Friday, May 14, 2010

Mo'ole Valley Loop

I did this in March 2001 in preparation for an HTMC hike I was to lead in the coming month

I parked by the hunter check-in where Nuuanu Pali Drive meets Pali Highway.
I shouldered my pack, grabbed my hiking stick, and dashed across Pali
Highway to the start of the trail (hole in the fence).

A few steps into the forest, I noticed 8 to 10 young black pigs rooting
near a hau thicket about 20 yards away. I stood silently, watching them
for a minute, and then the wind shifted, and, boom, one of them caught my
scent (ripe from the earlier hike, no doubt). That started na pua'a on a
fleeing bolt through the forest away from me--a pig stampede, as it
were. After the keiki pua'a dispersed into their muddy realm, I scanned
the area for mama pua'a, who might likely be pissed off that I had
frightened her youngens. Seeing nada mama, I continued on.

Moving quickly as I am wont to do, I noticed ribbons on the ground. So
instead of tying new ones, I picked up the ripped down ones and re-tied
them to mark the way, which is jumbled and confusing. Luckily, I've hiked
in this area several times, so I knew the general direction to head if I
lost the trail. After a few minutes, the path descended a slope to cross
a tiny stream (Makuku) then climbed a narrow gully to emerge on a trail
along the Makuku Ditch. I continued to pick up and re-tie discarded
ribbons and noticed that someone had come through and sawed fallen trees
since my last hike in the area.

The trail followed the ditch for maybe a half-mile and ended at a
tunnel. The ditch fronting the tunnel often is muddy (usually very
muddy), but today it was bone dry. I poked my head into the tunnel and
saw that the ground in it too was as dry as my skin on a windy day. Going
thru the 100-yard tunnel is the quickest way to reach Hillebrand Glen (aka
Mo'ole Valley), but I was without flashlight and not in the mood to duck
thru the 6-foot-high tunnel in darkness. So I made the short climb up and
over the ridge the tunnel cuts thru and descended via a contour trail to
the tunnel's farside in the Glen.

From there, I followed a rough trail that headed up a trickling Mo'ole
Stream. In a minute or two, I came upon a small waterfall and climbed up
a slope on the right to get by it. I continued upstream for a bit more
and then again climbed up on the right to begin a bypass of a much larger
waterfall ahead. There are many ribbons from past visits on the contour
bypass, so the way is easy to follow. At one point, I stopped to do some
grading on a section that had been swept away by a rockslide.

Eventually, the high waterfall was passed and I descended back to the
stream, noting multiple pig scat and areas pigs have damaged. I continued
upstream, hiking mostly on the banks and crossing the stream
occasionally. I then came upon another waterfall that I bypassed on the
left. Upstream progression continued and I climbed to the right of yet
another waterfall with the help of a long rope. Later, I bypassed another
very high waterfall via a steep climb on the right. On a past hike, we
put a cable in one section of the bypass.

After descending back to the stream and heading up it a bit, I arrived at
the point on the left where I could climb a steep trail up to Alewa
Ridge. Pat and I pounded our way up this route a couple of years ago and
though hikers have gone up this since then, the numbers have been
relatively low. Add the passing of time and a good deal of rain, and what
you have is a ridge that needs to be pounded open again. I did what I
could on the way up, knowing there was only so much a single machete can

I reached the crest of severely windswept Alewa Ridge and paused a minute
to drink some water (I had eaten lunch on the drive over from Pearl City
so I wasn't hungry--hunger would come later). I then dropped my pack and
then headed to the summit of Lanihuli via an overgrown trail. I crested
out in 20 minutes on a cloudfree summit. The wind was still blasting, and
I was without jacket, so I quickly scanned civilization below to find my
house in Kaneohe, and having found it, or what my mind told me was it, I
departed and began descending.

In twenty minutes, I had returned to where I'd left my pack. I gave
thought to returning the way I'd came, but opted to continue makai on
Alewa Ridge and descend back to lower Moole via Brandon Stone's spur ridge
trail. That meant traversing the once-vaunted straddle ridge (now it
doesn't seem bad at all), passing the junction with Kamanaiki Ridge (I'd
hiked up to this junction with Wing a few years ago), and then the
arriving at the junction with Brandon's trail. This was also overgrown
but became more manageable lower down. Once at the base of the spur
ridge, I was able to weave my way through a jumble of pig and hunter
trails to arrive back at the tunnel at the end of Makuku Ditch. From
there, it was a routine hike back to Pali Highway and my car at the end of
Nuuanu Pali Drive. After a shower at home, I was ravenous, and I prepared
myself a sumptuous meal, the kind that would make Wing pine for his
favorite beef broccoli noodles.