Saturday, September 4, 2010

Kawiwi to Kaala to Waialua -- by Kapa Reero

From the Oahu Hiking Enthusiasts Archives
Date: Tue, 20 Mar 2001 09:48:03 -1000
From: Kapa Reero (
Subject: Kawiwi-Ka'ala-Waialua

Did a great hike with a dude named Lawrence Muredo on Sunday, March 11. Dayle Turner and other super hikers had the right idea, but less than ideal conditions kept them from completing the entire jaunt in November of 2000. This write-up is not meant to shame them. Lawrence and I had the luxury of picking a perfect day to do the traverse.

The weather? A drop-dead gorgeous day! Pleasant temperatures, gentle trade wind breeze, both mountain ranges (Ko'olau, Waianae) completely clear of cloud cover.

We met on Farrington Hwy in front of Waialua High at 8 am and carpooled to Waianae Valley. Following final preps, Muredo and me set out on foot from the Waianae Kai dirt parking area at 9:12 am and gained elevation via a paved road. After entering a scrub haole koa forest, the two of us meandered about the lower environs until reaching the base of the main ridge leading to the summit of Pu'u Kawiwi. En route to the summit, we enjoyed steep exposed rock scrambling, and Lawrence snapped a few photos as well (photo at left by Pete Clines, 2010).

At approx. 11 am the two of us topped out on Kawiwi's apex, sat down for a water break and gazed at the prominent surrounding geographical features. To the east lay massive Mount Ka'ala (our lunch time goal), and to the north, Ohikilolo's triangular peak, as well as the beautiful sheer fluted cliffs below the peak, caught our attention.

With a significant chunk of territory still to cover, Muredo and I continued the trek at 11:12. On the way to the narrow dike, we paused to look down at a dozen goats contouring toward Kawiwi's main ridge. While on the dike itself, Muredo snapped a couple photos, and, farther ahead, the two of us experienced "the excitement of getting there" as we carefully negotiated boulders shaped like giant teeth (molars). An ironwood forest came next, and then a respectable climb to the pinnacle of No Name peak.  [Photo at right by August Smith, 2010]

From No Name, we eventually dropped down to the junction with Kumaipo (an ancient Hawaiian trail), but remained on the crest of Kamaileunu Ridge and ascended to "Three Poles". A short distance above "Three Poles", Lawrence and I encountered a military dude and conversed with him briefly.
Pressing on, the two of us ascended steeply via a series of ropes/cables. Upon reaching a small clearing on the edge of the Ka'ala plateau/bog, we met two friendly gentlemen who had gained Ka'ala's summit by using the Dupont Trail. Dan (one of the men) told us to be on the lookout for lobeliads in bloom, and, sure enough, we spotted several just inside the Ka'ala NAR. Muredo even took a picture of one of the plants. As we traipsed along the boardwalk, I halted on several occasions to bring various native shrubs to Muredo's attention. He was very impressed (sarcasm).

Finally, at 2:21 pm, Lawrence and I arrived at the grassy overlook just outside the FAA radar installation and proceeded to consume a late lunch.

During the break we were treated to a magnificent vista of the northshore, the Ko'olau foothills above Haleiwa, the multicolored tracts above Mokuleia, the Wahiawa plain and most of the Ko'olau Range. The white wake of waves visible off the northshore gave proof that surf was definately up!

At 3:08 pm we reluctantly departed the overlook and headed for Dupont. Prior to reaching the Mount Ka'ala Road/Dupont junction, six military men passed us having come up the Dupont Trail.

The leg down to Waialua went pretty much without incident. Muredo and me delighted in the superb transition from native forest to dry-land forest to cattle pasture, all accentuated by the lovely afternoon, characterized by abundant sunshine and blue sky. However, we did get stopped by a ranch owner not far from the long semipaved road leading to Farrington Hwy. Fortunately, the man recognized Lawrence by his unusual hair color (they do business together), and they carried on a favorable conversation. In the end, the ranch owner bid us a friendly farewell but said to call him BEFORE we set foot on his land to hike.

At 5:30 pm Lawrence and I entered my car and immediated sped off for the Leeward Coast. About an hour later, we found ourselves in Waianae Valley. I waited to make sure Muredo's truck started then followed him to Waianae Town. Instead of making a left onto Farrington Hwy, I proceeded straight to Pokai Bay Beach Park where I witnessed a nice sun set.

== Kapa

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Wiliwilinui to Lanipo -- by LastKoho

From the Oahu Hiking Enthusiasts archives
Date: Thu, 15 Mar 2001 19:59:07 -1000
From: LastKoho (
Subject: A Walk on the Spinal Side

The plan hatches when Mrs. Koho reads about a recent Sierra Club hike from Wiliwilinui to Lanipo. We decide to follow suit. That is, we'll hike to the end of the Wiliwilinui trail, turn left, hike on the Koolau crest to the end of the Lanipo trail and turn left again and trek back to civilization. We hope the path, given that it's only been a few weeks since the Sierra Club outing, will not be too badly overgrown or too treacherous on this, our first, Koolau summit jaunt.

And so it is that we find ourselves in separate cars heading up Sierra Drive to Mauanalani Heights, parking one vehicle at the Lanipo trailhead. Together, we then coast back down Sierra Drive and ultimately up into Waialae Iki where we park at the Wiliwilinui trailhead after obtaining a permit at a guard shack. It's mid-morning, a weekend, and, slinging on our packs, I note that quite a few other cars are already in the lot.

I say, "Hope there's not a lot of people up there."

My wife says, "Just expect it."

We walk on a sure-footed road past acacia confusa, guava, ironwoods, and a water tank. Farther up, curving left behind a hump there is dueling plant-life: non-native versus native. On the right there's botanically unpopular guava fringed with evil clidemia; on the left there's koa and ie'ie.

"Nice dichotomy," I say, waving my arm dramatically.

My wife says, "Yeah."

At the end of the wide road but not at the end of the Wiliwilinui hike, we reach yellow boot brushes under a brown sign that asks hikers to wipe their shoes so that they don't carry the seeds of pest plants -- like, no doubt, guava and clidemia -- farther on. We run our boots over the brushes and then walk up a hill and by a set of utility poles and on to another set of utility poles where we stop for a break as we watch a long line of hikers climb steeply to the radio relay station, gateway to the Wiliwilinui summit. We are in no hurry to join the hordes, so we drink some water before pushing up the dry and eroded mountain and past a bevy of boy scouts who have suddenly appeared, heading down, this a different crowd from the one we had seen going up. One of the scout leaders, a bit of a wiseacre, tells us that at least twenty people are currently on the summit lookout.

"Have fun," he says.

Hot and tired, we eventually reach the relay station and look toward the summit just ahead and see that the scout leader was not exaggerating: it's more crowded than Starbucks on Ward Avenue. So we sit exactly where we are, eat some cream crackers, look at the cigarette butts littered around the building, and, through the arches of utility wires curving over the valley, survey a slice of the Koolau spine heading west. While I can't make out the width of the crest or how overgrown it might be, the grade up to a set of six utility poles looks not too severe. After the six poles, however, there's a sharp rise. I say out loud, "I don't know how we are going to go up that."

My wife says, "What?"

I point and trace the route to the steep section. "See over there? Looks tough." I pause, shuffle my feet and add, "Of course you never know what it's like until you're there."

I turn back to Starbucks on the Hill. A fellow is violently thrashing a tree, essentially doing his best to uproot the thing. I figure that it is a guava and that he is shaking and pulling it down in the name of pest control. I wonder, however, if he plans to pull down all guavas on the island with his bare hands.

After twenty minutes, the crowd still occupying the lookout, we climb up and wade into the masses, -- spotting the brown and yellow "End of Wiliwilinui Trail" sign and seeing that the emasculated tree is indeed a guava -- then excusing ourselves two or three times as we baby-step through and exit left, descending carefully on the summit path, which is narrow with a seriously steep drop windward.

But it's not all that bad, not all that bad because there's also a wall of vegetation up to my knees -- at spots a little higher, at spots a little lower -- that provides a certain amount of security. And opposite, on the lee side, the drop off is generally not so steep in pitch and the ground is thick in uluhe and ie'ie and clidemia, plant life that, I calculate, will slow down, if not halt, a falling body.

About halfway down the slope from the Wiliwilinui lookout we stop and look and it becomes immediately apparent why someone might want to venture out to the crest: Not necessarily for the scare or the dare or the brag -- but for the view. Tremendous. Unspeakable. Some other modifier that would make sense coming in the wake of the previous adjective. It's a rare feeling, floating free-style over the island, the greenery clinging onto the near perpendicular pali and -- makai to the right, makai to the left -- the tropical blue ocean framing tiny, silly, and insignificant civilization within.

