On Saturday night, September 20, around 10 p.m. PHD Wing "Wingo" Ng and myself spoke on the phone and decided to attempt this excellent loop hike. With Wing's new found speed (read his account of the Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe HTMC club hike) and if I slowed down it wouldn't become a tortoise and the hair situation. We agreed to meet the next day at 8 a.m. at the community park on Po'ohaili Street in Laie.
I arrived about 20 minutes late. Wing was all ready to go so after I got myself together (i.e. application of lots of sunscreen, the putting on of proper footwear, etc.) we started walking along the dirt road at 8:38 a.m. toward the trailhead. It was raining which cooled things off but it was only a morning shower (the Ko'olau summit was clear). We passed the gate which is the start of the Laie Trail and came across some immigrant dudes in a 4x4. They seemed friendly enough but couldn't speak english very well. Wing and I waved to them as we continued toward the Malaekahana trailhead. At around 9 a.m. as the two of us were walking up the jeep road along the beginning of the trail the Vietnamese dudes passed us in their 4x4. We wondered where they were headed and for what purpose. Wing was in high gear walking just ahead of me at a good rate of speed. The rain stopped and things began to heat up as the angle of ascent increased. The trade winds were light (5-15 mph).
At 9:35 a.m. I arrived at the first rest stop inside an ironwood grove. I lay down and stared up at the blue sky. Wing arrived a couple minutes later and wanted to continue on so I got up and off we went. After we ascended an eroded hill we looked across the valley to the left at the Norfolk Island pines of the Laie Trail. "What time would it be when we got there ? Would we get there today ?" were a couple of questions that crossed my mind.
Next Wing and I entered a long guava forest at 9:44. We continued to ascend the ridge thru the forest which was broken up occasionally by open uluhe sections. At 10:01 I sat down to rest in the shade under some guava trees. Wing arrived four minutes later. This time he decided to sit down and have a drink of water. He had this horrible look of exhaustion on his face. It didn't concern me, though, because I'd seen it before on other hikes.
At 10:13 the two of us continued our trek thru mostly guava. We reached a junction at 10:30 which had a red ribbon across it to keep the HTMC clubbers from going that way (the HTMC hike for the day was Malaekahana stream). Wing and I were suprised that John Darrah, HTMC speed merchant and ALWAYS first to reach the hike end point, had not caught up with us. Perhaps this trail was too whimpy for him. I took my handheld clippers out of my pack and removed my bolo knife in anticipation of worsening trail conditions (up to this point the trail had been wide open). I ducked under the ribbon and moved thru more guava forest with Wing following behind. The trail was not in too bad a shape and there were ribbons to follow.
At 10:40 we entered a very long uluhe section accompanied periodically with small groves of guava and ohia and other trees which I do not know the names of. There was a distinct trail thru the uluhe and Wing and I occasionally noticed fresh bootprints in the mud along the way. The uluhe stayed with us all the way to the Ko'olau summit. At this point Wing and I began a pattern. I would push ahead and do some cutting (only what was necessary) and then stop and wait for him to catch up. I could hear his hungry loppers scarfing flora and fona behind me. At 10:56 I rested and Wing caught up six minutes later. Again at 11:15 I stopped for a brief rest and Wing caught up a few minutes later.
Around 12 noon I noticed dark foreboding clouds massing above the Ko'olau summit (not socking it in but above). The ridge went left toward the Laie Trail instead of continuing straight toward the Ko'olaus. We experienced some roller coaster action (descent followed shortly by a somewhat steep ascent). I also began tying ribbon to trees at key points along the route. Wing noticed that the ridge we were on connected with a middle ridge (a ridge between the Malaekahana and Laie trails). Once we gained this middle ridge we discovered a lone, tall paperbark tree to the right down in the valley. Further on I passed the first of several loulu tree groves. I did not see the first one initially but knew it was close by because of the very distinct sound its leaves make when blown by the wind. The trees ranged from small to medium sized.
Wing and I continued to work our way very methodically toward the Ko'olau summit between 12:30 and 2:00 p.m. We recognized an interesting bowl shaped region to our left between the Laie ridge and the one we were on. At approx. 2 p.m. it began to rain significantly.
