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Friday, January 28, 2011

Kaupo Cliffs

Photo by Nathan Yuen
Most Oahu residents know about Waimanalo and where it is. Few know that there is a part of Waimanalo called Kaupo. Fewer still know about a trail called Kaupo Cliffs. There are a number of accounts of the ascent and/or descent of Kaupo Cliffs with the most recent of those listed below including visual renderings via pics and video. Enjoy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Konahuanui via Lulumahu

Konahuanui, the highest peak in the Koolau Range, is usually reached via the Tantalus Trail system at a trailhead on Tantalus Drive (see google maps).  In 2001, another route to Konahuanui was employed.  Herein is a description of that ascent and subsequent return which in total accounted for 8 to 10 miles.
The starting point is  the hunters' check-in where Nuuanu Pali Drive rejoins Pali Hwy. (google maps).
We started along the muddy trail to Lulumahu Falls and after two stream crossings (very near Lulumahu Falls)  we stayed on the left bank to begin climbing a roughly cut trail that went up the left ridge of Lulumahu. There was one section where the ridge narrowed to a razor edge.  There was one steep section with a strap (dunno where it came from) for climbing assistance.  Keep in mind that this was in 2001.  That strap likely is not there or very frail if it is.  Take note.After that, the ridge is fairly broad with no overly dangerous parts. Like the regular Konahuanui trail, this ridge dips to a prominent saddle and then climbs steadily to gain the crest of the Koolaus.  In our case, the final climb was steep with poor, loose, muddy footing but with plenty of vegetation as a buffer.When I reached Konahuanui 1 (the higher of the twins), I noticed a skinny haole teenager coming up from the ridge to my left.  I thought, "Did that buggah come up Piliwale?"Nah, he must've come up the regular Konahuanui trail and was just poking around over toward Piliwale, I reckoned. So I asked him, "What time did you start?" (9:00 was his reply).  Question two: "So did you start from Tantalus?"His reply stunned me.  He turned around pointed behind him and said, "Pali Lookout."Of course I grilled him with the expected questions: Any rope sections? (one but not needed);  How was the overhanging rockface? (tough but free-climbable); Any other obstacles? (very narrow sections thru what he called fern tunnels). What's your name? (Drush [da-rush] Fuller) (see pic below).
Drush Fuller
This guy, skinny as stalk of cane, is a 2001 grad of Kalaheo high school and a self-professed "mountain kid." He carried no pack, no rope, no water, no food, no nothing except the keys to his truck in his pocket. He wore a black t-shirt, knit pants with the cuffs cut off, and old-style Converse hightop basketball shoes.
I told him it was a helluva climb he pulled off. I later gave him a ride back to his truck at the lookout and invited him to join a group of us for an exploratory ascent of a ridge in Maunawili Valley this coming Saturday (anyone interested in joining us for that, email me).Prior to that, there was a hike to complete, which included the muddy crossover from K1 to K2 and the descent of the regular Konahuanui trail to the Nuuanu Lookout.  From the Lookout, we connected with the Nuuanu trail, which took us down to the Judd trail, which took us to Nuuanu Stream, which we used to clean the mud from legs, shoes, and gaiters.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hauula Loa

In Hawaiian, Loa means long. Hauula Loa, then, means Long Hauula. Some call this the longest ridge on Oahu.  While that may not be true, this hike is indeed a long one which can be made even longer since this ridge is rarely hiked and thus very overgrown.  The HTMC hiked this trail as a club outing on Aug. 24, 2002. This writer knows of no others who have hiked this entire route since.  
The hike starts along Kam Hwy and Hauula Homestead Rd. (google map)  Leg 1 is from cars to top of Hau'ula Uka Loop and is probably the hardest leg, aerobically.  It will take about an hour. Plan on some heavy heart-pumping on these initial series of climbs. The map shown here (which is from Stuart Ball's book) is of the Hauula Loop. 
From Hikers Guide to Oahu, Stuart Ball
At Map Point H, head left at the junction to take the loop in a clockwise manner. The loop trail will top out on a ridge before descending to Map point I.  At that ridge location, head up the ridge on a trail instead of descending to Map Point I.  At this point, you will have left the Hauula Loop and are on the Hauula Uka Trail.  At the top of Hauula Uka is a junction with the start of Hauula Loa Ridge
Leg 2 is to Three Ribbons Pu'u.  This took 1 hour in 2002 but may take much longer nowadays due to lack of hiker traffic thus heavy overgrowth or even a lack of a swath. Even with a trail to work with, plan on a slower pace due to thicker vegetation and less of a trail to work with.  The three ribbons, by the way, mark the end of the (occasionally-used) extended portion of the Hauula Uka hike done by the Trail and Mountain Club.  That pu'u may be hard to distinguish circa 2010 and those ribbons may in fact be long gone, so hikers take note.  Also note that there are some huge drops on the right down into upper Kaipapau Gulch. The ridge never gets perilously narrow but do note the drops are some of the most significant this hiker has ever encountered. Leg 3 Three Ribbons Pu'u to Castle Trail junction took 2 hours in 2002. On this leg, you will be in a very remote area of Oahu.  Plan on some tough going due to heavy vegetation.  An established swath would be very helpful but do not anticipate that. Take note of views on the left into upper Maakua Gulch.  Circa 2010, the junction with the Castle Trail should be fairly discernible due to recent use of the Castle Trail by HTMC. From that junction, recommended is a short trek down Castle for 10 minutes and lunch at an overlook of a waterfall.  It is a nice spot (see pic below)