I say to Mrs. Koho: "Wow."

She responds: "Calm down, Last."

I now turn and scan the summit lookout -- empty -- and then look right and see a line of hikers marching down and by the relay station.

On the crest we walk to a saddle and then start back up, passing two clusters of lapalapa trees (three to a cluster in this instance) and six utility poles and then, not too much farther, I stop dead in my tracks. Ahead and above is the portion of the ridge I had viewed earlier. Up close it looks the same as it had from a distance: steep, overgrown, and narrow. I wonder if it's really something I want to climb and, too, if this represents what the remainder of the hike will be like. One other thing, there is a mildly tricky spot -- a windward step-around -- that initiates this sharp-angled segment.

I turn to my wife and point out the obvious. "You see this?"

She interpolates. "It looks scary."

I reiterate. "No kidding. It does look scary."

I examine the trail and, confidant that I can ascend farther and, too, if need be, descend back, I lean into the cliff and hoist myself safely up and beyond the tricky spot. With the aid of some clidemia, I then continue up a bit more, wiggling into a snug place and sitting. I look back down at my wife who has, in the meantime, moved forward and is now face-to-face with the same little step-around obstacle. Behind and below her is nothing but air.

She says, "I can't move."

I say, "You can't move?"

She says, "No, I'm frozen."

It's a rather common scenario -- frozen hiker syndrome -- and one that I dread for myself or anyone else, including my wife -- my wife who is, at least for the moment, wide-eyed and paralyzed.
I say, "OK, relax. Not a problem." She half-nods. I explain that if she wants to head back, now would probably be the time, no need to come up. I simultaneously consider just how to negotiate the death step on the way down since I expect her to say, "Yes, let's call it off."

But she doesn't say that. She doesn't say anything -- she just looks at me.

I start to speak: "Just---"

"What's it like above you?"

I turn and look and then give her the straight dope: It's steep, there's a lot of brush obscuring the trail so I have no idea what's afoot, and I can't see the top.

The wind comes up, gusting pretty hard, and now she says, "I don't know about this."

"OK, then, that's--"

"I don't want to go back." She points. "What's up there?"

I pause, caught off guard, somewhat happy that she wants to carry on but now adjusting to the task at hand, namely, me climbing into the unknown rather than her falling into the abyss. I say, "Hang on," and take a deep breath and turn and head up, clinging tightly onto clidemia with one hand, -- lovely, remarkable, beautiful clidemia -- and keeping the other hand on or near the ground, hunched over in my own little cocoon of uluhe and ie'ie before soon discovering that a few makeshift steps -- lovely, remarkable, beautiful makeshift steps -- have been cut into the cliff. I report the good news to my wife and next thing, just like that, she climbs past the point of almost-no return (maybe it isn't an incredibly tough spot as much as it is unforgiving -- long way down -- and made more imposing by the steep ridge above). I shout out something vague in as peppy a tone as I can muster, something like, "All right," and then turn back to the incline. We inch our way carefully up, without incident, to the top of the puu where we stop and catch our breaths.

And soon enough we continue on, descending ewa and finding that the trail is again OK, sometimes steep and almost always narrow, yes, requiring a certain amount of concentration to safely cross, yes, but not so terrible that we can't stop and take a picture or two and stare in wonder up and down and left and right amid the fanned ridges.

Negotiating our third summit smile -- the irregular curve between knolls -- we are joined by a red-vented bulbul that's snacking on the orange fruit of the ie'ie, the bird fluttering away as we approach and thereby loosely foreshadowing the hiker who we now see descending from ahead. She's alone, wearing shorts, no gaiters, a t-shirt, just a small fanny-pack. Meeting up, we say hello and learn that she's already come up Lanipo and is now heading over to Wiliwilinui.

She looks down at our gaiters and says, "I wish I had worn long pants."

I look at her cut, red-streaked legs and say, "Yeah, well, I can see that."

Soon enough, wishing her luck, we part company. And not too much later, ascending and descending, we finally reach the grassy area at the end of the Mauumae Trail. We are more than mildly pleased to have made the crossover. I'm not in the least bit hungry but we break out lunch (3-minute eggs with salt and pepper, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, oranges, trail mix) and continue to drink in the views for nearly forty-five minutes. And then we pack up and head down the mountain.

We've trekked Lanipo (Mauumae ridge) a couple of times previously and the trail is no less enjoyable than before, starting with the stern descent from the summit lookout and on to the semi-serious ups and downs through a mostly native forest of koa and ohia. We're not in any hurry and we stop and sit and I peer through binoculars across the Palolo Valley at the Kaau Crater and the water cascading down the cliff.

My wife says, "See any pigs over there?"

I say, "Nope."

Afterward, standing and moving again, we walk through my favorite part of the Lanipo hike as the hills round off and the forest folds in and embraces. On the kokohead side, below, large patches of green -- koa and ohia foliage -- sway in the wind and host a fair amount of birds that we clearly hear chirping away, including an unseen apapane's throaty hee-hee-hee. Soon the area becomes a little drier and the flora becomes a little more mixed: a koa tree and a strawberry guava tree, a lama tree and a eucalyptus tree, some clidemia (lovely, remarkable, beautiful clidemia) and some ie'ie.

We eventually reach a large knob that sports three Cook pines -- a Lanipo landmark, one my wife noted from the crest. We sit for a little while and drink water and then, packs again slung on, move down the path and spot an artful arrangement of naupaka and pukiawe, an occasional ilima blossom -- dust now kicking up -- more and more guava trees, stick-like vervains with their little purple flowers, my wife falling, more pukiawe, she's all right, ulei, no broken bones and she eventually gets up and moves along as we pass a telephone pole and I now trip and almost bite the dust.

We're tired.

But in time we are climbing up boulders and, afterward, strolling by an autograph tree and through a grove of ironwoods and then walking along a narrow, fenced corridor running between a big house and a big water tank. A minute later, we arrive at the trailhead and sit and relax in the shade of our car. We drink a little more water, change out of our boots, then drive back down to H1 and over and up to the Wiliwilinui trailhead. I get out of one car and get into another, and, finally, respectively, we roll toward home.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Haleakala Secret Spots -- by Eric Stelene

From the Oahu Hiking Enthusiasts Archives
Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2001 09:00:47 -1000
From: Eric Stelene (
Subject: Secrets of Haleakala

I've been working at Haleakala National Park for about 5 months, but my job never gets me into the back country so I have to go on my own. Last week I went into the "crater" with another ranger on his back-country patrol. The plan was simple: he'll take me to the secret places he knows about and I'll show him the secret places I have discovered.

Keep in mind that hiking off established trails in the Park is prohibited and I am providing this write-up for "informational purposes". I'm not going to get specific about the locations of some of these places so don't bother to ask.

We started from the Halemau'u trailhead (elev 8000 ft.) about 6 miles up from Park HQ. Next time you go to Haleakala be aware that you pass no fewer than 5 lava tubes all within spitting distance of the road between the entrance station and Halemau'u. (Don't bother looking, you'll never find them unless you know where the are.) These tubes are fairly small but have some interesting history. When the road was built by the CCC in the 30's, the workers apparently used these little caves for shelters. There are remnants of dynamite boxes and other debris left behind. One has some petroglyphs which are believed to be pre-European.

Although I can't tell you where the lava tubes inside the Park are (well, I could but then I'd have to kill everyone who reads this) so here's one just ouside the Park which is similiar to the ones described above: When heading up the mountain pass mile marker 9 (Park boundry is mile 10). Park at the first guard rail mauka of mile marker 9. About 50 ft off the road you'll see the small cave.

Anyway, back to Halemau'u. The Halemau'u trail in use today was built after a landslide wiped out the old Halemau'u. No one I talked to seems to know how long ago this happened but from what I learned, the new trail is about 30 years old. The old Halemau'u was a pre-European route into the crater. We left from the parking lot and headed for the old trail. We were at the crater rim in a few minutes and spent some time looking for some petroglyphs rumored to be in the area. We found no petroglyphs but did find a small shelter (an alcove in the cliff with a small rock wall built in front of it.)

The old Halemau'u trail dropped steeply to the crater floor in a series of short switch backs. The footing was rough since the trail was rocky and ummaintained. About half way down we came the old landslide area. A huge, deep gouge cut into the crater wall and took most of the lower switch-backs with it. From here we just cut straight down the the steep cliff and were soon at the crater floor. Total distance from the parking lot to the crater floor on the new Halemau'u is 2.8 miles, the old Halemau'u: about 1 mile! At the crater floor we picked up a faint trail through a grassy area and in few minutes came to the gate at the bottom of the new Halemau'u.

