Papali Uka - September 26, 2010

Nector said it best: "The trail must have choke mana!" It probably does because the past two attempts for hiking a certain ridge on the northeastern side of Oahu was shot down once again. Last week it was the bad weather; this time it was the valley residents. I don't know what it is, but some people just don't like hikers. The truth is that we hike, and nothing else. We don't plant bombs. We don't start fires. We don't litter. We don't plant ganja. We don't bury dead bodies. We just hike. If the people living in the valley are reading this, we mean no harm or disrespect. We just want to get to the top of the mountain. And we will, eventually.

The weather was beautiful for a Ko'olau ridge hike on Sunday. The clouds gently sat above the summits in the morning hours and then burned off with the heat of the sun, staying high throughout the day. The tradewinds were also light, and the ocean water was blue and alive from the north swell that wrapped to this side of the island.

Because of our unwelcome presence at our previous meeting place, we headed to Hau'ula and got off to a late start (9:20am) to clear the Papali Uka Ridge trail. Ryan Chang, Albert Carcueva, and I met Nate Yuen, August Smith, Duc Ong, and Nector, along with two other hikers from the HTMC at Hau'ula Beach Park. We then walked down Hau'ula Homestead Road, passed the Hau'ula Loop trailhead, and proceeded on the Papali Loop/Ma'akua Ridge trail. We headed uphill gradually on several switchbacks heading mauka. We then reached a junction marked with ribbons. From here the left junction is the Papali Loop; going straight is the Papali Uka trail.

The lower portion of the Papali Uka trail is in very good condtion. It seems as though it receives quite a bit of hiker traffic. Further along the ridge we could see deep into Ma'akua Gulch and the sheer cliffs along its northwest ridge. We could also see the towns of Hau'ula and Lai'e in the distance.

Hiking further, we reached some sections that needed some machete whacking, but the trail was still in good condition. All of us were equipped with machetes, so we whacked a pretty discernable swath along the route. We sat down to eat lunch at a small knob, and then continued further along the ever narrowing ridge. There weren't any precipitous drop-offs, but it was obvious the ridge was narrowing, as is the case with any Ko'olau ridge hike a few miles before the summit.

The views were even better now, but the trail began to get a little rougher, and the uluhe a little thicker. To the southeast we could see the towering ridges that harbor Kaluanui Stream. A few miles away was the Ko'olau summit. Making it to the summit would eventually connect with the Castle Trail, but on this day, Ryan, Albert, and I decided to turn around at the top of a long rope section. It was around 2pm, and we knew that if we continued on, we probably wouldn't have got out until dark. We shook hands with the others and headed back down. We got back to our cars at 4pm.

Nate later told me that they, too, had not summited. From our turnaround point, they climbed three more humps and decided to call it a day as well. We'll have to come back another day and start earlier to clear the remaining portion and make it to the summit. For now, the trail is relatively clear for those looking to try it out.

 photo: A. Carcueva

 photo: A. Carcueva

photo: A. Carcueva


Rebecca Snow said...

thanks so much for sharing
---sent out to my girlfriends in Virginia---music melted me---
(living in Maikiki and dreaming
of a hike away from the traffic)


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