We reached the Malaekahana summit at 2:35 at a flattened grassy area. "Had the searchers for Rasmussen done this ?" we asked ourselves. I tied a ribbon to a tree nearby to mark the summit location.
In order to stay warm Wing and I continued moving toward Laie. We crossed over a small hump in the Ko'olau Summit Ridge looking for the Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST). Much to our relief we observed an orange ribbon tied to a tree just before a leeward section of the KST. The route was full of thick uluhe so I removed the ribbon and placed it along a windward by-pass trail. After some difficulty, Wing and I managed to reach another KST leeward section. This one was much more manageable so we took it. I tied a ribbon at the start of it.
Next we traversed another hump and moved thru the best of the three leeward sections we had encountered that day. I recognized the area because it was where I stopped to wait for Dayle as he looked for his machete on August 3. I told Wing to keep an eye out for the machete but we never found it. The two of us wanted to stay on the leeward side because the trail appeared to go that way but it didn't look good so we opted for a windward by-pass.
Finally reached an actual windward section of the KST and worked our way along it until we reached the Laie foxhole (elev. 2240 ft). I arrived at the bunker at 4:07 and Wing joined me 5 minutes later. The two of us were famished and proceeded to devour our lunches.
The views from the top of the foxhole were panoramic and outstanding. The Waianae Range was socked in for the most part, the sun shone brightly on the ocean along the north shore in the Mokuleia area, a series of waterfalls was visible below the Kawailoa Trail, the south shore and Makakilo could be seen as well as the Laie coast and the islands just off the coast. The clouds were high above the Ko'olau Summit Ridge to the south toward the Castle Trail. We studied the ridge we had taken to get to the summit. There was a very distinct loulu grove along the Ko'olau summit between the Laie and Malaekahana summits. It consisted of 11 trees most of which were tall with the second from the left missing its head.
At 4:52 Wing and I departed the foxhole and began to descend the Laie trail. We reached the point where the ridge crosses over from the left side of the ridge to the right side at 5:34. Along the way we stopped and looked down at the stream below. It was moving very rapidly like white water rapids because of the showers earlier that afternoon. We marveled at the work someone (HTMC trail clearing crew ?) had done in clearing the trail of uluhe (there were atleast 7 short sections that were cleared all the way to the wall of the ridge !).
At 6 p.m. I stopped and ascended steeply a short distance to a lookout of three lovely waterfalls one of which was atleast 40 feet high. I enjoyed watching the water rushing down them. Wing caught up to me a few minutes later and we proceeded past the eroded sheer cliff which towers along side the trail. I moved ahead again and at 6:10 recognized the Norfolk Island pine grove in the distance. I hoped to make it there before darkness set in. At approx. 6:20 I began going thru the long guava forest which borders the trail.
Reached the beginning of the Norfolk Island pine grove at 6:36 and stopped to rest in the middle of the grove at 6:39. It was very still as I sat looking across the valley at the ridge we had climbed earlier in the day. The birds and the stream below could be heard very clearly.
Wing joined up with me at 6:52 and we departed the pines just before 7 p.m. It got dark soon after and we both began using our flashlights. We could see the Laie city lights in the distance but the only stars that were visible were above the ocean. Toward the bottom of the trail we had to be careful not to lose our footing because of ruts and small dunes. When I entered an ironwood forest it got very very dark so I kept looking for ribbons to make sure I was going the right way.
Arrived at the gate at 7:42 with Wing far behind. I waited for him despite the mosquitos. He reached my location at 7:58 and we walked together down the dirt road past a locked gate to our cars. Arrived at 8:13 p.m. and departed for home at 8:20 p.m.
Excellent narrative, I have little to add.
Pat noticed this lone tall tree down in the valley to the right, with a nice clearing around it, and I opined that it must be the original Malaekahana trail passing next to the tree down there.
See this was partly a constructed trail, with contours around hills and stuff like that. When we re-found it, we did not bother to find clear those contour portions, and merely went on the ridge top. In that very section, the map does say that the real trail goes around below our ridge top trail.
And Pat mentioned 15 times that he had to wait for me to catch up, with precise minutes for each wait. Well, I was tired on Sunday, perhaps from going up too fast in the initial steep ascent, and I was slower than even in 1995 when I first did this. Thanks for bearing with me.