From the gate, an unmaintained trail branches off in the direction of Koolau Gap. (Not being an established trail, its use is prohibited by visitors). Soon this trail branches. One fork cuts across Koolau Gap to Waikau, the other fork heads down Ke'anae Valley a short distance to the fence at the park boundry. There is a locked gate there and the trail continues past the fence. I have not been beyond the fence yet but I have been told by some hunters that it ends at a cinder cone or pit of some kind called "Dead Man's Hole". There have been past instances of Park personnel assisting in search and rescues in the area for lost hunters and one report of someone falling to their death off a ridge.

We took the fork that led across Koolau Gap to Waikau (pictured at right). There used to be a cabin there similar to the other cabins in the crater. Soon, we made a short side trip to some small lava tubes I found on a previous trip to Waikau. One of these small caves had skeletal remains that I thought were human. I have studied human bones and can identify them; however these bones were slightly out of proportion. They were small like a child's but too a little too thick. My friend thinks they were goat bones. I've never seen goat bones so I can't be sure. Maybe they were Menehune?

A little farther along the trail we made another side trip to huge a lave tube I found on my first exploration of the area. At the entrance there were more bones like the ones we found in the smaller cave. This tube is about as big as the one near Holua cabin. I paced it off to be about 150 yards long. In the back of this tube is one of the strangest things I've encountered while hiking. There is sort of table-like rock formation with about 50 seashells all lined up on it. In front of this is what appears to be shingle-sized sections of palm tree bark arranged in an even pattern. There was also a ti leaf lei and fresh ohelo berries indicating some one else has been here recently. The was also a circle of rocks arranged like a minature heiau on the cave floor.

Everyone in the Park who I asked about this has the same idea as to its origin: hippies probably did this. We do get a lot freaks and new-age types leaving weird offerings in Holua cave - candles, bird feathers, animal bones, etc.

We left the cave and continued to Waikau where the trail ended at an intersection with a streambed. This is as far as I have been in this part of the crater. Distance from Haleamu'u to Waikau is about 2.5 miles. Our plan now was to find a route into the central crater. We followed the gravely streambed upslope about 1/2 mile to the leading edge of a huge a'a flow. We were happy to find a rough switchback trail ascending the flow. We followed this narrow trail up the lava and climbed steeply through a gully. The trail leveled off at a beautiful meadow with the base of the pali on the right and the a'a flow to the left.
The guy I was with said he was familar with this area and was sure he get us to an old trail through the a'a to the central crater. To make a long story short, we spent the next 2 hours walking though hell with no trail in sight. The a'a finally ended in a sea of black cinders. We joined up with the Haleamu'u trail about midway between Bottomless Pit and Silversword Loop. My plan from here was to continue to the central Crater to check out some archeological sites I heard about and to look for a pit called "Dante's Inferno" and a lava tube called Crystal Cave. The trip through the a'a exhausted me and we still had over 5 miles to go to get back to the parking lot. Dante's Inferno and the arch sites weren't going anywhere, so we headed for home. I'll go back in a few weeks and let you know what I find.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Kamakou and Halawa Valley (Molokai) -- by Dave Webb

From the Oahu Hiking Enthusiasts Archives
Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2001 08:59:53 -1000
From: Dave Webb (
Subject: Molokai hikes

I did a couple of fantastic hikes on a recent trip to Molokai that I thought you folks would be interested in hearing about.

1. Kamakou Preserve - Pepeopae bog trail to Pelekunu valley overlook

For some time I've wanted to hike this trail but the problem was getting to the trailhead. Well, on this particular trip we had good fortune with us the entire time. The first night we were on Molokai we went down to the Hotel Molokai bar/restaurant for some pupu's and drinks. As we were enjoying the live entertainment, Sandy mentioned that she recognized someone that she knew from the Nature Conservancy here on Oahu. After speaking with him she told me that he was on Molokai to check out their preserve in Kamakou the next morning! We met the lady from the Molokai N.C. (Cathy) and her husband Brian who were going to take him up there and she agreed to take us as well. What luck!

To get to Kamakou you have to drive up a rough dirt road. You can find this road about 4 miles west of Kaunakakai. Turn mauka at the sign for Homelani cemetery and keep going mauka for about 10 miles until you reach the Sandalwood Pit and Waikolu lookout. The Waikolu overlook is awesome! From that vantage point on the west rim of the valley you can see all the way to the ocean. There is a large offshore rock just beyond the mouth of the valley. Across on the east wall are 3 or 4 beautiful falls plunging down from the heavens. The largest one in the middle feeds the Molokai tunnel that provides irrigation water for west Molokai. We were lucky enough to have mostly clear conditions here as the clouds were high that day.

On a dry day, you could probably get this far in a rental car if you were reallly careful. We saw two groups of people who made it in and back out OK. Beyond the Waikolu overlook, I would DEFINITELY NOT attempt to drive a rental car. To get to the beginning of the Pepeopae bog boardwalk it is necessary to drive another couple of miles and the road gets really bad. I wouldn't try unless you have 4wd with high clearance and you know what you are doing.

After negotiating the road we reached the beginning of the Pepeopae boardwalk. It's about 10 inches wide and covered with metal lattice to keep you from slipping off. The boardwalk trail is about 2 miles each way. At first, the trail passes through a nice forested area before gaining the bog itself. The bog is quite amazing, much like Kaala. Most amazing to me was the abundance of stunted Ohia Lehua growing right on the ground! I had never seen such a spectacle! If you like native plants, I'm sure this would be the place for you. I don't know many of them, but I learned a few from the NC folks on this day.

We walked at a leisurely pace, enjoying the morning and talking story. I don't know how long it took us to reach the Pelekunu overlook. When we got there the wind was gusting up from the valley and it was full of clouds. After waiting a few moments, the fog lifted and we were blessed with a truly amazing view! We were perched on the rim of the west wall of the valley near the back, and the whole expanse of Pelekunu was before us. You could see all the way to the ocean! The awesome east wall of Pelekunu was directly across and you could see Olokui and the ridge separating Pelekunu and Wailau valleys! Brian regaled us with some of his old hunting stories in Pelekunu and the time he and a friend climbed up a side ridge chasing some goats until the ridge became less than a foot wide!! He told us that in the past, people would travel between Pelekunu and Wailau on a trail that crossed over the low saddle in the ridge. Supposedly there is a cave up there where they used to spend the night. This vista must be one of the most amazing in the Hawaiian Islands! Right up there with the view from Poamoho summit, Konahuanui summit, Kalalau lookout, and Haleakala rim looking into Kipahulu valley.

II. Halawa valley waterfalls

Before describing how to get to the trail, let me first explain the Halawa situation as I understand it. As of right now, the trail is off limits to the general public because the valley landowners don't want people "trespassing" on their land. I have heard stories about someone breaking their ankle up in the valley and then suing the landowners, but that simply never happened. I guess these folks are just paranoid - whatever. So, that leaves you with two choices as I see it. You can join a $25 "cultural tour" and have a guide take you to the falls if you wish. This would actually be quite interesting to learn about the history of the valley, but I'm too cheap for that and I don't really care to hike this beautiful valley with a big crowd of tourists. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't have a problem with some enterprising Molokaians taking people on hiking tours to earn income. After all, if the demand is there why not take advantage of it? Anyway, tourists would never be able to find the trail on their own anyway.

Your other option is to take my advice, pucker up your lips, and get ready to kiss up to some valley resident and ask their permission to hike in "their" valley. This has worked for me twice, and although the folks that I met were at first reluctant to let me pass, I eventually won them over with my pretty smile and even prettier disposition! Good luck if you dare venture into this valley! Trail directions are pretty simple as they were given to me. Park at the end of the paved road in the valley and then take the small dirt road down past a little church. At the first junction go right and continue until you cross a bridge over the stream. Almost immediately, take the first overgrown road on the left through the grass. You should see a sign with a heart on it saying something like "private driveway, no trespassing". Continue and you will see two houses on the right. Go around these on the left and then cross a small irrigation ditch on a board. The trail is right there, turn left on it and follow it up into the valley.

From this point it is about 2 miles to Moaula falls. The trail is really easy to follow with no confusing places. At the end, you cross a stream just before reaching Moaula falls. The falls are really nice, with 3 or 4 different sections that are sometimes hidden from view. The lower cascade is really powerful and the pool is quite big and deep. Strip down and enjoy a great swim. If you want to visit the other falls, Hipuapua, you need to backtrack to the junction where the stream splits and rockhop unstream for about 30 minutes. Bring your tabis. It is really worth it because Hipuapua is truly awesome. The topo lists it at 500' (but it probably isn't quite that high). Maybe 300' or so, it's hard to tell. The volume of water in this fall isn't quite as high, so you can stand directly under it. No low-flow showers in Halawa! The pool is shaped like a dumbbell and the side opposite the waterfall is quite deep and nice for swimming. This place has a lot of mana. Standing back there with the falls coming down and feelig the wind on your face it is impossible not to be moved. This is one of the most remote places in all of Hawaii and something not to be missed.

