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

Anamolo 2 (Reverse Olomana)

Taking in the view from the backside of Pu'u Ahiki (third peak)
DATE: August 28, 2010
PARTICIPANTS: “The Optimist” Jeremy, Me

Although much easier this time around, Anamolo (Olomana backwards) was still somewhat challenging. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to attempt the climb without using the Eisenhower rope, I couldn’t.

I had company for this second go ahead, so things didn’t seem so bad this time around. Also, since it was Saturday, we ran into more people on the regular trail, all wondering if we broke out of some psycho institution on the other side of peak three. There was this one girl who was scared out of her wits coming down the second peak. I tried to comfort her by telling her that only one out of a hundred die on the trail. Her boyfriend was not pleased.

Jeremy and me on the third (first) peak
The indespensable Eisenhower rope
We should have blasted this trail, but we had a lot of fun sitting atop peak two watching other people make zero progress along the hike. The guy up there with us also had beer, so I sat my okole down and helped lighten his load. Much more fun doing this hike with others. One piece of advice, beware the last ledge before summiting the third peak. The rock wall concaves in so the climb actually calls for a little bit of pure upper body strength. “Someone” (not saying who) required lots of assistance at this portion. That someone was not me.

For more information about this hike, read my older blog entry (August 26, 2010).

Part of the initial climb
Silent grove
Sweat and conquest
On the third, going to the first

Anamolo (Reverse Olomana)

Olomana, from the backside
DATE: August 26, 2010
TOTAL TIME: 3.5 hrs

This was supposed to be just a scouting mission, finding the route, accessing the difficulty and whatnot. Needless to say… that didn’t exactly happen the way it was planned. I didn’t even wear my super grip hiking shoes for this one, not expecting to need it until I did the actual hike. So much for that! With about half my ration of water, and my running shoes, I went off to “scout” the route.

Finding a route to the base of the third peak didn’t prove too difficult as there was either an actual trail or a clear beaten path through the woods. Didn’t hurt to have my Garmin 60csx with me as I ended up pretty disoriented a couple of times. Basically, I had to gain the Aniani Nui Ridge and follow it all the way to the third peak. I’m totally convinced there’s a shorter way and will have to scout that out next time. If not, I have a surefire route.

A welcome clearing along the way
Looking back at the Aniani Nui Ridge and the Ko'olau
Long story short, I moved uncharacteristically slowly and made it to the base of Pu’u Ahiki (third peak) in about an hour and a half. I looked up and noticed a couple of people staring at me from the third peak, probably thinking I was off my rocker. I mean, seriously? Who the hell would attempt climbing Olomana from behind? I must admit, that played a part in me deciding to climb it. As usual, I was thinking, how bad could it be? Yes, I was alone. Not smart.

Wow. The first 50 feet was about vertical. Freaking vertical. What made matters worse was that hand and footholds were few and far between. There were old ropes to aid my ascent, but being who I am, I despise rope. Especially ones that look like they’ve been there since the Eisenhower administration. To make matters worse, I had to squeeze through a small space between a tree and a very hard boulder, making it feel like an audition for one of those Chinese acrobat circuses. It was extremely unnerving.

At the base of Pu'u Ahiki
"Steep" is an understatement
After the color returned to my face, I looked up and became all albino when I noticed an even worse ascent. 90 degrees, higher, and almost zero hand and footholds. Ugh, and the Eisenhower rope! As I was contemplating my death, the two people staring at me from the third peak showed up on the ledge above me. We kinda stood there looking at each other in disbelief for awhile as neither of us thought there was any way in hell we’d run into anyone on the backside of the third peak. I climbed up to join them.

It was our lucky day. They didn’t want to go back up the third peak, and I had already decided not to go back down. We exchanged car keys and agreed to drive over to whoever finished last. I wasn’t too worried as our cars were equal in value. At least we didn’t have to worry about transportation. Sweet. So it became a race. Total BS race because I had a lot of uphill left, and it was all downhill for them.

May look daunting, but this is the easy part
Looking toward Waimanolo
Climbing up the rest of the third peak wasn’t too hard. Steep, crumbly, but doable. I tied some more rope at the weird concave ledge near the top to aid any future climbers in their attempt because the cable that was already there was questionable at best. Took me about 28 minutes to get to the first peak from there. Pretty slow by my standards. About eight minutes slower than the last time. After doing the backside of the third peak, I pretty much laughed my way up the second peak wondering why it was so hard when I did it the first time. Yes, the other two hikers beat me and were waiting at the regular trailhead for about 20 minutes before I showed up. Pissed me off to no end.

Anamolo (Olomana backwards) was no Piliwale, but it has its scary moments. The long approach is nowhere near as taxing or steep as the traditional climb up the first peak. Wear better shoes than I did, update your last will and testament, and pray that the old ropes don’t suddenly decide that it’s just not your day.