Leg 4 From the waterfall overlook, continue down Castle to the junction of Castle and Papali Uka. At this point, exit options are [1] via Castle (mostly downhill thus easier and faster) or [2] via Papali Uka (harder rollercoaster trail exit). Though easier, the Castle Trail exit will involve a long road walk back to your car or the need for a vehicle staging, shuttle at or near Punaluu Valley Road (google map). Also note that hiking on the Castle Trail is conditional, with permission required from the landowners, the Kamehameha Schools.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Aiea to Manana -- The Valleys Odyssey

Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club Hike
Hiker leader: Turner
Hike date:  August 2002
The map above shows the point-to-point distance of this hike as 3.14 miles (isn't that pi?)  Of course, the hike was not as-the-mynah bird flies; therefore, the entire distance was probably closer to 9 or 10 miles.
Originally this hike had an advertised starting point in Moanalua Valley and an unnamed ending point but only a handful of club members expressed an interest in taking part.  Instead of starting at Moanalua, the starting point was the upper point of Aiea Loop Trail on Aiea Ridge.  For the hike, the group met and staged their cars at the end of Komo Mai Drive, which is the Manana trailhead.  Then there was a car pool to Aiea Heights to the Aiea Loop Trail upper starting point. A few minutes past eight, the group set off up the Aiea Loop Trail, passing the traditional down-trail to Kalauao and a couple minutes later departing the Loop Trail to descend a contour trail (see rendering on a good map by Waianae Steve) into Valley # 1: Kalauao.  Everyone moved along at a steady, relaxed pace and by 8:45 the gradual descent was completed and  everyone was hiking along Kalauao Stream for ten minutes to arrive at place called the Sun Rocks. Short break there.
Next commenced the 20-minute clamber of Sun Rocks Ridge which is ranked as the toughest climb of the hike with the ascent being a hard heart pumper. Once completed is the satisfaction completing the first of the day's three big climbs.  Longer rest at the top of the climb.
After the rest, the group continued mauka up Onikiniki Ridge which was well cleared on that day but may be a quagmire of uluhe circa 2011 and beyond (see an uluhe pic circa 2008). After fifteen minutes of hiking, the group arrived at the junction of Onikiniki Ridge and Little Waimalu Ridge.  Resting on a tree branch at the junction was a collapsible cooler filled with bottles of Gatorade on ice!  The drinks were courtesy of Dr. Gene Robinson, who lugged the refreshments up the day before for the group today.  Fueled with Gatorade, the group continued along Little Waimalu Ridge, going up and over several pu'us along the away.  In about twenty minutes was the arrival at a ribboned junction where Little Waimalu is left behind and the descent of a spur into Valley #2: Big Waimalu begins. The descent was made quicker and easierthanks to the recent clearing efforts of several members of the club.The descent into Big Waimalu took about half an hour (see pic below).  During the descent, in view across the valley was the trail to be climbed to Waiau Ridge etched into the slope of a facing spur ridge (note: trail may not be visible or existent circa 2011). Meanwhile, the spur trail being descended delivered the group to the base of Waimalu Middle Ridge, the venue of one of the early HTMC super hikes.  Today, no one would climb the Middle Ridge; instead, the objective was to cross Waimalu Stream (bone dry) and then head up the spur trail spied a few minutes prior.  Ribbons placed just two weeks prior to mark the ascent route were nowhere to be found today.  Fortunately, Turner had good recall of the route and the climb to Waiau Ridge commenced.
Pic by Waianae Steve
The climb of the spur trail was a 30-minute grinder which is ranked as the second toughest of the day's trio of  big ascents.  Brisk and steady trade winds flowing down the valley were welcome and were helpful in keeping hikers cool while making the climb less taxing.  By 11:40, 3.5 hours after setting out, the group had reached the Waiau Trail at a heavily ribboned junction just makai of the Waiau's Big Dip (see map below).   Glad to have two big ups in the bag, the group hiked makai on Waiau and on the first significant hilltop everyone settled down for lunch.
Map by Waianae Steve