Have fun if you go to Molokai! Some recommended things are:

  • Hotel Molokai: Cheap and really nice. Nice restaurant and pool and the whole thing is right on the beach. Great entertainment at night poolside.
  • Molokai drive-in: One word: Platelunch.
  • Kamuela cookhouse: Located in Kualapu'u, on your way to the highschool. Broke da mouf grinds and cheap. Go for breakfast, you wont be disappointed.
  • Kalaupapa lookout
  • Sunset from Kaluakoi pool

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Moanalua Valley to Tripler Ridge -- LastKoho

From the Oahu Hiking Enthusiasts Archives
Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 16:38:17 -1000
From: LastKoho (
Subject: Violators will be Prosecuted

Sitting at the computer all weekend (hopelessly trying to resolve a file access problem), I finally decide, late on Sunday afternoon, that I need to get out of the house.

With the intention of finding the trailhead at Monanalua Valley, I jump in the car and hop onto H1, exiting at Red Hill and following Ala Aolani Street to its end. From the car I walk to the back of the Moanalua Neighborhood Park and approach a fence that has a big white sign attached to it. The sign warns that access to the valley road without permission from the Damon Estate is restricted, that violators will be prosecuted. The words are clear but the gate is open.

With dual forces working within and without, I stroll light-footed through the fence and down the old carriage road and under a huge monkeypod tree hosting some equally huge pothos. While a northern cardinal sings in the distance, ahead I spot two people -- man and wife, I presume -- just off the trail. They must see me but they continue to examine the forest, not moving a muscle or saying a word as I pass at arm's length. Semi-kindred spirits, I speculate: they have read and wandered beyond the same sign as I have and are now frozen, worried that I might know their secret.

I hike forward a bit more, if only to allow the uncomfortable pair to move on. But, in turn, I am snared: Ahead two people sit on one of the many bridges that traverse the dry stream, and they are looking directly at me. There's nothing else to do but walk forward and smile in as natural a manner as I'm able. They smile back as I stiffly veer right and cross the stream on the road. I feel compelled under their watch to continue along the trail -- and that's just what I do, passing lots of hau (from within the tangle two white-rumped shamas vigorously mark their territory through a series of songs) and, farther along, koa haole and strawberry guava trees as the road more or less loses its canopy cover.

It's not too much later that I feel a small amount of dread as I spot more hikers, a mother and her two children. They are heading makai, toward the trailhead. Passing, the children smile and I force a smile back. The mother, a few yards behind the kids, averts her eyes. I figure that Mom is, like me, a Monanalua wanna-be. And I decide that this is not fun, seeing my ringer-self reflected in others.

I walk forward a few sluggish paces, looking right. I had read on the OHE web site about a path in this vicinity that climbs the valley wall. A quick peek --- and then I'll head back to the car. I move into the brush and spot a flag tied to a branch, and then, curious, head up through uluhe, with things getting steep fast as I grab and pull-on the smooth-barked trunks of the guava trees. I stop for a moment to rest and, looking up, see a series of colorful trail flags that continue to lead the way.

And then I have a brilliant idea. I decide to top-out and escape the valley via the Tripler Trail that follows the ridge above. Tripler, a hike I've never been on, is, I had read, open to the public (notwithstanding parking restrictions at its trailhead). No more ambivalent feelings and uncomfortable encounters with other hikers, I'll take the ridge trail back to its starting point and then walk down to the pink hospital not too far below and call my wife for a ride to my car. That's the idea.

So up the valley wall I go, and after about twenty minutes, the well-flagged climb ends at an imperfect oval of dirt. To the left is yet another flag, one that I reflexively follow, heading mauka. I figure that I must be on a tributary, a path that will connect to the main trail at a junction where I can turn back makai. I hike the ridge for five minutes, more flags marking the way, down and up and then down.

There's no junction. And I am heading toward the summit -- not the way I want to go at 5:00 P.M.
I stop and wonder: Did the trail at the top of the valley-climb also travel right? Was I so pleased by the flags that I let them lead me astray?

I decide to turn back and, if necessary, descend to Moanalua Valley and walk to the car -- again as hiking contraband.

Retracing my steps, I soon reach the valley-climb turnoff and the imperfect oval of dirt, and, sure enough, I now see that I could have easily gone right, toward the trailhead -- not just left, toward the summit. I am and have been for the last ten to fifteen minutes on the veritable Tripler Trail, not a conjured tributary.

I now hurry along, trail-legitimate, on course, pleased with the quiet path. At least for the moment. Suddenly, there's a violent commotion. Something jumps and crashes through the brush just behind the trees and I hear a snort and a grunt. I have startled a pig (or some other animal) -- and it, in turn, has scared the hell out of me. We both dart forward on parallel courses. I clap my hands and shout "hey-hey-hey," concocting this behavior on the fly in the vain hope that it will trick the little piggy into believing that there are lots of us and we are not pleased with those who trespass our turf, that violators will be prosecuted. I also consider -- all in a flash -- a worst-case scenario, how it might work out in hand-to-hoof combat. Will I be summarily slaughtered by a territorially ticked-off swine? What a way to go -- main entrée in a reverse luau. But in a few moments it's over. I hear only my own heavy breathing and fast-paced footsteps, no more sounds from the other side of the trees.

I slow my pace, shake my head, and, in time, settle down and carry on. I soon reach a bare hill, where I stop and soak in the views before walking through uluhe and passing a huge Cook pine. The trail is narrow but pronounced and yet, ironically, there is not one trail marker along the way. I glide down through a dark tunnel of guava and somewhere in the thicket a shama throws a fit, firing out an impressive arsenal of calls and clicks.

I eventually reach a paved road. And shortly I see a group of people, three men, two women, and two children. When they catch sight of me, they turn abruptly, almost in unison, and move down the hill. I follow for a bit, keeping my distance, and then they just stop. They are wooden, the kids at their mothers' sides as one of the men points in a phony way toward tiny Aloha Stadium in the distance. It's only when I am right on top of them that I receive two turns of the head and one grave nod hello -- the others continue to look off. I pass; and five or so minutes later, at the end of the road, through a gate, I look up and see a huge Damon Estate sign announcing in black and white that this area -- the area I've just come from -- is restricted, no access, that violators will be prosecuted.

Not my day.

I walk through army housing, reach Tripler Hospital, find a pay phone and call Mrs. Koho. I try, unsuccessfully, to explain why I need a lift, and she agrees to pick me up, ultimately driving back to Moanalua Park where I jump into my car and roll toward home.


Today I called Moanalua Gardens, inquiring, of course, about permission to hike in the valley. A man on the other end of the line told me that with two (or fewer) people hiking there was "no problem," meaning there was no need, ironically enough, to come over and sign a waiver (larger groups, they want to know about, especially with children). I was also told that hiking was not allowed on Saturday because pig hunters had been hired to work that day.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Kapilau Ridge (Maui) -- by Eric Stelene

From the Oahu Hiking Enthusiast Archives
Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2001 20:52:02 -1000
From: Eric Stelene (
Subject: Kapilau Ridge - West Maui

Kapilau is the towering ridge above Wailuku that separates Iao Valley and Waikapu Valley in the West Maui Mountains (pic at left and other pics in this post are courtesy of To get to the trailhead, head into Iao Valley toward the Needle. Come to a fork in the road with a sign pointing right to Iao Valley State Park. Go left instead. Almost immediately, reach a pull-off on the left. Walk up the road a short distance to a telephone pole with the number 5 on it. The trail starts right next to the pole.

Climb steeply, climb some more, then keep climbing. The trail's in good shape, but the climb is brutal. Eventually, the trail levels off in an open area with a large white cross (visible from all over central Maui). The cross is wooden and much smaller than the old cross at Kolekole Pass on Oahu. There is a rickety ladder leading up to one of the arms.

Past the cross, the trail narrows a little and is overgrown in some spots, but is still in pretty good shape. Kapilau Ridge starts at about 500 ft and climbs to an unnamed peak at 4,426 ft in about 2.5 miles. I made to about the 3,000 ft mark in about 2 hours when clouds and rain showers moved in discouraging further progress.

The views into Iao Valley are incredible. The Iao Needle looks like nothing more than a bump on a small ridge from up here. You can also see into two hike-able (is this a word?) valleys: A'e stream, and what I have named the "Needle Canyon". A side ridge ahead blocked any view in Waikapu Valley, but if you keep going to the top you will probably be standing on a knife-edge sperating the two valleys. The ridge was not very narrow up to the point I made it to, so you don't have to worry about falling to your death until you get a little higher.

