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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.

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