Pu'u Kalena - June 27, 2009

Today was the second time in less than a year that I hiked to the top of Pu'u Kalena, the second highest mountain on the island of Oahu. Daniel's been excited to try the trail out as well, so I gathered up the motivation to tackle this strenuous trail once again.

The last time I hiked Pu'u Kalena was in August 2008. You can read a more thorough write-up by visiting the following link, complete with pictures. Kalena - Aug. 2008. My aim back then was to just get the trail done and over with because some parts of the hike are just ridiculous dangerous, but today was more of an exploratory mission. And exploratory it was because from the looks of it this dangerous trail can be turned into a loop. From the first peak, there is an indistinct trail leading down the north face of the first peak; the trail is marked by an orange ribbon. I didn't go very far down to inspect the route, but I'm pretty sure it is the return route from the top of Kalena. At the top of Kalena, there is another indistinct trail heading southeast, with an obvious and dangerous looking ridge heading to the valley floor. This southeast ridge is what I assume to be the trail that heads to the valley floor and then climbs back up to the first peak, making the the Pu'u Kalena trail a loop hike. This loop sounds like a good idea because going up to Kalena and coming back the same way is very tiring and boring, for you have to do everything you did in reverse.

Aside from the loop hike exploration, I also explored a side ridge off of the Kalena trail. The side ridge exists just after the section with three ropes. The junction can be found on the left. I marked it with a fluorescent green ribbon for those who want to try it out. The side ridge is visible from the Kalena trail, and the last time I saw it I thought there was no way a trail would be on it, but I was wrong. The ridge looks paper thin, and from the Kalena trail, it looks as though it would crumble if someone were to walk on it. But a trail does exist, and there are old and new ribbons indicating that other people have attempted the rocky and extremely narrow ridge. Some sections are very tricky, especially a large rock face protruding in the middle of the ridge. I took some video of my troubleshooting and made a little video edit and posted it on YouTube. Check it out. The drops, especially on the western side of the ridge were insanely massive and vertical.

I didn't get much pictures from the hike, but Daniel and I did get a lot of video footage. Our total time on the trail was about six-and-half hours; this has got to be one of the few trails on the island where going down takes longer than going up. Our next goal will be walking from Wahiawa Heights to a view overlooking the valleys of Punalu'u, Kahana, and Waikane via the Schofield-Waikane trail, weather permitting.

No room for error, but always room for the crane stance.

Here I am going around a sketchy rock face on the narrow side ridge off of the Kalena trail. (photo: D. Napoleon)



Mauna O Ahi-Pu'u O Kona - June 20, 2009

First off, I want to thank Dustin for giving me directions to find the Mauna O Ahi trailhead. Without his info, the adventure to Pu'u O Kona for Daniel and I wouldn't have been as exciting.

This Saturday was the 2nd time I did Pu'u O Kona, but it's the first time I've done it from Mauna O Ahi Ridge. The other time was from the Kuli'ou'ou Ridge trail. The Mauna O Ahi trail is very well trodden and easy to follow. Being that it's somewhat of a secluded trail and one that is less traveled, I'm going to keep the trailhead a secret. The only hint I'll give is that it starts at the same trailhead for both the Kuli'ou'ou Ridge and Valley trails.

Mauna O Ahi consists of dropping into a valley, crossing a small stream, and climbing steeply to the Ko'olau Summit. At the summit, we turned left, eventually reaching the terminus of the Kuli'ou'ou Ridge trail. The sections along the summit offer awesome views and dangerous drop-offs. This day was hands down the most windiest day I've ever hiked, and I recommend not doing this hike with high winds. Coming down the west ridge of Kuli'ou'ou was insane! The wind felt like a hurricane in the mountains, and walking across the narrow sections felt like we were going to get blown off. Check out the video.

Words cannot express how fun this hike is. It's a short, dangerous, and beautiful loop hike. You don't have to park two cars in different places to do it either. In my opinion, it's one of the funnest loop hikes on the island. A longer write-up of the hike can be found here: http://kaleolancaster.blogspot.com/2008/06/puu-o-kona-via-kuliouou-ridge-june-11.html

Pu'u O Kona.

Mauna O Ahi trail. (photo: D. Napoleon)

View along the summit ridge, walking from Mauna O Ahi to Kulio'ou'ou Ridge.

The Ko'olau's. (photo: D. Napoleon)

The trail is cut right along the edge of the narrow ridge. (photo: D. Napoleon)

The washout. Extremely dangerous section on the ridge. Ribbons mark the safer route to the left.

The west ridge of Kuli'ou'ou Valley has some narrow spots as well. It was very windy here and a bit scary.



Pu'u O Kila - June 11, 2009

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: Kahana Valley is “The Disneyland for Hikers” on the island of Oahu. The massive, undeveloped valley offers everything from swimming holes along the stream to mountain peak climbs along steep and narrow ridges. Kahana Valley is home to a several very dangerous hikes, most notably Pu’u Manamana and Pu’u Ohulehule, both of which hold true as to being one of the most dangerous hikes on the island. Shadowed by Ohulehule is the pointed peak of Pu’u O Kila. With only an elevation of about 1,540 feet, Pu’u O Kila also makes the list of being one of the most dangerous trails on Oahu.