I posted a picture of Iao Valley from the ridge at the following link. I labeled the Needle and the 2 hike-able valleys mentioned. Its definitly worth a look - a view of the Needle few ever see! Picture quality's a little poor. I got a free digital camera for signing up for Worstlink internet service.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Ngs and Turners on Pu'u Maelieli

Yesterday, I called up my friend Wing Ng to ask him if he wanted to come along  to check out the Maelieli trail for an upcoming HTMC hike (8/28 Saturday, coordinated by Justin Ohara).

Before saying yes or no, Wing asked me who else would be joining me.

“My wife,” I said.

“Good,” said Wing, “I have one of them now, too.”

Wondering if I was hearing things right, I asked Wing to clarify what he said.

Indeed, Wing is now a married man, having departed the ranks of bachelorhood on June 25, 2010.  And he said would be bringing his new bride along to hike with us.  

“She can hike faster than me,” said Wing, as if tempting me to make a sarcastic remark about his hike pace, which I refrained and restrained myself from doing.

“Good,” I said.  “We look forward to meeting her.”

 And we did meet her. And Wing is right.  She can hike faster than he. 

The write-up in the club schedule credits my wife and I for pioneering a new route that stems off the Maelieli trail.  For the record, who also should be recognized as a pioneer is Wing, who joined us in scouting out the route last year. 

Today, the four of us scouted out an even newer route which I must say is even better than the one we used last year.  Just like last year, the newer route drops into the lowlands on the Kaneohe Bay side of the Maelieli Ridge, but what we found today is much more wide open, better marked, and more efficient.   For those interested, come out in a couple weeks to join Justin at Maelieli.

In the map at left, the yellow dots are the usual route to Maelieli which begins along Kahekili Highway near Temple Valley Shopping Center and proceeds along a ridge to a WWII bunker (blue dot).  The red dots follow the approximate route of the newest extended route that we scouted today.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Aiea Ridge -- LastKoho

From the Oahu Hiking Enthusiasts archives

Date: Wed, 7 Feb 2001 21:42:43 -1000
From: LastKoho (
Subject: Tendered is the Hike

Sunday morning, a little tired after a late night, I drift to the kitchen where I make a cup of coffee and sit down and open the newspaper. My wife, in the living room, is alternately watching the TV and glancing at a booklet of Longs coupons. And then she looks over at me and says, "Well?"

I say, "Well, what?"

Conversation killed.

I sip from my cup and turn a page of the paper. A minute later, caffeine kicking-in, antennae emerging, I raise my head and look near the door and see two stuffed backpacks on the floor, propped against the wall, ready to go.

I point. "What's that all about?"

My wife says, "What's what all about?"

The negotiations commence. Implicitly, I have some leverage. Since my wife -- through the act of pre-packing -- has already indicated a desire to hit a trail, the particular trail hit should be mine to choose. As such, it only takes a small amount of haggling to settle on a specific hike, Aiea Ridge. But another issue arises: Do we hike to the end of the path? Details surface: We will be getting a somewhat late start, probably not arriving at the trailhead sooner than 10:00 A.M. Given this, can we safely and comfortably reach the summit and get back to the car before the sun goes down? Don't know. Therefore, the following deal is struck: "Both parties agree to not hike summit-way after 2:00 P.M. Both parties agree to only hike trailhead-way after 2:00 P.M." With sunset slated for about half past six, this should allow us to beat steady hiker Darkness to the car.

Still, in the back of my mind, I speculate that if I am anywhere near the summit at around two or two- thirty or two forty-five it will be difficult not to succumb to that gladiator / conquer and tame / ego building / bragging rights / we've come too far to turn back now / not getting any younger / it's always faster coming down / we have flashlights anyway / I really want to see that lapalapa tree feeling or some combination thereof (assuming we are injury free) and that negotiations will recommence trailside. But perhaps time won't be an issue and there won't be a need to renegotiate. That would be best. So I pull myself together, skipping breakfast, and get out the door and into the car and merge onto H1 and across 78 before jumping off the highway and turning up Aiea Heights Drive.

A few minutes before ten, car parked, we set off along the wide and civilly graded Aiea Loop trail, which comprises the first mile or so of the hike. We pass gum, guava, bamboo, paperbark, and swamp mahogany trees --- and then turn left and step up a slight grade and arrive at the intersection of Lace Fern and Steep Drop-Off, confluence of loop, valley, and ridge trails.

We stop and take a swig of water, lift our socks, zip up our gaiters. Then, moving again, we swing right, past ti and lantana and fern.

Suddenly, the scenery changes. The dark forest we've just left (off the loop trail) sported lots of tall eucalyptus, a high, majestic canopy, a wide path. But now, in contrast, there are lots of ohia and koa, a low, intimate canopy, a narrow path, benign greenery.

I half-turn to my wife. "Wow. Fast change." I swing my arm. "Like a whole 'nother trail."

My wife says, "It is another trail."

Right. So it is.

We walk amid uluhe, ie'ie, pukiawe, and audio irony. I mean, we hear more than the birds in the distance and the wind in the trees -- we hear cars, cars streaming along the mighty H3, the mighty H3 that snakes its way through Halawa Valley far below. It's get-away-from-it-all scenery with a cityscape voice-over.
I turn again. "Sounds like our living room."


We pass a furry fiddlehead and step around a tree, turn left behind a hump. We stop, hear nothing but birds. And then we see four apapanes flying over Kalauao Valley. We follow in the same general direction, the trail becoming a little more overgrown not far from where we begin a not-so-easy ascent to Pu'u Kaiwipo'o. Along the way there's a pleasant interlude: After an aggressive incline, resting behind a cluster of ohias, a natural blind, we see two more apapanes land in a tree within thirty feet of us. The birds hop from branch to branch for a minute or so before I shuffle my feet and scare them away.

Two-plus hours on the trail and, not without some effort, we reach the top of Kaiwipo'o, a sizeable helipad. We drink water and, looking both ewa and diamond head, count the ridges fanning out from the Ko'olau spine. I turn toward the summit. Clouds slide here and there, and a dark utility tower stands guard in the distance. Five minutes, and we continue on, stepping across a few mildly narrow sections, squishing through mud among fairly thick vegetation, leaning into a few blasts of wind as we ascend and descend one small knob after another.

We top-out at another helipad, this one even bigger than the previous plateau. From here we can see a healthy slice of windward Oahu. And it's only 1:25; but I am suddenly, inexplicably, exhausted. I half wish it were two o'clock, turnaround time -- the hell with any more negotiations or ego building or bragging rights. I look at my wife and she looks at me. I wait for her to say something but she says nothing. So I start walking, say, "I guess we go this way."

We descend, curving slightly left, soon reaching the base of the utility tower. At last, my wife can't help but wonder, aloud, how much longer it is to the summit.

I stop. "Don't know. Maybe we should just call it off right here."

Perhaps thinking I was kidding, perhaps surprised by my lethargy, perhaps seized by a conquer and tame / ego building / bragging rights / we've come too far to turn back now feeling, my wife replies, "Oh, let's just keep going."

Right. A deal's a deal.

We climb a little rise and walk past an open grassy area and, just like that, reach the summit overlook. It's 1:35 P.M.

We are instantly energized and relaxed, snapping pictures of the land below and the sea beyond as wisps of cloud rush urgently up and over the lip of the pali. Clusters of toy houses lie far below in Ahuimanu. Beyond and a little to the right is the green of the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park and farther out still, across Kahekili Highway, very tiny, the monolithic blue-green roofs of the Temple Valley Shopping Plaza.

I'm hungry. And just behind the crest, where a small collection of ohia and lapalapa trees shelter us from the gusts, we sit and share a lunch of water, boiled eggs, cream crackers, raisons, a power bar, oranges. Then I lie down, hear the leaves of the lapalapa flutter and watch a dragonfly -- veering every which way in the air -- vainly, comically try to negotiate the swirling wind.

Thirty minutes pass before we pack up and leave. Walking at an easy pace, we spot a small mud-colored frog leaping awkwardly across the steep path in front of us. A little later, we stop and watch a grove of wind-swept loulu stand tough on the valley wall below. Later still, we bend to examine the bright green, forked wawae'iole growing trailside.

Again to Puu Kaiwipo'o and then down and across the saddle. The wind calms and the trail softens -- becomes more pronounced, less severe in its ups and downs -- and I feel as good as I have all day, marching slowly through the cozy forest. In time, we swing left, past fern and lantana and ti, and after a break at the Loop junction, we stroll along the wide path, listening to the birds - shamas, a northern cardinal, waxbills, bulbuls - as they call out and begin to settle for the evening. Finally, trailhead. No other cars are in the upper parking lot and we sit and take off our boots. A light breeze, quiet -- night falls like a feather. We stand, get in the car, and, with me behind the wheel, roll toward home.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Kuliouou Ridge -- By LastKoho

From the Oahu Hiking Enthusiasts Archives
Date: Fri, 19 Jan 2001 21:08:41 -1000
From: LastKoho (
Subject: This Way to Kuliouou


Thursday, though a work deadline looms, I decide to head out for a hike. My wife, who has the day off, agrees to join me.