At 12:30, the group continued makai on Waiau. About half an hour of rollercoaster hiking from the lunch spot, it was 1:00 p.m., and the group arrived at the candy cane tree (a tree with a long pink ribbon wrapped around it) that marked the junction with the Halapepe Nui Trail (pictured below). At that point, the Waiau trail was departed and the group headed off on Halapepe Nui, the next designated stop being the top of the switchbacks down into Waimano Valley.
Start of the Halapepe Nui Trail from Waiu
Pic by Bart Mathias
The traverse of Halapepe Nui took a bit over half an hour. A bit past 1:30, having completed the medium ups and downs of the mildly overgrown Halapepe Nui trail, the group arrived at a Na Ala Hele sign that sits atop a switchback trail to be descended into Waimano Valley.  The group rested on a log in a breezy clearing surrounded by towering eucalyptus.After the rest, everyone again rose and this time headed down the Na Ala Heleswitchbacks, which is a wonderfully graded and maintained trail that few people hike or even know about.  A shame.In fifteen minutes, completed was the descent of the switchbacks and the arrival in Valley # 3: Little Waimano, at a junction with the Waimano Trail.  Heading mauka, hikers crossed Little Waimano Stream (dry) and almost immediately arrived at the entrance of a tunnel that everyone hiked through to get to its far end. Flashlights are suggested for the hunch-over scramble through the dark tunnel.At the 200-meter tunnel's far end, the group followed ribbons to descend steeply but quickly to Valley # 4: Big Waimano,  in a tangle of hau on a bank of Big Waimano Stream.  Just like the other streams encountered earlier, this one is bone dry, which is a marked contrast to two previous visits to this crossing by Turner when he had to balance on hau branches to avoid wading through a chest-deep pool.  With zero water in the stream today, the group made good time on this leg, whichrequires hiking in the streambed for a while when a trail isn't available on the bank.  In all, there were ten to fifteen minutes saved because of the lack of water in the stream.The final crossing of Waimano Stream was at the confluence of two streams.  Just makai of the crossing is a large clearing called the Mango Tree Campsite.  The group tooks its final rest stop of the day at the campsite, which had a large fire pit that looked recently used.Rested, everyone set off for the final climb of the day, the notorious Cardiac Hill of Waimano Pool.  This climb wasn't as daunting as advertised, and in fact, during the ascent (which hikers rated as the easiest of today's Big 3), everyone climbed with good speed and strength, passing three day hikers, who say their visit to the pools revealed them as being low, stagnant, and plain uninviting.  When the group reached the top of Cardiac Hill and the junction with the Manana trail, it was 2:45.From there, the hike was completed with a short tramp down the Manana Trail. Earlier, Turner predicted a finish time of 3:00 p.m. which was close to the actual ending time of 3:07. Based on how early this hike was finished, it would have been feasible to keep hiking to Waiawa along the Manana Ditch Trail route tofinish at Waipio Costco.  A goal for future hikers?Hike on and Go HTMC!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


On March 16, 2003, Hawaii local dailies have articles about the apparent suicide of a 35-year old visitor from the mainland. One article mentions the location of the suicide as the Jack Ass Ginger trail. Another says the location was "a trail overlooking Nuuanu Pali."

The articles, btw, are at

In actuality, the correct location of the (apparent) suicide was along the lower third of the Konahuanui trail

The hike, by the by, was Luaalaea-Konahuanui, whereby the route was as follows: start in Manoa, climb the ridge east of Luaalaea Falls, then head along the Koolau summit to Konahuanui, then hike down the Konahuanui trail to Pauoa Flats then back to Manoa via the Aihualama Trail. It was a great outing, albeit one with a somber interlude, but in the end all who began finished okay, which is always a good outcome.

Nine members of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club Hammers HP5 Anti-Shock Hiking Pole with Compass & ThermometerHammers HP5 Anti-Shock Hiking Pole with Compass & Thermometertook part in the hike.

Photo by Met Lebar
Hikers met at the end of Manoa Road at 7:45. From there, the hike leader (Turner) asked everyone to hike up the road to the Manoa Falls trailhead where he delivered the prehike spiel. When he commenced the prehike blah-blah-blah, no one backed down even after the "you can be severely injured or die on this hike" disclaimer. And so the groups was off, making its way initially along the trail leading to Luaalaea Falls.