Chase, Daniel, and Kulani joined me in conquering O Kila. We set off from our cars just before 8:30am. Finding the ridge leading up to O Kila can be hard to find because of the many trails that make up Kahana Valley’s floor. Don’t be intimidated though. If you follow these directions, you should have no trouble. Upon entering, park on a grassy area on the right just before the Kahana Valley housing area. A sign will indicate that vehicles are not allowed beyond a certain point unless you live in the housing area or you have a permit. Walking in is fine, and no permit is required to hike in the valley, just don’t park past the sign. After parking, follow the road past the houses to a gate. Go past the gate. You will soon reach a hunter check-in with a brown mailbox. The trail forks at this point. The left fork is the return portion of the O Kila loop. Take the right fork. Walk along the road until you reach a fenced-in water tank. The trail forks at this point also. Do not take the left fork. Instead, take the trail along the left side of the fence, keeping the water tank on your right. Ignore an obvious trail to your left that climbs an eroded embankment. Keep walking on the very shady and vegetated trail. You will then reach two old concrete bunkers. As you face the bunkers, look to your right for ribbons marking the route down to the stream. You will soon reach a thick bamboo grove at the edge of the stream. Cross the shallow stream. Continue along the trail, again keeping an eye out for ribbons. The stream will immediately come into view on the right. Cross again to a narrow strip leading toward the left side of the stream. Walk along the boulders and pick up a trail coming out of the stream. Walk a short ways and take a left. This left is the start of the ridge heading to the top of Pu’u O Kila.

Our day started off with rain. It actually rained so hard along the road to the water tank that we thought about canceling the hike. But the shower’s would come and go, and the showers would turn on and off for the remainder of our hike. The trail along the stream was beautiful. There were tons of mosquitoes nipping at our ankles and stalking us from behind, but once we were high enough on the ridge, the number of mosquitoes eventually waned to zero. I do suggest bringing mosquito repellent; we regretted not having any.

The first few gradual climbs on the uluhe-choked ridge were cleared very well by the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club. It also serves up a hell of a sweat. Slow and easy: that was our pace. The last few climbs to the peak of O Kila are nuts. Two-thirds of the way up to the peak, the ridge narrows to a little over a foot. Vegetation masks the true danger of the drops, but falling would be fatal. Drops on the mauka side of the ridge were huge at some spots. I found myself holding onto tree trunks and branches a log tighter than I normally do. The rains had also made the narrow and near vertical ridge very slick and even more dangerous. Ropes could be found everywhere along the last few climbs to the top, but we took the climbs very slowly.

Once at the peak, there were no views because of the high vegetation surrounding us. We ate lunch in a “standing room only” spot and found a plastic jar tied to a tree containing a log book, a panoramic camera, some band-aids, and other random items. In the log book were the names of those who had made it to the top just like we did. We jotted down our names and wrote a little note, took a group shot with the panoramic camera, and stuffed all the contents back into the jar. I must say, that jar idea is pretty cool, and whoever left that Durex condom inside the jar is my hero.

I inspected the top of O Kila a little more to see if a trail existed beyond O Kila, for the ridge we were on could obviously go on further. Sure enough, I spotted some very old ribbons tied to trees beyond the peak that indicated a further route upridge. But would it go all the way to Ohulehule: I’m not sure, and by my account, there was no sign of a discernable trail.

The route going down O Kila is just as sketchy as going up. I wonder who though up the idea of making the trail a loop because the initial portion of the ridge on the return route is extremely steep. There are small ropes everywhere, and I commend those who installed the ropes in the initial section. You guys are crazy! At a point along the ridge, with Daniel in front, Chase in second, and Kulani third, Kulani accidently freed a melon-sized rock and sent it rolling straight for Chase’s face. Kulani yelled “rock,” and like Manny Pacquiao, Chase dodged the rock at the very last second. With reflexes like that, Chase should start boxing. Make the Philippine country proud once again, Chase: you’ll be the up-and-coming Pacquiao, with enough Filipino blood to boot.

After the super steep decent, the trail softly descends back to the valley floor. We reached the Nakoa Loop Trail and found ourselves at a small dam that had to be crossed. We reached the hunter check-in station and headed back past the houses to our cars.

The views along the ridges coming up and down were picturesque. Looking mauka are views into the back of Kahana Valley. A very distinct ridge trail located deep within the valley looks to have a connection with the Ko’olau Summit Trail. I’ll have to research what trail that is. Looking makai were views of the ocean, with Pu’u Piei to the left and Pu’u Manamana to the right. Going down the Pu’u O Kila were unreal views of Pu’u Ohulehule. Over the saddle between Manamana and Ohulehule was the jagged looking ridge top of Kanehoalani, a trail that has yet to be paved and that has been done by only a handful of courageous hikers. Looking toward Punalu’u Valley was Pauao Ridge and Pu’u Pauao, an overgrown trail that Kulani and I tried to accomplish last year but to no avail.