After a drive through mostly flowing traffic, we park near the end of Kala'au Place and hop out of the car and sling on our packs. Across the street a couple of rottweilers stare at us from behind a fence as we cut through the cul de sac and then move down a paved road. After not-too-many paces we take a right turn at a brown and yellow sign that marks the beginning of both the Kuliouou Valley and Ridge Trails. Continuing along the path, we soon reach another sign marking the split between valley and ridge. We follow the arrow that points to the ridge route.

As a passing note, there are more signs per mile on the Kuliouou Ridge Trail than any other in Oahu that I've been on in recent memory: There are signs warning hikers to stay on path rather than use shortcuts between switchbacks because this, the use of shortcuts, facilitates erosion; there's a sign directly above two yellow bristle brushes that requests hikers wipe their boots at the end of the trek; there's at least one well-placed yellow-arrow directional sign; and there's even a sign of a petroglyph sketch pinned on a huge Cook pine. None of the signs bothers me (mostly informative and simple and unobtrusive in a yellow and brown kind of way); they're just a mildly curious feature of this trail. I suppose too this is the telltale sign of most well-traveled hikes, a proliferation of signs.

Meanwhile, back on the trail, we begin switching back and forth up the side of the hill. Soon enough, coming around a bend, we cross paths with a woman who has a frown on her face and three small children on her hands. One of the children is actually a baby, a baby that's strapped-in heavily on the woman's back and sleeping. Another child is about four years old and she stands shyly behind her mother. The last child, about two years old, has stopped dead in her tracks and is crying, crying because she is scared of a small drop-off in front of her.

We say hello and move around them. A minute later, out of earshot, I half turn to my wife and say, "Heights are relative."

My wife says, "Funny."

The trail is wide, dry, and sure-footed. But it's nothing but uphill; and it's generally steeper than either my wife or I anticipated. More than that, along various stretches there is not much, if any, breeze, so that at times it feels like we're hiking in the trunk of a car.

Still, up we go, passing guava and noni, hearing a white rumped shama, spotting a pair of Japanese white eyes and not-too-few bulbils. Then, fifteen or twenty minutes later, we see a shirtless man bounding zestfully down the grade. I say hi as he passes. This fellow, I speculate to my wife a few moments later, is the father of the family battling it out down the hill.

My wife, unimpressed with my deductive reasoning, responds with a dull "Yeah."

We press on and, finishing-off the switch backs, follow a directional sign and turn left on a padded path (the arrow actually points toward where we came from, intended more for the returning hiker). Within five minutes or so we are in sight of two picnic tables under a shelter. It has taken us a little under an hour to get this far from the trailhead and, as we sit at the tables and drink healthy gulps of water, I speculate that we are no more than halfway, if even that, to the summit.

But I was wrong.

After a five-minute break, we continue on, traipsing under big Cook pines, ironwoods, a few swamp mahoganies, and a banyan tree or two. We follow the arch of the trail and emerge into the sun among ohia and lama trees with mucho uluhe root-side. There is one grade with a gratuitous rope, and then we reach erosion-guard stairs. We climb, and just over thirty minutes after leaving the picnic tables, sooner than I had expected, arrive at the summit, where, of course, a sign says, "End of Kuliouou Ridge Trail." Below this sign is yet another sign, a yellow triangle with a black silhouette of a stick figure falling off a cliff (at least that's my wife's interpretation; I think it looks like two bears admiring the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel).

Clear, no summit clouds or overwhelming gusts of wind, we take a few pictures and then sit on the bare hill and dangle our legs and drink water and eat chips and salsa (a first for us, Mexican at the Koolau summit). Waimanalo crows and moos below and I look longingly at the ridge trail heading off Makapuu way. In the other direction, left, my wife spots a pink ribbon tied to a shrub on a dusty knob. What do things look like from over there? After lunch, we decide to find out. We take binoculars and camera and head left and down and across a section of the trail that should have (but doesn't have) a sign that says, "Whatever you do, don't fall here."

At the other end of this little stretch, stopping to soak in the view, my wife announces she has the heebie-jeebies. I know exactly what she means because I look over the ledge and get that light-headed falling sensation. I actually feel a little tug toward cliff side. But I shake it off and keep my mouth shut, only saying that it's best just to concentrate on the trail when walking and to only consider the view after you've positively stopped moving. I say this as much for myself as for my wife -- and then I ask if she wants to turn back. She responds that she'll continue for now, see how it goes. It goes OK, with one mildly tricky spot, relatively speaking, crumbly earth, no terrific handholds. We soon reach the pink ribbon and look left and right and up and down and snap a picture and then start back, again crossing safely through heebie-jeebie lane.

Back at the Kuliouou summit, my wife says, "Heights are relative."

I say, "Funny."

She says, absently, "Do you think anyone's ever fallen off the crest?"

I say, "Is the bear Catholic?"

We pack up and pound down the mountain, passing two pairs of other hikers on their way to the top. In a little over an hour (certainly the quickest hike to and from the Koolau summit we've been on), we sign out at the trailhead mailbox. We then stroll up the paved road, jump into the car, and, with me behind the wheel, roll toward home.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Manana Ridge -- LastKoho -- December 2000

From the OHE archives, posted on 11 January 2001 by LastKoho (

------- --------
This past December, early on a Sunday, I dragged myself out of bed and wobbled to the kitchen where I forced down two Eggos with maple syrup, some cold left-over fried rice, and a couple of Portuguese sausages. My wife, I vaguely recall, already done with her breakfast, was watching CNN. It was not morning ----- it was a dream, a dream that continued with me behind the wheel of our car as it floated along H1, a dream in which my wife and I talked about the traffic.

"Man, I'm surprised there're so many cars out here at this time of day."

"I guess folks are going to breakfast before church or something."

"Geez, who the hell are all of these people?"

We headed along Moanalua Road and turned onto Waimano Home Road and were then somehow magically curving up into Pacific Palisades on Komo Mai Drive. Finally, reaching the end of the street and the start of Manana trail, I parked at a cul-de-sac, feeling a small jolt as the front bumper scraped against the curb. Car locked, backpacks slung on, my wife signed-in at the trailhead mailbox ("Koho, party of 2, hikers, 5:55 AM, Please don't touch the car") and, with flashlights beaming, we headed up the paved road.

There was no wind but the air was cool and the torches provided plenty of light so that we glided past three utility towers and a water tank and, at the end of the pavement, entered a forest where three brown signs with yellow arrows (the first sign full of bullet holes) helped us stay on path. No menehunes, no boogeyman, no nutcracker doll, just a tranquil, dark forest that we emerged from after about a half an hour.

The skies had now lightened. There were clouds in the east, no great dramatic fireball or sizzling red-orange horizon, just a gray-white eastern sky. The air still, birds were calling in the distance, a serene dawn. I was finally awake and, to boot, pleased.

We now put our flashlights in our packs and walked on top of a bare hill below which the State (or some other concerned party) had planted baby pine trees and on top of which they had pounded-in erosion guards. The trail was slippery in spots because of the morning dew but we did just fine, hiking through brown-topped buffalo grass, up a lengthy and relatively steep grade, along the muddy side of a hill, and then climbing a puny pali with the aid of some well-placed ropes. Five minutes after 8:00 A.M. we reached the helipad, halfway ---- and it started to rain. This was not a terrible thing, the rain, since we found shelter under a tree past the pad and sat and each ate a banana (visually rhyming with Manana) and, after twenty minutes, now in gaiters and windbreakers, the rain just a sprinkle, trekked through a terrific native forest. The ohia and fern surroundings were so enjoyable that we almost forgot about the mud and steep hills.

We took frequent water and cardiac breaks (my personal rule of thumb: when the heart knocks heavily, answer it). And, after a few rope climbs (nice, these ropes; thanks to those who set them up), eventually broke into the open, no more rain, moving along the narrow somewhat overgrown ridge path from one small knob to another. While the flora along the sides of the valleys was clearly beaten and bent from frequent winds, there wasn't a breeze to be found on this day. We were far out in the thunderously quiet, peaceful Koolaus, just us. And then, suddenly, we spotted two apapanes; they flew above and over the Waimano Valley, gave out a call, and then just as suddenly disappeared below the cliff.

