Quiet pool awaits the rain
DATE: 30 June, 2010
PARTICIPANTS: "Hangover" Lynnale, Me
REHIKE VALUE: 0 (Dry Months), 7 (Rainy season)

First of all, always fill up on water before any hike. There were only two of us and my camelback was filled to the max, but someone ran out of water very quickly. Not saying who. Just saying.

This is one of those fill in the blank hikes I chose as an easy midweek excursion. I knew that Kalauao during rainy season would be a better hike, but I wanted to see it dry to gauge how deep the swimming holes would be when it was flowing. I could only imagine what the valley would look like as there was evidence of multiple waterfalls and swimming holes along the way to the main destination. Would probably look like Rivendell out of Lord of the Rings, without the whole Mordor doomsday factor somewhere in the background.

"Hangover" Lynnale and me

Trekking below a towering canopy
Walking to the endpoint was easy enough, but making the loop back up to the main Aiea trail was a female dog of a task. The hiker’s guide said to look for an ‘obscure’ junction, but it didn’t mention anything about an obscure trail after the obscure junction. Climbing uphill and breaking brush aren’t fun activities by themselves, but when you combine them into an all in one package, it just plain sucks. It probably could have been avoided if the trail was a little clearer, but I knew that as long as we kept moving uphill, we would eventually end up on the main trail.

Here is a useful piece of advice. Unless you know the exact route passed down from your loincloth ancestors, don’t do the loop. If you do not possess some sick desire to conduct a fun uphill walk through thick fern fields, get to the falls and go back the way you came. Oh, and avoid this hike altogether during the dry months. Highlights are stagnant pools of water, lots of mosquitoes, and yummy-looking dead boar guts hanging from trees. Ketchup anyone?

I still have no idea how I missed this arrow

Moss shows promise for the rainy season

A clear waterline and rope swing presents the possibility of deep pools and gushing waterfalls

Boar guts, if you don't know what they look like

Koko Crater Rim

Colors of the Crater
DATE: 28 June, 2010
TOTAL TIME: 2.5 hrs
PARTICIPANTS: "Hangover" Lynnale, Me

It was time to revisit what I affectionately call ‘my training ground’ in preparation of Pu’u Kalena later this week. The last time I did this, I just hiked up the south rim from the botanical garden in the crater and went down the stairs on the other side.

"Hangover" Lynnale and me

Looking back toward the Haluna Blowhole, Sandy Beach, and Makapu'u Point in the distance
Instead of traversing the entire south rim as I did before, we opted to climb up the crater side via the natural stone arch bridge, which was pleasantly nice and steep with nothing to hold on to but a few misshaped rocks. Yay. The ridgeline to the top wasn’t as crazy as I remembered and was fairly easy to negotiate. I was hoping for a somewhat stronger breeze to create some feeling of instability when climbing up rocks but I guess the wind factory was on strike.

A natural stone arch bridge looms in front of us

Waiting for me halfway up the bridge

Path along the top of the crater rim
Unlike most ridges which are flat at the apex, the rock atop the north rim was tilted to the outside, making for a narrow, slanted walk that would totally max out the ‘Jason Scare Factor,’ which would in turn peg my fun meter. One thing for anyone wanting to hike the entire crater rim; when walking back to your car, stay on the road. It will be faster. If you decide to cut straight to the main highway, you’ll spend about an hour walking through dry brush and thorny plants with a mission to get in your way. If you’re a hardcore golfer, ignore my warning. There seemed to be plenty of extra golf balls to pick up among the brush. You may even be interested in a little sightseeing, as there are what looked like children’s graves, pigeon garbage, and a possible abandoned meth lab. Wear gloves when handling used syringes please.

For more on this trail, refer back to my earlier hike (May, 2010).

The less used north rim

Enjoying the blazing hot sun

Rocks rest at a weird angle, making this more of a challenge

Terrain that looks eerily similar to that of the desert in Arizona

Horse stables and the Botanical Garden lie on the crater floor

Mt. Olympus - Konahuanui K2 - Nu'uanu - Judd Point

Some serious climbing on the Ko'olau mountain range
DATE: 27 June, 2010
TOTAL TIME: 10 hrs
PARTICIPANTS: “Loafer” Mike, “Reef Shoes” Jason, “Hangover” Lynnale, “The Optimist” Jeremy, “Rambo” J, “Gravity” Jo, “The Beast” Justynne, Me

The plan was simple. Walk up Mt. Olympus, traverse the Ko'olau Summit Trail to Konahuanui’s K2 summit (continuing to K1 if time permitted), and walk down the back leeward ridge to the Pauoa Flats and Nu’uanu trails, ending at Jackass Ginger. Mission completed, but what an okole buster!

Left to right: "Loafer" Mike, "Rambo" Jeremy, Me, "Hangover" Lynnale, "The Beast" Justynne, "The Optimist" Jeremy, "Gravity" Jo, "Reef Shoes" Jason

Waikiki from the Mt. Olympus trail
It took 4.5 hours to traverse 1.6 miles along the KST alone!!! The trail was so overgrown and steep, and Jeremy’s phone kept making quacking sounds the whole way as he snapped pictures. All things considered, the trail wasn’t overly hard, but there were areas we had to negotiate carefully and the rope we installed in some sections made some things a little easier. I was really looking forward to that 1.6 miles along the KST for the challenge, and it was just as brutal as expected, an endurance test for the ages. The only reason I would do this entire route again is to see how fast I can do it, but it would take a lot for me to consider it. Yes, if you’re a super hot chick and willing, I may think about it.

