing over on the Koolau summit, and when the clouds relented, enjoying views of Olomana, Maunawili Valley, and other parts of windward Oahu; finally reaching the powerline tower at the makai rim of Kaau after a grueling leg clearing the ridge along the west rim; marveling at Ralph, who carried both a machete and shovel the whole way, using one or the other to cut brush or carve out footholds; returning to the starting point at the end of the day to gulp down cold soft drinks, chow down on Mabel's chocolate-banana cream pie, and talk story.
The trail up to and around Kaau Crater is now wide open, and if you have a chance in the coming weeks, hike all or parts of it to help keep it that way.
Aloha and safe hiking to all,
That deserves a small comment. The trail used to be easy, but became more and more eroded. That "death spot" was about 1/2 way up, and was a narrow eroded section with no handholds. One could safely go up by crawling, but ... I thought I could do it standing up that time in Jan. 1994, and slid back on my belly, until stopped by a well-positioned tree. To the left is about 500 feet drop-off.