OHE September 22, 1999 (Pu'u o Kila)

Date: Wed, 22 Sep 1999 10:54:32 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@k12.hi.us>
Subject: O'Kila Trail Clearing/Pu'u Piei

A motley crew of men, women and one child (14 years old but boy has she been exposed to a lot of adult stuff - hang onto your childhood as long as you can, Georgina, don't be in a rush to become an adult) gathered at 8 a.m. at the entrance to Kahana Valley state park this past Sunday, Sept. 19th, with the goal of clearing a new loop trail to the summit of Pu'u O'Kila, the dagger shaped peak in Kahana Valley.

Morning showers had everyone dressed in their rain gear and following final instructions from trail boss MABEL KEKINA, the participants drove to the entrance of the Hawaiian Homelands community. We continued on foot to the hunter/hiker check in area. Turning right, the main bulk of the crew led by DAYLE TURNER proceeded up the watertank road in route to the right ridge (where most of the work needed to be done) while MABEL and a few others headed for the left ridge bound for the top of O'Kila to do touch up work on that part of the loop. At a stream crossing where the river was flowing pretty fast, JIM PUSHAW used excellent judgement and turned back afraid of reinjuring his shin wound or getting lepto water into it.

Pressing on, the big group of trailclearers crossed a tributary, followed the trail as it curved then pulled out their "weapons" at the base of the ridge to improve a faint swath thru mostly uluhe fern. On the way up the beginning of the right ridge, the party got log jammed with some people just standing around so I yelled "Move ahead! Move ahead!". I noticed LARRY OSWALD doing excellent lopper work as I passed him. Steamy conditions prevailed with little or no breeze to cool us in the lower environs so KOST PAN-Q-SKI and CAROLE MOON sat down to rest and hydrate.

As we gained elevation away from the valley floor and the ridge opened up, we beheld outstanding mauka views. Massive Pu'u Pauao on the right and Pu'u Ka'aumakua to the far left formed bookends between the Ko'olau Mountain Range. The weather settled and the clouds lifted making the Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST) visible near the crest. Looking makai, we were treated to excellent vistas of the entrance to Kahana Valley and the lush green pristine topography all around. I esp. made note of the huge albezia trees as they paralleled Kahana Stream on its way to the true Waikane Saddle.

Eventually, the ridge narrowed with steep drop offs on one or both sides, definately a members only advanced hike. The gang slowed its pace and carefully negotiated the final steep dicey section to the forested summit (elev. 1,530 ft). At 12:50 p.m. we consumed lunch at the top of O'Kila with everyone sitting close together as if on a bus, views of the Ko'olau Range and Ohulehule possible between the trees.

On the way down the left ridge much okole sliding took place and most of us breathed a sigh of relief when the ridge leveled off. I guided CAROLE down the mountain for a short stretch but the incredible pleasure that can come when a man guides a woman did not occur! CAROLE, THOMAS YOZA and I discovered the location of the bee nest but none of us got stung.

At approx. 2:20 p.m. while the group stopped to rest and regroup, KIRBY YOUNG and I sped ahead hoping to hike somewhere else in the valley but after we dropped down to the valley floor, we missed a sharp left turn and got sidetracked for a time with NATHAN YUEN, LARRY OSWALD and WIL KAWANO. The five of us backtracked, saw the ribbon marking the turn and soon found ourselves on one of the official State Kahana Valley trails. A short distance later we came to the dam and met MABEL and others cleaning themselves of mud.

A reunion of sorts occurred in the grassy field above the cars just outside the Hawaiian Homelands community as the various trailclearing parties emerged from Kahana Valley to feast on MABEL'S ono grinds.

At approx. 4:30 p.m. KIRBY, MARK SHORT and I reluctantly departed our friends and headed for the Pu'u Piei trailhead located near a boat-launching ramp. At 4:55 p.m. KIRBY and I commenced the hike crossing Kamehameha Hwy and entering a forest (MARK had already started hiking). We met up with MARK above the switchbacks at a junction where many (including myself) have gone wrong and ended up ascending a different ridge to a thimble shaped peak. I took the lead and set a brutal pace stopping only a few times to catch my breath.

As our threesome approached the crest of Piei Ridge clouds moved in and rain poured down. When MARK arrived at my position a short distance along Piei Ridge, I asked him if he wanted to continue to the summit and he emphatically communicated an affirmative response.

We endured the rain and gusty trades in route to the broad summit of Pu'u Piei (elev. 1,740 ft and also covered with trees). While at the summit the clouds opened up briefly revealing cresent shaped Kahana Bay below.

Next, the three of us ventured beyond the normal termination point of the hike moving toward the Ko'olau Mountain Range on Piei Ridge. Before reaching a steep descent that we knew would come, our party turned back because of increasing vegetation obstacles, fogged in conditions and time constaints.

MARK, KIRBY and I retraced our steps to the summit and enjoyed brief views of Punaluu Valley and the Laie Coast whenever the clouds parted. With the coming of darkness inevitable, the three of us didn't linger long at the summit chosing to begin the return leg of the hike.

As we made our way down the side ridge I looked at my indiglo and it read 6:30 p.m. I descended quickly and employed my flashlight at the steep open grassy region. Further down I stopped and waited for MARK and KIRBY. Together we entered a forest and encountered a couple of barking hunting dogs. They proved to be all bark and no bite retreating as MARK took the lead and walked toward them. Our party emerged from the woods, crossed Kamehameha Hwy and reached the vehicles at 7:12 p.m.

Notes: HTMC now has 4 hikes that originate in Kahana Valley - Pauao Ridge, Ohulehule, the Kahana Valley hike and the newly born Pu'u O'Kila trek. Since there are only 4 quarters on the HTMC yearly hiking schedule, let's hope the schedule committee can spread the 4 Kahana hikes out over the entire year instead of having 2 occur in the same quarter.

With so many trails on Oahu closed to the public, the challenge is to find/open up new ones. DAYLE TURNER and MABEL KEKINA, among others, are on the cutting edge of this effort and should be commended for adding Pu'u O'Kila and Pu'u Pauao to the HTMC roster of hikes.

== Paka

See a web page with pics of the outing
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