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.