OHE September 27, 1998

Date: Sun, 27 Sep 1998 21:19:19 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kaupo Cliffs to Kuliouou

Pat "Paka" Rorie, Grant Oka, Ken Suzuki, Charlotte Yamane, Ralph Valentino, Chris Atkinson, Jason Sunada, Georgina Oka (Grant's teenaged daughter), Nathan Yuen, Kim Roy, Judy Roy, Arnold Fujioka, Reuben Mateo, June Miyasato, Lynn Agena, Rob Geer, Thomas Yoza and I were in attendance for today's HTMC trail maintenance outing that called for us to ascend the windward pali in Waimanalo on a route called Kaupo Cliffs. Once on the crest, we were to head west on a ~3-mile leg to Kuliouou 1, which we'd descend to Kuliouou Valley. Mahalo is extended to Deetsie Chave, Bill Gorst, and Mabel "Mom" Kekina for helping with pre- and post-hike transport.

Today's group featured some of the most experienced, able hikers on Oahu, with Grant, Ken, Arnold, Charlotte, and Thomas having logged a ton of time leading hikes for the HTMC, Sierra Club, and other local outdoor organizations. What's more, Pat, Ralph, and Jason are top-notch climbers/hikers, and everyone else on hand has considerable aptitude hiking in Oahu's mountains. With such a collection of folks, we were bound to have a productive, enjoyable, and safe outing.

Even with an experienced crew, the ascent of Kaupo is anything but mundane, with steep slopes, loose, crumbly rock, and exposed sections to contend with. The climb isn't lengthy, a half-mile or so all told, but hikers who go up this route will know they've had a workout, and a considerable adrenaline rush to boot.

I've described the route in a recent post so I won't drone on about it again. What I will mention is that everyone who did it today seemed charged-up by the experience of Kaupo. When the legendary climber Charlotte Yamane (my idol) exclaimed, "I love this hike," my thoughts about the trail were confirmed. On October 17, Pat and I will coordinate an HTMC super hike (members only) that includes an ascent of Kaupo, and those who join us will get to experience the exhilarating climb first-hand.

The question was raised today about the literal meaning of Kaupo. Someone jokingly volunteered, "Only the good die young," a humorous remark that helped to ease tension during the climb. If I recall correctly, Kaupo translates to "the landing," a reference, perhaps, to the nearby Waimanalo beach area, which in ancient times may have been used as a locale where canoes took to shore after negotiating the Kaiwi Channel between Molokai and Oahu.

Ropes and cables are in place at a couple places on the ridge and we did some work hacking down intruding branches and clearing away loose rocks to eliminate potential hazards. We topped out at 10:45, all bodies accounted for, and after a short rest we began our eastward march along the summit spine. The day was a superb one, with visual clarity in all directions. Lanai, Molokai, and Maui were visible, as was the summit of Kuliouou 1, our ultimate goal today.

By noon, we had reached a pleasant ironwood-topped pu'u (1,361 on the topo map), a bit beyond the terminus of the TomTom trail and just past a steep, cabled cliffside. We ran into OHE-L member Sergio Lotenschtein and friend in this area and talked a bit with them. They were headed to Makapuu after hiking up Mariner's Ridge. Good to see them.

After saying farewell to Serge and friend, we spent a relaxing half hour for lunch and enjoyed pleasant conversation, cool trade winds, and nice views of Waimanalo to one side and Hawaii Kai to the other. Another great day in the mountains, for sure.

After lunch, we needed 30 minutes to reach the Mariner's Ridge terminus and another two hours to reach Kuliouou. Not much trail clearing was needed, but we still moved along at a conservative pace, so we could soak up the scenery, avoid leg blowout on some tough rollercoaster climbs and drops, and traverse some eroded, narrow sections safely. The segment between Mariner's and Kuliouou features spectacular ridge walking. Thomas mentioned that one part reminded him of Kalena's famous narrow dikes. I agree.

We reached Kuliouou at 3, and a few minutes later began the descent to our cars on Kalaau Place in the valley. On our way down, we passed 8-10 folks (and two dogs) heading for the top (Paka has christened Kuliouou as the "dog trail"). Using a direct route that avoided the switchbacks, we completed the Kuliouou descent in 40 minutes. We then boarded several vehicles we had staged on Kalaau and headed over to the HTMC clubhouse in Waimanalo, where we feasted on some awesome potluck kaukau that rivaled the hike we'd just completed. Mabel, Bill Gorst, Carole K. Moon, Jay Feldman, Larry Oswald, Kris Corliss, Alex Broadfoot, and several others joined us there, and we had an enjoyable time.

Before he passed away, Silver Piliwale, a legend of the HTMC and one of the pioneers of Kaupo Cliffs, asked another member to keep using the route so it wouldn't be forgotten/lost. Piliwale's wish has been fulfilled, for after a lengthy hiatus, Kaupo Cliffs is now on the roster of HTMC hikes once again.

Aloha and mahalo to the great Piliwale and to all who helped make today's outing a successful one.


Return to OHE top | Return to Oahu Hike Tales | Email Dayle