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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ulupaina Mauka -- by Pete Clines

Hike date: 12 May 2003
I found a new way to get to the Windward mall coming from Aiea. :)
 
I've been planning this route for a few months now, and the time (and weather)was finally right to try it.  Parked outside the gate to the park above Aiea Heights, and was able to hitch a ride to the start of the Aiea Loop Trail.  I did this after hearing so much about burglaries near the trailhead, but also because I wasn't sure if I would retrieve my car before the 7:45 gate locking.  Set foot on loop trail at 9:50, loaded down with rope, lots of water, machete, and survival gear/clothes.  Enjoyed a semi-relaxed pace on the way to the Aiea Ridge summit, and arrived there ~12:20.
Photo from Hui Iwa Street, Temple Valley
After picture taking and lunch, changed into long pants and windbreaker to head south/east along the summit ridge.  Poor conditions here, but hints of a trail, along with a few old orange ribbons.  After 45 minutes of up and downs I stopped at the third? peak to the right of Aiea Ridge terminus.  Called Patrick to tell him my plans just in case things didn't work out.  (Safety first!) At 1:30 I began to descend the ridge I believed would eventually lead to the powerline towers at the terminus of the Ulupaina trail near the Valley of Temples.  I have scouted out that ridge past the towers before, and was amazed at how nasty(but not impossible) it looked.  I had gotten beyond some of the really steep/eroded/narrow sections last year, and was determined to complete the ridge at some point.
I chose to go top-down this day - which turned out to be a very wise decision.  The first third was a bash through deep uluhe, sometime head high.  I was impressed by the swath I left behind me, but I believe this part alone would be too much of an energy-drainer going up.  Of note: passed a prominent Lapalapa tree and then a lone palm - both just stuck in with all the uluhe.  Further down the ridge splits into right and left, but both options soon become vertical slabs of rock and are no good.  The route I took was straightforward, unable to see what lay ahead due to the severity of slope.
The next third consisted of the most terrifying descents I have yet attempted.  Sheer drop-offs prevailed and I put my rope to use more times than I can recall. I would find the sturdiest(or sometimes only) tree or root, loop my rope around it, descend carefully holding both ends, and then pull the rope back down to me.  This process alone was wearing me out.  I had originally planned on leaving behind ropes in the worst places for a future ascent, but there were far too many spots that would require them.  It was not long before I realized an ascent would be foolish, and I would be satisfied just making it down.
After three brutal hours on that ridge(including a bee sting in the neck while hanging on to only the rope during a particularly steep rock face) I got to the point where I had stopped my ascent last year.  The next hour down is no picnic by any means, but I was relieved to be on familiar territory.  Following a few more careful manuevers and a final climb out of a notch on the ridge, I was now at the "sane" part of this ridge - about 5 minutes above the powerline towers.  Took a long break to finish my sandwich and water, enjoy the views, and collect my thoughts.
Called my ride around 6:15 and found out she couldn't get me until 7:30ish. Decided to go down the right fork on the Ulupaina trail, grabbed a much needed water bottle that I had stashed there last week, and made my way out to the highway.  Walked over to the Windward Mall to get some food while I waited for her to shuttle me back to my car.  A nice easy evening stroll to finish the day.  Back to my car ~8:00.
One heck of a hike, and one to never even think about doing again.  .....but at least I can cross it off my list.
-Pete Clines

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