Date: Sun, 13 Sep 1998 20:31:38 -1000 From: "Dayle K. Turner" (firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Kalauao to Aiea Ridge
The HTMC trail maintenance outing for today was Kalauao Stream. Present with cutting implement in hand were Mabel Kekina, Ken Suzuki, Thomas Yoza, Thomas' friend Cary, Carole K. Moon, Georgina Oka, Lynn Agena, Charlotte Yamane (my idol), Ralph Valentino, Nathan Yuen, Kim Roy, Judy Roy, Kris Corliss, Larry Oswald, Bill Gorst, Deetsie Chave, Jason Sunada, June Miyasato, Mel Yoshioka, Joyce Tomlinson, and a couple other folks whose names I don't know/can't recall.
For the club outing, hikers will ascend to the top of the Aiea Loop and then head down into Kalauao Valley via a trail that starts from Pu'u Uau. Once at Kalauao Stream, the group will then head makai, stop at a small waterfall and swimming hole (if water is available there--no water today), continue downstream, and then ascend on a sometimes steep trail back to the Aiea Loop.
Today, most of our work was on the ridge from Uau. With a sizable group and by working slowly, we hacked open a nice swath through the uluhe. We tossed a number of fallen branches off the ridge and opened up a route that bypasses a rocky cable section about two-thirds of the way down. Ralph also affixed a new cable at a steep, slippery slope to replace a frayed rope that was there.
The ridge trail from Uau intersects with a hunters' trail just below the new cable section. We headed right on the hunters' trail to descend to Kalauao Stream (the trail to the left contours along the slope before ascending back to the Loop Trail).
As we descended to the stream, I remarked to Ralph that on previous hikes into the valley I usually heard water flowing on the approach. Today, there was no sound at all, and when we arrived at the stream, it was dry. I had been into Kalauao maybe a dozen times before, and this was the first time the stream wasn't flowing. Hopefully, a good spell of rainy weather will help revive Kalauao and other Oahu streams.
Since it was only 10:45 and most of our work for the day was pau, we decided to head upstream on an exploratory jaunt. From time to time, Mabel gives us opportunities like these to ease the monotony and tedium of trail clearing, and the gang looks forward to them.
From the place where we reached the stream, there is a pretty good trail along the bank a good ways into the valley. At 11:15, the first of us reached a breezy, sunny spot with large, flat rocks in the streambed. This seemed like a nice place to take a break and/or eat lunch, but since we normally wait till noon to kaukau, we decided to wait for Mabel to give the okay before we busted out our food.
Mabel arrived at the sunny spot around 11:30 and gave us the green light to dine. A small shout went up in recognition of her proclamation, and we proceeded to eat, brown rice and some deviled ham for me. Lunch time is a fun time for all as we enjoy talking story, relaxing, and enjoying each other's company.
When noon approached, Mabel declared that we needn't proceed further upstream, but several of us indicated we wanted to push on mauka, possibly to find a trail up to Aiea Ridge that Brandon Stone and friend had opened up on 8/27.
We received Mabel's blessing and nine of us--Ken Suzuki, Lynn Agena, Ralph Valentino, Nathan Yuen, Judy Roy, Kim Roy, June Miyasato, Thomas Yoza and I--were in the group that continued upstream. Beyond our lunchspot, a disernible trail continued on either bank for maybe half an hour. We spotted ribbons at places where the trail crossed the stream, but soon these markers petered out, and we found ourselves walking up the dry streambed more times than not.
There was enough variety in topography to keep things interesting as we hiked; plus there was a nice breeze pulsing through the valley at times to keep us cool. Ken pointed out interesting flora he spotted, including olona, used by Hawaiians of old for cordage, and native hibiscus trees.
At one point on the left bank of the stream, we passed a mangled carcass of a black pua'a. A dog had apparently attacked it, since we spotted teeth marks below where the pig's left ear had been gnawed off. What's more, the animal's left hind leg was entirely chewed away. The kill was relatively fresh, for the carcass wasn't putrid or maggot-infested. I joked that a wild dog had done this, and several of the others laughed nervously, thinking that what I said might be true.