Warily walking along the Ko'olau Summit Trail from Mt. Olympus

Manamana has nothing on this part of the hike

Jeremy and Mike, carefully inching towards cloud covered Konahuanui
Konahuanui consists of twin summits, known as K1 and K2, and is the highest point on the Ko’olau Mountain Range (3150ft). With time being a factor and Jo hurt from a fall (sorry Jo), we decided to skip K1. The name Konahuanui roughly translates to ‘Large Fat Testicles’ so I appropriated the names Left Nut and Right Nut for K1 and K2. Legend has it that some ancient giant threw his balls at some girl he was chasing and it landed and formed the summits. My question is what good is getting the girl if he threw away his balls? My guess is homeboy ended up not getting the girl and losing his balls anyway. Sucka. As for now, I’m content with trampling all over his right nut. Not really too keen on returning to complete the neutering procedure.

Up Mt. Olympus with Diamondhead Crater in the distance

One by one, making our way across the rock dike

Taking a break at this wide portion as Jeremy's phone 'quacks' away

Signing the guestbook on K2

Walking back to civilization

On the Nu'uanu trail


Palehua trailhead
DATE: 24 June, 2010
TOTAL TIME: 3 hrs (I was on a picture taking frenzy!)
PARTICIPANTS: "Reef Shoes" Jason, "Sigmund Freud" Jenn, Me

Oh, so, so close to a perfect score! Wow, wow, and WOW!

Imagine all the fairy tales you had learned as a kid that involved walking through some forest, like a pansy prince going to save some ditsy princess from a badass dragon he has no business defeating, Hansel and Gretel picking questionable mushrooms in the witch’s magic domain, or Debbie doing Dallas. Only without the dragon, the witch, and neither Debbie nor Dallas. Oh, and those suspect mushrooms. Magical!

Left to right: "Reef Shoes" Jason, "Sigmund Freud" Jenn, Me

Effortless climb with gorgeous distractions
An unbelievable trek, filled with nature’s full pastel, with fallen leaves and a gentle breeze. The view, oh, the view! It continues and continues along the entire hike! The splendor of cascading sun rays upon every mountain range, ridge and valley, none of which could escape the shining countenance of the Almighty. All at His mercy until the fading light of sunset spills over the western horizon. Gushes… oh gush…. Why haven’t they invented 100,000 megapixel cameras yet???!!! The torture! This is the lazy hiker’s ultimate wet dream, being only two miles total and
mostly flat. Plus, the instant gratification! Gush… My pants are tingling, and I’m not even lazy!

Walking through a small rock tunnel

Nature's art gallery
The Palehua trail ends at a mountaintop with a green awning covering a water tank of some sort and a bunch of ti / ki plants. Beyond that, it connects with the Palikea trail which is so overgrown and the total opposite of Palehua. I have been absolutely spoiled with views this week and what a way to end my weekday hikes. Gush…

Jason claims that the ridge is moving

The view is just sick
The only drawback is that you have to obtain a permit and pay a $100 deposit for a key to unlock two gates on the 5 mile road to the trailhead. You’ll get your money back once you’ve returned the key, but the trouble keeps this one from reaching a perfect score. If you are willing to go through the trouble, this is a hike you just cannot miss.

Crap, where did I put that key again…?

Although random, leaves seem to fall in the perfect places

Vertigo has hit high gear

Walking through art

Greener in the sunset

Southwest shore in the sunset

Kuli'ou'ou Ridge

Clouds sweep over the Ko'olau
DATE: 23 June, 2010
TOTAL TIME: 2.5 hrs
PARTICIPANTS: "Barefoot" Tani, and Me

Beyond the excellent views and ease of hike, the Kuli’ou’ou Ridge receives high marks for its quick access to the Ko'olau Summit. Usually, any mention of climbing the Ko'olau involves a long, brutal walk up some wicked terrain, but this hike is a change to that trend. The constant breeze removed much discomfort from the steep uphill sections and we made the 2.5 mile climb in under an hour. At the top, the wind continued, as expected along the Ko'olau Summit Trail, and clear views of Kokohead, Waimanalo, and Diamondhead can be seen.

"Barefoot" Tani and me

Breezy walks through pine forests on top of the ridge
Looking right, I was extremely tempted to traverse the KST toward the excellent Makapu’u Ridge and descend via the Tom-Tom cliff face, but decided against it due to time constraints. Instead, I looked left at a higher peak, and saw rope. I wondered, “dangerous?” So, I did the logical thing and checked it out.

Traversing the southern portion of the Ko'olau Summit Trail

I had no idea where that is, so I decided to check it out
I was pleased to discover the route involved rock faces, narrow ridges, and extremely crumbly rock, but by the time I reached Pu’u whatever, the oncoming rainclouds obscured most of my view. So, I marked my territory and snapped some shots of the cloudy ridges. With the clock ticking and the wind picking up to about 30mph, I decided to begin our return trip.
Ah ... a challenge

Admiring the colors of Kokohead
Being risk-averse, I did the safest thing and traversed back along the narrow ridges, standing straight up with my GoPro on my head and camera in one hand, stopping along the way to take video of how high the fall could be. Due to safety concerns, I ignored all rope and scaled the rock walls with one hand while taking pictures with the other, and staying as close to the edge as possible.

Narrow walks was just what the doctor ordered

My mood improved as the rain started coming in
I will return in the future, but from the Makapu’u ridgeline as I have heard it to be the finest ridge hike on the island. Still, Kuli’ou’ou is a must hike, and possibly a rehike. And remember people, safety first!

Although the annoying fern may fourish, the Kuli'ou'ou Ridge Trail is extremely well maintained

Stairs make the final push a little easier

Bellows Air Force Base, Twin Islands of Lanikai, and Ka'iwa Ridge in the distance

Back down into the valley