Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Lost Trail to Lanihuli

Another defeat by Mo'ole Valley today but I'm inching closer to finding what I'm going to call the "Lost Trail to Lanihuli".  I'm sure there are a lot of people running around who know this thing like the back of their hand but to someone who's never been in there it's pure chaos.  Slowly I'm sorting through the pig, hunter, and hiker trails of this secluded valley nestled just one ridge ewa of Nu'uanu.

Trespassing begins here
My day began late for a whole bunch of reasons but I didn't arrive at the Old Pali Road (ewa side) until around 10 a.m.  I had intended to park on the other side of the Pali by the hunter check in station but a police officer was stationed there for some road work being done.  I had to drive all the way down into Nu'uanu do a U turn and head back to the Pali Lookout.  I parked near the gate in a spot just big enough for the Jeep and headed out onto the shoulder of the Pali Highway.  Moving as quickly as possible I made my way to the concrete ditch.  Because I'm pretty sure this area is off limits, I jumped down into the ditch to stay out of sight of the cop across the highway.   Slipping under the chain link fence, I entered the forest.

The old water system
There's a confusing number of trails here but I knew what I was looking for.  Working though the network of trails I arrived at the old ditch and began following it staying along the bank.  Maybe 20 minutes later I arrived at the water tunnel where I retrieved my flashlight from my bag entered into the blackness.  I don't like this place much, it's freaky being there by yourself, underground, and in the darkness.  The little speck of light at the end can't come quickly enough.  The entire time I was in there my brain kept conjuring up new things torture me with from the natural, like earthquakes or maybe a flash flood, to the supernatural.  Pushing those thoughts aside, I continued through the old water tunnel which gets smaller at the other end due to years of sediment being washed in. 
The tunnel

Safely though the tunnel my next challenge was to try and find the old trail that roughly 10 years ago the Hawaii Trail and Mountain Club had done.  Dayle Turner, I believe, pioneered this route but I don't think many folks do it anymore.  My first order of business was to cross the small waterfall ahead.  No problem.  The second waterfall isn't much further at it's a big one.  I spotted a black rope and followed it.  Every so often I'd catch sight of an old orange or pink ribbon.  Some were easy to spot, others were coated in lichen or moss making them very difficult to spot.  It took me hours to make my way up the valley.  I was constantly loosing the old trail and between the camouflage ribbons and the new growth it was horrible trying to figure out where to go.  There must be a HUGE population of pigs here judging by the wallows and the number of pig trails.  I'd pound through the brush only to have been on an imagined trail.  I'd have to back track and try and regroup.  A lot of the trail is along the hills above the stream meaning there is some climbing to do too.  Unfortunately, I ended up doing a lot of fruitless climbing searching for trail.
Trying to sort through this sucks.  The waterfalls block progress via the stream.
The first waterfall looking and the second picture is looking down from the only left bypass waterfall

Frustration set in as I picked my way through the valley.  I knew I was on the right track when I found an old rope and a newer rope hanging from the side of a waterfall.  It was actually a pretty tough climb on a slippery wet slope to reach the next level of the stream.  More frustration.  Where the hell is this trail?!  Up a side waterfall I spotted an old ribbon.  I climbed up the waterfall and trashed around some more.  Extension cord!  Climbing up via the old orange cord put me onto a trail contouring the side of the valley.  I spotted some orange ribbons encouraging forward but lost them a couple times as well resulting in more searching.  Did I mention my pants ripped?  Huge crotch blow out climbing some pig trail. 
I loved this one... it's pretty and, more importantly, the trail is obvious to the right of it (not pictured)

I just never knew when I should head up or down.  Eventually another small waterfall section with another rope.  I'm glad it was there because it's slippery as heck.  Even with the rope it wasn't a piece of cake.  I continued up the valley until I reached my last orange ribbon.  I thrashed my way up another waterfall for about 30 minutes praying it was the route up to Lanihuli.  Nope.  Sigh, back to the valley.  It was now 2 p.m. and I had to go to a party that night.  I was hot, irritated, frustrated, and my pants were split wide open.  With a massive sigh of regret, I tucked my tail between my legs and headed back the way I came.  Even going back was confusing.  The trial seemed easier to follow going back down with my new hard fought knowledge but at times I was left guessing.  .  Going back I took what seemed to be an entirely different route but somehow ended up at the black rope of the second waterfall.  I'll chalk that up to good luck.  Back into the creepy tunnel, along the ditch, and then to the Pali Highway.  I tried to cover the front of my pants but I'm sure most of the passing drivers thought I was flashing them.  Around 3:30 I was back at the Jeep- defeated again.

One of the reasons I'd really like to get this one figured out is that I love Lanihuli but using the Na Pueo Bypass Trail and the Kapalama Loop Trail are just long.  There are a couple more places I'd like to explore here and this would be a fantastic route to use for that.  Today it took me four hours to accomplish one way what I did in about an hour and change on the way back.

If anyone can help me any information about this trail I'd appreciate it.  Most importantly, I'd really like to know when it leaves the valley and heads up to the Lanihuli Trail on Alewa Ridge  I have a bad feeling that that part is going to be very badly overgrown with uluhe and may be difficult to find from the valley below.

Not many pictures from this one, sorry.

Aloha and thanks for reading.

1 comment:

  1. You are probably correct about finding the up-trail to Lanihuli. One, it will be hard to find. Two, even if found, it will likely be a very tough bushbash, especially in the lower 1/2 after which the ridge will open up a bit making the going easier (but still not easy). And did I should mention it is pretty steep though never cable/rope steep. Look forward to your ultimate conquering of this. Good hiking to you.