Thursday, January 15, 2009

Kuli'ou'ou Ridge hike

Today, there were no semester exams for Mits and me so we decided to go to Kuli'ou'ou and go past the end of the trail marker. I wanted to find thimbleberries and try some as well as bring some back home to plant. I picked up Mits at about 8:30 and we went down to Kuli'ou'ou.

The first time I went on the hike, it was me, Kendall, Kaci, and Mits. I found it on Kaleo Lancaster's blog, Island Trails, and wanted to try it. I took the left turn too early, and we ended up at what i think was the Hawaii Loa trail. I wouldn't have minded doing the Hawaii Loa hike, but i came to hike Kuli'ou'ou that day so i drove back out and found the correct turn. "Oh there's Kuli'ou'ou..." We all laughed as i took the left after the sign with big bold letters, "Kuli'ou'ou Road." It shouldn't be too hard to find after taking the correct turn from the highway. On Kuli'ou'ou road, take a left after the first stop sign you run into and then the right after that, which should be the only right possible. Then, you just follow the road up until near the end, where there's a dead end sign and take a right onto that dead end road. If you find a roundabout and the water reservoir, then you've found the entrance to the Kuli'ou'ou trail. There's no parking in the roundabout, but you can park in the space in fron of residential houses. Today, i parked just in front of the no parking sign and the dog from a house nearby stuck his nose under the wood fence so Mits and I played with him for a little while. He was a friendly dog that didn't even bark at us. Onto the hike...

After going around or over the gate, the first trail on the left is a restricted road to the reservoir. The next trail has a sign that says "Kuli'ou'ou hunting grounds" or something like that, so the first time, we just continued on the path until we ended up at a military or government building. Two hunters were leaving from the hunting ground entrance as we passed it and looked at us like we were tourists, probably because they knew we were going the wrong way. We were confused as to why the building was there and couldn't find a trail so we went back and tried the hunting grounds path and realized that the hunting grounds and hiking trail were accessed from the same entrance. We expected hunters to jump out and try to shoot us as we went along, but the two we saw in the beginning were the only ones. The beginning of the trail is really boring because trees and plants block the view, so you walk for around 30 minutes at the least, depending on your pace, before you get to a shack that was made by the boy scouts. If you want to go up the end of the trail and see the views from up high, then take a right at the post that says "Kuli'ou'ou valley trail" and "Kuli'ou'ou Ridge hike." The ridge hike takes you up the mountain. I've seen a blog where a guy and his friend took the valley trail and wanted the ridge trail, so they hiked straight up to the ridge and said it was the hardest hike they had ever done. When you reach the shack, you're about 2/3 done with the hike. The hike up to the shack is what you would expect from walking up a mountain. The trail winds around the mountain, so it's not that steep, and I saw many other hikers and even some older people along the path. There are signs posted that tell people not to shortcut because it erodes the land and destroys the mountain. The hike only gets steeper and more slippery from the shack, so if you don't think you can make it you should head back down. I used gps and found that the hike up to the shack is about 1.2 miles. The shack is like a rest stop, but we just wanted to get to the end, so we continued past the hut after some picture taking. After the hut, the trail just goes straight up and doesn't wind anymore. There are planks set in the ground on the way up, but erosion has eaten away at the dirt holding them in place, so be careful when stepping on the planks. There is also a pretty steep hill that doesn't have planks until further up, so you should be careful there too. After about 15 minutes of climbing, again depending on your pace, you'll get to the end of the trail mark and an awesome view of Waimanalo area and you can see across most of the east side of the island. There shouldn't be any clouds because you're about 2000 feet up, and you aren't high enough to reach the clouds. However, if you look to the left, you can see the the higher peaks of the Ko'olau, such as Wiliwilinui, and there might be clouds covering the peaks there.

The first time we went to Kuli'ou'ou, Kendall, Mits, and I continued on past trail, and Kaci decided to stay back. The trail from there is pretty narrow and there are some slippery parts. The trail past the end is for more experienced hikers and is exhilarating. After a climb down to the left at the end of the trail, you go along a narrow path with big drops on both sides. If you fall, you're definitely going to be airlifted out of there and may even die so be careful if you go. On the first time we went past the end, the wind blasted us and tried to throw us off the narrow path, but we made it to our goal, the next peak to the left. Today, Mits and I went past the end of the trail, and we went all the way to two peaks over. We didn't go to Pu'u O Kona because it was almost 12 and we had to meet our friends who had finished their exams. I was happy to find thimbleberries because i love raspberries, so we didn't leave empty-handed. Surprisingly, there was no wind, contrary to the weather advisory of 40 mph winds. So we were relieved and happy that we could travel past the end of the trail. We climbed up to the next peak and someone had put some electric wire and rope there to help. Like with the other trails, the rope is most likely there to help on the descent and you should be able to go up without the ropes. At the top of the next peak, there is no wind, and there are many plants. I found the thimbleberries i was looking for, but many weren't ripe so i took the ripest looking ones and planned to plant them at home. Mits and I tasted some and they taste like raspberries, but are softer and more sour.

The trek down is all downhill so we found ourselves running down a lot. We wanted to run past the boring part, so we ran while dodging the tree roots and rocks on the ground. The whole hike today took about 3 hours and is about 2.1 miles.

almost done with the boring part

View from up in the trees


Left to right: Koko Head, Hawaii Kai, Aina Haina

almost to the end of the trail

Panorama of the view before the end of the trail

Panorama of the end of the trail

End of the trail

Leaving the end of the trail marker

Going along...

Looking down

Up, up and away...

almost there...

Looking back...

Panorama of the view from the highest part we hiked to

Albino ladybug


Mitsuo thought this was spanish moss but it doesn't look like it

The "golden land algae." Which I found out is actually lichens

Thimbleberry. I'm trying to plant them so i can eat them