Sunday, June 6, 2010

Malaekahana-Kahuku

This hike took place back in June 2001 and involved three trails: Malaekahana Ridge, Koolau Summit Trail and Kahuku Ridge. The whole thing had to be at least 12 miles but it could have been as much as 15. Whatever it was, we all had a sweaty, muddy workout. Ken Suzuki even said the plants along the Kahuku Trail are better compared to sister ridges, Laie and Malaekahana.

The hike started at the Laie ballpark on Poohaili Street, the trailhead for the Laie Trail hike. The first phase was a romp along a dirt road that passed the Laie trailhead and crossed a (dry) stream. There are several side roads on the left and right leading to farms. One concern along this stretch is harassment by dogs. A couple barked and growled as we went by in the a.m. but no dog hassles took place in the p.m., at least when I went by.

Not long after the stream crossing, we headed mauka on another dirt road.
This road eventually becomes eroded and rutted and then transitions
into the Malaekahana Trail, which we headed up. About an hour from the
cars, we passed the junction with the trail heading down to Malaekahana
Stream and continued mauka up the ridge. The trail beyond the junction
was overgrown but still passable.

Eventually, the ridge trail angles left, goes over several humps, and
arrives at a junction at a low saddle, now very well ribboned. This is
about 2 to 3 hours from the cars, depending how fast one goes. It was
there we left the ridge trail (heading right) to begin a segment we
called "The Shortcut to the KST," a longtime brain-child of Bill Gorst.
This route drops down to a little stream, passes some paperbark trees,
winds around some low ridges and ravines, crosses little streams at least
twice more, and eventually gains the summit trail about a half mile (as
the mynah flies) north of the KST/Malaekahana junction. It takes about
half an hour.

Once on the KST, our loop headed right (north) toward the Pupukea summit
hilltop, where the terminus of the Kahuku trail resides. The KST segment
was muddy in many places (to be expected) and about 2/3rds was
well-cleared. Count on at least an hour to get this part done.

At the base of the Pupukea summit hilltop is a signed junction. Today's
correct choice was to head up to the right (heading straight ahead would
take one around the hilltop and on to Pupukea). Near the top of the hill
was another signed junction. This is where the Kahuku trail begins/ends.

Getting back to the cars from this location will take approx 3-4
hours. We did it by heading down the Kahuku trail, which is a typical
uluhe-ohia ridge higher up. This part is very obvious and marked well.
After the uluhe abates, the trail transitions into the guava zone. The
corridor thru the guava is generally distinct and well-marked when the way
becomes less clear. After the guava zone, the trail becomes drier, more
eroded, and populated by vegetation like ironwoods, some pines, and
christmas berry, with some guava thrown in to keep things from
getting too easy/pleasant.

About 90 minutes from the summit, there is a junction with what appears to
be an old jeep road. We went right at that point, leaving the Kahuku
trail, which continues straight down the ridge, very broad at
this point. The old road arrives at another junction in a forest of
ironwoods. The correct way at that point is to head right to begin
descending to Malaekahana Stream. Ribbons mark the way, which eventually
gets steep and proceeds down a swath thru uluhe, then a large eroded
patch, and then puts one in the side fork of the (dry) stream. The side
fork quickly leads to a junction with the main (babbling) stream. At that
point, there is ribboned trail that gets the old ticker a-pumping by
climbing steeply to the ridgetop of the south side of Malaekahana Stream.

Once the ridgetop is gained, the trail heads mauka for a short spell, then
swings to the left thru a forest of guava and ironwoods. This area is well
marked. The trail reaches a barbed-wire fenceline, which is followed for
a bit and then ducked under at a ribboned point. A road covered
with horse manure heads makai to mauka (head makai). Heading as such will
lead to a large antenna tower. Near the tower is an indistinct (but
ribboned well today) path that heads to the right. This path leads to a
gate and the start/end of a dirt road. Go thru the gate (make sure to
secure the gate with the attached rope) and proceed down the road.

This road will lead to a junction with the dirt road leading to
Malaekahana that was walked on earlier. The conclusion of the hike is the
dirt road amble back to the Laie ballpark.

Some notes about the hike:


Several folks ran out of water en route. This is at least a three-liter
hike, especially in the summer months.

Walkie-talkies were useful in helping us keep track of who was where. For
those who don't have a walkie-talkie, consider purchasing one.