Happy to be alive ... again
What would a climb on Oahu be without crumbly rock
The old looped cable attached to an old loose metal anchor ... no thanks
Laid some rope to complement the old cable
Home free

Pali Notches 2

Beyond the notches
DATE: August 25, 2010
PARTICIPANTS: “The Optimist” Jeremy, Me

This one was Jeremy’s idea. He wanted to do a hike before he had to work at 1500, and suggested Pali Puka. Since it was so short, I decided to combine both Pali Puka and Pali Notches hike. Both begin at the Pali Lookout.

Hah! No parking fee this time. Kama’aina mofo. I learned from the last time I did this hike and saved myself three bucks. Boo-yah!

We took some pictures at the lookout, doing the tourist thing and enjoying the wind. After that, we strolled down to where the eleventy billion trails were to begin our ascent to the Pali Notches. Then, BAM! BAM! BAM! Twenty minutes later we were at the notches. I love this hike. No warmup walk. No slow start. No Mickey Mouse horseshit. Just a straight up climb and you’re there. That’s how it should be.

Climbing comes quickly and furiously
Done with the initial climb
The weather wasn’t as good as the first time I did this, but it was clear enough, giving us the same spectacular views of Nu’uanu Valley and the windward side. Unfortunately, there were no cute girls this time to chat with while on the notches. Can’t be lucky all the time, I guess. This time, there was buku rope at the second notch. Kudos to whoever put them there because it really sped up the process of me getting down. The walk to the rock nub on the far side of the notches was routine. Lots of wind, crumbly dirt, and plants that love to get in my way. As we were discussing how to best navigate our way past the nub, we noticed we were getting down to crunch time and decided to call it a day.

Newly installed ropes help the descent
A look at the nub and beyond
I would like to dedicate more time to the trail past the notches. The climb from there up to Konahuanui K1 looks doable, albeit freaking mental. It seems as steep as Piliwale, if not steeper, but extremely exposed, adding another ride to my sadistic theme park. Definitely not a place to bring a date, unless she’s the psycho type. If so, keep your rabbits safe and the knives out of the bedroom.

Navigating the second notch
The trail beyond the notches
Windswept ridge leaves dry branches
Contemplating at the nub
Making our way down to the Pali Lookout

Pali Puka

Walking along the ridge overlooking Windward Oahu
DATE: August 25, 2010
PARTICIPANTS: “The Optimist” Jeremy, Me

This one was Jeremy’s idea. He wanted to do a hike before he had to work at 1500, and suggested Pali Puka. Since it was so short, I decided to combine both Pali Puka and Pali Notches hike. Both begin at the Pali Lookout.

Pali Puka is an awesome hike. Through and through. It doesn’t bullshit around with a long approach and gets down to climbing as soon as you walk through the bamboo covered “trailhead.” This entrance is pretty cool because you can’t see it unless you’re looking directly at it from the front. Felt like a superhero hideout, or somewhere in a treasure hunt story marking something very very bad. So up we went.

Looking up at our hike ahead
The "trailhead" next to the bus parking lot
The hike is super short with great views, and you get to break for lunch under the massive 200 ft tall monolith of a cliff face while enjoying the breeze and the sights. There’s a pretty neat hole in the rocks (puka) that act as a window into the windward valley, so I did the appropriate thing and mooned the windward communities. No, I didn’t, but it crossed my mind.

Jeremy and the windward window
I’ve heard from somewhere that the hole was manmade and had something to do with the Battle of Nu’uanu, just like the Pali Notches. Many sources say that they mounted cannons at both locations, but there hasn’t been any solid evidence. Regardless, they now provide great lunch spots.

Climbing the super vertical rock face looks daunting, especially without the proper equipment. Legendary Chuck Godek did it decades ago, but he was also insane. Now, climbing up the left side in the trees looks absolutely doable, and would be the most efficient way to gain the ridgeline, which eventually leads to the top of Pu’u Lanihuli. I’ll have to add that to my to do list.

Disneyland for the insane
Wilson Tunnels cut into the mountainside
Clear view of the Pali Lookout
National Geographic worthy, or a Geico commercial reject
Height perspective of the cliff face blocking my access to Lanihuli

Piliwale Ridge - Konahuanui K1 & K2 - Nu'uanu - Judd Point

Fearlessly tackling Piliwale
DATE: August 21, 2010
TOTAL TIME: 8.5 hrs
PARTICIPANTS: “Reef Shoes” Jason, “Loafer” Mike, “Hangover” Lynnale, “The Optimist” Jeremy, Me

Piliwale Ridge, pioneered by the legendary Silver Piliwale himself. For the past two months, I had been preparing for this monster, searching for all documentation, studying the topographic maps, and carefully choosing hikes which required okole-busting climbs and plowing through undergrowth. I had meticulously scouted the ridge, assessed the dangers, and assembled the best team I could from my group for our first time climb. I even took a week off from hiking to mentally prepare. The weather was uncharacteristically awesome for three weeks. It was a sign. The time had come.

