Kulepeamoa - July 29, 2009

The last time I did Kulepeamoa was in November 2008. It is my favorite ridge hike in town, and one of the best in my opinion. The terrain is ever-changing and extremely lush. It offers everything from a brutal climb to its ridge crest, narrow sections, a big rope section, a walk along the Ko'olau summit, a descent down a neighboring ridge, and a stroll back out of the valley next to a streambed. In other words, I fricken love this trail; however, I didn't do the full loop the last time I hiked it. My friend John and I made the trip up to the Ko'olau summit and turned back the way we came.

The hikers who joined me on my second Kulepeamoa hike were Daniel, Kelven, and Lei. The Ko'olau summit was in clouds on this day, so views at the top were obscured. The first steep climb to gain the ridgecrest is brutal. At a good pace, the ridgecrest can be reached after about twenty minutes of major calorie burning. Once the rigorous climb is over, a breezy and heavily shaded ironwood grove sits at the top, and poses as a suitable rest stop for what lies ahead.

Beyond the ironwood grove, the ridge does its usual ungraded Ko'olau brutality. Up and down we went, undulating through a wide variety of terrain all the way to the Ko'olau summit.

At the terminus of the ridge, we turned left along the socked in Ko'olau summit to reach the terminus of the Hawaii Loa Ridge state trail which would be our descent. After a little over half an hour of descending, a marked junction to the left heads steeply down the side of Hawaii Loa Ridge to Pia Valley. In no time, we reached dry Pia Stream. We followed the stream out and back to our cars.

The whole loop took us exactly four hours and fifteen minutes. We didn't take very long rests, so that would explain why we blazed through the strenous six-mile loop in such little time. I'm glad I finally got to complete the entire loop; it's one of my favorite loops on the island, but it's a beast of a trail to conquer.

Here we go. (photo: D. Napoleon)

Looking southeast toward Koko Crater and Maunalua Bay. (photo: K. Delrosario)

Uphill. (photo: K. Delrosario)

photo: K. Delrosario

The rope section. (photo: D. Napoleon)

Looking down from the top of the rope section. Kelven climbing, with Lei and Daniel waiting behind.



2-BU Pa'ina said...

Great pics. Tried taking a bunch of Middle School kids up the ridge from the valley floor. Seeing them struggle and knowing what was ahead caused us to turn back. thanks for the review.

Kahele said...

Aloha Kaleo. I'm a big fan of your site. I just did Kulepeamoa today. Awesome hike! Brutal, but awesome. On the way back down Hawaii Loa Ridge, we followed directions from various accounts for the junction down to Pia Valley (wires along the trees, guava forest, marked junction). We had a tough time finding it. There really was no trail. Just a bunch of sporadic ribbons and a lot of butt-sliding and tree-swinging down the slope. It was very messy. We made it to a marked junction at the river, but I questioned if that was really the trail down. Was there supposed to be a defined trail? Or were we pretty much supposed to get down by any means necessary? Mahalo, Kahele

kaleo said...

the junction is sort of hard to find, but it is marked, and it shows up out of nowhere. from what i remember, there was a lot of swinging on trees just like you said, but there are ribbons marking the steep route down. you may have taken another route, but i really am not sure...