Kamanaiki Ridge - September 28, 2009

Yesterday I squeezed in a solo hike in between my EMT and Chemistry classes. With around four hours to spare, I chose to hike Kamanaiki Ridge in Kalhi. I did the hike back in May 2008. You can see that write-up by visiting the following link: Kamanaiki Ridge - May 28th, 2008.

Although Kamanaiki isn't the greatest trail on the island, it definitely delivers a good workout. The trail is a total of about five miles, but I didn't go to the end point; I acutally stopped about 4/5 of the way to the end. One thing I did notice that i didn't notice the last time I did the trail was that there are several other ways to gain the crest of Kamanaiki Ridge. Along with the prominent side ridge that juts out on the northwest, there are a couple steep side ridges from the southeast that allow one to gain the crest of the ridge as well. All look steep, and I'm assuming the start of those trails begin at certain cul-de-sacs in certain neighborhoods.

I'm planning to do this trail every Monday if I don't get a hike in on the weekend like I did this past weekend. My primary goal next month is to obtain membership in the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club. I've been meaning to do it for a while now. Check out the HTMC website at HTMClub.org to see what hikes are coming up. I'm going to do three of them. Aloha!


Pu'u Kaua - September 20, 2009

Access to this trail always intrigued me; it also intimidated me. I heard through the grapevine about gates opening and closing at odds times, field workers giving hikers a hard time for driving or walking on the dirt roads to the trailhead, and the trail itself being in need of a bushwhack. Me, Kevin, and Daniel found all of this to be the total opposite. Aside from getting lost more than three times, the trail turned out to be an adventure: an adventure that Daniel claimed to the "longest short hike" we ever did.

If you drive on the dirt roads to the trailhead, Kaua is a total of only three miles; if you walk the dirt roads, it's a little over six miles total. For us, getting to the trailhead took some patience. Instead of driving, we walked. If you don't know the complex maze of roads that make up Kunia fields, chances are you'll get lost like we did. I'm pretty good at following directions, but in Stuart Ball's "Hiking Guide to Oahu," a lot of the landmarks he mentioned are now gone. By some miracle, we found our way to the trailhead, or what we thought was the correct trailhead. And it was, and from there is where our journey to the top of Pu'u Kaua began.

I really don't want to elaborate on how we got lost on the trail in Ekahanui Gulch, so I'm going to leave that to your imagination. I'll just tell you that getting lost backtracked us TWO HOURS! That's how lost we were. We even sat down to think about if we were actually going to go on with completing the hike or if we were going to walk back to our cars and call it a day. We headed into the gulch one more time and -- viola! -- we found the correct route hiding across a dry streambed with a well-defined trail hiding behind thick California grass. (Think "The Legend of Zelda" and you'll catch my drift.)

The trail we were now on was suprisingly well-trodden and looked as though it gets a lot of hiker traffic. In fact, it initially resembled a state trail: wide, rooty, and very easy to follow. The going began to get tough, though. The hill we were walking on began to steepen as we passed a long stretch of guavas. After a long hull up the steep and shady hill, the trail continued on, narrowing and becoming more exposed. The trail didn't narrow to death-defying proportions, it was just steep, and it got even steeper just before we reached the top of Kaua.

Just before the top, we encountered four rope sections to aid in the last steep climb to gain the summit. The rope sections were short, and before we knew it, we were at the top. The view was amazing. At a grassy clearing, we had 360-degree view of the surrounding landscape. To the west we could see straight down into Lualualei Valley and the coasts of Nanakuli and Waianae. To the northwest was the towering ridges of Kamaileunu and Keaau. Looking toward Kolekole Pass were the peaks of Kanehoa, Hapapa, Kalena, and Ka'ala. To the northeast was the North Shore. To the east was a lofty view of the Ko'olaus and the entire Central Oahu. From there, we could even see Waikiki and Diamond Head in the distance.

Looking back at the dirt road maze from the top, we mapped our route back by eyeballing certain roads back to our car -- easier said than done. When we got back to the dirt roads, we got lost again after 45 minutes of following a road that was choked with head high California grass. This was not a predicament we wanted to get ourselves into, especially with the midday sun beaming on us in what used to pineapple fields. For those who don't know, Kunia gets burning hot, and this day was no exception. Our flush red faces said it all. We eventually found the correct dirt road and got back to our car, six-and-a-half hours from when we started.

