"This hike is brutal," Matt said as Shanoah, Rio, and I descended the return ridge. Brutal it was. Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe is nuts! I had been waiting so long to do this hike. I thought that permission had to be granted by Moanalua Gardens first, but after calling them they told me that the trail is now owned by the state; therefore, the trail is now open to the public. The trail is an 11 mile loop that starts with a two-and-a-half mile walk on a dirt road to a right junction that climbs an extremely steep ridge that eventually reaches Tripler Ridge and immediately turns left. From this point is where the trail gets down to business with a slew of ups-and-downs and narrow spots. Long, steep climbs, accompanied by a slippery and muddy path made our progress slow. Shanoah and Rio wore shorts; Matt and I opted for pants, and for good reason. In some parts along the hike the trail was overgrown, and Shanoah and Rio's legs were getting scratched and poked by uluhe ferns and Clidemia shrubs. After a little over three miles of hiking, the trail reaches a flat, grassy knob, 2,760 feet above the H-3 freeway's Likelike off ramp, but the trail doesn't end here; a left turn on the narrow Ko'olau summit ridge resumes climbing to the peak of Maunakapu (2,820 feet), while passing two electrical towers, power lines, a radar tower, and a super nuts side trail to the right that Hawaiian Electric worker probably hike to get to a certain power line connector. Matt went a little ways down that trail and turned around; that trail looks super nuts! From the top of Maunakapu the trail splits left and right. The right junction leads to the Stairway To Heaven (Haiku Stairs); the left junction was the return leg of our hike down what is known as "the middle ridge" of Moanalua Valley. The ridge descent back was neverending. We couldn't believe how high and far we were from where we started. Matt's legs even buckled from exhaustion a few times. Once we got to the bottom "the middle ridge," the hike wasn't over. The dirt road we walked in the beginning had to be done in reverse. After nine-and-a-half hours of hiking -- yep, you heard me right: we started at 8am and ended at 5:30pm -- we finally reached my car. We would have finished earlier, but when we started on the dirt road in the morning we missed the first junction and hiked past the junction well over a mile, side-tracking us two hours and increasing the original mileage we had to hike. Rio estimated we did fifteen miles. My findings on Google Earth and internet topographic maps pointed around fourteen-and-a-half. What an adventure. Try it out, if you're willing, but start early; this hike will take you all day, and your leg muscles and feet will be in pain after you do it. It's been three days since I did the hike, and my legs still hurt.
7/19/08 EDIT: Removed pictures for undisclosed reason. The pictures I have from this hike are incredible. If you are planning to do this hike and you would like to see some photos, email me and I'll send a few photos for you.