Pu’u O Kila requires no mistakes. One wrong move on this trail and it may be the last hike will ever do. Take extreme caution at the final climb and initial descent; both ridges are wicked steep near the top. Be sure to follow ribbons while in the valley because there are junctions everywhere and getting lost is relatively common in Kahana Valley. The complete loop is about five miles from the first gate according to GPS systems that Kulani and Chase used. It took us about 5 hours to complete the loop, but I’m pretty sure that I can be done in four hours on a dry day.

Pu'u O Kila, taken from the left/return ridge. (photo: D. Napoleon)

The stream. (photo: K. Segawa)

Chase had a lot of fun with his 200mm lens at the stream. (photo: C. Maglangit)

Awesome shot of the stream through Napsters eyes. (photo: D. Napoleon)

Walking through lauhala. (photo: D. Napoleon)

photo: D. Napoleon

The first, steep, initial drop coming down O Kila.

Pu'u Ohulehule. (photo: D. Napoleon)

Rain in the distance over Pauao Ridge and Punalu'u Valley. (photo: D. Napoleon)

photo: C. Maglangit

The sun came out for a few moments, and Napster was able to capture shots like this. (photo: D. Napoleon)

Choke uluhe. (photo: D. Napoleon)

Big clearing.

Over the dam.

Lucky we live Hawaii!



Iliahi Ridge Loop - June 3, 2009

Just off the Manana/Waimano Falls trail is a loop hike known as Iliahi Ridge. The trail was conjured up just several years ago by the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club and is relatively new. At only five miles, the trail descends to Manana Stream from a power line, crosses Manana stream, climbs up to Iliahi Ridge, follows the ridge to a junction that descends back into Manana Valley, crosses the stream again, then climbs up to the Manana Ridge trail just before the picnic table. The hike offers great views into South Waiawa Valley and Manana Valley. The trail also offers up a workout. I don't have much to say about the hike, but I know I'll be doing it again. Just before the junction back into Manana Valley there is another junction that drops down into South Waiawa Valley. I'm looking forward to exploring that valley sometime in the future, for there are a few swimming holes I've heard of. I've also heard of a nice waterfall in Manana Stream that is located somewhere between the Manana Ridge picnic table and helipad. Pu'u O Kila in Kahana Valley is in our sights for this Thursday. Check the blog for an update.

The trail descends into Manana Valley at this second power line. Ribbons mark the path.

On Iliahi Ridge.

Back in Manana Valley.

Crossing Manana Stream. Very dry this day.

On our way to the Manana Ridge trail.

On Manana Ridge, heading back to the car.


Looking south.

Looking northwest.

Manana Valley.

Waiawa Valley. (photo: D. Napoleon)



Malaekahana Ridge and Waterfall - May 31, 2009

Me and Daniel's hopes of getting footage of three of Malaekahana's waterfalls were shot down when we realized there was no way we could get past the first waterfall without getting our gear wet. After some exploring and climbing up near vertical rock faces to get access upstream, we were smothered in thick strawberry guava groves, hindering further progress. There is said to be a beautiful 75-foot waterfall upstream, and by our account, the only way to capture it is by bringing a waterproof camera (something we did not have on this day), swimming through the pool of the first waterfall, and climbing the waterfall with the help of ropes. In addition, the pool below the first waterfall looked very uninviting for a dip, and the waterfall wasn't very big (10 feet or so); it wasn't even worth capturing on camera. Leptospirosis? Anyway, here's a little edit of our hike. The last frame of Daniel (yellow shirt) is what we climbed to see if we could get upstream.

Traihead and trail info: The trailhead for Malaekahana starts exactly at the same trailhead for the Laie Falls trail. Instead of taking the left on the dirt road to go up Laie Ridge, go straight, passing several dirt roads on the right and left. Reach a gate with ribbons. Walk on more dirt road past the gate. The trail will eventually start climbing through a couple of long eroded sections. Keep an eye out for ribbons. About an hour in, a campsite is reached. About a little under an hour and a half, reach a signed junction. The left junction continues to the Ko'olau summit. The right junction heads steeply downhill to a stream and waterfall. Swim through the pool of the first waterfall and climb the waterfall with previously installed ropes to explore further upstream. Malaekahana Ridge lies between Laie Ridge and Kahuku Ridge. The only footage I've seen of a Malaekahana Ridge summit attempt can be found here from 2007: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiOa1C0pqr4. Two guys actually tried to summit after hearing that the Hawaiian Trail Mountain Club cleared it, but with only a half mile left to go, the trail disappeared. For some reason, the HTMC does stuff like that. They'll slay the bottom portion of the trail to its guts, but when the summit is close, it seems that they just give up and do a minimal amount of clearing for the last final push to the summit.

The camp spot.

It was unreal how blue the water was this day.