Kaunala - July 30, 2009

Wow. Kaunala was my fourth consecutive hike for this last week of July, and boy, what was I thinking. My legs feel stiff as hell, and my rear hurts. It hurts so bad that it feels as if the ache is not going to go away. We'll see though. I'm hiking this Sunday, rain or shine, pain or no pain.

I had intended to hike Kawa'ewa'e in Kaneohe, but a road closure just before Laie hindered our progress to reach Kaneohe from the North Shore side. I was going to go ahead and drive all the way around the island the other way, but Kulani, Kelven, and I decided to do a hike closer to where we were. The Kaunala loop trail in Pupukea Heights on the North Shore always sparked my curiousity, so we decided to try out that trail instead.

No offense to those who like Kaunala, but there really is nothing to say about the trail. It was boring, and the views weren't that spectacular; in addition, the second half of the hike is on a long and steep dirt road. I loathe dirt roads; therefore, I despise this hike. I probably will never set foot on it again. Kelven and Kulani would agree.


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.


Ulupaina - July 28, 2009

Ulupaina is four mile loop that starts near Kahekili Highway. The trailhead is located across from The Ko'olau Shopping Center in Temple Valley. Looking at the cemetary from The Ko'olau Shopping Center, the start of the trail is located on the lower left corner of the cemetary. High grass obscures the trail, but after a few feet of pushing through the grass, an obvious path begins to head uphill. The trail splits shortly after. Either direction can be done, but after doing the trail, I think the route we took (clockwise), is an easier option.

Justin, Kim, Kulani, Kelven, and I decided to try out the trail that hiking guru Dayle Turner calls "a lesser known trail." It may be, but the trail was pretty easy to follow and not overgrown at all. Plus, there's ribbons on branches that make the trail easy to follow.

The onset of trail contours around the bottom of a low ridge for about half an hour. It then begins to climb steeply to gain the crest of the ridge. After some short but steep ascents, the trail veers sharp right to follow the ridge line back to where the trail begins.

We didn't follow the sharp right junction just yet. Instead, we followed the ridge mauka to a powerline. According to Kulani's GPS, we topped out at 991 feet at the powerline, with a view overlooking Kaneohe to the southeast and Kahalu'u to Kualoa to the northwest. Behind us was the vertical cliffs of the Ko'olau mountain range. Further progress upridge looked possible, but a faint trail led the way. Beyond the faint trail was an impossible looking ridge that jutted straight into the clouds.

The route back along the ridge gave us a good workout. The ridge has a lot of ups and downs and some long, steep ascents if the trail was done in a counterclockwise direction. Aside from the steep hills, the ridge is wide and does not get dangerous at all; however, the trail does become hard to follow on some sections along the ridge. Good hiking judgment should be used when encountered with these sections, and following ribbons (which this trail lacks on the sections where the trail is faint) is a must.

Ulupaina took us a little under three hours to complete. It would have been faster to complete if we didn't take a long break at the powerline. The weather was also extremely humid; we started the trail right after a heavy rain. I'd definitely do the trail again, though. If anyone were to do this trail a few times a week, they'd be in top shape guaranteed.

Kaneohe Bay. (photo: K. Derosario)

photo: K. Segawa

photo: K. Segawa

photo: K. Delrosario

Olomana - July 27, 2009

Olomana was the hike to start my small kine vacation off with a bang. Five other people hiked the trail with me: Lei, Kala, Daniel, Chase, and my friend Kelven who was visiting from California. (Sorry, Kelven. I had to break you in. The gulch hike you did with me the last time you were here is nothing compared to ridge hikes.)

The last time I did this trail was with my friends Shanoah and Rio. This time I was more alert of the calorie burn while climbing to the first peak. It took Kelven and I about half an hour to top out on the first peak: brutal, but a workout worth having because the view at the first peak is beautiful.

Our crew made it all the way to the third peak and back with no problems. Props to Kala for completing it to the third. Bigger props to Chase for being a nut and not having a wink of sleep the night before the hike. Kelven gets the courage award for conquering his fear of heights along the third peak. And Lei -- well -- Lei has freak stamina.

My main intention was to get video footage of the hike because Olomana truly is one of the most dangerous trails on the island, but it's too damn popular. We passed several groups of hikers along the way. One group actually carried a bulky case containing high-defintion camera equipment to the first peak for a college project. College makes you do some crazy things. He better get an "A" for his project.

photo: D. Napoleon

Welcome back to Oahu, Koov.


