OHE September 26, 1998

Date: Sat, 26 Sep 1998 20:11:50 -1000
From: Wing C Ng (wing@lava.net>
Subject: Kamanaiki Kekoalele

Charlotte wanted to fulfil her 2.5 year-old promise to lead me up Kamanaiki from deep inside Kalihi Valley, from "some place where she used to live". Dayle was ambivalent, but by 7:45 came up with the suggestion to continue to the Kapalama main ridge and then down Kekoalele. I demurred that it might take two days, but Dayle optimistically overruled the concern.

So we drove to a park near to Oahu Country Club and parked Dayle's car, and then I drove him over to the end of Kalihi Street/Road. There Charlotte and husband Volker are waiting. The trailhead is like right there, and we shoved off without further ado.

At first it was overgrown with unidentified plants and quite steep in places. After we got to an actual ridge, things improved. It was actually quite a gentle rise. We did quite a bit of trail-clearing, and even then, took only 1:25 to reach the main ridge.

Surprisingly, Charlotte and Volker begged off and returned the same way. I and Prof. went on. Club did the trail couple years ago, and trail was moderately overgrown. We got to the Club lunch spot in maybe 1/2 hour. There we found the skeletons of a dog right on the trail. Presumably the same dog that someone on this list saw a month or so ago at this spot, dead and stinking at the time.

We continued. We previously got to the top of a hill and no farther. This time we go beyond into the unknown yonder. With a bit of tripidation on my part. I figured if we take 4 hours, then we will get out just before dark ..., and of course I tested my flashlights.

The trail was surprisingly clear and gentle. We could push through without difficulty. There is a section that looked fearfully steep, and I imagined 80 degree vertical cliffs. We got to a point where we "climb steeply without cable", which lasted about 3 minutes, and it leveled off again. In no time we made the high point, and the ridge veered right to join the main Kapalama ridge already.

There are only a couple up-and-downs left. I was astonished how easy and nice the trail was. From that point the trail gets occasionally muddy, and we both managed to fall into a mud hole. There is precipitous drop on the left, but there are _lots_ of things to grab onto. Amazingly, we got to the intersection after 2h25m, at about 1:45.

We sat down to eat lunch. It's almost all downhill from here on. The Kapalama trail was moderately open, and in about 45 minutes, we got to the intersection with Kekoalele. I was apprehensive, since Kekoalele looks very precipitous, with fearsome dikes, from Pali Hwy. But Prof. assured me it is easier than it looks.

If you imagine the ridges emanating from Lanihuli the head, then there is a long neck, and Kamanaiki and Kekoalele form the right and left arms. The torso is short, and the two legs are the two branches of Kapalama ridge. The Club hike goes up one leg and down the other leg. Today we went up the right arm and then down the left arm.

Kekoalele was very pleasant, with nothing overly dangerous, just a few narrow dike places. It is surprisingly long, and it reminds me of West Kuliouou ridge that I did in March, where my watch broke and I came out at 6pm while I thought it was only 2pm by that broken watch. It just goes on and on, even though the Oahu Country Club golf course looks really near already....

Eventually the trail came to an end, blocked by barriers and booby traps and God-knows whatelse that is bad. We had to turn left to avoid the blockage, and then go down some more, before making a right turn to get out the maintenance area of the country club.

It took 2h30m to come down Kekoalele, at which time it was 5:30pm. I have always wanted to do the two arms of Kamanaiki and Kekoalele, and I was very pleasantly surprised at the good conditions of all the trails we traveled today.


Reply from: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>

Thanks for the write-up, Wingo.

We enjoyed nice conditions for today's hike, with cool trade winds and clear views upslope to Lanihuli and across the valley to the Bowman summit area. As we moved higher, we could even see Kaneohe Bay and the windward side over the low saddle section at the top of Kalihi Valley.

We had also heard of HTMC legend Al Miller's descent of Pu'u Nukohe from Lanihuli, and we enjoyed a dramatic profile of Nukohe as we hiked along the section of Kamanaiki that swung right toward Kapalama ridge.

As Wing mentioned, the trail on Kamanaiki beyond the club's lunch spot is surprisingly good. I'd heard of a small group who went up and down Kamanaiki to get to Lanihuli a couple years ago, and it appears as if hunters also use the route. There is guava aplenty on the ridge but a narrow corridor thru the guava was always available. Even the uluhe sections were passable, with a definite swath thru knee-high stuff.

Kamanaiki joins with Kapalama a bit makai of the infamous straddle ridge segment one must pass to get to Lanihuli. From our lunch spot today, we could see the straddle ridge, the summit mass of Lanihuli, the fearsome teeth above the Wilson Tunnels, and the knife edge sections of the Koolau summit crest leading up to Lanihuli on the right and Kahuauli on the left.

The double ribbons Pat and I left to mark the start point of the trail down Kekoalele are still there. The handful of other ribbons Pat put up on Kekoalele, however, were torn off and thrown on the ground, probably by the same dude who did this on the DeCorte Park ridge. Why?

The hike was fun and was completed with less strain than anticipated. If we can iron out some access issues, Pat and I would like to use Kapalama complex as a venue for an HTMC super hike. Considering how close it is to Oahu urbandom, this area is not visited regularly and would certainly be appealing to those wanting a jaunt in a verdant, pristine area of Oahu.

Tomorrow it's HTMC trail clearing, where we'll ascend a ridge from Waimanalo (not TomTom) and end up in Kuliouou Valley.


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