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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Poamoho/KST/Castle/Papali Uka -- Keith Palmer

A Koolau Summit Trail hiker from the mainland told me about a water
source he found in the Peahinaia section of the trail, and referenced in
one of Stuart Ball's books. It is on the windward side of the trail at
Peahinaia at a gap. He was able to make a mud dike, stick a straw
through it, and slowly fill a water bottle. For people who might not get
to the excellent water source at Poamoho junction or those studying the
plants in the fence interior and staying thereabouts, decided to pack up
and see if I could find the meager source.

Thursday June 27, 2002

6:05 AM Walk out the door of house with light backpack. Worked the
night before until 3:00 AM and had packed up just before leaving.

6:20 AM Arrive at Hookele and Farrington Highway bus stop.

6:37 Bus #40 "Honolulu" arrives. Pay $1.50, the new higher bus fare, and
get a transfer. Thinned down internal frame backpack draws no comment
from the driver, and I slide it under my bus seat.

7:28 Get off bus at Leeward Community College. Cross to westbound lane
of Kamehameha Highway to other bus stop.

7:56 Bus #62 arrives at stop. Driver says Circle Island no longer stops
at LCC. Drive refuses to take my transfer, perhaps because it is the
first time I have been "bitten" by the change in route.
8:28 Arrive at Wahiawa California Avenue shopping center stop.
Discussion with two ladies about the bus route confirms #52 Circle Island
I tried to catch at LCC has been rerouted now because it has to go up
into Mililani Mauka.

8:49 Bus #52 Circle Island comes. Board, give driver my transfer.

8:58 Dole/Helemano Plantation. Have managed to get from Ma'ili to
Helemano for $1.50 and three bus trips, mahalo to The Bus. Get off one
stop early at the Dole tourist place and walk short distance to the
Helemano Plantation road, the road that serves as access to Poamoho
Trail. The road is now **completely** blocked, not just with boulders
but also with earth that has been pushed up against the boulders. And
the barricade is not just at the end of the Helemano Plantation road but
along it on the north side also, so a four-wheel drive vehicle cannot go
over the bank to the access road. Wrestle on my gaiters at the blockage.

9:15 Start up road. Such a great day, Martha Stewart would be doing her
insider trading outdoors. Bright sun, no clouds, and a cool morning
wind. Living dangerously decide not to dig out sunscreen, not even my
hat, which is handy in the backpack.

11:10 Arrive at Hunter/Hiker sign in station. Sign in as hiking and
camping and "X" off the return time block since do not plan on coming out
on the Poamoho Trail. 11:15 arrive trailhead. Take a long break.

12:15 Start up Poamoho Trail. Take breaks along trail, getting sleepier
and sleepier each time. Past my normal bedtime. The trail is
delightfully cleared, looks like recent Na Ala Hele work. Wide, a real
joy. A guess would be within two months or so ago judging from how far
up the cut Clidemia, Clidemia hirta, and guava, Psidium spp., have shot
up. The clearers have taken pains to clear around native plants that are
growing into the trail, even going the extreme of leaving a few koa
seedlings two to five feet tall. Mental note that they will block the
fine trail if not moved or cut. Guess the Na Ala Hele guys have to be
overly cautious.

2:35 PM Time for a nap. Reached a cleared spot just above the end of
the well-cleared section. Perhaps transition to another landowner who is
not as hiker friendly. Set alarm on watch for 5:30 PM and shove in
breast pocket. Lay down on raincoat next to pack.

6:37 PM Wake up. What happened to the alarm? Must have had my arm over
the watch, muffling the alarm. Too late to continue North on KST towards
my intended overnight at a high grassy knoll just off the trail, so hope
the DLNR cabin at Poamoho has no official users and head there. Arrive
Poamoho water source, a really lovely spot. The open field like area
next to the trail that is such a good campground seems smaller, for some
reason. Just an impression, no doubt. Walk to Cline Memorial. Windy
as usual. The "mop head" Lobelias, Trematolobelia macrostychys, that are
often in such abundance in the wet area just below the junction are
almost all gone by, all the seed bearing arms are brown and naked bearing
their many dried out porous seed capsules. Take a brief look over the
Pali at the windward side.