Makapu'u Tom Tom - July 23, 2009

Two days ago I gathered up the courage to tackle what I remember was a beast of a hike the last time I did it. For some reason, though, Makapu'u Ridge wasn't all that strenuous this time around. Maybe it was because we were in the clouds for the majority of the hike, a rare occasion for Makapu'u Tom Tom.

Chase, Lei, and Daniel joined me for the walk from the Makapu'u lookout to Waimanalo town. One car was parked at the lookout, and one car was parked at the intersection of Huli and Niniki Street in Waimanalo. The hike is four miles one-way. There's no way I was going to do what I did last time with Basil: we walked to the ironwoods before the summit ridge swung left and returned the same way we hiked in.

Chase, Lei, and Daniel didn't get to see the full danger that exists on this hike. The massive drops just before the ironwood grove were masked by the thick, misty clouds we were trekking in. But my curiousity aimed towards the steep Tom Tom trail that descends into Waimanalo, for I've heard that there are some crazy sections.

Because of the cloud cover, it was hard to see the inherent danger that existed along the Tom Tom trail. Plus, I didn't really care at that point because we all just wanted to get off the mountain sooner than not. Suprisingly, The Tom Tom trail has a few big climbs. Several powerline poles are passed, and then the real descent begins past a pole that is sprayed with graffiti. In general, the Tom Tom trail descent is not as bad as I thought. I've been on steeper: Wailupe, Waianae Kai, Kalauao. Daniel agreed that we would have to do the hike again because the view along the Tom Tom didn't happen on this day. The pictures and video didn't come out to our liking because of the cloud cover. I did get good pictures the last time I did it. You can check it out by clicking here.



Wai'oma'o Falls (Ka'au Crater) - July 21, 2009

I've never hiked with eighteen people before, but I did yesterday, including one dog. Chase set up an outing of epic proportions: eighteen people on a trail that they have never trekked (or even heard of) before, including Chase himself.

Upon arriving at the end of Wai'oma'o Street, my friend Kevin and I waited for Chase to grace us with his Filipino presence. To my amazement, a cavalry of cars and trucks loaded with people graced us instead, with Chase coming in with several of his friends in a truck. I thought a crew of no more than eight were going to be hiking to Ka'au Crater's waterfalls, but twenty people made me a little nervous because for one, the trail is closed, and two, the trail is on private land.

After everyone parked their vehicles, I found myself not knowing anyone but the feeling of awkwardness. Amongst the others, comfortable conversations led to hearty laughs and handshakes; even Levi the dog knew who everyone was. How 'bout an introduction Chase? Being the free-spirited Filipino he is, Chase eventually introduced me, giving me the title of "tour guide." Great, dude. Thanks for putting all the weight on my shoulders. I did spot a few people I knew, though, which made my feeling of awkwardness wane a little.

We set off around 9am. As soon as we started, a Board of Water Supply truck rolled up with three employees inside. They drove past our huge group with an astonished look like, "Holy shit, that's a lot of people!" I was apprehensive in proceeding down the stream, for I knew we would encounter the employees. I wondered if they would tell us to leave?

Fortunately, the three guys were cool and were just hiking to the stream gauging stations to get data to return to the lab. (What a job! I'd love to get paid for hiking.) They chatted with us a bit and told us about the pipe that is followed along the trail to the waterfall. They said that back in the old days, the pieces of pipe were carried by mules. Within the past five years, a new pipe was lain out and installed, and this time it was flown in by helicopters. Pretty interesting. I feel bad for those mules.

The trail was very muddy and slippery. I think everyone had their fair share of spills, some more than others, but after only half-an-hour of walking, we reached the first waterfall. The pool at the bottom of the waterfall looked the same as the last time I hiked the trail: uninviting. I've seen pictures of people wading in the pool, but the water looks dark and brown. None of us took a dip.

The majority of our group made it to the first waterfall and turned around. Several of us climbed to the second waterfall. We took some individual and group shots, and I even had a beer from my friend Neil; he carried about ten Budweiser cans in a cooler in his backpack. I figured I'd have a beer to ease the weight from Neil's pack. He had a major hangover from the night before and still kept his buzz going by drinking on the trail. I think he puked twice, too. What a nut! After the beers, we headed back for the cars. Two adventurous girls decided to keep going to the crater rim by climbing the third waterfall. We wished them luck and parted ways.

