Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wahiawa Hills

by welikehike

We underestimated the intricacy of this loop trail located in the foothills of Wahiawa.  Since it was a 5-mile hike with just 1,300 feet elevation gain, I decided not to bring any food and anticipated finishing this trail shortly after noon.  My companions brought some snacks and two did not have any water.  Though the Stuart Ball's book attempted to give clear directions to the trail, we came across numerous junctions that were not identified in the book, and ribbons were visible on both directions of the trail.  We were forced to make decisions that could either lead us to the right trail or off the trail.  We definitely made some wrong choices as we waded through the Kuakonahui Stream for six hours and came back to paved roads and street lights after scrambling in darkness with no trail to guide us but our headlamps.

From the start of the hike, we were already confused as we walked through a clearing in a paperbark grove. We hiked along the edge of the main ridge and overlooked a junction that would lead us to a steep descent on the left side of the ridge.  We had to duck under and climb over numerous fallen trees which made the trail a bit obscure.  Later, we found ourselves doing the trail in reverse as we noticed an abandoned irrigation ditch which was suppose to appear in the return trip.  We had the opportunity to turn back and retrace our steps but we decided to attempt the trail in reverse.  We descended down a gully with a small stream and shortly climbed up a steep hill.  At the top, we arrived at a junction that left us clueless of where to go.  We decided to go right and the trail eventually led us to more hills to climb.  We continued working our way up the ascending trail, and as tiring as it was, it did not stop me from noticing the delightful blend of native and introduced plants and trees.  Uluhe ferns dominated the ground and the eucalyptus trees towered above us.

We later made our steep descent down to Kuakonahui Stream where there are pools of darker blue perfect for cooling off and swimming.  We took a quick dip in the pool and encountered what appeared to be a flesh-eating fish but it was just a lonesome seabass with no fear of human presence.  It lingered near us and it had a mouth wide enough to swallow my big toe.  We ate our afternoon snack near the pool and knew nothing of what would happen to us later that day.  After we were cooled off and well rested, we were ready to tackle the next steep hill ahead.  Well, I thought I was ready up until we reached mid-point.  I began to lose strength quickly as this hill was kicking my ass.  All the heat and exhaustion came back to me within minutes of merciless climbing.  Once we reached the ridge, there was more gradual climbing to do and we continued forward with the music of my pounding heart and heavy breathing.

We were brought to a stop by another junction that was not identified in the book.  There were two choices with pink ribbons on both trails.  We decided to take the left trail which eventually led us down the same creek.  We arrived at another stream crossing and another hill to climb.  We were on the ridge again as we walked between two streams below us.  The trail started to descend and we were in the stream once more.  We took another dip in the pool.  This would be the last time we all took pleasure of being in the water because for the next 6 hours, we were following pink ribbons while wading in the stream.  Sometimes, the water level would be up to our chins, and for some of us, we had to tip-toe our way across the deep sections of the stream.  It seemed to be an endless journey in the stream for all of us and we were eagerly yearning for a way out.  False hope arrived when we saw pink ribbons leading uphill.  When the trail shortly turned downwards just around the bend, excitement turned into despair as we stepped back into the stream we so dread.  It was getting late in the afternoon and we decided to a take a narrow trail leading up the hill.  The trail disappeared and we were forced to trample over uluhe ferns to eagerly get to the top.  We found nothing but green and forest, no sign of civilization nearby.  We headed back down to the stream after getting heavily scratched by the ferns.  We were back on the pink ribbon trail, and back in the water.  Time was not waiting for us as the sky was getting darker and our spirits were getting more desperate.  Surprisingly, no one complained and some of us entertained the idea of camping overnight.  As we reached the hour of the setting sun, someone discovered through his cell phone that we were located in a creek between two neighborhoods.  Civilization was just one or two football fields away.  We decided to leave the pink ribbon trail and head upwards in the dark.  There was no trail to follow, we made our trail with our headlamps to guide our way.  After 30 minutes of scrambling up the hill, we heard a shout of relief from the front man as he spotted a chain link fence.  As we climbed over the fence, we found out that were in a highly secured naval base, NCTAMS.  Getting stopped by security guards was the least of our worries, we were just so happy to finally be out of "no man's land".  The walking was not over for our cars were miles away from where we were at.  We walked about a mile to get to gas station in Whitmore Village and we got picked up by a taxi driver who could not believe our story.


ChilledFresh said...

That’s crazy! If you guys ever go again, I can show you where the junctions are.

The Sterchos said...

We have tried this loop four times. Today we crossed over two streams but there were no tree markings on the other side. Three hours of mud and big climbing. I wish someone would mark this trail with yellow tags easy to follow.

Anonymous said...

We are looking to try this trail soon. We live just down the road from the trailhead. Has anyone attempted camping here willingly?