7:49 PM Arrive at the Poamoho Cabin. Cabin is particularly clean.
Check for the three rattraps left there last year behind the plywood
sheet, still there waiting for anyone with cheese to tie them to a post
below the cabin and control the inevitable rats. Rats kill snails and
native birds, so why not do a little rat control? The traps have a hole
drilled through one end with string through the hole. You tie the trap
to a post or nail with the string so if the trap does not result in a
clean kill, which they often do not, just catching a leg or so of the
rat, you can go out and take a piece of lumber from underneath the cabin
and with a quick blow humanely crush the invasive rodent's skull. Walk
away from the cabin and give the dead rat carcass a good toss. Plenty of
old two by fours under the cabin, no doubt left by ecologically conscious
DLNR carpenters for use in rat control. Make dinner, red beans and rice
for six cooked over an alcohol stove constructed of two soda cans and
perlite, one third of a half pound block of hard goat cheese, Triscuits,
and an apple. Debate setting the traps, but decide to keep the cheese
for myself. Read a few articles in a recent Science News magazine by
headlamp before falling asleep. An unnecessary candle on a tin foil
holder creates a glow for a while over one side of the plywood interior
of the cabin.

Friday June 28, 2002

7:43 Sweep up and leave cabin for Cline Memorial. Heading north, soon
after the KST-Poamoho Trail intersection pass through some fairly dense
Clidemia groves. Pass the long open pali section, which is in need of
clearing and some pickaxe work to clear the slides that create danger by
pushing hikers out to the very edge of the Pali. Innumerable small
landslides above the trail fill in the inside edge, and make for a harder
walk than is really necessary.

Beautiful views south towards windward Oahu. Stop to take three photos
of a misty trail, Pu'u Ohuluhule, and a knob on the trail. Start up a
few knobs where due to lazy hikers or overgrowth of the original contour
trail "cut throughs" have been made that bypass the back and forth
serpentines of the trail. The original trail is choked over with growth
but findable. Some hearty trail-clearing sort could restore the trail in
a couple of hours if there was someone so inclined. Reduce erosion,
create a more pleasant journey free of fear of losing the trail.
Clidemia in a few dense patches. Some of the trail is surprisingly
choked with plants, which grow into the only opening there is, the trail
cut. Overall the trail climbs gradually up. Pleasant walking, and a new
and unique experience on the KST for me, walking in the morning and not
getting soaked.

Every so often encounter a common damselfly of the endemic genus
Megalagrion, probably M. oahuense, flying or perching along the trail.
Pretty animals, dark gray and red. They actually seem to be hanging out
along the trail opening, a good flyway for them in their search for
smaller insects to catch, or a member of the opposite sex to impress.
They move without haste to avoid me as I pass.

10:07 Come upon the fence built by Army Environmental to excude pigs
from 150 acres of Bishop Estate land. This is the Opa'eula Watershed
Protection Project. There is a sign at the first cross of the trail with
the fence with small yellow lettering to let hikers know they are on the
trail, and a crossover stile. The stile consists of two steps on either
side of the fence, the one by the fence higher than the outer. Each step
is made of two two-by-fours bolted together over the top of a piece of
metal fence post. I walk up on the near side, let myself down the other
side. Step on the lower step on the north side and feel it sink about an
inch on one end's support. Put my full weight on it and it sinks another
half an inch. At this point where the trail first crosses the fence the
fence line runs roughly 290 degrees west and the trail 30 degrees east
towards a grassy swale. Having crossed the stile the trail is now inside
the fence. The trail heading north here is hard to follow, and manage to
get turned around. Walk back up towards the ridge and fence. The trail
was lightly marked here to begin with, and with the fence is hard to

Cross outside the fence again to see if this swale could be the top of
the water source, and walking downhill towards the pali come upon some
large metal helicopter pads that are sitting with grass growing up
through their holes. Look around the pali side of the swale and no
water, nothing really fitting the description of the seep. Walk along
trail again and stop at another stile to take a photo of the fence line
heading along the pali and the trail heading off at an angle a little to
leeward. The fence does not stay on the trail but crosses back and
forth, and due to this makes following the trail a bit of a chore. Due
to the esthetically challenged planning management at Army Environmental
the fence manages to be built on the trail off and on. It also cuts
through native plants along most of its path here. At one point a
certain past president of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club, Pat
Rorie, felt it best to clear some of the original trail to allow less
confusion. Perhaps that and some sort of low-key trail markers could be
put up at intervals along here to so hikers can stay on the trail instead
of following the fenceline and wondering if they are anywhere near the
K.S.T. Some people like my friend from Ohio ended up walking most of
the fence line.