Time was winding down, and I had to get to work by 12:30pm. Kevin and I caught up with the group that only went to the first waterfall. Their slow and careful pace prompted Kevin and I to overtake everyone. We reached my car a tad past 11am, and drive back home. Suprisingly, I made it to work exactly at 12:30pm.

Here's a list of my upcoming hike plans:
Thursday, 7/23 - Makapu'u--Tom-Tom
Sunday, 7/26 - Halawa Ridge?
Monday, 7/27 - Olomana
Wednesday, 7/29 - Kulepeamoa

First waterfall.

2nd waterfall.

Wai'oma'o Stream. (photo: C. Maglangit)

Crossing the stream with Levi the canine. (photo: C. Maglangit)

Kevin (in green) and one of the Board of Water Supply employees. (photo: C. Maglangit)

Looking down on the group from the top of the 1st waterfall. (photo: C. Maglangit)

Neil + hangover + more beers on the trail = a funny picture. (photo: C. Maglangit)

The group that made it to the 2nd waterfall. (photo: C. Maglangit)


Makiki-Tantalus Loop - July 19, 2009

Halawa Ridge was scratched out of our schedule this Sunday because of a bar escapade the night before, so another hike had to suffice. Daniel and I got to a late 1:50pm start yesterday to hike the Makiki-Tantalus loop. We parked our car just outside of the Makiki Forest Recreation Area just in case we didn't get out by sunset because signs stated that the gate would close at sunset.

The trails making up Makiki Valley and Tantalus is like a hiking park. There is a bathroom, water hoses, water fountains, information about the area and the trails, and even trail maps. Plus, it was loaded with people, young and old. The area kind of reminds me of a ski/snowboard resort, where everyone is suiting up and getting ready to snowboard and ski. It was insane. Never seen anything like it before.

According to Stuart Ball's hiking guide, the Makiki-Tantalus loop is an 8-mile circuit, connecting eight different trails. Getting lost is very easy without the book. Even with the signed junctions, Daniel and I got lost about four times, questioning our progress. We missed a critical junction in the very beginning that took us up a trail that we were supposed to use as the return route to make the hike a loop. We were so frustrated that we actually thought about just finding our way back to our car and calling it a day. But we managed to get to the correct junctions after about an hour-and-a-half on the trail, so everything eventually turned out fine.

The loop is insane in terms of complexity. Here's the junctions I remember: Kanealole Trail to Makiki Valley Trail, Makiki Valley Trail to Nahuina Trail, cross Tantalus Drive to Kalawahine Trail, Kalawahine Trail to sharp right on Manoa Cliffs Trail, right junction at Pauoa Flats Trail to continue Manoa Cliffs Trail, cross Round Top Drive to Moleka Trail, turn right where Moleka Trail ends, turn left onto Maunalaha Trail and head back to the bathroom. There is a longer variation where one can ignore the Manoa Cliffs Trail junction and head straight on the Kalawahine Trail to the Pauoa Flats Trail to the Nu'uanu Valley Overlook, but since I've been there twice already, I decided that shortening the loop was a better option because the sun was about to set.

The loop is a mean workout, especially the way we did it. It took us a little over four hours to complete. It is kind of boring, and there aren't many views along the way. The only section that I thought was really nice was the last portion of the Manoa Cliffs Trail. From Manoa Cliffs are nice views deep into Manoa Valley, with Konahuanui and Mount Olympus towering over the entire landscape. Even Manoa Falls could be seen. I would do the loop again, mainly for the workout, but there really is nothing spectacular about it. There's just lots of people, lots of noises from the roads and houses surrounding the area, and not much views.

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: D. Napoleon

Looking into Makiki Valley. (photo: D. Napoleon)

Walking from on Tantalus Drive from the Nahuina Trail to the Kalawahine Trail. (photo: D. Napoleon)

The view to the west on the Kalawahine Trail. (photo: D. Napoleon)

Manoa Cliffs Trail junction along the Kalawahine Trail.

The view into Manoa Valley. Konahuanui in clouds to the left and Mount Olympus on the very far right of the photo.