After hiking along Luaalaea stream for five minutes or so, hikers headed up to the right toward a couple ribbons Turner had affixed a couple weeks prior on branches of guava trees. Other ribbons he had left were nowhere to be found, either victimized by a ribbon vandal or ribbon-eating rats.

Thereafter, the group climbed steadily and occasionally steeply on a rough "trail," sweating and huffing in the still air of upper Manoa Valley. Fortunately, everyone was the benefactors of a week of dry weather in Manoa, which produced good conditions underfoot (read: no mud).

Photo by Met Lebar
The group stopped to regroup and rest at a clearing that was once a pakalolo patch but was now just a plot of weeds, and Turner told the group about his first encounter with the patch and subsequent visits when the "crops" gradually were harvested and/or plundered by some unknown farmer/plunderer. Above the pakalolo patch, in a section where the ridge narrowed considerably, hikers had to take a short bypass on the right to avoid a nest of bees. The bypass required some hand to hand climbing using guava trees but all negotiated this section safely. Above the bee bypass was a steep section thru uluhe. After scaling that, everyone plopped down for another rest break at an open section of the ridge that obliged good views down the maw of Manoa Valley.

Above the steep uluhe section, the climbing was less pronounced but nonetheless tough, mainly due to the warm, humid conditions. Hikers on this day were fortunate to have a decent trail to hike, thanks to the work of Ed Gilman, Dick and Brenda Cowan, Scott Villiger, and others. The lead group of five reached the summit not long after 10 a.m. with the last of the group of ten topping out about 45 minutes after the first. A cloudfree summit was available, so everyone had clear views to windward and leeward and of the crest from Konahuanui to points just beyond Pu'u Lanipo.

After resting at the topping out point, the lead hikers commenced the push on on the mile-long northbound leg along the crest to Konahuanui with the hike leader awaiting the arrival of the others.

Photo by Met Lebar
The leg along the summit was superb. There are several large puus to surmount on the way to Konahuanui, and a couple appear daunting from a distance. But once the climb is underway, their dauntingness dissipates and ascending them is just a matter of negotiating one five-foot section at a time until the peak is acquired. On this day, the footing was optimal, for this area can get slick after periods of rainfall.

Before everyone approached Konahuanui along the summit trail, the lead group of three headed down the Konahuanui trail to begin the homeward leg back to Manoa. This was about 12:15, the trio having arrived at Konahuanui for lunch around 11:30. The rest of the group arrived at the Konahuanui summit clearing a little before 12:30 and sat down to eat lunch, cloudy conditions prevailing.

After a half hour lunch, the rest of the group set off down the Konahuanui trail. A couple minutes down, Turner received a cell phone call from Pat Enomoto, who was with the lead group heading down the mountain. "I got some bad news for you, Dayle," said Pat.

"What's up?" Turner replied, his initial thought being that someone in the lead group had gotten injured or had fallen off the trail or something along that line. Pat's answer was unexpected: the lead group had come upon a dead body on the trail. The location was about two-thirds of the way down the Konahuanui trail, not the Jack Ass Ginger trail as reported in one newspaper.

Photo by Met Lebar
After getting the news from Pat, Turner alerted the others of the discovery so that they could prepare themselves for the encounter when they arrived at the location. Then, Turner blitzed down the trail at a rapid pace along with Met Lebar, with Mirek close behind. About halfway down, an HFD helicopter hovered in front of Turner and Lebar to make a landing. A fire rescue guy in the chopper gestured them to hold fast to keep them from entering the landing zone. So from about 100 feet away, Turner and Lebar watched the chopper touch down and drop off a fire rescue guy and an HPD officer. (see photo at right)

After the chopper landing, Met and Turner hiked down the trail after the fire rescue guy They all had to climb up and over two humps in the ridge, the second being the one with the small rockface and rope. On the makai side of the second hump (the one with the concrete platform atop it), in a low saddle on a narrow section of ridge, was the body.

Pat and three others were there, having waited at the spot for close to an hour. Come to find out, a lone female hiker heading to Konahuanui had come upon the body earlier in the day. At first, she thought the man was sleeping, so she continued by and headed on up the trail. On the return leg, she then realized that the man was dead, so she made a call to police to report her find and then departed the scene. This was about 11:30 a.m.

At about 1pm, members of our group arrived at the location. The first investigators on the scene arrived at around 2:00. Having been dropped off at the same LZ upridge, another HPD officer and a second fire fighter arrived fifteen minutes later and an HPD evidence technician and a third fire fighter arrived around 2:30.

