OHE September 28, 1998 (b)

Date: Mon, 28 Sep 1998 15:25:07 -1000
From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kahana Valley, 27SEP98

Opting for a leisurely hike, I decided on checking out Kahana Valley for the first time. Armed with my usual, orange pack and its contents of water, supplies, and lunch, I headed off to Kahana Valley along with my friend, Suzanne.

The drive was a pleasant one along the coastline from Waimanalo through Kaneohe to Kaaawa. After Swanzy Beach and the Crouching Lion Inn comes Kahana Valley State Park. Hoping to bypass the first gate by securing a permit and lock combination, I checked out the visitor office and found some brochures of the area outlining conservationist and archaeologist efforts in the valley. Though the office's placard states its opening time as 0800 (M-F, weekends & holidays), a nearby state parks worker informed me that no one opens the office on Sundays. I asked him if we could have the combination and though he was eager to, he told me that they change and issue the numbers to employees every Friday - and that he had missed last Friday's meeting. I shrugged, thanked him, grabbed the flyers, and drove deeper into the park. I noted the small houses lining the grove of trees including a bunch of shacks obviously used for campouts.

Parking is outside of a main complex of homes both recently built and under construction. (There is a sign warning hikers that the road is private, except for those with permits.) After dropping off my friend at the gate, parking, then a brief 10-minute walk past 10, or so, homes, I came to the first gate. From there, a short 10 to 15 minute walk led us to the first point: a hunter/hiker check-in. Following Stuart Ball's directions, we turned left, down the dirt road, and made our first crossing. The whole hike was easy-as-pie with only a 400 foot elevation gain.

I *MUST* say that this is the most fragrant and sweetest-smelling hike I've ever been on! Groves after groves of fragrant ginger in full bloom amidst guava o'plenty! The scent of yellow hau flowerings everywhere! I was astounded by how untouched the trail seemed to be. Ripe yellow guava hung from branches and littered the trail, many freshly fallen and palm-sized. However, we met only two souls (and their dog) on the entire trip, despite the popularity with the local community and total ease and accessibility.

We spent a good 1 - 1 1/2 hours at two pools, respectively, created by sharp turns by the Kahana Stream. I feasted on a snack of guavas collected trail-side. If you follow the path in Stuart Ball's book, it's on the returning leg of the second loop. Nothing like a refreshing dip (or two) in 60-degree water! Today, the pool was about 6 feet deep in certain spots.

The mango trees you pass on this trail are *HUGE*!! I look forward to returning to them during fruit-harvest season...

At about 4 PM we headed back through the other "half" of the first loop, past the huge water tank, walked up the road, then connected back to the hunter/hiker check-in.

Problems? If anything, my only complaint would be the amount of trails branching away from the main course. In fact, it seems like we were on Stuart Ball's trail about 75% of the time and the rest following markers left by other people. With a double-loop, it's hard NOT to come across the main trail, provided you take aim and continue in a particular direction. And if you happen (somehow!) to get lost, you always have the stream to guide you back. It's just that hikers and hunters have created so many cleared and marked paths that you often wonder who's ribbons you're following.

If you don't like mosquitos, bring plenty of repellant! Since the stream activity wasn't as high as winter months, certain portions of side-streams were cut off, forming large catchments of still, undisturbed murky water - perfect for the blood-suckers.

Caution is advised since there is a high amount of hunter activity in this valley. The hunting areas are way off the trail so technically there should be no danger... technically. With so much to forage, feral pigs have multiplied quite nicely and thus are systemically hunted. This is a weekend activity encouraged by the state for conservation purposes. We saw hunters going in at dusk (usual) this day, armed with dogs, cammies, and guns.

This trail is grand for nature lovers who love water, botany, and easy hiking!


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