OHE September 14, 1999 (Kipapa-Waikane)

Date: Tue, 14 Sep 1999 08:30:11 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@k12.hi.us>
Subject: Ultimate Day Hike Revisted

Gene Robinson dubbed it "The Ultimate Day Hike", a 16 hour (including lunch and rest breaks) marathon day hike up Kipapa Ridge, along the Ko'olau Summit Trail and down Schofield-Waikane. The event took place on June 21, 1997 commencing at 7:20 a.m that morning from Koa Ridge Ranch and concluding at the top of California Ave. in Wahiawa only half an hour shy of midnight! Participants in the event included Peter Caldwell, Gene Robinson, Dayle Turner, Don Fox, Laredo Murray and Patrick Rorie. Read about it at http://www2.hawaii.edu/~turner/hikes2/kipapa.htm.

With Kirby Young back in town visiting from Portland, Oregon, I knew it was time for another kick ass hike. But which one? We e-mailed each other and decided on Kipapa-Ko'olau Summit-Waikane.

This past Saturday, September 11, Kirby and I rendezvoused at the intersection of Waikane Valley Road and Kamehameha Hwy at 6:30 a.m. From there we car pooled in the pat-mobile to an undisclosed location below the Waiawa Prison. Continuing on foot at 7:21 a.m., the two of us reached the Kipapa Ridge Trail an hour and sixteen minutes later in a grove of paperbark trees not far from Pu'u Kamana (elev. 1,472 ft). After a short break at approx. 8:50 a.m., Kirby and I began hiking the Kipapa Ridge Trail, a graded contour footpath built in 1934-35 by the CCC, 6 miles (one way) in length. I've posted two other write-ups of Kipapa to OHE-L in the past so I'll skip most of the specifics of the trail. Read them at

http://www2.hawaii.edu/~turner/ohe/Aug97/8-21a.html and

Although soaked by a rain shower early on, the weather settled down to a pleasant 5 to 15 mph trade wind day (ample blue sky and sunshine), the mostly clear summit ridge visible in the distance. "Stay that way! Don't fog in!" I said out loud. We endured intrusive uluhe, crawled under blowdowns and negotiated many landslides in route to the top of a waterfall where the two of us obtained H2O refills (treated with iodine) from a small, gently flowing stream.

Pressing on, Kirby and I enjoyed the spectacular final climb (one of the finest stretches of trail on the island cut magnificently out of the sheer pali of a Ko'olau summit pu'u) in route to a flat grassy overlook and the summit of the Kipapa Ridge Trail (elev. 2,785 ft) just past a lone tall loulu palm. Prior to reaching the summit, I spotted several lobeliads below the trail between the side ridge some of us mistakenly descended in June of '97 and a rusty metal stake (the Ko'olau Summit Trail/Kipapa Ridge junction). They did not appear to be of the common species (rare?).

The ascent of Kipapa from the grove of paperbarks near Pu'u Kamana required slightly over 4 hours fifteen minutes to accomplish. As a result, I sat down to rest while Kirby snapped photos (one of the best view spots on Oahu). To the north in the distance, we could see massive Pu'u Pauao. Waiahole Valley lay directly below with Ohulehule, Kanehoalani, Waikane Valley and Chinaman's Hat to the left. Also visible, Kaneohe Bay dead ahead, the Waiahole Middle Ridge, "the corner", the huge hanging gulch on the steep east wall of Waiahole and much of the windward coast all the way to Makapuu!

The two of us reluctantly departed the summit, backtracked to the rusty metal stake and started hiking north on the Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST) at 1:30 p.m. Constructed from 1934-36 by the CCC, the magnificent "Ko'olau Summit Trail is a graded footpath that winds along the crest of the Ko'olau Range from the end of Pupukea Rd. to the end of the Kipapa Ridge Trail."* "The Summit Trail is a contour or side hill trail. That means it was built into the side of the summit ridge, not along its top."** In about ten minutes we found ourselves at the stacked remains of Uncle Tom's Cabin and, further ahead, ate lunch at an overlook of Waiahole to windward of a large grove of junipers.

