What a difference a swath makes. That's a thought that popped into my
head a bunch of times today while I hiked. Joining me was fellow
swath-buckler Ed Gilman, who needs no introduction since he's been
mentioned on the list quite a bit.
The swath we were glad to have in front of us was on the west (aka
north) ridge of Moanalua Valley. A small group of us did this ridge a
couple weeks ago, and in my write-up of that hike I belabored the point
that we had a pretty tough go of it because no trail existed up there.
But there is a trail on Moanalua west now as a result of the push-through
we did two weeks ago and some chopping Ed and I did today. Mabel tells me
she will lobby the HTMC schedule committee to include a hike on this
route, so club members stay tuned. And for non-club members, new hikes
like this might be incentive for joining the ranks of the HTMC. We're a
pretty good bunch of folks.
My motivation for doing what we did today was two-fold. First, the club's
trail maintenance crew would be working on Halawa Ridge--the
sequel. Since I had taken part in the original flick last Sunday, I
wasn't brimming with enthusiasm for Part Deux today. Second, I wanted to
hike a section of the crest between Moanalua and Halawa, the
penultimate hikeable segment of the Koolau summit I have yet to traverse
(Aiea to Waimalu will complete it).
It would be good if I had some company, so I through out a line to OHE on
Friday night to see if I'd get any bites. While there were some nibbles,
only Ed swallowed the hook. The plan was to meet this morning at 7:30 at
the Halawa trailhead on Iwaena Street, and Ed was there to meet me at that
We had planned to use either Ed's or my vehicle to drive over to Moanalua
Valley, but we didn't have to since Deetsie Chave, an early arriver for
Halawa trail clearing, offered us a ride. Thanks, Deetsie.
We were dropped off at the Moanalua community park at about ten to eight,
and as Ed and I tied our boots and checked our packs, we saw an off-duty
soldier with a big ruck sack checking his gear in front of the park's
restroom. From his sweaty, disheveled disposition, he appeared to have
spent the night camping somewhere up mauka. Either that or he'd hiked up
the valley and returned. Give him credit.
Ed and I began hiking up the valley road a couple minutes before eight,
and we moved along at a steady pace, talking story to help pass the 45
minutes we needed to reach the place where we'd leave the road to start
the valley trail. Ed's an interesting and pleasant gentleman, and I found
out, via questions I asked, about his background in photography, his
fondness for sailing, his reasons for moving to Hawaii (he's originally
from the east coast), and other things. We had a pleasant chat.
The chatting diminished in the next 45 minutes, which is what we needed to
reach the crest of Moanalua west ridge. We had an easier time today thanks
to the trail work of Mabel, Deetsie, and Charlotte a couple of Sundays
ago. Like I said at the beginning, what a difference a swath makes.
At 9:30, Ed and I began heading mauka on Moanalua west after making
walkie-talkie contact with the HTM crew coming up Halawa. I talked with
Tom Yoza, who was in the eucalyptus section at the time. I radioed Tom
several other times that morning, usually to report our status.
And our status was always quite good, mostly because of the swath created
by our gang of six two weeks ago. Feeling energetic, Ed and I fished out
machetes from our packs and did some cutting as we made our way
up the ridge. Guava branches and i'e i'e tangles were chopped. Ditto for
uluhe. Hopefully, the swath will hold until the next time we go up the
ridge, perhaps with the TM crew.
At 10:30, we had completed the ascent of the steepest part of the ridge (a
rope is situated there) and we stopped to rest at the pu'u where we'd
eaten lunch two weeks ago. We were over an hour ahead of the pace from
that ordeal. The faster (and easier) progress was very encouraging.
Mushing on along the swath stamped down a fortnight ago, we dropped into
an intermediate saddle, ascended to a large pu'u (false summit), dipped
down into a significant saddle, and completed the final curving climb to
the Koolau summit. We arrived at 11:15, two hours ahead of the top-out
time two weeks ago.
We rested for five minutes at the summit clearing (there's a metal pipe in
the ground there) and soaked up the clear views down in Haiku Valley and
beyond to Kaneohe and Kaneohe Bay. A light, cool wind lifted up and over
the crest, and I found this very pleasant.
I radioed Tom to let him know we'd reached the top and that we were
commencing the crossover to the Halawa summit. A pretty decent trail
exists on the crest and I spotted several areas rooted out by
summit-loving pigs. There was one substantial nob to climb enroute to
Halawa, with severe dropoffs to windward much of the way. The footing was
quite reliable and there was virtually no mud. We needed about 30 minutes
to reach the Halawa terminus.
I again radioed Tom to let him know we had finished the crossover and that
we'd be eating lunch. Tom reported that the group he was with was nearing
the Halawa crossover and that others had pushed ahead and were heading for
Around noon, Nathan was the first member of the crew to arrive at the
summit. He joined Ed and me for lunch. After our repast, we spent a
couple minutes clearing the summit area lunchspot for club hikers,
and as we did, Inger and her friend arrived.
We left them to have the summit clearing to themselves, and Ed, Nathan,
and I began heading down Halawa. "It's possible to be back at Iwaena in
two hours," I announced to my colleagues, who chuckled and nodded to humor
me. Picturing a 2:15 arrival at my car, I set off at a konk-head pace
(and, yup, I did konk my head when I misjudged a duck under a branch). As
we wound our way down the switchbacks, we enjoyed the good hedge trimmer
work done by Pat two weeks ago.
The planned two-hour outbound leg of Halawa never materialized. I
ended up hiking out with Mabel who told me she had hot dogs for the post-outing feast, and as an
avowed meat-lover, I was eager to scarf some 'dogs. I also realized I'd
have no hot dogs until Mabel arrived back at Iwaena, so there was no
reason to blitz down the trail.
I have to give Mabel her due. Now in her early 70s, she can still hoof
it at a good pace. She'll probably still be hiking in her 80s. I forget
what time we arrived back at Iwaena--it might have been 3:30. What really
mattered was that Mabel was there with her butane stove, pot, and boiled
hot dogs. I ate my share, plus the share of any/all vegetarians in
attendance (and even a couple who were not (wave to Jay and Jim). In
exchange, I offered any takers my share of cupcakes, cookies, chips, and
other miscellaneous available carby-fare.