The hikers watched as the HPD personnel examined the scene. At one point, Turner asked one of the officers if the group could hike by, but he said no since in doing so would mean literally stepping over the body and potentially disturbing the scene. So all stayed put as they did their work. Though observable evidence seemed to indicate suicide, the investigators did checks to rule out homicide, so the evidence tech guy took a myriad of pictures (with a very expensive Nikon camera, the lens being over $1000, according to Pat, a photo buff) and took skin samples from the victim's hands to check for gunpowder residue. Under ordinary circumstances in an urban setting, civilians wouldn't be able to get close to an investigative scene such as this. However, the circumstances weren't ordinary on a high mountain ridge in the Koolaus where the police couldn't just tell bystanders to move back because there was nowhere to move back to, the ridge being fairly narrow at that point. So the hiking group saw it all, including the recovery of a weapon (a 40 caliber Smith and Wesson pistol) from under the body of the man.

Photo by Met Lebar
Around 2:45, the HPD guys had completed their investigation. At that point, the group was given the green light to hike by. All still had to step over the body Why the man had decided to hike to this spot to end his life (if indeed it was a suicide), no one may ever know. However, all who were there that day will likely remember that spot whenever they hike the Konahuanui trail again.

The rest of the hike had the group continue down the Konahuanui trail to the Nuuanu Lookout, this leg requiring about fifteen minutes, then onward and downward to Manoa via Pauoa Flats and Aihualama. The first group was out by 4 p.m. and last at 4:45. W

Courtesy of Met Lebar, there are pics of the outing, including one of the scene while we waited for the HPD guys to complete their investigation (the body is not in view). See the pics at


This hike marked the 20th "super" hike Turner coordinated or co-coordinated for the club. He is now retiring (temporarily?) to lead family hikes on Saturday for HTMC, his first one being Ulupaina on a Saturday in May.

