Friday, May 14, 2010

Mo'ole Lanihuli Kekoalele Big Loop



Note: This hike was done on 3/7/2001

Today, Rich Jacobson, Peter Kempf, Jason Sunada, Ed Gilman, and I covered the route to be hiked for this Saturday's HTMC outing which I'll coordinate. I hiked part of the route this past Saturday but felt a need to cover the whole thing prior to make sure ribbons were up at key points along the way. And it was good that we hiked the whole deal because there were places folks might go astray without today's ribbons and trail bashing. Amen.

We left a car (Ed's) at the park on Puiwa Road which is just mauka of Queen Emma Summer Palace and then drove up to our hike's starting point at the upper end of Nuuanu Pali Drive. We started hiking at 8:30 and were joined by a Waianae bow hunter, who was unfamiliar with the area and wanted to tag along. On the way to the ditch tunnel into Mo'ole Valley, Jason said he and the hunter spotted three baby pigs. This apparently was a good sign for the hunter, who did not follow us through the tunnel, ankle-deep in water for most of its ~100 meters.

Once in Mo'ole, we headed upstream, following the route used in past forays there. Because of rain the night before, we faced more slippery conditions than I had had on Saturday. At a place where there was a rockslide, we put up an orange rope for security.

We made it past the seven falls of the valley without incident and then commenced the steep climb on the left to Alewa Ridge. Halfway up the spur from the valley, we stopped to check out the view of Honolulu urbandom, framed by the spreading funnel of the walls of Mo'ole. While we were on the ascent, Peter's cell phone chimed, and he stopped for a minute to chat with whoever had called. After the call was completed, I jokingly needled him for the idle chitchat that distracted us from the business at hand. With the views and phone calls taken in, we crested out on Alewa Ridge at 10:30, two hours after setting out.

From the ridgetop junction, four of us made the muddy ~20-minute climb to Pu'u Lanihuli. I noted heavy pig damage to the trail about half the way to the top. The pigs, it seems, do not fancy climbing all the way to Lanihuli. I'm not sure why since no physical obstacles prevent them from doing so. Maybe they're not into the views.

With the summit acquired, we ate lunch there (peanuts and vienna sausage for me), ogling occasional vistas of the windward side when clouds allowed them. Just like Saturday, I spotted my house in Kaneohe, which garnered only lukewarm interest by my colleagues. Jason and I talked about an upcoming HTMC TM outing of Kawaewae Ridge (aka Dusty's Ridge), one of the many features we could see from our summit vantage point.

When a drizzle shower arrived, we quickly packed up and headed down the slippery trail. In 20 minutes we had rejoined our non-summiting colleague and then commenced down Alewa Ridge. En route to the top of the Kapalama Loop, we passed several noteworthy places, including a junction where Rich and Henry had climbed up from Mo'ole on a past hike, a narrow dike section (I call this "Straddle Ridge"), a lunchspot used on HTMC hikes of the Kapalama Loop, and the junction with Brandon Stone's spur trail down to Mo'ole.

At the top of Kapalama Loop (an old wooden sign is affixed there), we veered left to head down its Nuuanu side. We passed a bamboo grove on the right, contoured up and around a small pu'u, traversed a fairly level section through uluhe, then climbed to the top of Napu'umaia, a large hill. Near the highest point of Napu'umaia, we veered left on an overgrown trail to descend Kekoalele Ridge, which bottoms out adjacent to the Oahu Country Club. To channel hikers from Saturday's group down Kekoalele, Jason and I stacked a blockade of dead uluhe across the loop
trail. I also affixed several ribbons there.

The initial descent of Kekoalele was messy (with a capital M), and we had to wade around in uluhe at times to find the correct line. At one point, Ed said, "I feel like I'm about to plunge into a deep hole." A couple minutes later--bingo--a-plunging Ed went, landing him in a hole obscured by thick uluhe (fortunately he was unhurt). After navigating and marking a line through the Mess, we veered right and down into a dark guava hollow then climbed gradually to go left around an eroded dike. After that, most of the "trail" down the ridge was generally obvious, with occasional old ribbons still hanging to help. I hung more ribbons, mostly for assurance value and also to direct folks to the best lines. About an hour down the
ridge, Jason and I stopped at a section of rocky dikes with a nice view of the neighborhood where Ralph Valentino (HTMC good-guy) lives.

Like the top, the bottom of the ridge was a bloody mess. Since the last time I'd been there (a year ago?), someone had cut down large trees with a chainsaw. The fallen timber wasn't moved and effectively obscured what was already a fairly obscure trail. With ample searching, hacking, and ribbon tying, we forged a hikeable route through the obscurity to emerge next to the maintenance area of the Oahu Country Club. Mission accomplished.

We were back at Ed's car at the park on Puiwa Road by 2:45 and by 3:00 I was in my Cherokee on the way home to Kaneohe. Much thanks to Jason, Ed, Rich, and Peter for hiking with me today. While we didn't do much clearing, the stamping down of the trail we did will be helpful to club hikers on Saturday.