Saturday, May 14, 2011

Blogger Missing Post

Quick blog entry to let you know that Blogger had some kind of meltdown a few days ago and that, at least for now, my latest post is missing in action.

I completed the Mo'ole Valley to Lanihuli Trail last Monday but the trail remains completely overgrown along the spur ridge and will take some pretty serious work to clear.  I'm hoping that Blogger eventually restores the missing post but if not, I may be moving the blog.



Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lost Trail to Lanihuli Part 3

I have mixed feelings about this entire endeavor.  On the one had I've learned so much about this rarely visited valley but on the other I'm missing out on hitting other trails.  Honestly, I've lost count of my visits to the valley but I've been in it so many times over the last few weeks that I've become sensitive to visits by others.  I seem to notice every cigarette butt, wrapper, or foot prints which are largely from the hunters I see parked on the road but have yet to run into on the trail.   Last Tuesday I made one final push into the valley to explore it's reaches.  The weather that day was marginal at best and I was concerned about venturing into a valley with the thunderstorms and rain that had covered the Ko'olau's for the previous few days.  When I started this endeavor the trail in the valley was unrecognizable and it took hours to find Dayle Turner's original route, tie a ton of ribbons,  and to clear the vegetation.  Luckily the day that II joined me we were able to really clean things out up to the point where we lost the trail.  Today's goal was to check the remaining section of the valley for ribbons and visit the upper valley to try and find the final segment.

The old spillway- it was working this week.
Normally bone dry
 My very first clue that today would be different was at the ditch along the Pali Highway.  It's normally fairly dry but today it was wet with standing water.  Continuing into the old water system there was a lot of muddy water and I could see where at some point during the rain storms it had overflowed.  Approaching the tunnel I could see it was muddy and that water had been flowing though it- enough to cause the walls on the Nu'uanu side to collapse a little.  I opted to head over the ridge instead of through it.

As I entered the valley I could hear the difference in Mo'ole Stream.  What has been a relaxing burble noise on all my previous visits was now much more aggressive sounding.  I could hear the stream long before I could see it.  Sure enough, the first waterfall was pounding away.  Evidence of a much higher water flow was all around me.  I lingered looking at the black clouds above me and pondered if I should continue into the valley considering parts of the trail required me to climb alongside some of the waterfalls.  Flash flooding and slippery rocks were on my mind as I climbed the black rope past the first falls.  I knew as I continued up the valley the flow of water would diminish as long as it didn't rain so when I arrived at Double Rope Falls I determined that I could make it to the back of the valley.  Passing Single Rope Falls, I spotted an out of place orange ribbon near The Pool.  Not one of mine!  I ventured over to investigate and the name of the visitors was revealed- The Lost Trailblazers dated 5-1-11.    It looks like The Pool was as far as they made it that day.

The Lost Trail Blazers' orange ribbon
A lot of slippery climbing later and arrived at the last known ribbon placed over 10 years ago along the trail I'd been trying to rediscover.  Following my best guesses, I continued up to a medium sized falls and clawed my way up the left side of it.  From here on it was all new territory.  The vegetation closed in on me just as it had during my first visit to the valley before I'd cleared out the trail.  Progress was slow and involved climbing through tangles of branches as I tried to pick the path of least resistance up the stream.  I resolved to continue until I had investigated the two ridges we'd picked as possible routes up to Alewa ridge.  I scoured the stream for any sign of ribbons but found none.  Slowly and carefully I managed to make my way to the first and second ridge- no ribbons, no trail, and no signs that anyone had ever been up here in a long, long time.  I'd long since stopped trying to keep my feet dry and plunged into the stream on many occasions.  My boots filled with water which I knew would limit the time I'd want to spend on the trail that day.  After verifying my position on my Back Country Navigator App I reversed course and headed back down the valley.  I did discover a couple Ha'iwale, Cyrtandra hawaiensis, plants.  I'd never seen one before so it was nice to have this trip up the valley yield some kind of reward.  These were even in bloom- an added bonus!

This endemic relative to the african violet is by no means a common occurrence in my experience.  Then again, I've spent most of my time on ridges and not in the valleys.  Regardless, each time I encounter a new plant it's always a treat.

Picking my way back to the last waterfall and carefully down the valley I resolved to make one final push up the path I'd last seen a faded pink ribbon.  I spent some time clawing my way up uluhe ferns while scanning for any signs that there had once been a trail here.  About 150' up the ridge I sat down to enjoy the view of Honolulu and pondered my next move.  I'd known that my best bet for finding the trail would be from the top and yet I'd been reluctant to make the long trek to do it yet again.  Looking at my mapping software and at the ridge I decided I'd done enough for the day.  Sliding down the uluhe I made a discovery- A RIBBON!  Bam, like that I'd verified that I'd had the correct ridge!  What was reportedly a 15 minute or so climb from the valley floor back when the trail was clear would be more like an hour or longer now with the uluhe.  Even if I made it to Alewa did I really want to have to fight my way back down to exit the way I came or walk the long trail back to Na Pueo Park with soaking wet feet and have to beg Mrs XJ to pick up her muddy, foul smelling husband in her new Honda?   I affixed a new ribbon next to the old one and continued downward.  Back down the now seemingly routine trail I exited the valley pretty happy with my discovery of the old route and with the Ha'iwale plants I'd happened upon. 

The rediscovery of the trail was just the initial challenge and with it comes another problem if I opened it back up.  First, it will be time consuming clearing it out and second, finding the best lines to minimize any kind of damage to the ridge itself and to the vegetation will take some careful consideration.  It could take well over a day working by myself to open it up enough to make it passable or it could take a week, I really have no idea.  Even if I do open it up, will it be worth the effort as the trail fell into disuse before?  How much more time can I spend on one trail?  Further some of the ropes on this trail are old and should be supplemented or replaced... How many times can I safely solo this trail that is very rarely visited?  These are all questions that I need to answer before I venture into Mo'ole again.  Then again, can I really walk away from it?

Aloha and thanks for reading, sorry there aren't many pictures on the last two posts- this trail is a little too wild to bring my Nikon on just yet.