Hike date: 2 April 2003
Definitely one of the more memorable pau hana hikes I've done in recent years.For subscribers of OHE-L who aren't aware, during the past few years some of us on this list have been searching for do-able windward Ko'olau ridges as counterparts to prominent leeward Ko'olau trails. A few of these trans-Ko'olau routes have existed for decades (i.e. Schofield-Waikane, Kawailoa-Laie, and Haiku Stairs Moanalua Valley middle ridge). The late Silver Piliwale pioneered Piliwale Ridge (aka Windward Konahuanui, the narly ridge visible as one drives along the Pali Hwy hairpin turn), which Jason Sunada, Pete Clines and I have climbed recently. Silver also blazed a trail up Kaupo Cliffs (part of the Kaupo Cliffs-Kamiloiki Ridge traverse). The Bear Claws-Pu'u o Kona-Kuliouou Ridge is another example of a trans-Ko'olau route; author unknown. A group of us established a trail on a ridge in Waiahole Valley dubbed Kipapa Windward because it tops out near the Kipapa Ridge summit, and Dayle and Ed Gilman were the first in recent times (ever?) to ascend a windward ridge that terminates near the apex of Mount Olympus.
|Photo of Mariner's Windward by David Chatsuthiphan
In the past two months, led by Scott Villiger, Dayle, Ed, and Wing Ng, a small band of explorers have been mucking around the Ko'olau foothills in back of Waimanalo looking to ascend a windward ridge that tops out near Kaluanui Ridge (aka Mariner's Ridge). This past Saturday, Dayle, Scott and Ed were successful in climbing a windward spur to the Ko'olau summit, which terminates at a view of Hahaoine Valley, earning it the name Hahaione Windward. I couldn't remember reading about anyone trying the ridge directly windward of the Mariner's Ridge summit, so I decided to give it shot yesterday, pau hana.After departing my workplace on the outskirts of downtown Honolulu at 4 pm, I motored to the affluent O'ahu neighborhood of Hawaii Kai, proceeding in the pat-mobile to the top of Kaluanui Rd (approx. elev. 800'). Yesterday was a beauty weatherwise, an abundance of blue sky and sunshine, but steamy (light and variable winds).Following final preparations, I continued mauka on foot at 4:41 pm via the Mariner's Ridge Trail. Mariner's Ridge is the most easily accessible and shortest route to the Ko'olau summit (the route on Kamehame Ridge is actually a paved road, so I don't consider it a trail). With a limited amount of time for exploration, I set a brisk pace in order to reach the summit as soon as possible.At 5:05 pm I gained the crest of the Ko'olau Range (approx. elev. 1600'), but rather than descending directly from the Mariner's Ridge terminus, I headed west along the Ko'olau spine to a spot where I could drop down a short distance and then contour to the crest of Kaluanui Windward.Once on the spine of Kaluanui Windward, I carefully negotiated a couple of eroded rock outcroppings, and then methodically lost elevation, maneuvering between tall ironwoods in the process. I could clearly see sheer cliffs on adjacent flanks to east and west, so I expected to eventually reach a precipitous dropoff. Much to my surprise, however, I never did! Other than some brief exposed rock scrambling and slabbing a short distance between/under Christmas berry trees to regain the crest below a vegetated cliff, I did not encounter an impossibly steep rock face like the ones located on most of the adjacent flanks.After battling through Christmas berry, I followed the ridge down to the floor of the Waimanalo Forest Reserve, tying orange ribbon periodically to trees limbs to mark the route. When I arrived at the origin of the ridge (approx. elev. 320'), I tied two ribbons to a tree to indicate the spot. I scanned the forest briefly for any of Wing's ribbons, but did not see any and did not have time to search for them.At 6:19 pm I commenced the return leg of the outing, tying several more ribbons periodically to tree limbs on the way up Kaluanui Windward. As I approached the Ko'olau summit, I foolishly let my ego take over. Instead of using the contour route like I had done on the way down, I chose to ascend the steep, narrow pitch to Kaluanui's true summit. Initally, this was not a problem, but farther up I had trouble getting beyond a particular ledge. I looked on both sides for easier possibilities. Finding none, I simply made like an opihi, inching my way up from handhold/foothold to handhold/foothold, keeping my center of gravity as close to the ground as possible for maximum leverage (let the reader understand that a fall here probably would not have resulted in death, just serious injury).After ascending past the tight spot, I breathed a sigh of relief but with darkness setting in, I noticed another ironwood up ahead, followed by the final climb to the true summit. Definately a psychological blow."Is the final climb do-able?" I asked myself. There would be no turning back.In a near panic, I moved quickly toward the ironwood, but as I attempted to go around the tree, a Christmas berry limb slashed my right knee, inflicting a superficial but painful wound. Upon regaining my composure, I continued upward, and, fortunately, successfully negotiated the final steep pitch to Kaluanui's summit, reaching the Ko'olau crest at 7:15 pm in darkness. I rejoiced at having completed the tough ascent, and then began heading down the Mariner's Ridge Trail by flashlight.The tramp along Mariner's in the dark was quite pleasant, stars twinkling in the evening sky (I easily recognized Orion's belt, Orion's hunting dog and the Big Dipper), the lights of Hawaii Kai visible in the distance.
Eventually, I emerged from the trail onto Kaluanui Road, and after entering the pat-mobile, sped off for home at 7:45 pm.Notes:Native plants growing along Mariner's Ridge: 'ulei, laua'e ferns, a'ali'i, ko'oko'olau, 'ilima.== Paka