Kamiloiki Ridge - January 31, 2009

I had a nice size crew to try out the Pu'u O Kila hike in Kahana Valley with me this weekend, but I got bailed out on, so I decided to do a short hike by myself in Hawaii Kai that I've been wanting to do for a while now. Pahua Heiau at the end of Makahuena Place is the official trailhead for the five mile Kamiloiki Ridge hike. The hike starts in Hawaii Kai, and to get there take Lunalilo Home Road, turn left on Hawaii Kai Drive, turn right on Waioli Street, and take a left into Makahuena Place. At the end of Makahuena Place is Pahua Heiau. The trail starts on the left of the heiau.

First, to gain the ridgeline a couple of short switchbacks must be climbed. Once I gained the ridge crest it was obvious that the trail harbored little protection from the blazing sun. Today was no exception. The morning clouds cleared with the incoming tradewinds, and the sun showed no mercy. The beginning of the ridge is choked with grass. With the abundance of grass it was easy to steer away from the trail, but ribbons -- new and very old -- kept me on track.

There weren't many steep climbs, and the ridge wasn't all that dangerous; however, I counted only three hairy sections, but you'd have to be an idiot to fall off. The majority of Kamiloiki Ridge is very wide. One section hugs around a rock face with a nice drop off to the right. One slip off this section would definitely send one to the hospital or even the morgue.

The lack of shade is another drawback. Only until before the summit is there shade. A nice little ironwood grove offers a nice resting spot. I even spotted a fire pit in the ironwood grove, which is crazy because ironwoods are the perfect fuel for fire. From the resting spot the summit is only about ten minutes away. The trail, still in shade, switchbacks a few times up the mountain until it tops out at the Ko'olau Summit at a little over 1,200 feet. Views of Waimanalo, Olomana, Lanikai, and Kailua sit dead ahead. The summit offers a nice place to hang out and eat lunch, but watch out for the dangerous drop right in front. One slip, and bye-bye.

The apex of Kamiloiki Ridge is one that I've been at before. Back in August 2008, Basil and I hiked up Makapu'u Ridge. We failed in finding the steep ridge descent into Waimanalo via the Tom-Tom trail, but I do remember passing the Kamiloiki Ridge junction. Only until today did I know that it was the Kamiloiki junction.

In a nutshell, the Kamiloiki Ridge hike is dry, grassy, hot, and rocky. It took me an hour-and-a-half to get to the top and forty-five minutes to get back to my car. Getting to the top would've taken me about an hour, but I made a bunch of stops along the way to take pictures. In addition, the trail is not very taxing, but it does offer a good workout. Most internet hiking websites would rate the trail for intermediate hikers. Maybe, but I would rate it in between novice and intermediate, weather permitting. A hot day: intermediate. A cloudy day: novice.



Looking back at Hawaii Kai with Koko Head (left) looking pretty massive.

Fish-eye view.

This part is pretty nuts. The trail hugs the side of the ridge with a vegetated drop on the right side. A fall here would send one to the hospital or the morgue.

Rest spot in the ironwood grove.

Moving on past the ironwood grove.

The view.


Wailupe Loop - January 24, 2009

I'm typing this with sore feet, aching quads, bloodshot eyes, and a cramped ass. After a little over three months of no hiking, Chase, his cousin, Caleb, and my high school friend Daniel, decided to hike Wailupe Loop while extremely out of shape. The trailhead is easy to find. Take West Hind Drive in Aina Haina, find Hao Street, and follow Hao Street to its dead end. The trail starts to the left of an old rusted gate. The Hawaiian Trail Mountain Club says the entire loop is about six miles; they also claim it to be an intermediate hike. I'd have to rate it a tick over intermediate considering how many long hills needed to be climbed.

The initial portion of the hike follows a lesser used dirt road. Fifteen to twenty minutes into the hike an obvious junction comes in on the right. From here the trail gets kind of confusing. There are a few junctions that one can get lost on, but as long as you cross the stream, you'll be fine. Crossing the stream soon gets you to a fork in the trail; take the left fork. The left fork took us to the bottom of a steep hill to be climbed all the way to the ridge crest. The hill was steep and lung-busting, but we made it to the ridge crest and was welcomed with cool breezes coming from the east-northeast.

The majority of the ridge to the Ko'olau summit was shaded. The usual strawberry guava trees and uluhe ferns were passed. With countless steep climbs abound, our legs were on fire, but the cool tradewinds made the hike more enjoyable than naught. Climbing more and more we reached a hunter with his dogs. He said one of his dogs was up ahead, assuring us that he wouldn't bite -- and bite he didn't. The dog followed us a ways up the ridge. We gave the dog some water to drink, and after about fifteen minutes of drafting us, the dog was gone.

A few rest spots provided comfortable seats and ample shade, with views of the ridges to the east and west. I shared an orange with everyone at our last rest spot, and we headed up the ridge, with a good view of the last very steep climb to the Ko'olau summit. We pushed through heavy brush, some parts with ropes and some parts without any. We reached the Ko'olau summit at around 10:30am, two hours from the trailhead. The summit was clear of clouds, and the view, one that Chase and I have seen several times, was lain out in front of us once again, just from a different peak.

We snacked on beef jerky and trail mix, allowed our sweat to dry, and headed left to hike on the narrow summit ridge that would eventually reach the apex of the Wiliwilinui Trail. Daniel led the way even though his fear of heights was grabbing him by the balls. Chase, of course, was ready for the exhilarating push on the narrow summit ridge, with its massive 1,500+ foot drop of death to the right side. Caleb, however, was having second thoughts. Caleb ended up making up his mind that the summit trail was too much for his taste, so he decided to go back the way we came up. Chase, knowing all too well how Caleb felt, decided that he'd accompany his cousin on the way back down. Daniel and I proceeded to Wiliwilinui.

After twenty minutes on the narrow, windswept summit trail, we finally reached the peak of the Wiliwilinui Trail. We ate some more food, had a long rest, and headed down to Wiliwilinui's dirt road. My temptation to find a junction always ends up being the wrong decision, and today was no exception. As Daniel and I headed down the dirt road we found a left junction that we thought would lead us back down to our car. Orange ribbons hung from branches above, and the trail seemed legit, but it was extremely steep. So steep in fact that we knew that we went the wrong way because after a while we couldn't spot any more orange ribbons. We decided to stop descending and head back up to the dirt road. A few more minutes on the dirt road and we finally found a well marked junction with fresh pink ribbons that were probably left by the HTMC on their January 11th, 2009 trail clearing: and a great job they did. The descent was steep, but it wasn't as steep as the unmarked junction we took earlier; the abundance of strawberry guava trees aided our descent as well, its strong trunk giving us comfort on the steepest sections.

We reached the bottom, taking a right, then a left (at this junction, an unmarked and obscure right comes in which should not be taken), and then bearing right/straight instead of left at an obvious junction. From there the trail took us straight back to the rusted gate. Chase and Caleb had beat us to our car, and after about five-and-a-half hours of hiking (2pm), we reached our car as well.

Daniel (left) and Caleb, resting at the top.

Daniel, walking on the Ko'olau summit ridge to the peak of Wiliwilinui.

All fours were required at times.

Not too bad for someone who's afraid of heights.

Massive drops.

On Wiliwilinui's dirt road, heading to the left junction that led us back to our car.