Monday, January 10, 2011

East Honolulu Rollercoaster Hike

Here is a recap of the Saturday November 23, 2002 HTMC hike.  Cars were staged at the end of Hahaione Street in Hawaii Kai.  Hikers then carpooled over to start by Kahala Mall at the mauka end of Kilauea Avenue. The group began hiking a bit after 8 a.m.  Nine participants.  Hike leader: Turner1. Hike into Waialae Nui Gulch from the end of Kilauea Avenue.Right as we set out, we spotted a small white pueo.  "A good omen?" someone asked.  "For sure," said Turner who led the group up the wrong trail about ten minutes into the gulch.  Recognizing his error, he turned everyone back.  Not a good way to start but no one harped too loudly about the miscue.2. Climb to Waialae Nui Ridge. (Big Climb 1)About ten minutes further in the gulch, Turner found the correct up-trail, this one forged out by Dr. Wing Ng who marked it well.  A rugged climb, one of the toughest of the day. Right as the group started to climb a black pua'a, about a 100-pounder, was spotted. Some called this a good sign3. Descend into Kapakahi Gulch via a spur called Camelback Ridge.Once atop Waialae Nui Ridge, hikers headed mauka for several minutes. At an ironwood grove, the headed right and down a spur with a distinct hump (hence camelback).  This was one of the best descents of the day, view-wise.  Most of the other descents were under the cover of trees.
4. Climb Pua'a Akamai Ravine to Kalani Ridge. (Big Climb 2)
This upridge route basically followed trails created intelligent pigs. The easiest big climb of the day because it's not too long and because hikers still were relatively fresh.5. Hike up Kalani Ridge to a junction with the Wiliwilinui jeep road.The trail on Kalani Ridge is wide open, thanks to the efforts of Wing, Jay Feldman, Peter Kempf, and others.   Hikers spotted massive decimation of manuka (New Zealand Tea plants) done by Charlotte Yamane and OISC friends. Good job! Hikers hit the Wiliwilinui jeep road about 50 meters mauka of the club's traditional downridge into Wailupe Valley (Hao Street trail).  One member of the group reported that about 1,800 feet of ascending had been completed thus far, based on calcs made by his altimeter watch. Extrapolated over the hike's six big climbs, the group would do around 6000 feet of ascending by day's end, a good test of legs and lungs.  At this point, Wing Ng hiked makai on Kalani Ridge, ending up at Malia Street where he had left his car in the a.m.6. Descend into Niu Valley via the usual club route.A very routine descent almost all of had done before on a club hike or otherwise.  Once in Wailupe, we headed makai for ~15 minutes to arrive at the junction with the trail to the valley's middle ridge.  There is a good map of this area created by Waianae Steve.7. Climb to Kului Ridge. (Big Climb 3)However, hikers did not go up the middle ridge as the club usually does on its Wailupe hike; instead the group climbed a  steep  "trail" to Kului Ridge.  Dripping with sweat, hikers topped out on Kului at 1140-ish at which point Turner announced that this was the lunch spot, with noon as the resume-hiking time. During lunch, the group could look over to adjacent Hawaii Loa Ridge to see day hikers there.
8. Hike up Kului Ridge partway.After lunch, the group ascended Kului  ridge for about 15 minutes until  arriving at a junction at a koa tree.  The trail on Kului was generally open, with a few cluttered uluhe segments.9. Descend into an unnamed gulch.This was an easy and quick descent, taking only about five minutes.  Hikers bottomed out in a narrow area called quicksand gulch by Turner because there is a mucky area dug up by pigs that looks like it could easily swallow up a hiker crossing it.10. Climb to Hawaii Loa Ridge (Minor Climb 1)One of the easier climbs of the day,  this took less than ten minutes and placed the group on the well-used Hawaii Loa ridge trail.11. Hike down HL Ridge partway.On Hawaii Loa, the group headed makai for maybe ten minutes to get to the club's usual descent route to Pia Valley, used on the Kulepeamoa-Hawaii Loa loop. No hikers encountered on HL. In fact, the group ran into no hikers all day long.12. Descend into Pia Valley via the usual club routeThis trail, since it is well-used by the club, was wide open and well-marked. In 10-15 minutes, the group was in tree-shaded Pia Valley.13. Hike down the valley trail partway.Once in Pia Valley, hikers headed makai on the valley trail for 10-15 minutes to arrive at an open, eroded area where the up-trail to Kulepeamoa Ridge begins. It was quite warm at this point, the upper 80s at least.14. Climb to Kulepeamoa Ridge (Big Climb 4)This was a grinder of a climb because we did it during the heat of the afternoon and because our legs were taxed from the three preceding big ups.  The payoff for the ascent was a nice rest in the ironwood grove where the trail hits the main ridge.  Also, a gallon-plus of water was staged there and  this H20 was consumed without a wasted drop. One member of the group decided to go no further than Kulepeamoa and exited via the Kulepeamoa trailhead on Anolani Street in Niu Valley.
Tough climb to Kulepeamoa
Photo by Todd Tashima
15. Hike up Kulepeamoa Ridge partway.After a 10-15 minute rest in the grove, the group hiked mauka on Kulepeamoa for a good 20 minutes to reach a junction with a downtrail into Kupaua Valley. This segment along the ridge was tougher than usual due to heat and fatigue factors.
16. Descend into Kupaua GulchThis was a first for most of the group as this trail has not been used by the club before. Note: if you get to this point along Kulepeamoa Ridge in the picture, you have gone too far.  A lack of ribbons on the upper 1/4 of the ridge caused some wayfinding confusion for a couple hikers but they eventually found their way down to a dry Kupaua Stream and the marked location of the uptrail to Kuliouou's West Ridge.  Walkie-talkies proved helpful for navigational assistance here.17. Ascend to Kuliouou West Ridge (Big Climb 5)This ascent was akin to Big Climb 2 (i.e. not so bad) but again was harder due to heat and fatigue.  Fortunately, the whole way was under the cover of trees (mostly guava), so that helped.  If it were an open ridge, like Kulepeamoa's upper half, then this would have been hellish.18. Descend into unnamed ravineThis was an easy and quick descent, following a gently descending contour trail.  An old hunter's trail?19. Climb to Kuliouou middle ridge (Minor Climb 2)An easy climb, taking maybe five minutes, on a gently ascending contour.20. Hike partway down Kuliouou middle ridgeThis trail is used by the club for the Pu'u o Kona hike.  The group hiked makai for 10-15 minutes until arriving at a large grove of ironwoods.  Two members of the group missed this turnoff but backtracked to find it.21. Descend ironwood trail to Kuliouou Valley.The club has begun using this trail to climb up/descend to Kuliouou Valley for the Pu'u o Kona hike.  It was well-cleared and marked, having been recently hiked by the club.  The trail bottoms out in Kuliouou adjacent to a Board of Water Supply pumping station.  Nearbywas a staged gallon of water which was also consumed completely. Yet another hiker left the group via the trailhead on Kalaau Place, making Kuliouou his end point, in this case because he had to go to work!22. Climb to Kuliouou east ridge (Big Climb 6)This was another hard climb, again due to the heat and the fatigue. Fortunately, it was the last big one. Upon arriving at the top-out point, hikers sat or lay down to rest. 23. Descend into Kaalakei ValleyAn easy descent on a graded trail/old jeep road that is used extensively by mountain bikers, based on little moguls and ruts passed.  Hikers were feeling quite tired by this point but shifted into cruise control to continue on.  24. Climb to Mauna o Ahi Ridge (Minor Climb 3)An easy ascent, again on a graded trail/old jeep road.25. Descend to end point in Hahaione Valley.This was the finale and the final descent took maybe fifteen minutes.  Arriving back at the cars, we congratulated ourselves.  One member of the group (Sakae) snapped some pics of his hiking collegues.  He also said that the upcoming Honolulu Marathon, which he has completed umpteen times, will be a snap in comparison to the 8+ hour saga he had just completed.  A good hike, a tough hike, a memorable hike.  Good job by all who took part.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Moole Valley, Lanihuli, Kekoalele Loop

