OHE September 28, 1998

Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 13:58:39 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@hekili.k12.hi.us>
Subject: Labor of Love III

While Wing and Dayle were tramping around on the ridges between Kalihi and Nu'uanu Valleys this past Saturday (9/26/98) I opted for something else. It had been almost four months since the HTM Mount Ohulehule trail clearing so I knew it was time again to visit my favorite peak on Oahu.

Following a morning commitment, I drove to Kahana Valley State Park on Oahu's windward side and parked in a grassy area just outside a new community. Ideal hiking weather existed - a nice trade wind breeze 10 to 20 mph, lots of blue sky and sunshine with puffy white intermittent clouds.

At 10:11 a.m. I began traveling on foot along the road between the housing in route to the trailhead. From the hunter/hiker check-in box I turned left and descended to a dam. Forded Kahana Stream via the dam and worked my way through a jungle which included two more stream crossings and an abundance of hau trees. Emerged from the jungle and dropped down to another stream featuring an inviting swimming hole. Climbed briefly through bamboo then meandered about an open level stretch of the valley, uluhe bordering both sides of the trail. I recognized more hau with their pineapple looking fruit and many koa trees as I headed toward the ridge which led to the summit of Ohulehule.

Prominent peaks in the area included Turnover (elev. 2,027 ft) and the true Manamana in the makai direction, Pu'u Piei (elev. 1,740 ft) behind me as well as the ridge containing Pu'u Koiele (elev. 1,683 ft) and Pu'u O'Kila (elev. 1,530 ft) facing mauka.

Departed the floor of the valley climbing steeply at times toward a saddle. Excellent views became available of stunning Ka'a'awa Valley with its sheer rocky cliffs and the Ko'olau Mountain Range. I paused to gaze at Pu'u Ka'aumakua (elev. 2,680 ft) which towered above Waikane Valley and massive Pu'u Pauao (elev. 2,400 ft) along the Ko'olau crest.

Reached the saddle and sat down to rest and hydrate. Pressing on at 11:55 a.m. I continued my assault of the mountain. The relatively level segment of the ridge resumed then a very steep ascent ensued. The trail beyond the saddle was as wide as I'd ever seen it with cables and ropes provided for assistance on the steep section. As a result I made superb time arriving at the top of Ohulehule (elev. 2,265 ft) at 12:25 p.m. (two hours fourteen minutes from car to summit!).

Thimble berry plants and weeds covered much of the summit region that had been cleared on June 7th or on other occasions and the ti leaf plants I had chopped down during past visits were making a comeback. But none of the recent growth threatened the outstanding vistas. I enjoyed the views for 35 minutes of Kahana Valley, the ridge containing Turnover and the true Manamana, Ka'a'awa Valley, Mo'o kapu o Haloa ridge featuring the peak Kanehoalani, Hakipu'u Valley, Chinaman's Hat, Kaneohe Bay, the Mokapu Penninsula, and in the distance the Mokulua Islands, Mount Olomana and Makapuu. The summit of Mount Ka'ala and part of the Laie coast were also visible.

At 1 p.m. I began descending the southeast ridge of Ohulehule, considered the most dangerous hike in Ball's "Hiker's Guide". Take a look at the last page of the photo section bottom photo in Ball's "Hiker's Guide" to chart my progress (the southeast ridge is the ridge below Chinaman's Hat in the photo). It took me eighteen minutes to reestablish the swath (mostly by cutting new clidemia plants) I had created on previous trips and reach the termination point of those efforts (about the midway point of the saddle). Removed my pack and commenced bashing through thick vegetation using my bolo knife. Whenever possible I tried to stay on top of the ridge crest. However, trees periodically clogged the ridge line so I contoured mainly to the right (leeward) if the ridge was wide enough. Woody clidemia plants, lots of uluhe and ie' ie' vines impeded progress.

Eventually, the ridge descended very steeply (about the same steepness as the first cable section of the ridge I used to gain the summit from Kahana) but ample woody clidemia plants made it possible to continue. I could see the last dike (the southeast ridge consists mainly of a series of spectacular rock dikes - Dayle and I have been beyond the last one) as I contoured below boulders near the crest. I kept moving downward steeply using the branches of a large tree. The ridge appeared to narrow after the tree with only low level vegetation to work with. I concluded that it would be best to come back another day with a long coil of rope.

Looking at the photo again, trace the ridge from below Chinaman's Hat toward the summit. The first hump represents the last dike. On February 14th I made it to the top of the second hump where a very, very steep severally eroded area exists blocking further progress. This past Saturday I believe I reached the middle of the very steep area between the saddle and the second hump.

At 3:30 p.m. I began backtracking along the newly created swath with difficulty because of questionable footing over crumbly rock until the ridge leveled off. From there I did some touch up work and tied pink ribbon to trees to mark the route. Accomplished the final climb back to the summit at 4:30 p.m. Hydrated and enjoyed one final look at the surrounding topography before heading down the mountain ten minutes later. Retraced my steps to the valley floor and ultimately to the new community. Approached the pat-mobile at 6:24:30 p.m.

== Paka

Reply From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>

Ironically, when my friend and I were in Kahana Valley yesterday (Sunday, 27SEP98), I frequently pointed out the crags and sudden drop-offs on the south-eastern rim. I was awe-struck and inspired by the dangerous nature and wondered if anyone would have hiked them. Keep in mind, I didn't have my Kahana quadrangle map yet and thus didn't know the names of these peaks. With a little research in Stuart Ball's book, I found it to be Turnover, Puu Manamana, and Puu Ohulehule. Of course his "the most dangerous hike on Oahu" comment confirmed how difficult the course looks from the ground.

"Who in the world would hike that thing???" I was asked by my credulous friend while gazing up at the same cliffs.

Thinking of triumphant (and fast) members of HTM whom I've met (including Pat n' Dayle), I said to her, "Oh, I can think of a few..."

Pat, guess I missed ya by a day... would've taken pictures of ya from valley-side!


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