Mariners Ridge (Kaluanui Ridge) to Hawaii Loa Ridge - August 22, 2010

On August 22nd, 2010, I completed a big chunk of the Ko'olau Summit Trail between Mariners Ridge (Kaluanui Ridge) and Hawaii Loa Ridge with Ryan Chang, Brandi Tranter, Lei Yamasaki, Albert Carcueva, and Ian Diaz. The weather was ideal: overcast skies, light breezes, and dry conditions. The entire hike took us five-and-a-half hours, compliments of Albert's lung-busting frontman pace. The route intersects the apex of several other trails: Kuli'ou'ou Ridge, Pu'u O Kona, and Kulepeamoa. All the while along the summit trail, the views are outstanding. Ensuring we had a ride at both trailheads, we parked two cars at the Kulepeamoa Ridge starting point and then shuttled in one car to the start of Mariners Ridge. The Kulepeamoa trailhead is located at the end of Anolani Street in Niu Valley; Mariners Ridge is located at the top of Mariners Drive in Hawaii Kai.

Mariners Ridge is definitely the easiest and shortest hiking route to the Ko'olau summit. At a good pace, the top can be reached in around thirty minutes. It is also a child-friendly hike: easy to follow, no extreme ascents, and no dangerous or narrow sections. However, caution should be taken at the lookout because of the precipitous drops directly in front.

From the Mariners Ridge lookout we turned left toward Kuli'ou'ou Ridge along the summit trail. Here the summit trail is obvious and very easy to follow. The trail is dry, rocky, and usually free of clouds. The climbing is gradual, with several narrow sections to take heed to. Two separate sets of power line poles are also passed en route to Kuli'ou'ou. After an hour-and-a-half along the summit trail from Mariners, we finally reached the Kuli'ou'ou Ridge lookout.

We pushed onward towards Pu'u O Kona after our short snack break atop the Kuli'ou'ou trail terminus. This was my fourth time along the section from Kuli'ou'ou to Pu'u O Kona, and it is one of my favorite hiking routes because as the ridge swings left, the view of the Ko'olau mountain range is unlike any other on the island. The trail condition here is also in very good condition. However, it is the most dangerous portion of the hike. The drops are massive, all while skirting the edge of the narrow ridge. At the top of Pu'u O Kona we hunkered down for a lunch break. We took in the magnificent view dead ahead of the Ko'olau mountains and Waimanalo all the way to Kualoa. Looking onward along the Ko'olau summit ridge, we eyeballed our route to Kulepeamoa.

The section between Pu'u O Kona and Kulepeamoa was the worst section of the hike due to the lack of regular hiker traffic and heavy vegetation. The trail is unmistakable, but it is far more vegetated than what we previously trekked. Albert and Lei led the way. They were the only two donned in pants, so pushing through the uluhe was easier for them to accomplish. Brandi on the other hand was wearing shorts just above mid-thigh. She would take the full onslaught of uluhe ferns on virtually every inch of her legs. For all of us with shorts, scrapes, cuts, and blood was inevitable. I even gouged my shin pretty bad from a spear-like stump protruding upward in the middle of the path. Blood pouring from my leg, but I still proceeded further with the brush trending thicker.

The summit trail saddled to a point between Pu'u O Kona and Kulepeamoa. It was here that the ridge leveled out and became more exposed and increasingly narrow for a short stretch. From this saddle we could see our final climb to the apex of Kulepeamoa. The ascent was slippery and muddy, with a couple cable sections for assistance. Finally, we reached the top of Kulepeamoa, and instead of resting, we kept our pace and headed on our final stretch along the summit to Hawaii Loa.

The section between Kulepeamoa and Hawaii Loa is in great condition. It is used primarily by those that hike up Kulepeamoa Ridge and descend Hawaii Loa Ridge or vice versa. It is also relatively short to traverse (+/- 20 minutes). The clouds were more prevalent along this summit section as well. Soon we found ourselves totally covered in clouds, a more than often occurence along this portion of the Ko'olaus. Four hours from Mariners Ridge, we finally reached the top of Hawaii Loa Ridge. Again, we sat down and took a short snack break.

We then descended the popular Hawaii Loa Ridge trail, passing several hikers on the way down. Because we parked in Niu Valley, we didn't follow the ridge all the way to the Hawaii Loa Ridge subdivision. Instead, we took a steep side trail on the left about half way down Hawaii Loa Ridge. The steep trail is marked religiously with pink markers left by the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club. It is a great upper body workout. Supporting the body's weight on the descent is accomplished by holding onto and swinging on guava trees. After about a ten mintue descent, we reached the streambed. We followed the stream makai until we finally reached our cars at Anolani Street.

In summary, Mariners to Hawaii Loa is not an overly taxing hike at all. Compared to summit sections from Pupukea to Aiea Ridge, Mariners to Hawaii Loa is a walk in the park. (Proof exists in my write-up of Manana to Waimano, a small section of the Ko'olau summit trail that lies in between Pupukea and Aiea Ridge.) There are many variations to the route we did; one can shorten it by descending either Kuli'ou'ou Ridge, Kuli'ou'ou West, or Kulepeamoa. It is also possible to keep going past Hawaii Loa. My plan is to one day trek every section along the Ko'olau summit ridge from Konahuanui to Makapu'u. So far I've done Wailupe to Wilwilinui, Ka'au Crater, Konahuanui 1 & 2, and Makapu'u to Tom-Tom. One day I hope to fill the remaining gaps with my footsteps.

Mariners Ridge.

The view atop Mariners Ridge.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

Panorama atop Mariners Ridge.  (photo: A. Carcueva)

Coming down Mariners Ridge along the Ko'olau summit trail.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

Ian and Brandi on the ridge.