Moanalua Valley (Kulana'ahane Trail) - July 16, 2009

I read an article in the Honolulu Advertiser about a new state trail that opened up last month. The article rambled on about a hike that started after walking two-and-a-half miles on the Old Damon Estate Road in Moanalua Valley. From there the trail would cross Moanalua Stream twenty-five times and climb up a short, steep ridge to the saddle between Red Hill Ridge and Pu’u Keahi a Kahoe. The trail sounded very familiar. So familiar in fact that it sounded identical to the Moanalua Valley hike in Stuart Ball’s “Hiker’s Guide to Oahu.” And after walking an hour on the Damon Estate Road, I found out that it was the exact same trail. The only thing different about it was that the state decided to give it a name: Kulana’ahane. Their reason is beyond me.

For some reason, I can’t escape dirt roads. The past three hikes all began on dirt roads, and quite frankly, I’m sick of it. I hope Halawa Ridge doesn’t welcome me with dirt-road-hike number five on Sunday. I just might quit hiking altogether. Well, maybe not quit, but I will be pissed.

I shunted off from Moanalua Valley Park at around 9:20am. I reached the Kulana’ahana trailhead in just under an hour. From there I crossed the stream, passed a stream gauging station on the left, and reached a junction. The left junction was the down trail for the physically demanding Godek-Juskulski loop that Daniel and I did in the beginning of May 2009. I took the right junction.

The trail is very well-trodden and easy to follow. A couple of confusing stream crossings could lead a novice hiker astray, but as long as there are ribbons around, follow it. The well-trodden trail is also very muddy in multiple areas. When crossing the stream, one has to be careful because of the slippery boulders that aid the hiker across without getting their feet wet. I fell around three times, so use caution.

After the twenty-fifth crossing, a sign comes into view stating that the trail beyond is no longer maintained. From this point on is where the hardest part of the hike begins. The trail then climbs up a short, steep ridge to the Moanalua Valley saddle. Along the uluhe clad ridge were some nice ohi’a trees and views back into Moanalua Valley. Although steep, the ridge was not narrow or perilous. To the right, a high waterfall can be seen. The enticing waterfall would be my destination on the return from the summit.

As I neared the top around 11:30am, two signs came into view: one stating that it was the end of the trail and that I shouldn’t go beyond the sign (oookay?), and another stating that a ledge existed, and if I were to stand on that ledge, it might break off and I would fall and die: fair claim. I headed past the signs. Ahead were views of Haiku Valley, Kaneohe Bay, Mokapu Point, and the snaky H-3 freeway. To the right along the summit were the top outs of the Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven) and Pu’u Keahi a Kahoe. To the left was an extremely steep trail leading to the terminus of Red Hill/Godek-Jaskulski Ridge; beyond that terminus was the apex of Halawa Ridge. I sat to eat my lunch, made a few calls on my cell phone, snapped some photos and took some video, and then headed down the ridge I came up to go in search of the waterfall.

At the bottom of the ridge, I turned left, upstream. I followed a faint trail with old ribbons tied to trees and branches, guiding me further upstream. Remnants of an old airplane that crashed long ago lay scattered in bushes and in the stream. Soon the trail disappeared, so I had to submit to walking directly in the stream, boulder hopping and climbing.

After about fifteen minutes, I reached the waterfall. It was merely a trickle on this day, but from the looks of it, the waterfall would be beautiful after a long, stiff rain. Height-wise, the waterfall is huge; I’d say well over 100 feet. A shallow, uninviting pool at the bottom harbored some baby o’opu, a fresh water fish that is edible, but one I’ve never tried before. I again snapped some photos and took some video and headed back.

The total mileage of this hike was about eleven miles because of the short side route I took to the waterfall. The side route to the waterfall is not very far at all, and it is easy to get to. Completing the stream hike to summit to the waterfall and back took me a little over five hours. The view at the saddle is one that should be prized, for no other state trail can overlook Haiku Valley and the H-3. The only other ways to get the view would be hiking Red Hill Ridge and Halawa Ridge, both of which are very long and taxing. The Kulana’ahane Trail is a more rational choice, but one thing is for sure: the trail is not “brand new.” It’s been hiked for decades.

One hour in, two-and-a-half miles from Moanalua Valley Park is the Kulana'ahana trailhead.

View of the waterfall from the steep ridge.

The steep ridge to the summit saddle.

Looking back into Moanalua Valley from the saddle, proving once again that I was very, very far away from my car.

The waterfall.