I'm going to leave the trailhead details hush-hush. The trail is very beautiful, and there are tons of native plants along the way. I assume The Nature Conservancy would truly appreciate that I keep the trailhead directions on the down-low; they own the area for Pete's sake! The only way to do this hike legally would be to do it with a legit hiking club like the HTMC or The Sierra Club. Doing the trail illegally requires trespassing (of course), but like all private property trails on the island, that's what has to be done. And I assume a weekend is the best time to do this trail because we didn't see anyone in the area.


Lower Lulumahu Falls - September 7, 2009

Labor Day went smoothly for me and Daniel yesterday. Because it was a holiday, I couldn’t pass up the chance to try out a little known trail that is usually monitored for trespassers on regular work days. And yes, we trespassed, but not one person was in the area to bust us. It was a perfect day to hike what few people know as the Lower Lulumahu Falls trail.

Initially, the trail starts in a thick bamboo forest. The trail is somewhat difficult to find thereafter, for Daniel and I got lost multiple of times. If you happen to come across finding this trail, you’ll know you’re on the right track when you pass and smell ginger plants to the left and right. Immediately after passing the ginger, the stream comes into view. There are not much ribbons, and there are several stream crossings; however, all you have to do is follow trails upstream and you should reach the waterfall in no time.

The waterfall is not very hard to get to. In fact, it’s the easiest waterfall trail I’ve done so far. The trail is supposedly three miles, but it seemed to be a lot shorter. There was also one thing missing: we didn’t pass King Kamehameha III’s summer palace. According to the sources I visited on the web, the trail to Lower Lulumahu Falls passes Kaniakapupu, a summer palace that once held a party of 10,000 people in 1847. To our dismay, we didn’t find it. I’m assuming we took another trail.

I would highly recommend doing this trail on a holiday like we did. Because the trail is on private property, I’m going to keep the trailhead a secret. Judging from the pictures, some of you will know where it is. If not, I’ll give you a hint: Nu’uanu Valley.



Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven)-Moanalua Valley - August 30, 2009

Writing a long, drawn out description of the hike I did on Sunday will do no justice; you have to do the hike yourself to appreciate the lofty views and treacherous sections that is the Haiku Stairs -- or most commonly known as "The Stairway to Heaven." Think of it as a massive roller coaster track: the only thing is that the track is lain out on a narrow and extremely steep ridge that you're walking on. The Haiku Stairs has a lot of history surrounding it's 66 years of existence. Check out the following link for an in depth look at the stairs: http://davewjessup.smugmug.com/.

Seven of us accomplished the hike on Sunday: Daniel Napoleon, Anthony Czumalowski, Allan Soliven, Chris Prado, Ian Diaz, Shadow-Kamaka'u'ole Koko, and myself. Ian and Chris had done the stairs before, but I had proposed a variation of the hike. I had never done the stairs before, so I was very excited to say the least. My plan was to hike up the stairs and descend into Moanalua Valley via Moanalua's Middle Ridge. The middle ridge is famous for its narrow sections and towering views overlooking the ridges to the north; the ridge is also one of the routes for the Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe loop, a loop that I completed in June 2008.

Because there are guards that patrol the Haiku Stairs trailhead from 6am to the afternoon, we got off to a 5am start. It was so early in fact that we hiked in the dark with flashlights. There are multiple ways to get to the stairs, and the one Chris showed us seemed to be the safest way without getting caught. The street that we parked on was Kuneki Place. There is a concrete canal that we had to follow in order to get to a discernible trail. Google directions to Kuneki Place. It's easy to find.

It took us about an hour-and-a-half to reach the top of the stairs. From there, we pushed off in misty clouds and shin deep mud along the narrow Ko'olau summit toward Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe (elev. ~2,800 ft.). The view going down the middle ridge was spectacular. It is definitely one of the most beautiful southern Ko'olau ridges. The initial part of the ridge is so high that it dwarfs all the ridges to the north.

We completed the hike in exactly five-and-a-half hours. Daniel had the idea of doing the trail again with a different route: we would climb down (turn right at the stairs top out) to Kulana'ahane and head out on that route. I've acutally done research of that route, and from what I've found, no one has any evidence of doing it. Probably because the ridge looks mental, and Daniel is...well...mental. With that said, though, I'd definitely do this hike again. The views are one of the best in the island. I'm not posting much pictures, but there is video of the hike that should suffice.