While we hiked, I urged everyone to be on the lookout for a trail heading upslope to the right. I was certain Brandon had marked well the spot on the stream where he bottomed out. Someone said, "I hope you're right, Dayle." At a rest break at 1:30, June asked when our turnaround time was, and I said if we didn't find the trail up to Aiea Ridge by 2, we'd turn back and retrace our steps downstream. Pounding out a new trail on one of the ridges we passed was also an option, but I wasn't eager for a couple hours of abuse by vegetation.
Of course, no one wanted to double back. Then again, there had to be a limit to how long we'd continue upstream, so two o'clock it would be.
At 1:55, Ralph yelled out that he'd found new pink ribbons affixed to a tree on the river bank. He also spotted ribbons on the slope above the right bank. After Ralph and I did a quick exploratory jaunt up the slope, I relayed the message to the others: "We're here." Several folks responded with enthusiastic shouts of "Yes!"
Brandon did an excellent job marking the way, and we had no difficulty following the route up the sometimes-steep ridge. We climbed steeply for about 15 minutes and took a 10-minute break at a fairly level spot under a koa tree. Since leaving the stream, we had gained about 300 to 400 feet of elevation with about the same amount to go before hitting the crest of Aiea Ridge. We passed an array of native vegetation, including several flowering lobelia and a fruit-bearing akia.
The final ascent to Aiea Ridge took another 15 minutes (40 minutes all-told with the rest break), and the group's happiness and relief were tangible now that the steep climb from the stream was behind us. Ken shared two cans of Coke and a can of fruit juice he carried in his pack, and an array of other snacks made their rounds.
Before shoving off, we rested another 15 minutes and for future reference marked the spot with a double pink ribbon (on the Halawa-side not he Kalauao side) of the trail. As Brandon noted, the ridge he's opened up is slightly mauka of the big dip in the ridge on the north side of Kalauao. Also as he noted, the topping out point appears as the 1925 point on Aiea Ridge (Kaneohe quad topo).
We needed 35 minutes to reach the junction with the Aiea Loop and another 25 to reach our cars at the parking lot. Waiting for us there were the rest of the gang, and as is our custom, we enjoyed a post-hike refreshment and talk-story gathering. Pat Rorie, who'd hiked up a steep ridge in Kaneohe to the Koolau summit with some friends earlier in the day, also joined us for the festivities.
Next Sunday, the trail maintenance team is scheduled to work on the Kulepeamoa Trail (Niu Valley). List members interested in joining us (able bodies are always welcome) can email me or Pat for meeting time and place.
Bravo for the perseverance of the trail-clearing crew! And I'm touched by your faith that I'd have left clear markers in the streambed. I'm glad I did, for it would have been a long way back down the streambed if you hadn't found my route up to the ridge. You folks hiked about 2 hrs (maybe even 2 1/2 hrs.) upstream from the lunch spot with the large flat rocks. (By the way, when there's water in the stream, there's a very nice little pool, deep enough for a good dip, about 100 ft. downstream from those flat rocks.)
I have, unfortunately, often found Kalauao Stream to be dry as a bone. It sounds like it was even drier yesterday than it was a few weeks ago when my German visitor and I made our exploration, for then we found wash basin-sized pools in the streambed at the foot of the spur from the ridge. We passed through extensive bone-dry stretches on our trek upstream and we finally reached weakly flowing water about an hour mauka of the foot of the spur.
I think it is quite feasible to explore both branches of Kalauao Stream (it forks about half an hour mauka of the foot of the spur) much farther upstream. Waterfalls? Native plants? Who knows? And it should also be possible to ascend the ridge on the Ewa side of the valley, which is very low at that point, and cross over into upper Waimalu Valley or ascend the ridge to the summit. Next time, though, I think I'll try descending into Kalauao from a point on Aiea Ridge two spurs mauka of the one we have used already. That spur will put us in the stream right near the fork.