Pu'u Kea'au via Makaha Beach Switchbacks - December 16, 2012

Much of my childhood summers were spent on the west side of Oahu.  School was out and my parents needed someone to watch me on the weekdays while they were at work, so every weekday morning they'd drive my sister and I all the way from Wahiawa to my grandma's house in Maili.  Because the ocean was right across the street, I'd take advantage of every opportunity I had to swim and surf -- with grandma and grandpa's approval, of course.  After countless summers, my relationship and knowledge of the ocean grew stronger.  I'd surf the reefs up and down the coast from Maili to Keawaula, with Makaha Beach being one spot I'd surf a lot.  While sitting on my board in the water waiting for the waves, I'd always look up at the towering mountain ridge right across the street from the beach.  I always wondered what it would be like to be on top of that ridge -- but how?  Well, in recent years I've noticed an obvious switchback trail starting from the the Makaha Beach parking lot and leading up the makai crest of Kea'au Ridge.  I found out last month that that's how you get to the top of the ridge, and it was awesome!

I was invited by Pete Clines and Dave Webb to hike up the Makaha Beach Switchbacks in November, but a conflicting schedule prevented me from joining them.  Luckily, Pete's invitation inspired me to try out the hike I had been wanting to do for so long but had somehow forgotten about.  I set a date in December and invited Jason Nakasato, Lei Yamasaki, and Kelven Del Rosario to join me.

We arrived at Makaha Beach around 7:15am.  We pushed off about fifteen minutes later following a faint trail abutting a paved road.  Leaving the paved road behind we soon hit a wide and obvious path with an occasional ribbon leading the way.  The rocky switchback trail gained elevation slowly, eventually hitting the crest of Kea'au Ridge after about an hour of ascending.  From the ridge crest of Kea'au we followed it mauka along a craggy and exposed ridge to Pu'u Kea'au (elev. 2,650).  Along the way were incredible views of the ocean, Makaha Valley, Ohikilolo Valley, the coastline view from Lahilahi Point to Kaena Point.

From the top of Pu'u Kea'au we immediately headed makai down an obvious side ridge.  Although not extremely dangerous, the ridge did have tricky sections -- loose rock, narrow sections -- that required caution along the way.  An interesting rock outcrop provided a memorable photo opportunity.  Jason and I made our way to the top of highest rock outcrop as Lei hiked a little ways back up the ridge to snap the dramatic photos of Jason and I standing on top of the pointy crag with the Pacific blue serving as a spectacular backdrop.

Further we descended as the midday heat set over us making for an uncomfortable hike along the lower portion of the ridge.  Hiking at a very fast pace, we headed off the right side of the ridge onto cattle trails littered with large piles of cow shit.  Unknowingly, we were in a cattle corral where we encountered bulls taking solace under inverted cliff faces, shading themselves from the midday heat.  We noticed the bulls; the bulls noticed us.  We hiked at an even faster pace at this point and finally reached the fence bordering the corral and jumped over.  We reached a paved road, followed it out to Farrington Highway, and walked back to our cars at Makaha Beach.  It was 2:30.

The hike was finally done.  Hot and sweaty, we jumped in the cool waters of Makaha Beach watching kids catch the waves of the wrapping north swell.  It had been years since I had taken a dip there, and it was a needed visit that was long overdue.  From the mountain to the ocean, I experienced both all in one day.  The ridge I stared up at as a kid from the ocean at Makaha, I finally set foot on.  It truly was a memorable day.

Click on image to view a larger version of the panorama.


Dylan said...

I really wish they would start fencing parts of the mountain off to restore the forest. I know people think of the fencing as ugly but seeing what's happened to the land is heartbreaking.

Tim | Adventure Strong said...

Great pictures. I really like the one where the guy is standing on top of the rock outcropping with his arms up. It looks badass.

Anonymous said...

Is there even a trail up to the flag? I only found a slight trail that switched back but then completely faded? Hardly found an entrance either.

Enthusiasm Quotes said...

very amazing and interesting post, thank you for sharing
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