Pu'u Piei - May 10, 2008

I had intended to hike the Hau'ula Uka Ridge trail today, but I ended up doing Pu'u Piei instead. Pu'u Piei is located on the right side of Kahana Valley when looking in and is about 1,740 feet high. The hike to the top is only 3 miles; however, it's one hike that Kulani and I will probably not do for a while. The trail to its peak is overgrown, steep, and hard to follow. There are also a bunch of side trails that lead to nowhere. We even got lost in the very beginning! All the climbing is worth it though once you reach the ridgeline just below the summit. There's only one switchback in the beginning, and once that's over it gets down to business. The first 100 yards or so is a hike through a well defined red dirt trail that is a bit steep and in the hot sun. Kulani and I had to rest every 30 seconds to catch our breath cause it was fucking hot! After that the trail is heavily shaded by lauhala trees (ancient Hawaiians used their leaves to make mats and hats), but the ascent gets even steeper. Not only that: the lauhala trees, with their serrated and tooth-like edges, poked and penetrated our legs and arms. I eventually got a few small cuts that bled, and my shirt ripped at the sleeve. The lauhala also blanketed the trail, allowing us to slip and fall. Soon after, the lauhala section of the trail ended and the ridge started to narrow. As it narrowed the trail got even steeper. Some parts were near vertical, and we had to rock climb a few sections with the aid of ropes. We broke out into the open after the steep climbs and finally reached the final leg to the summit. The view from the Pu'u Piei's narrow ridgeline was unreal. We could see into Kahana Valley and its surrounding mountains. To the north we could see into Punalu'u Valley with the coast extending all the way to Lai'e Point and Kahuku. After taking some photos we ascended our way to the summit with a few more rock climbs. The view from the summit is blocked by vegetation and is heavily shaded. We ate our lunch and headed back down. Heading back down was also a task; we got lost twice due to the abundance of side trails. One side trail led us into a gully 1,000 feet below the summit. We retraced our steps out of the extremely steep gully and regained the ridgeline. At the bottom we met up with a streambed and found ourselves lost again. We followed the dry stream out and ended up on Kamehameah Highway, and we had to walk about 1/2 mile to get to back to our car. We started at 11am and ended at 3pm: four hours to complete a three mile trail! My 70mL hydration pack was completely empty at the end of the hike.

Gravel road to the trailhead.

Turn left at utility pole #3.

Kulani standing on an eroded section in the first part of the steep ascent.

That's the trail. Overgrown with uluhe ferns.

Lauhala leaves are like cactus. This is pretty much what we walked through for about 1/3 of the hike.

Here's Kulani laying in the trail. We should've brought a machete.

The end of the lauhala section, and the beginning of the steep, rocky ridge.

You ugly.


First rope.

2nd rope.

3rd rope.

Kulani, happy to make it out into the open.

Losing your pants button at this point would suck big time. This ain't mine by the way. Kulani found it on the ridge.

Eh, we stay pretty high already.

Our destination.

Pu'u Ohulehule. The climb to its summit on its southeast ridge is considered to be the most dangerous on the island. It's supposedly closed, but I no care! We go!

Go down.

Big drop to Kulani's left (your right) into Punalu'u Valley.

We're supposed to be hiking, not rock climbing.

Almost to the top.

Narrow. The drop to the right of me is a good 100 feet or so.

Last rope section before the summit.

Lunch at the shady top.

No views at the summit.

Plants (didn't get much photos):



Punalu'u Valley.

Pu'u Manamana: another dangerous hike I'm planning to do by the end of summer.

Kahana Bay from the bottom.

Kahana Bay from behind the trees.

Kahana Bay from the top and without the trees.

Kahana Valley.

Punalu'u to Lai'e Point.


Anonymous said...

Great pictures. I have only made it part way from Punalu'u side. It would have been good if you shared the meaning behind these very special places. Perhaps they are inaccessible for a very good reason. Nalani

Ryan said...

Brah frekin Kaleo! It's Ryan Imai. Hah, I didn't even realize this was your blog till I was half way down the page. Me and my friend Alison just did Pu'u Piei yesterday. But comparing your pictures I don't think we actually did Pu'u Piei, lol. There weren't any ropes on ours and there was a pretty good rocky climb at the top to the peak. Some of this one looks pretty gnarly, esp the one with the drop on both sides. Eh hit me up if you guys are gonna hit up the trails.

Andrew "Bang Daddy" Bayang said...

I MUST have gone the wrong way on this one. I didn't see any rope whatsoever on the way up to the ridgeline. I climbed up the prominent peak on the right before all the notches and turned left from there. No rope. What the hell?