Lei and Albert atop a vantage point.  Olomana in back, Konahuanui at the top left, and Kualoa in the distance on the right.

Albert leading the way.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

View along the summit ridge taken with my GoPro HD camera.

 photo: A. Carcueva

Topping out at the Kuli'ou'ou Ridge terminus.  Kokohead in the right of the photo.  Rabbit Island on the left.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

Trekking to Pu'u O Kona along the summit ridge with an amazing view of the Ko'olau mountains.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

Steep rope climb along the summit ridge between Kuli'ou'ou and Pu'u O Kona.

Ryan and Ian on their way to Kulepeamoa along the summit ridge past Pu'u O Kona.

The leaders in pants: Lei and Albert.

Lei and Albert along the summit ridge toward Kulepeamoa.

Brandi and Ian with a massive drop on their right side.

Skirting the summit ridge.  (photo: A. Carcueva)

At the saddle between Pu'u O Kona and Kulepeamoa.

The ridge was a bit narrower at the saddle.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

Lei on the edge.

Cable section.

Ryan, Brandi, and Ian along the summit ridge.

Island Trails - Mariners Ridge to Hawaii Loa Ridge (GoPro POV) from Island Trails on Vimeo.


Wahiawa Hills - August 20, 2010

Seven people (Ryan Imai, Alisson Hiyami, Tessie Hale, Rio Laigo, Brandi Tranter, Albert Cacrueva, and Ryan Chang) joined me on my second outing along the Wahiawa Hills loop trail this past Friday, August 20th, 2010. It was first for everyone besides myself, for I had completed the loop back in April 25th, 2009. Located at the top of California Avenue in Wahiawa, the hike consists of several uphill and downhill jaunts that are guaranteed to work up a sweat. The reward is a large, deep pool about half way into the hike.

I'm not aiming to intimidate, but Wahiawa Hills can be a bit confusing. There are many junctions along the five mile route, especially in the beginning. My previous write-up about the trail offered the wrong directions, so I will try to redeem myself this time around.

The trail begins along a fence that encloses two large water towers at the top of California Avenue in Wahiawa. The trail soon breaks out into a grove of paperbark trees. While bearing the left, the trail soon heads down a shaded hill that is broad and rooty. At the bottom of the hill, turn right and reach a stream. Cross the stream and head uphill gradually. Another junction comes into view. The right junction rounds the loop in a counterclockwise direction; the left round the loop in a clockwise direction. Taking the left jucntion will eventually reach another junction. This junction turns right and descends a short embankment to Kaukonahua Stream. Do not take this junction. Instead, keep going straight until you see the stream again. This is where the second stream crossing will be made. Across the stream, negotiate a short but steep embankment and start heading uphill through uluhe ferns. The steep grade eventually levels out and the trail is now very obvious. In a grove of eucalyptus, another junction comes into view. Take the left junction and not the right junction. Follow the trail a bit futher until another junction is reached. A faint left trail that was once a dirt road is not the junction to take; take the right junction. Continue a ways along the ridge until a point is reached where a view of the Ko'olau summit is in the distance. Turn right at this point and descend through plenty of eucalyptus trees; this right is marked with a ribbon, for it is a critical turn that heads down to the swimming hole. The stream soon comes into view below on the left and right. Reach another junction to either go straight or take a right to head to the rest spot and swimming hole. After taking a dip, backtrack to the junction and turn right. Cross the stream and pick up the trail that climbs steeply away from the stream. The trail eventually levels out and then undulates at times in yet another long stretch of eucalyptus and uluhe. The trail is very obvious here. Another junction will be reached with the stream in view on the right; this right junction can be taken, for it connects with the trail heading straight as well. Heading straight another junction is reached, and it is a junction you have been at before. Take a sharp left, meet the stream once more, cross it, and turn right. The first hill that was descended at the beginning of the hike will come into view on the left. Ascend the hill and retrace your steps back towards the water tanks.

Island Trails - Wahiawa Hills (GoPro POV) from Island Trails on Vimeo.


Iliahi Ridge - August 10, 2010

Want a workout? This is the trail that brings it. I totally underestimated how long this hike would take, and for that I was late for work. I thought Baron and I could do it in two-and-a-half hours, but it took us a little over three-and-a-half. Plus, we started a bit late (9:30am).

For those who live in Pacific Palisades, if you were to do this hike every other day, you'd be in great shape guaranteed. The five mile trail is located at the top of Komo Mai Drive in Pacific Palisades. It's a little known trail that branches off the same route to Waimano Falls and the Manana Ridge trail. Once on the road, take a left at the second power line towers and follow the trail that descends into the valley. Cross the stream, then climb out of the valley and follow the ridge mauka. Eventually the trail meets up with a side ridge and takes a sharp right turn and follows the ridge back into the valley. Once at the bottom of the valley, cross the stream and immediately start climbing out of the valley on a semi-steep finger ridge that eventually meets up with the Manana Ridge trail, just 300 or so yards shy of the picnic table. Turn right and head back to the trailhead. The trail is marked well with ribbons, and the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club hike the trail every year, so the trail is in good condition. Baron also pointed out that Iliahi Ridge is very close to some dirt bike and mountain bike trails he did before that start near the Mililani Cemetary. How awesome is that? You can mountain bike from Mililani to Pacific Palisades! I'll have to try that some day.

This is my second time doing Iliahi Ridge. I didn't get much pictures on this outing, but I did on my last outing, so click here to see more information about the hike, complete with pictures and edited video. I only took a few clips of video this time. You can view it below.

Island Trails - Iliahi Ridge (GoPro POV) from Island Trails on Vimeo.