11:07 Reach a notch on the windward side that faces directly east that
looks steeper and more promising than the previous gentle swale. Walk
down it all the way to its pali drop off and find no flowing water.
There are several shallow pools in the moss covered rocky channel, one
about five inches deep with algae growing in it. This must be the place.
Try a sip, no off taste. Fill up plastic bottle with slightly greenish
water. Walk back up towards where left pack and take a photo of the
notch. The photo frames Pu'u Ohuluhule. Whether water is flowing here
must depend on how often and how hard the rain falls. Back on the trail
notice several large bundles of heavy fencing wire left hanging at
intervals along the fence line, leftovers still not cleaned up from the

Walking along the trail/fence can see the Army Environmental platform
and tent off to the left. When first spy it check it out with
binoculars. Because of the foreshortened perspective and the fact the
tent platform is built on stilts with open air beneath it the whole thing
bears an odd resemblance to a wagon train wagon. Arched or hooped top,
vertical sides, and open beneath. No oxen pulling it though. Closer
inspection shows it for what it is. The tent is up which is surprising,
since the Environmental Assessment issued for the fence construction
specifically states it is to be taken down when the fence line
construction crew is through and between visits by environmental workers
to the site. No one is around working. Walk along, the fence present
for a surprisingly long ways to the side of the trail. Along the fence
find none of the disturbing wire snares that were there earlier, though
not walking the entire 2.3 mile fence line cannot vouch for that for the
whole distance.

12:20 Arrive at a small enclosure, built earlier than Opae'ula, and with
taller wooden stakes instead of metal. The trail takes me to the sign on
the north end of the fencing, which has a created name for the area
"Lehua Maka Nui", with translation of "misty eyed Lehua" bog. The
exclosure area is on a surprisingly steep slope to be a bog, but perhaps
the plant community there is as unique as the signs indicates. The sign
also says to stay out, that the fence was built to keep pigs and humans
from trampling the area. There being no boardwalk or marked path stay
outside the fence. There is a small clearing a little beyond the sign
along the fence that looks like a small campsite.
On the KST eat a light lunch. More cheese and Triscuits.

12:50 Leave lunch spot by fence sign, trail bears a little west of north,
about 315 degrees. Just after starting look down a broad open valley on
the right to see a solar panel and what looks like a rain gauge. Visible
for the next twenty minutes or so along the trail. Above this rain gauge
on the trail come to a spot with pieces of helicopter landing pad shoved
off to the side of the trail. Also in the trail several pieces of what
look like landing pad reinforcement or some very heavy metal, directly on
the trail and speculatively there to prevent the trail from eroding a rut
in the ground.

1:13 PM Come up surprisingly to the junction with Castle Trail.
Recognize the open spot in the trail where have camped before when coming
south on the KST. There is a plastic piece of pipe with three bright
pieces of flagging tied around it. The realization that now most of the
trail after the meeting with the fence has some sort of human
construction visible along it makes a sad note.

1:20 Start down Castle Trail. Overgrown and narrow at places with signs
of some clearing attempt. Not hard to find the trail, but definitely
overgrown. Take a long rest near where the trail cuts into a cliff and
the Broussasia and other natives are pushing out from the cliff edge.
2:30 There is a fork in the trail with a little grass growing. This is
where Dave Waller and I had to guess which way to turn to find water on a
through hike a few years ago. We guessed correctly and went right.
This fork fairly close to the summit of Castle Trail could be the
junction with Papali Uka/Hau'ula Loa described by Dayle Turner in his
OHE post 16 AUG 2002. However, it may be too high up on Castle. Anyone
know this place?? A "Castle Trail" arrow and "Dangerous Trail Leads to
Uncleared Ridges" arrow might be helpful here. If it is the Hau'ula Loa
Trail then it should have a warning sign, since there is no real contour
trail and it is following narrow uncleared ridges.

2:40 On Castle Trail cuts through on the left of a hill, and come to the
small water source. There is a water-eroded channel with small pool in
the concave side of the hill, and the pool is full. Covered by native
vegetation and a few Clidemia. Push aside the surface debris and fill up
again. Futilely rip up a few Clidemia.

3:02 Another trail junction. Take a rest. The right fork is marked with
a small green painted sign that says "TRAIL" and above in black marking
pen in half inch letters is written "Castle". Been told by Pat Rorie
that access to Castle from the trailhead has been cut off, some landowner
not wanting to let folks in, and so it is getting really overgrown. I
decide that it would be nice to take the Castle Trail since have only
been on it once before, and with luck will be able to push through on the
trail cut. Start down Castle Trail.

4:02 Luck runs out. The trail dead ends, with several clumps of flagging
and a Loulu grove directly ahead. Push ahead below and through the Loulu
grove and along the mountainside on the grove's other side, pushing up
and along to find the trail. No trail. Push up, and clinging to clumps
of the native lily Uki-Uki, Dianella sandwicensis, and digging in along
the hillside work back to the trail. What a pain. Walk back to the
junction with green "Trail" sign looking for the trail and not seeing it.
It turns out that Castle does indeed go this way, and if had taken
some time would have found the correct trail, which goes down and crosses
Kaluanui Stream which feeds Sacred Falls.

