Saturday, February 12, 2011

2-8-2011: Kahekili - 1900 Lookout - Crouching Lion

This was more of a "recovery mission" than a hike to retrieve some hiking gear that a couple of hikers left behind at 1900 Lookout when they attempted True Manamana a week before.  We were to only go as far as the 1900 Lookout and then turn around.  Since "MachEddie" (Eddie Pieters) and I haven't done the Kahekili Trail yet, we decided to hike this route, along with Marcus.  He hiked this particular route the week before so he was to lead the way.  Eddie brought along his machete to try to open up the head high uluhe fern section of the Kahekili Trail, which we heard was completely overgrowning the trail.

We shoved off from Swanzy Beach Park at around 7:30am and picked up a trail at the back of a residential area.  As we got higher, the houses below got smaller and smaller.  We spotted a white cross on an adjacent ridge from our own and wondered if someone perished at this section.  The drops below were considerable and a fall here would prove disasterous.

The trail eventually comes upon a massive rock face that appears unclimbable but it swung right and began contouring it.  This contouring goes on for a while through a forest and eventually comes upon an obscure junction.  With knowledge of a waterfall in this area, we veered right on to this side trail.  Once at the falls, we realized that we were in the upper portions of Makaua Valley or the Hidden Valley!  The waterfalls were actually the upper falls (Makaua Falls) and that the stream actually continues down another couple of waterfalls (about 80ft) below us into the lower valley.

After snapping a few photos at the falls, we headed back to the main trail and resumed our way.  The uluhe section would begin here.  "MachEddie" assumed the ramrod position and began chopping away at the relentless uluhe ferns.  Unfortunately, the blade was very dull and he was pounding down the ferns rather than chopping away at them.  I'd say we got about 3/4 through the uluhe when we all decided that using the machete was only slowing us down considerably and we plowed through the green ocean, thankful that we were all wearing long pants for this hike!

Once at the junction, the trail was at last wide again as we were now on Pu'u O Mahie Ridge.  To our right are the open and narrow "legendary" sections of the ridge that leads back down to Crouching Lion.  To our left was the way to Turnover.  So left we went through dense mountain forests and after about a 40 minute walk, we reached the junction of the Graveyard Ridge that heads down to Trout Farm Rd.  A few yards beyond that was Turnover.

We took a short break and continued on towards 1900 Lookout.  I have to say that the trail from Turnover to 1900 Lookout was much clearer back on November when I attempted and succeeded to summit True Manamana.  As we hiked along, I could only ponder if the trail will be left intentionally to get overgrown again to "close" True Manamana forever, or if it will receive regular maintainance to preserve the route.  Only time will tell!  At the lookout, we spotted all the equipment stashed off to the side and recovered them.  The view of True Manamana still remains the same: fearsome looking!  Eddie mentioned that he wants to attempt the climb one of these days.

We turned around and started to make our way back to Turnover.  Eddie went ahead while Marcus and I paused briefly to admire the beautiful views of Ka'a'awa Valley!  This is the only place where one can have a broadsided view of the valley in it's entirely.  While the view from Kanehoalani is also possible, access issues remain a problem (Kualoa Ranch).  The view from Ohulehule is perpendicular, but still breathtaking!  Below, we could make out the famous movie sets that dotted the landscape.

We resumed our uneventful trek back to the lookout and we were chatting about random stuf----  "POW!"  We heard a loud pop a short distance ahead of us.  At first, we couldn't quite make out what that sound was.  We yelled out to Eddie, who went ahead of us.  We thought he stepped on a tree or a rock that has gave way!  We got no response.  "POW!"  It only took me a split second to realize that these were potshots and that hunters were in the vicinity!  Since we were not on an established trail, we were not sure if they were shooting in our direction!  We certainly hoped that we were not mistakened for wild pig!  Marcus and I looked at each other in fear and made a mad dash!  We still haven't seen Eddie yet and we began to worry.  We yelled out to the hunters to communicate that we were hikers!  All we got in response was "POW! POW!"  I couldn't believe it!  On and on we went at full speed and I nearly tripped over Eddie as he was in a more or less prone position.  We all got down below the uluhe and we waitied quietly to see where these hunters were at in relation to us.  Judging from their voices, they had to be at least within 50ft of us!  Turnover was dead ahead.  All what was left was one small climb so we decided to charge for it!  No potshots this time.

We decided against a break as we didn't feel safe yet.  We bolted ahead past Turnover, our adrenaline pumping in our veins.  We almost decided to bail down Graveyard Ridge but continued towards Crouching Lion instead.  We came across a clearing where I could see the adjacent ridge that marks the boundrary of Ka'a'awa Valley.  I paused for a moment and peered over the vegetation.  I spotted 2 local guys, one in an orange shirt, and the other in a neon green shirt.  I couldn't see their firearms, but I knew they were the same hunters that were close by.  After watching them for some time, I came to the conclusion that they were not looking in our direction, but looking down on Ka'a'awa Valley.  Looks like they were probably hunting some pigs on that side.  Feeling relieved, I caught up to Marc and Eddie and informed them about it.  We continued at a more relaxed pace.

We reached the narrow sections and although no where near as narrow as True Manamana, the drops were still massive and a fall here would prove deadly!  To our left we could make out Kahana Bay and the windward coastline of Punalu'u and Hau'ula.  Past that were the brand new windmills of Laie, some spinning slowly, the rest stationary.  I wondered how much energy (or lack of) they were producing.  To our right was the ridge that Kahekili Trail resides on.  Farther out was Swanzy Park, incidating our start and end point.  At the junction of the Crouching Lion, Marcus pointed out a route that I've never taken before.  It heads past the Lion rock formation down a spur, passing by a couple of pillboxes, the trail equipped with a "rope railing" for the entire descent.  We popped out on Kam Hwy slightly closer to the Crouching Lion Inn with a short road walk back to Swanzy.

Mission accomplished!



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