Happy, on we went; and after one last push through a bit of brush, we popped onto the summit knob, which was about twelve feet by eight feet with knee-high grass that we promptly matted down with body and bag. Like in a bad novel, the sun broke through now for the first time that day. Then a high cloud came overhead and then the sun again broke through. High clouds, sun, clouds, sun. Not a drop of rain, always the stunning view of the windward side below and the sea beyond, framed by Ohulehule to the left and Makapuu far to the right.

We ate lunch, which included a memorable peanut butter and guava jelly sandwich, and for a full hour enjoyed the scenery.

Starting back at around 11:30, with time on our side, we took a picture or two, gained three more quick looks at apapanes, stopped frequently for water. When we reached the helipad over two hours later, I was tired. I lay down on my back. When I lifted my head and looked toward the summit, I saw that it was now cloaked in clouds. My wife sat nearby and compared the mud on her legs and shoes to the mud on my legs and shoes and declared the contest a tie.

About twenty minutes later, in the sun, we began moving again. Shortly after passing a shelter and picnic table, about an hour or so from the car, we saw people, the sight of whom, after a day of relative solitude, was slightly jarring. A young man and young woman, perched on a green puu, were together bent over a book. We kept going. In the forest, we passed a mountain biker and a couple of other hikers and a little later, on the paved road, said hello to a pack of five or six fellows (towels slung over their shoulders) who carried and drank from McDonalds cups (they were heading, no doubt, to Waimano pool).

After a hundred or so more yards we saw a discarded McDonalds cup lying like an open wound in the center of the road. There's always something. It was a rather depressing sight after such a satisfactory day, this trash on the trail. I had an urge to backtrack and find the culprit and somehow make things right. But, of course, it was only an urge. Feeling a little foolish, I picked up the cup (somewhat absurd -- there was also litter in the brush on either side of the trail but I just focused on the "new" litter). I recalled the stretch of the hike where we hovered over the valleys on the narrow ridge path as the apapanes flew above us. I wondered what it would feel like to be there and come across, as someone inevitably one day would, a McDonalds cup lying on the ground. It stung a little, this thought.

At the cul-de-sac, finished, we signed-out at the mailbox and threw our rubbish in a smelly waste can. After changing shoes, we got in the car, my wife behind the wheel, and, with visions of McDonalds and Manana dancing in our heads, rolled toward home.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Waimalu to Moanalua on the Koolau Crest -- Pat Rorie

Yet another post from the OHE archives, this one by Patrick Rorie, posted on 9 January 2001.

Gene Robinson and I have accomplished some pretty challenging backpacking trips together during the past few years (i.e. La'ie to Waimano in '98, Mauna Loa via the Ainapo Trail in '99). This past weekend (January 6, 7) the two of us got together to attempt another tough outing - an overnight stay on the Ko'olau summit at the terminus of the Waimalu middle ridge, followed the next day by a rollercoaster tramp along the Ko'olau crest, eventually dropping down into and exiting Moanalua Valley. Roger Breton also received an invitation, but he had a commitment on Saturday. Instead, Roger decided to meet us at the top of Aiea Ridge at noon on Sunday. The weather on both days? Almost completely clear skies and bright sunshine due to light winds until mid afternoon when thick clouds engulfed the Ko'olau summit.

Gene is a medical doctor and has two 8th grade children so he had some loose ends to take care of before we could commence the trek. As a result, the two of us didn't hit the trail (Waimalu Ditch - the first leg of our journey) until 11:15 a.m. Nevertheless, we made good time to the floor of Waimalu Valley via the ditch trail despite a hau tangle nuisance, arriving at the normal terminus of the HTM hike (elev. 657 ft) at 1:15 p.m.

After obtaining four liters of water from a nearby pool (the stream was not flowing, and Gene had never seen it so dry), I followed Dr. Robinson to the base of the middle ridge. Due to a lack of trade winds (steamy!), the initial steep climb through thick uluhe took quite a physical toll, every shady spot serving as an oasis. Fortunately, the ridge leveled off and the thick open uluhe section transitioned to forest, the home of a few native birds. Gene, an avid birder, paused frequently to listen to their calls and attempted to identify the species. Meanwhile, I spocked the surrounding flora. Farther ahead, we recognized dormant "Angel Falls" (a sheer rocky cliff on Waiau Ridge shaped like an angel), gained pleasure from the excellent view of Waimalu Valley stretched out before us toward Pearl Harbor, and enjoyed "the process of getting there", esp. over a particularly narrow stretch, as we continued the birder/botanical pace. Eventually, Gene and I commenced the final spectacular open grassy ascent to the summit, halting on atleast one occasion to gaze at a lovely copse of tall loulu palms to the left of the ridge. During the final climb, Gene sang a line from the movie "Sound of Music"..."The hills are alive with the sound of music!"and proclaimed the section "The Ramp to Heaven".

At 5:21 p.m. the two of us reached the Ko'olau summit (elev. 2,570 ft) in the fog and immediately began erecting our canvas coverings on the broad essentially tree-less peak, Dr. Robinson his four season tent and myself a slumberjack bivy (we decided against an exploratory jaunt down windward facing Kalahaku Ridge because of the fog and a shortage of daylight). Once our tents were pitched, Gene and I put on warm clothes, ate dinner and relaxed near the campsite. When darkess set in, a rare break in the mist revealed the nearly full moon high in the eastern sky and the Pearl City/Aiea city lights far below in the distance to leeward. A gentle breeze also existed in stark contrast to the gusty trades that normally pound the region.

Anticipating an arduous day of hiking along the summit ridge, Gene retired for the evening inside his humble abode around 8 p.m., and I entered my temporary shelter half an hour later upon giving up hope that the clouds would significantly dissipate.

== Sunday, January 7 "The Long Haul to Moanalua Valley"

A few minutes prior to 6 a.m. I emerged from my slumberjack bivy to a dark, chilly morning (57 degrees fahrenheit) but was amazed at the wonderful sights. At long last, the fog had lifted revealing windward suburban/city lights from Kahalu'u to Waimanalo, and to leeward, the lights of Salt Lake, Aiea, Pearl City, Waipi'o and Mililani/Wahiawa. The heavens were filled with many stars/constellations, including Leo almost directly overhead, the Big Dipper, the North Star, Hokulea, Spica, the Southern Cross and Gemini. I encouraged Gene to come out of his tent and soon he joined me in star gazing mode. As the glow of the golden hue of the rising sun filled the eastern horizon above Moloka'i and Lana'i, the silhouette of the Aiea Ridge terminus appeared to the south. Then we witnessed a gorgeous sunrise, and while the sun moved higher and higher above the horizon, its rays reflected beautifully off the surface of the Pacific Ocean and illuminated the impressive sheer fluted cliffs in back of Waihe'e Valley, as well as Mount Ohulehule and Pu'u Kanehoalani.

At 7:46 a.m. packed and psyched, Gene began the traverse to Aiea Ridge along the Ko'olau crest. I had spent too much time delighting in the marvelous panorama and required an additional half hour to get my act together. Nevertheless, I departed the peak at 8:20 a.m. bound for a rendezvous with Roger Breton.

Regarding Ko'olau summit trekking, every step usually finds terra firma under a mask of uluhe but stumbling or slipping is fairly common. Because the leeward side of the ridge tends to be choked with vegetation, travel is easiest on the extreme windward edge. However, it is similar to walking on a tight rope, one wrong step, esp. if burdened with a 45 pound pack, can send the hiker over the windward pali to a potentially catastrophic injury or even death!

It didn't take long for me to catch and pass Gene, and following the first serious climb to the top of the next prominent pu'u, I had to wait for my hiking partner (not a good sign). After a couple more significant ups and downs, Gene confessed that his legs just weren't in shape for the rigors of summit travel (he would bail down Aiea Ridge). Although steamy conditions prevailed and the journey proved laborious, the two of us enjoyed looking down on lines of loulu palms clinging to the sheer windward pali and the fluted cliffs/precipitous ridges to windward. Furthermore, the presence of native plants, such as lapalapa trees, bolstered our spirits.

Once Aiea Ridge came into view, I spotted Roger completing the final stretch to the summit. When he turned toward me, I signaled him with my mirror. Unexpectedly, Breton interpreted my act as a gesture of distress and descended along the Ko'olau crest, closing the gap between himself and Gene and I. Later, when I realized what Roger was doing, I yelled for him to stop, which he did. Dr. Robinson and I got together one last time and agreed to keep in touch via walkie-talkies. While Gene rested, I proceeded south along the summit and rendezvoused with Breton. I radioed Gene that a bottle of gatorade and Roger's truck keys lay in a clearing where he could find them. Suddenly, Dayle Turner chimed in on the radio, and he and Gene spoke briefly to each other.