Before continuing our pilgrimage at 2:02 p.m., Kirby and I put on long pants anticipating a badly overgrown footpath. We were not disappointed! The KST was completely choked with waist high uluhe. Initially, Kirby manned the ram-rod position (we rotated throughout the afternoon whenever one of us needed a break) as I tied "hot" pink ribbon to trees periodically along the route. Possessing a route description of the KST between Kipapa and Waikane written by Stuart Ball together with a cloud free summit crest and frequent sunny periods, the two of us never got lost. A summary of the significant topographical features of or near the trail from the large grove of junipers to the Waikane Trail is as follows...

- "Ascend briefly on two switchbacks" (We found the trench of the first switchback after removing uluhe and I heavily ribboned this area. Its not that far from the large grove of junipers (the tops of the trees can be seen, even in fog), and, to the south, the Kipapa Ridge Trail is directly across a deep gully.)

- "Pass a stand of junipers in a grassy, windswept area" (Like an oasis in the desert, this section (which Wing considers spooky) gave us much needed relief from the steamy, overgrown conditions. The trail contours above a lovely ravine with the "flipping the bird" tree located on the summit crest. It took about an hour to travel from the large grove of junipers to this point.)

- Ascend briefly again via three switchbacks, then, just prior to an overlook, "switchback once to the left and up" (Another stretch in which I placed ribbon only a short distance apart.)

- "Reach the eighth overlook of the windward side" (I ran out of ribbon before this overlook.)

- "Reach the seventh overlook in a sea of clidemia" (Shades of Wailau Valley! Prior to reaching this overlook, Kirby and I startled a sizeable sow and her baby. No one frequents this section of the KST, not even hunters; therefore, the region is a haven for pigs.)

- "Shortly afterwards, enter a grassy, windswept area where the trail is wide open" (Another oasis!)

- "Reach the sixth and fifth overlook in an area of jumbled up gullies" (I pushed a tent stake into the ground at a confusing bend in the trail prior to these overlooks. Gene and I got confused momentarily during the Laie to Waimano Trip in May of last year at this spot. It is not confusing coming from Kipapa, but if one is heading to Kipapa and he/she reaches the stake, make a sharp left.)

- Come to the fourth and third overlooks and, shortly thereafter, the second overlook (this stretch is less overgrown and pretty straight forward.)

- At the second overlook, gain the crest of the Ko'olau Summit Ridge and remain on it until the KST appears below on the left (My advice! A significant part of the KST is completely washed out between the first and second overlooks. By now we were fogged in but I did notice two lobelias in bloom while traversing the summit crest.)

- Drop down to the KST from the summit crest and "reach the first overlook of the windward side"

- "Contour around Pu'u Ka'aumakua" (The footpath is much more open at this point. Due to time constaints, we did not visit the summit of Ka'aumakua (perhaps the best panorama on Oahu). Photos by Al Miller taken from the top are on display at the HTMC clubhouse.)

- "Reach the summit ridge line and cross over to the windward side" (Yeah! Finally! Rejoice! At 5:32 p.m. 3.5 hours after departing the large grove of junipers, Kirby and I emerged from the long leeward section!)

The two of us sat down for a few minutes to hydrate/rest taking pleasure from the incredible vista of Kahana Valley directly below stretched out before us and of Pu'u Piei, the ridge containing Turnover, Pu'u Manamana, Pu'u O'Kila, Pu'u Koiele, and, of course, Mount Ohulehule.

Thanks to the recent effort of the HTMC trailclearing crew, we descended the Waikane contour trail in 45 minutes. At the Waikane Saddle, Kirby and I paused again, gazing at Ohulehule while reflecting on the day's experience, we could definately see the light at the end of the tunnel figuaratively speaking.

The descent of the Waiahole Ditch Trail to the flume went without incident. However, the use of flashlights was required to negotiate the final stretch. To take my mind off of how tired I felt during the long road walk to Kamehameha Hwy, I delighted in the nice star action in the evening sky.

At 8:08 p.m., almost 13 hours after it all began, Kirby and I arrived at his subaru across from the junction of Waikane Valley Road and Kamehameha Hwy.

Notes: The Ko'olau Summit Trail between Kipapa and Waikane is approx. 2 miles in length. Although badly overgrown, this section has far less mud when compared to other parts of the graded footpath.


* Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE HIKERS GUIDE TO O'AHU. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1993.

** Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO HAWAI'I. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1996.

== Paka

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