Friday, May 14, 2010

Waikane Ka'aumakua -- 3/18/2001



Paying us will probably be the worst thing for the HTMC TM crew. If we ever were paid, then the amount of work we'd do, plus the quality of that work, would drop off drastically. I say this because as volunteers, with the only compensation being a couple of cold soft drinks and a piece of cheese cake (and occasionally hot dogs or meatballs) we do a helluva lot of work on Sundays. And if do say so myself, pretty damn bang-up work, too. Put a crew of paid workers up in the mountains to do what we do, and, yes, they'd get the job done. But likely in 3 to 4x the amount of time. And better? Probably not. But I'm biased.

Today, we worked on the Waikane Trail, which has traditionally been tough to clear because of numerous fallen trees, fast regrowth of trailside flora, and ongoing trail slippage. In short, we have to bust tail to clear this trail. But we inevitably do a good job. And today we did a helluva job. We started at 8, commencing with a hard hour of hiking just to get to the point where we began working. The last group was out at 5:30. That's 9.5 hours, with not much dillydallying.

While we traditionally use just machetes, sickles, and loppers to do battle, today the heavy artillery also came out, namely chain saws (3), hedge trimmers (2), picks, and shovels (several). The end result was a trail that in many sections is now as clear and well-graded as the Aiea Loop or the Maunawili Demo. Coordinated by Pat, the hike (members only) on April 1 will start at Kam Hwy and Waikane Valley Road. There's an hour walk on the dirt road in the valley to a water flume of the Waiahole Ditch (a good place to rinse/cool off on the way back). Next is a ~30 minute segment on the ditch trail to the Waikane saddle and the start of the Waikane Trail. Then add an hour to hour and a half climb to the junction with the KST (some magnificent sections of trail carved into the steep, vertical pali). Finally, finish with a 20-30 minute jaunt on the KST and a final scramble to Pu'u Kaaumakua, the piko of the Koolaus, where on a clear day you can see forever. I hope 100 people turn out for Pat's hike.

More than a dozen of us reached Kaaumakua today on one of the clearest days I've experienced in the mountains. Looking north, visible was the KST pointing toward Poamoho. Two large, recent landslides have raked over the summit trail just south of Pu'u Pauao. We're eager to find out what damage, if any, to trail occurred. To the south, about a mile and a half away as the apapane bird flies, was the summit of Kipapa Ridge. To leeward were the large, remote drainages of upper Waiawa where, in the land where no man roams, pigs rule. To windward, we looked down on the pointed pinnacle of Pu'u Ohulehule and its nearby cousin, Mo'o Kapu o Haloa, home of Kanehoalani.

The way up was the way down but the outbound leg went quicker than inbound, thanks to a beautifully cleared trail. While hiking down the mountain and admiring the work we'd done, I thought that if I were paid to do this, I'd stop trail clearing, for the work would then be a job. And I have one of those already. Sundays and trail clearing are a means to escape the world of my job, at least for the 6 to 8 hours I'm out in the hills. Somehow, getting paid would kill the escape.