Pressing on, Breton and I accomplished the tough climb to the Aiea Ridge terminus (elev. 2,805 ft) at 12:45 p.m. then took a much needed water break. Roger provided a 20 oz. Dr. Pepper to quench my thirst, and I also consumed the contents of a 12 oz. can of Dr. P! Talk about a sugar/caffine jolt! :-)

Leaving Aiea Ridge behind, Roger and I continued on the Ko'olau crest toward the Haiku Valley overlook between 1/1:15 p.m. During the cross over, the two of us recognized a tour helicopter parked on one of the concrete platforms once used by the Coast Guard to secure the former Omega Station wires, but the chopper flew away before we reached it. Upon arriving at the overlook at 2:43 p.m., I radioed Dayle and found out that he and his Red Hill Ridge gang (masochists?) were reclining at the Moanalua Valley saddle. En route to the Halawa Ridge Trail terminus, Breton twisted his ankle and doubled over due to heat exhaustion. As if right on cue, a thick cooling mist engulfed the Ko'olau crest, allowing Roger to partially recover. Nevertheless, Breton stripped off his shirt and hiked ala "Big" John Darrah style despite the scratches he knew he would suffer.

We reached the Halawa Ridge Trail terminus, but did not pause for a breather/rehydration. From Halawa Ridge, Roger and I ascended to the Ko'olau summit/Red Hill Ridge junction, successfully negotiated the Henry Davis rope sections, and used the steep eroded swath created by the Red Hill Ridge masochists to drop down to the Moanalua Valley saddle. Upon tramping through Thomas Yoza's superb clearing job, Roger and I attained the normal terminus of the Moanalua Valley Trail (elev. 1,680 ft) at approx. 5 p.m. I immediately contacted Dayle (now residing at the Moanalua Valley Park with those remaining from the trail clearing effort) via walkie-talkie that Breton and myself were at the saddle safe and sound.

After gazing at the sheer fluted cliffs of Haiku Valley for a short duration, Roger and I commenced the final leg of the day - a 5.5 mile stroll by way of the well cleared valley trail and long dirt/gravel road. Prior to exiting the valley, night fell but the pale moon light of the nearly full moon illuminated the thoroughfare nicely.

At 7:07 p.m. the two of us emerged from the woods onto Ala Aolani Street where our vehicles were parked (Gene had dropped off Roger's truck subsequent to reaching the Aiea Loop trailhead at the top of Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area), and bid each other "Aloha".

== Paka

Monday, August 2, 2010

Maui Valley Trails --by Eric Stelene -- 8 January 2001

Another installation from the Oahu Hiking Enthusiasts Archives. This one is by Eric Stelene ( Here's Eric.

I've been on Maui for about 3 months now, so I guess it's time to start posting stuff. So with out further ado here's some of what I've explored so far:


A'e Stream (aka JFK's Profile)-
This deep gorge in the Iao valley is only a roadside curiosity to those on their way to the Iao needle. The profile of John F Kennedy (the drunk, womanizing war-monger covered for by his classy wife) can supposedly be seen in the canyon wall.

Park your car at the Needle parking lot and walk back down to the bridge. Pick your way down to the stream bed and follow it up. There's no trail but the going's not too hard. Large boulders are scattered throughout the valley floor and seem to have originated high on the cliffs above and probably came crashing down long ago. Climb up a few small, dry waterfalls and in about 45 mins the canyon walls close in. About 3/4 mile from the start, the canyon becomes reminiscent of Ma'akua Valley on Oahu.

The narrow walls are covered with moss and water continuously seeps from above. A waterfall about 40 feet high blocks further progress upstream. However, a large tree trunk leans at an angle to the top of the falls and it seems possible, but very dangerous, to climb the slippery wet log to the top of the falls and continue to the amphitheatre at the back of the valley. Just below the falls, an irrigation tunnel comes out of the canyon wall about 6 feet above the stream bed. Those who are suicidally adventurous could crawl through tunnel and emerge (hopefully) somewhere else.

"Iao Needle Canyon" (unnamed stream)-
When looking at the Needle from the small footbridge everyone takes pictures from, you can see this incredibly narrow, steep gorge to the right of the Needle. In other words, the canyon's west wall is the Iao Needle itself. From the left side of the bridge, you can see a small trail leading down to the stream.

The is a sign written in some foriegn language that reads something like "No resspassing, keep ou" With no intention of "resspassing", follow the trail down to where it meets the stream. Cross it and climb up the embankment into the "Needle Canyon" streambed. The rocky streambed is thick with hau and progress is hard and slow. In several places it is necessary to remove your pack and squeeze through the branches. The stream bed opens a little and you can see the valley walls towering above you on each side. Although you can't distinguish it as such, the cliff on your left is actually the base of the Iao Needle. Climb up several rocky cliffs, each harder than the one before it, then the vegatation disapears and you can see the back of the valley ahead. The canyon walls soar high above you. Pass several small pools and dry slippery slides and come to one more dry waterfall to climb. You have to cling to roots and branches next to falls to make it up. Its not easy. Squeeze through a windy, fantastically carved section section of streambed comperable to a slot canyon of the southwest. Emerge at a small amphitheatre and 60 foot waterfall chute. Above the chute, you can see the back of the valley several hundreds yards beyond. Total distance to here is less than mile, it takes about 1 hour.


Twin Falls-
You have to do this early to beat the crowds at this very popular spot. Although it's a real tourist trsp, its well worth it. Twin Falls is the only waterfall I have found in Hawaii that is possible to walk behind. The trail starts at mile 2 of the Hana Highway and follows a dirt road about 1/2 mile to Twin Falls. Several pools and small falls are found along the way. The road is wide and easy. Come to a juction where a path splits off to the left. A rock with a faded painting of a waterfall and arrow pointing left sits at the juction. Take this path a short distance to another juntion. Bear to the right(to the left the path leads to a rusty gate). Reach an overlook of Twin Falls and climb down to the pool. At the back of the pool is a large eroded alcove. Walk/wade around the pool to alcove. Long ferns hang down over the cliff above you reminding you of Fern Grotto on Kauai (Note: There is only one single waterfall here, so I don't know why its called Twin Falls). When you're ready to leave, head back the way you came. At the juction you can take the path that leads to the rusty gate. You can continue a little further to several small water falls and pools.

Waikamoi Stream-
Waikamoi Stream is the first bridge past the Waikamoi ridge trail, past mile 9 on the Hana Hwy. The first waterfall you will find here is right at the bridge. Hike beyond on the trail to right of the falls and follow the streambed a few hundred yards upstream to another waterfall with small cave near its base (see pic at left). You can also hike downstream from the bridge and in about 15 mins come to the top of a 40 footer with big plunge pool. It looks like great place to jump from, only there is no apparent way to get back up.

Puohokamoa Stream-
Probably the most popular swimming hole along the Hana Hwy, its is 1 mile beyond Waikamoi stream. Like Waikamoi, you can find 3 waterfalls all within a short distance. The first one is a stones throw from the bridge. There is path to the left of the falls that leads to the top. Continue a little further to the second waterfall and a little more privacy. Downstream from the bridge, walk several hundred yards in the stream bed and come to the top of a specatular waterfall about 300 feet high. You can view this waterfall another way:

From the bridge, drive back in the direction of Kahului. Just before the road turns out of Puohokumoa valley, there is a pulloff on the left next to some powerlines. A short trail leads to a breathtaking overlook of the falls. a little further along the trail you can get a partial glimpse makai of the Hana coast and Keopuku Rock, an impressive seastack just offshore.

Punolao(?) Stream
Honomanu Valley is the largest valley on the Hana Highway west of Kipahulu. On the west side of Honomanu is a deep draw cut by Punolao(?) Stream. A short hike up this stream is a must. Almost immediately upon leaving the Highway you find yourself in deep narrow valley similar to Ma'akua. In 15 mins you find yourself at the base of a 100 foot waterfall. This valley looks so wild you would think you were in the most remote, unexplored parts of Hawaii and not minutes from a major thoroughfare!

Hanawi Stream-
Around mile 24, there is another roadside waterfall everyone takes pictures of and then drives off. If you climb over the fence and down to the stream, you will find one neat little place! A small stream comes down from the left from a cove so undercut by erosion it looks like its flowing out of a cave. The first pool above the falls has a natural arch big enough to walk through. This the only arch I've found along a stream in Hawaii. There are 2 more pools upstream and another waterfall, The whole place is filled with all kinds of alcoves, pukas, and swimming holes. Its definitley worth a look.

Nakhiku Road turns makai off Hana Hwy to Nahiku landing. About a mile down the road look for caves on the right. you'll drive right past them if your not careful. There're not very big, but one is big enough to stand up in and goes back about 30-40 feet. You'll need a flashlight.

More to come.