Monday, January 9, 2012

Waiahole Uka

January 9, 2012

Six days after my failure to reach the summit of Waiahole Uka, I stepped out of the Jeep and met II who'd agreed to come with me despite his reservations about the trail.  We set off  in the very early morning light up to the trail a far slower pace than last time.

Winding our way along the trail we passed the over the first stream, then another,  and headed mauka towards the base of the Ko'olaus.

II had flashbacks to the Waiahole Ditch Trail when he reached this part of the trail.  The wiped out trail and fallen trees took me back to that adventure too.

Eventually we reached the ridge we'd be climbing.  II issued a string of words that I can't repeat when he saw the climb ahead of us.  To prepare for the climb we took a short break before beginning the long assent though the uluhe.

The weather was cooler with a high overcast that I figured would obscure any view from the summit but I didn't care, I wanted to make up for the previous failure and put my boots on another section of the Ko'olau Summit Trail.  We took a lot of breaks as we continued upwards.

One of the things that really caught my attention was this absolutely huge Akoko.  This euphorbia species the endemic cousin to that little weed grows in the crack of sidewalks, driveways, potted plants, etc.  Unlike those though these get big although I'd never seen one this big.  My hand on a limb for scale.

Further up we reached the first cable section which is really an old strap.  The views here are simply amazing.

The beautiful ridges of the windward Ko'olaus
II's pace really started to suffer and he began to drag behind.  I knew exactly how he felt.  He generously offered to let me keep going while he waited at a section where the crumbly ridge and his fear of heights meant he didn't want to continue.

Pu'u Ohulehule and Pu'u Kanehoalani

Shortly after the second rope section the ridge began to take a less aggressive angle.  I was really kicking myself now for stopping just short of where things improved last time.  Before I knew it, looming in the distance ahead was the summit.

The end is near!
During the final climb I entered the clouds.  Without the scenery to distract me I started looking at the plants as they passed by.  I doubt then I would have missed this beautiful Ohia and it's cheerful red lehua blossom though.  Looking back the ridge vanished behind me swallowed up in the swirling clouds.

Reaching the summit the winds howled around me.  The first thing I was was a small colony of Lehua Papa, Metrosideros rugosa, endemic to the Ko'olau Mountains.  The summit itself was a spongy almost boggy collection of some type of grass with spots of uki. 

In an amazing turn of luck, for a few brief moments the clouds parted and I was treated to the spectaular view of Waiahole Valley below.

After last week's defeat, I was thrilled to be there and this video proves it.

Taking a turn east I headed for a spot I've be dying to visit for a long time... the grove of Sugi Pine where the Kipapa Cabin once stood.  Heading downhill a short way I could see the faint outline of them as the cool moist winds blew around me.

The Sugi Pine Gove!
Making my way down to the pines I caught sight of the off limits Kipapa Trail.  It's such a shame that with all the effort that went into building the Ko'olau Summit Trail, cabins, and it's associated trails that the system, which could be among the best it the world, was left to fall apart shortly after it's completion.  What a waste!

Just past the pines were the ruins of the cabin.  Some rusted roof panels, a jar with a mysterious liquid, and a pile of barbed wire were pretty much all that was left.  The pile of barbed wire was massive.

For a few moments the clouds lifted just enough to give me a hint of the view to the leeward side of the summit.  On a clear day this has to be among the best views on the island.

Knowing that II was waiting below I didn't spend too much time at the summit so I reluctantly started back but not before looking for the Ko'olau Summit Trail.  It didn't take much searching to find it contouring behind the summit of Waiahole Uka westward.  As usual with the leeward sections, it looked pretty overgrown.

I returned down the ridge and met with II who'd headed back to the base of the ridge to wait for me.  I knew exactly how he felt about not completing the trail but I know he'll complete it next time.  As an added bonus, I was back in Kailua in time to get cleaned back up and head back to Haleiwa Joe's in Haiku to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary... and my completion of Waiahole Uka!


More pictures from this trail and others I've done can be viewed on Flickr.  Aloha and mahalo for reading!

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