Hike date:  March 2001 by fourteen members of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club 

Logistics: Vehicle shuttle from Puiwa Road in lower Nuuanu to the starting point by the hunter check-in at the top of Nuuanu Pali Drive. Hiking commenced at just about 8am sharp. Encountered a bowhunter from Waianae enroute.

Final approach to Lanihuli -- Photo by Waianae Steve

Hike coordinator (Turner) reminded hikers about one-at-a-time-on-a-cable protocol and carefulness when climbing one after another, especially in areas with loose rock. In 15 minutes, the group had reached the tunnel, where most stopped to dig out flashlights from their packs The group sloshed its way through the tunnel and folks commented how interesting it was to have something different like this as part of the hike.

In about five minutes, everyone was through the rocky portal. Hikers then proceeded up Hillebrand Glen (aka Mo'ole Valley) (here is an interesting old story about hiking to Lanihuli via Hillebrand Glen). The group moved cautiously but steadily up the valley, hiking in the stream at times and contouring high above it to avoid large waterfalls at others. At one fairly large falls, where there is a long rope on the right, half a dozen of the group found a way on the left to get past the falls.

Without incident, everyone reached the junction which marked the place to leave the valley and then began the climb up to Alewa Ridge. The wind was blowing with decent strength today and not once did it rain. High clouds blocked out the impact of the sun, making for pleasant hiking conditions.

After the 15-minute climb to Alewa Ridge, hikers turned right to climb to Pu'u Lanihuli, at 2,700 feet one of the higher peaks in the eastern Koolaus. The trail to it was muddy, and the ascent to and the descent from Lanihuli left no doubt about the presence of hikers on this day. The group spent about half an hour at the summit, with clear views to windward (Kaneohe & Kaneohe Bay) and leeward (Nuuanu extending makai to downtown Honolulu). While sitting down to rest, radio contact with HTMC Waimanalo (clubhouse day) was attempted, but no response was heard.

A bit past 10:30, the group, seemingly a bit angsted and roaring to go, had saddled up and began the descent of Alewa Ridge to its eventual junction with Kekoalele Ridge at Napu'umaia. This segment of the hike went smoothly and quickly.

A few minutes past noon, hikers had reached the junction with Kekoalele Ridge and were heading down it. Rich Jacobsen (Kalalau Rich) and Ed Gilman, who'd hiked the route a few days prior, were out in front guiding the bulk of the group on the descent. Some hikers opted to stop and eat lunch along Kekoalele Ridge

The lead hikers were out at Country Club Road by 1 p.m. The final hiker arrived at the park on Puiwa Road at 1:30.

Overall, a successful hike it was. Most were surprised by how soon the hike was completed.


For an excellent post on hiking to Lanihuli, with some additional historical info about hiking this area, see Nathan Yuen's excellent rendering.

Nicely done video of hiking to Lanihuli:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Kipapa Windward first Ascent (2001)

Hike date:  February 3, 2001

Jason Sunada, Pat Rorie, Laredo Murray, and I were successful in reaching the summit of the Ko'olaus from Waiahole Valley today. Since the topping out point was quite near the terminus of the Kipapa trail, I will refer to the ridge we climbed as Kipapa Windward.

Photo by Nathan Yuen
As I mentioned in a recently, Jason and I pushed partway up the ridge last Sunday. What took us two hours a week ago required only 30 minutes today. What a difference a swath made.

Once we reached last Sunday's stopping point, we were on virgin ridge. Laredo, shirtless and with hair dyed partially red, jumped out into the front and bravely ascended through uluhe, an assortment of native plants, clidemia, and the like. The most challenging sections were 1) a contorted climb around/through an ohia tree that spanned a narrow section of ridge, and 2) a steep scramble up a loose rock section just above the tree. Cables and/or rerouting might help for future ascents/descents.

