I lead the Schofield-Waikane hike for HTMC which overlooks the very back of Kahana Valley and the peaks on the Koʻolauloa Coast of windward Oʻahu.
I did this hike twice — once for trail clearing and another time leading the public hike. On the trail clearing morning, the skies were dark and overcast. Udom Stamegna, George Vuong and I pushed off at 7 am from the water towers at the end of California Avenue in Wahiawa — an hour before the rest of the trail clearing crew to do the 14 mile round trip.
There were 3 prongs to our trail clearing effort. The weed whackers would blast open the first half of the trail while a second group with machetes and sickles would clear the trail starting half-way up. A third team would clear from the summit down. The day before, Gordon Jr. Lau, Chase Norton, Thea Ferentinos and John Braum backpacked up Poamoho, turned south on the Koʻolau Summit Trail, and camped at the summit of Schofield-Waikane.
The morning was dark, cloudy and misty as we hiked under paperbark and strawberry guava trees to get to the dirt road that leads to the Schofield-Waikane trail head.
Rain drizzled as we gained several hundred feet of elevation over the 2.3 mile road walk where orange falling star flowers thrive. When we reached the Schofield-Waikane trail, the landscape was lush, green and wet.
The landscape was drenched and we got soaked brushing against the profuse growth of uluhe ferns that grew in from the margins of the trail.
Rain fell multiple times — usually for no more than 20 minutes at a time — but was heavy enough that I had to put away my camera gear and took few photos all day. We removed blockages from the trail and chopped back the ferns to create a 2 foot swath. Not long after our lunch break at 1 pm we finally met up the top-down crew coming down the trail in the rain.
When we reached the last quarter mile we were amazed to see what the top-down team had done — they cleared the trail to the wall! The work almost looked weed whacked! Mists blew in as we made our way to the top and clouds blocked all views from the summit.
Contrast that against the weather we had on the day of the public hike! It rained briefly when we first embarked on the trail but it rained no more after that all the way to the summit.
What a pleasure it was to hike a nicely maintained trail through native koa, ʻōhiʻa , ʻieʻie, hapuʻu and uluhe.
One of the more amazing sights was a big ʻōhiʻa tree with mounds of moss arched over a slope of uluhe ferns.
From three-quarters of the way out to the summit, the trail is reduced to a two-foot wide swath through the uluhe — scratchy but very much passable.
We saw lots of ʻōhiʻa lehua shrubs in bloom with bright red flowers.
When we reached the last quarter mile we came to the section cleared by the top-down team — restored and cleared to the wall! Impressive work that almost looked weed-whacked!
Click on photo to enlarge
The summit provides a 180 degree panorama of the very back of Kahana Valley with the peaks — in the background Puʻu Piei, Manamana Kanehoalani, Ohulehule, Kaaumakua (in the clouds) and in the mid-ground Puʻu O Kila and Koiele.
Stands of native loulu hiwa palms — Pritchardia martii — overlook a slope in the back off Kahana Valley.
We explored a faint side trail to see what it lead to and saw this little insect on mehame leaves.
We enjoyed our stay at the summit and admired the awesome views. Tine past quickly at the summit and soon it was time to leave.
While descending the summit, hiking back through native forests, and walking on the long dirt road to our cars, I reflected on the great time I had seeing moss-covered ʻōhiʻa trees and the spectacular views of the peaks of Koʻolauloa. What an awesome hike!