Kuli'ou'ou Ridge - Pu'u O Kona

Veni, Vidi, Vici!
DATE: August 29, 2010
TOTAL TIME: 4.5 hrs
DIFFICULTY: Easy - Medium
PARTICIPANTS: “Reef Shoes” Jason, “The Optimist” Jeremy, “Sigmund Freud” Jenn, “Gravity” Jo, “MP3” Stefanie, “Shave Ice Nazi” Athena, Me

Clear weather this day as we took on one of my favorite hikes on the island. Great views, relatively easy walk, and a little sense of danger to spice things up. I refer to the Kuli’ou’ou – Pu’u O Kona loop as the most advanced “girly hike” in my inventory. By the way, I want to credit Jason for coming up with the term “girly hike” and take zero responsibility for the estrogen driven repercussions.

Last time I did this, rain clouds ruled the mountains making me reluctant to complete the loop. Aside from the short burst of rain that passed over us, I couldn’t have asked for better hiking conditions. Dry ground, clear trail, low ceiling, and super strong winds that threatened to blow us off the ridge with every step we took. Fun!

Left to right: Me, Jo, Jeremy, Jenn, Athena, Jason, Stefanie
No obstacle is too great
I want to acknowledge that this was “Gravity” Jo’s first hike back with us ever since the Mt. Olympus – K2 incident a couple of months back. Seemed like she had a chip on her shoulder from that experience, tackling the narrow ridges and high winds in earnest. Don’t know why. All I did was give her encouraging crap about the whole incident and never letting her live it down. Positive reinforcement or something. Nice job.

Most of the climb was as I remembered it. A pleasant ascent through breezy pine forests accompanied by fantastic views of southeast Oahu. The prominent “End of Hiking Trail” sign greeted us at the apex, inviting us to venture further along the Ko’olau summit. The extremely high winds increased the hiking value considerably and made it slightly harder to perform cartwheels atop the narrow ridgeline.

As most of my hikes have something to do with some crazy future excursion, this one doubled as a top down reconnaissance of a ridge trail I’m planning on attempting. The clear weather allowed for a full visual assessment, a sign that the hike was meant to be, much to Jason’s mortified objections. Details of the plan will only be disclosed near the execution date.

Wind picks up and Jo isn't happy
Olomana, Kailua, and Waimanolo
Great achievements come with great efforts
The latter half of the loop involved semi-steep descents along narrow walkways and crumbly rock. The wind really picked up on this portion, pegging my fun meter and putting a smile on my face. I was actually blown off trail when I attempted to run along a thin portion of the ridge and jump over a small gap. Maybe my shoelaces were untied. Disneyland all over again.

Relatively easy and short enough for a relaxing pace, the Kuli’ou’ou – Pu’u O Kona loop remains as one of my favorite hikes. Unless you’re a die-hard water baby, this hike has all the bonuses and minimal danger. Strongly recommended for armchair adventurists and their pet monkeys. What?

A breather at the picnic tables
The beatings will continue until motivation improves
Expanse of challenge
Teamwork and determination
Calm after storm


  1. Before I get bashed any further for coming up with that sexist term, I classified a "girly hike" as any hike that has these 3 qualities: safe as in 0% chance of getting lost and no scratches; quick as to allow an afternoon session of Insanity at the expected intensity; and beautiful sights one can take in without worry of imminent death! That being said, I think Palehua would rank top as THE girly hike.

    I am not sure how this would ever be called an easy hike with the wind humbling your every step. The ridge was definitely moving that day (Piliwale brought the fear back) but I realized the wind terrified me even more. Eye protection would seem really helpful as dirt particles were constantly barraging my face. Really giving Bearclaw second thoughts (not that I gave it any serious consideration so far)

    Jenn and crew definitely leveled up on this one especially after her dirt eating ridge escape. Would definitely repeat this again just to relax at the meadow overlooking Olomana

  2. Man you're so touchy. I agree about Palehua.