Wow, I was horribly disappointed! Fail. I even had to downgrade the difficulty on this one because it didn’t fulfill the “Mental” criteria. Don’t get me wrong, the danger level was high, but hardly worrisome. As long as you’re careful and keep a cool head, you’ll be absolutely fine. On a side note, after all my careful preparation, I was a bad boy the night before this hike, going on a booze cruise and only getting four hours of sleep. Maybe the hangover took the edge off?

At the top of Konahuanui K1.  Left to right:  Me, Jeremy, Jason, Lynnale
Looking up at the climb from the notch
We started pretty early because recent reports of three climbs from the month of July documented time ranges anywhere from six hours to two days. I didn’t want to be caught in the predicament of losing daylight. My worries were overkill. I was glad that I found a better trailhead than carjack point on the Pali though. It ended up shortening the hike to the Piliwale junction by about 10 minutes. And it was a nice neighborhood.

• 07:27 – Stepped off from water tank road trailhead.
• 08:20 – Arrived at “the notch.”
• 08:30 – Commenced climbing.
• 10:01 – Passed the “danger zone.”
• 12:03 – Summited Konahuanui K1. Met two guys who wanted to climb down Piliwale. I offered to accompany them. They decided not to go. I think they thought I was crazy. Jason told me to go fuck myself. He was pau.
• 12:30 – Began traversing KST to K2 (weather cleared up. Pictures!).
• 13:15 – Reached K2. Signed the guestbook.
• 13:30 – Departed K2.
• 14:48 – Arrived at the Nu’uanu lookout. Squeezed muddy water from my socks.
• 14:58 – Departed for Judd Point via the Honolului Contour trail.
• 16:00 – Arrived at Jackass Ginger.
• 17:17 – Departed for Chinese food.

Five of us began this hike. After a couple of falls right after the notch, Mike was spooked and decided not to go. I didn’t blame him. Piliwale wasn’t a hike anyone should do in the wrong state of mind. Plus, we were still beginning so I had no problem letting him go back by himself. Military guys. We self-sustain. He met up with us on the Nu’uanu trail smelling all rosy with sandals on. Dick. He did buy us dinner. It was expensive overall so I felt bad. I will be taking him back on Piliwale sometime soon.

Sun rises over the Koolau
Walking up water tank road
Taking a breather before some serious climbing
I was extremely surprised that Jason hung in there the entire hike. The guy is scared of heights and suffers from vertigo. AND the sky started to piss on us in the “danger zone.” He wasn’t too happy. Quite the opposite. I applaud him. Jeremy somehow ended up about 20 minutes ahead of us after the hairy portions and ended up sitting on some ledge, later bragging about how he was watching two birds repeatedly doing fly-bys over us. Lynnale, oh Lynnale. Girl is just insane. No fear. Loved being exposed. Attacked the ridge directly. Wanted more rock portions. On her phone texting the whole time. I love that girl.

This illustrates Jason's mood perfectly.  Absolutely priceless
Way ahead of schedule
Going up Piliwale was more annoying than scary. Again, if you’re careful (or in Lynnale’s case, crazy), you’ll be fine. At around 2,200 feet above sea level (so says my Garmin 60csx), the trail was overgrown. It was bullshit. We chatted about video games and movies to keep our mind off the brush breaking. I must say that Mr. Ulehe was our friend today, giving us plenty of things to hold on to. I was searching for this “narrow” portion of the ridge, but it lasted a whole 20 feet.  After that, the BS recommenced… and continued… all the way to K1. I was also looking for Kaleo’s gear. Didn’t find squat. Fortunately, I also didn’t see any bees. Jason claimed he saw one but I think he just wanted to.

Pretty much making our own trail through this crap
Swampy conditions near the peak
The weather was great in the saddle between K1 and K2. We named this portion the “choad” between the two fat large testicles (Konahuanui). After that, we were just tired, sluggishly making our way to Jackass Ginger to wash off the ton of mud we brought down from the Ko’olau. We did get a good look at both upper and lower Lulumahu Falls from ridge though, and they were flowing nicely. In retrospect, our route was unnecessarily long. After a four hour climb, and hiking on a small breakfast and a powerbar, I was just dragging ass getting to Judd Point. Should have ended on Tantalus, or gone back down Piliwale, but I really wanted to wash off at the swimming hole. Stubborn.

I got left at the altar on this one. My expectations for the grand Piliwale were not met. It was like the alcohol had worn off and the hot chick I was hitting on ended up being Ron Jeremy. We roped it to death for future hikers. To really spice things up, consider doing this hike on a moonless night, after a week of heavy rain, and with two hands tied behind your back. Oh, and drunk. Good luck.

Crossing from K1 to K2
Making our way to the Nu'uanu Lookout
Lower Lulumahu waterfall
Giving the mud back to nature