4:30 Down other trail. Keep looking for the junction to Nipple/
Waiahilahila Ridge and miss it. No marker? Off of Castle instead of
this trail? Lots and lots of native plants. Someone has tied a ribbon
to three or four of the more interesting endemics, there is a Lobelia
with multiple heads, like the T. macrostachys at Poamoho but with more
than one leaf top. Never a good amateur botanist around to clear these
questions up when you need one. Pass three or so inviting openings in
the trail that look like campsites, perhaps left by amateur botanists
exploring the area, or trail clearers camping out for the night. The
campsites begin to beckon. Lots and lots of small birds, introduced
Japanese White Eyes having a convention. Have not seen a single native
bird the whole trip. No Apapanes even.

5:30 Decide to camp instead of trying to push through, perhaps by
flashlight, and brave the bus system after a long day. Set up camp on
an opening on the trail of bivy sack and pink blanket. Eat the last
third of the box of Triscuits have had for dinner last night and lunch
today, and last of the cheese. No need to light an alcohol stove since
do not want to make coffee. Just a few drops of rain at night.

Saturday June 29th.

5:30 AM Up and pack.

6:00 On trail. Misty overcast. Clouds above and in front, some opening
towards the ocean below. The sun comes up, first detectable by the red
tops of the waves off Punaluu.

7:30 Stop and take a photo looking down into Makua Gulch on the left.
Through binoculars can see runners of vines on the other face of Makua
Gulch, which though too far away to identify, look like Smilax
melastomifolia, Hoi kuahiwi. That valley is closed to hikers due to
landslide danger, and I wonder where in the hike I am above. Can see
sheer canyon sides but not the stream.

9:44 Come out at a road with sign saying "Ma'akua Ridge Trail/ Na Ala
Hele/ Ma'akua Gulch Trail Closed due to Hazardous Conditions Violators
Will Be Prosecuted." Walk to Farrington Highway, walk to convenience
store and purchase 16 oz ice tea, twelve oz orange juice, a plastic pack
with two blueberry pop tarts in it, and a bean manapua. Walk over
bridge on Kamehameha Highway, and a couple who look like serious
bicyclists spin by. The lady smiles and waves, at another outdoor
enthusiast no doubt. I refrain from responding for some reason. Cross
bridge to the bus stop and chow down on recent food purchase. Start to
take off gaiters when...

10:40 The bus #55 arrives, Ala Moana. Pay my $1.50 and get a transfer.
Walk on with one gaiter off and the other hanging off my boot. Sit
down, remove gaiter, pack it, and stow my backpack under the seat. Feel
a little embarrassed by the odor of three days of sweat in my shirt and
shorts, but no one takes visible offense. A couple of guys are talking
about how bus fares have gone up.

11:56 Arrive Ala Moana shopping center. Walk to Country Express "C" stop
and wait. Middle aged man who wants to know if he can take the #40 bus
to Waianae and back before 4:00 PM. I recommend the Country Express and
ask if he is on vacation. An attractive middle-aged lady in a swimsuit
looking a little down and out comes along asking people if they have a
match. I offer her a light, digging camping matches out of my pack's top
cover compartment and lighting up her inch long unfiltered cigarette
butt. Despite being a gentleman my conscience forces me to remind her
that smoking is bad for her, saying "You know, that will stunt your
growth." She sucks up her nicotine hit and backs two or three steps,
thanks me and leaves. Good to know I still have that charm.

12:20 "C" bus arrives. Get on, give transfer to driver. Put pack under
a seat. The Waianae sightseer gets on too.

1:50 Get off the bus at the Ho'okele and Farrington Highway stop. Spent
another $1.50 to get from Hau'ula to Ma'ili. Few minutes later...home to
shower, sleep, and go to work in the evening.


Kawela, Kapua. Environmental Assessment for Opaeula Watershed Protection
Project Oahu, Hawaii. November, 1999. Pub Unknown.

Merlin, Mark. Hawaiian Forest Plants 4th ed. 1995. Pacific Guide

Polhemus, Dan A. and Asquith, Adam. 1996. Hawaiian Damselflies A Field
Identification Guide. Bishop Museum Press.

Turner, Dayle K. Hau'ula Loa. Fri, 16Aug2002 09:26:30-1000 OHE-L.5079


Directions in degrees are crude, using an inexpensive compass, and do not correct for local magnetic declination.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for TheBus directions! sounds like a fun trip!