The critical area was between the 1500 and 2000-ft level where we saw very closely packed contour lines on the topo map, a red-flag zone meaning very steep stuff. Yes, it was steep but never cable-steep, and with plenty of grunting, twisting, ducking, and crawling, we made progress. At one point during the steep section we found ourselves tunneling through a dark corridor formed by uluhe, an interesting albeit less than pleasant time.

After the 2000-ft point, Pat assumed the lead and powered us up the ridge. This section was fantastic, with more open ridge conditions so we could see the hogback ahead as well as the array of steep, magnificent spurs left and right that stretched and strained up to the crest. We passed plenty of native vegetation, including loulu palms, lapalapa, olapa, kopiko, and others I can't name. Yes, we damaged native plants as we climbed and later when we headed back down. There was no malice in our damage.

At 11:45, 3.5 hours after we set our from our vehicles, we summited at a wind-whipped pu'u at the 2640 elevation level. Shouts rang out and arms were thrust skyward, save for Jason, who is not the shouting or hand-thrusting kind. We also exchanged handshakes, Jason a bit begrudgingly, to mark the summit acquistion.

In an adjacent ravine to the south (our left) was a grove of sugi pines where the remains of an ancient cabin (sometimes referred to as Uncle Tom's cabin) lay in shambles. We descended toward the ravine, hopped onto the Ko'olau summit trail, and hiked to south side of the pine grove to hunker down by the cabin ruins for lunch. From our lunchspot, the Kipapa summit was about ten minutes away.

Clouds had enclosed the area by this time and a chilly wind prompted us to put on raincoats or windbreakers to stay warm. We spent half an hour resting and eating, and perhaps would have lingered longer if we had warmer, sunnier conditions. A brief rainshower prompted Jason to open an umbrella and ultimately the wet stuff hastened our departure.

The return down the ridge back to Waiahole was one of the great descents I've experienced. After 15 minutes or so of down-hiking, we were below the cloud line and from there the ridge dropped in fantastic fashion like a steep escalator toward the valley floor. There were often precipitous dropoffs left and right but since the ridge never narrowed to dangerous proportions and since we were surrounded by ample vegetation that provided security, I never felt in danger. It was actually quite enjoyable.

The rain had made the way slick, but we took care not to make a bad error that might lead to "the plunge." In all, we needed about 90 minutes to reach the ditch trail from the summit (more handshakes exchanged) and another 30 minutes to hike back to our cars. By 3 p.m. we were on Kam Hwy headed back to home and warm showers and meals.


This route has been negotiated a number of times since 2001 including in December 2009, when Nathan Yuen, Pete Clines, Drew Erickson, and August Smith ascended this ridge. This outing was chronicled.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Iao Needle Redux -- Pete Clines

Hike date: mid-December 2010

Getting up onto the ridgeline was MUCH safer with the new route I used this time. (the one I found on the way out last time) This climbs the lower part of the Needle from the valley side, versus the direct approach along the spine. It is still very steep, but brings you to ~1350-1400'....past the nasty sheer section with crumbly soil and no solid handholds. This side route is where the only rope is located, but it is very worn and looks suspect.
Needle from the trailhead
At ~1500' is another exposed area with minimal holds. Hard on the way up, harder on the way down. A slip on the way down had me clawing at dirt and my foot finally caught a tiny flat spot just before I would have taken a big fall.

Looking Up
Long reach is helpful higher up when doing pull ups from one branch to the next. (guavas and ironwoods) There were two spots where I shimmied up ironwoods when the ridge steepness was great. The distance between hand/footholds also requires some lower body gymnastics on the way up and doing "splits" ultimately tore my favorite hiking pants to shreds when they ripped open at the crotch. (The ventilation was cooling, though.) On the way down these parts, it is more a matter of calculating your leap/slide from tree to tree. Remember, ironwoods equals ironwood needles on the ground - and this translates to poor friction.

Iao Canyon
Starting from the bridge over the stream, it took me about 105 minutes to top out. (It would later take 75 to get back down to the bridge.) This time, the uluhe/guava section at the top was swarming with bees and I had to go right through them. I was lucky to get stung only once. Instead of hanging around there, I made my way down the back of the summit where it is more narrow and overgrown. Progress was slow and I had to get to work, so I did not venture very far down before calling it quits. There is a saddle that could be explored, but clearing tools would be helpful and I had none.
Pete Clines @ Iao Needle summit
Sunny weather this time. Very hot and sweaty, but great for the views! One is of the "cave" about halfway up. Below it is a scar where all the fallen rock has gone. Also took one of those "solo summit shots" which are trendy lately.


* Note: (all photos are by Pete Clines)