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Saturday, May 30, 2020

May 30, 2020

This weekend, Darren asked if we wanted to hike to the mythical Waimalu Meadow.  However, some "genius" suggested doing it from Aiea Ridge Trail, passing through the meadow, and exiting Waimano Ridge Trail.  Oh, wait, that was me!  What was initially an all day hike, turned into a certified "grinder".  Famous OAG, Troy Solano, defines a grinder as a hike that surpasses double digit miles and reaches or passes multiple summits.  Well, today, we definitely checked off all those boxes. 

Joining Aprille & me today was Marilou, Bernice, Darren, and Kellie.  We staged a car at the Waimano Trailhead in Pearl City at 6 am, then I drove us to an access trail in Halawa heights.  We started the hike at 6:30 am.  I set a brisk pace through Aiea Loop Trail to the junction as I wanted to stay on schedule, since we were already planning on finishing the hike in the dark.  We reached the junction to Aiea Ridge around 7:20 am. 

We took a quick break then proceeded up Aiea Ridge.  There were a ton of native plants flowering along the way and the trail was wide open.



We reached the helipad around 9:30 am, keeping us on schedule.   However, I think the fast pace in the beginning began taking its toll, as my legs were feeling a little heavy.  Thick clouds blew in at the helipad and Kellie began entertaining thoughts of turning around.  I told everyone to have faith, as I had prayed for good weather, and God always answers! 

After 15 min of rest, refueling, and convincing everyone to push on, we continued on to the summit. 
This section was a slog through a lot of mud, causing us to slip a lot.  Somewhere along the way, a bunch of us spiked up to aid in our traction. 

By 10:30 am, we reached the landing, 30 min ahead of my projected schedule.  We took a much needed break as my hamstrings felt like cramping.  Not good since we had a LOOOOOONG way to go.  The clouds blew in and out, offering some sporadic views.

I looked for and found the Ohe Naupaka Bernice mentioned was at the landing.  Right next to it was a single Ko'oko'olau flower.

Once everyone was ready to go, we quickly made our way to the official Aiea Ridge summit and began our trek across the Ko'olaus.  Early on, we had some decent views and Bernice found tons of Kamakahala blossoms and other native plants.

Kolea Launui


and views into Kahalu'u

After about an hour of sporadic views, the clouds came in with a vengeance.  We hiked in complete socked in conditions for almost 1.5 hours.  With almost no visibility, we couldn't tell how far we were from Waimalu and I had projected a 3 hour crossover from Aiea to the meadow.  We were already 2.5 hours from Aiea, and we were hoping Waimalu was nearby.  Also, this section of the crossover was overflowing with ups and downs!  Steep and long ones!





Adding to the grueling roller coaster summit line, winds were buffeting us with 40-50 mph gusts.  That and some skinny sections along the summit made for a serious adrenaline rush! 

Almost 3 hours into the crossover, the views began to open up a little and we found a spot to sit down and rest.  Darren and I had started cramping and we weren't even at the meadow yet. 

With the clouds lifting a little, I could see the approximate location of Waimalu Summit and we weren't even close to it!  I guessed we were over an hour away and it looked like a huge climb ahead to get there.  We decided to get a move on since we were falling behind on time.

The trek there was steeply uphill and very narrow.  With the gusty winds, this section was pretty spooky.

Around 3:10 pm, we finally hit the summit of Waimalu Middle Ridge: in complete socked in conditions.

The clouds were so thick, we could barely see 50 yds.  I consulted my GPS to find the direction of the meadow.  My track showed 2 possible routes.  However, after consulting with Bernice, who was the only one in the group who had done this hike, we decided to head into the meadow instead of sticking to the summit line.  Since I had been to the meadow myself, I felt more comfortable being able to find my way out once inside the meadow. 

We made our way down the mushy grass towards what we hoped was the middle of the meadow.  After a few moments, I spotted exactly what I wanted to see: a row of Loulu palms. 

The line of Loulu palms indicated a ridge heading into the meadow.  Bernice got all excited and we made a beeline straight for the palms.  Once I got past the ridge with the palms, I breathed a sigh of relief.  I recognized the cone in the center of the meadow.  We made it!!  Phew!

Even if it stayed socked in, I knew where we were and how to get out.  However, God answered my prayers once again.  In a matter of minutes, the clouds lifted and we were blessed with magnificence!!

We spent very little time in the meadow since everyone was exhausted at this point.  We just took our share of pix, then made our way out. 

The initial section along the summit was extremely narrow.  With the gusty winds this section was very sketchy as well.

However, the summit stayed clear the rest of the way, giving us gorgeous views of Waihe'e Valley.

We finally reached the summit of Waimano Ridge Trail at 5:10 pm.  We all plopped down for some much needed rest.  We still had 7+ miles of ridge left to hike out.  We tried our best to refuel and hydrate.  At 5:30 pm, we began our final leg of the hike. 

The 7+ miles of Waimano Ridge is very long and boring.  We hardly took any pictures or even stopped to rest.  Everyone was thirsty, hungry, and tired.  We reached the picnic table at 7:45 pm and had officially ran out of daylight.  We pulled out our headlamps and hiked the final few miles out in the dark. 

We finally reached the exit at 9:05 pm.  We changed as quickly as our fatigued bodies could move, then Marilou dropped us off at my truck in Halawa.  We bid our farewells and headed home. 

Start: 6:30 am
Aiea Ridge Junction: 7:20 am
Aiea Ridge Helipad: 9:30 am (15 min break)
Aiea Ridge Landing: 10:30 am (30 min break)
Aiea Ridge Summit: 11:10 am
Waimalu Middle Summit: 3:10 pm
Reached Meadow: 3:30 pm
Left Meadow: 3:45 pm
Waiau Ridge Summit: 4:55 pm
Waimano Ridge Summit: 5:10 pm
Left Waimano Summit: 5:30 pm
Waimano Stream Crossing: 7:20 pm
Picnic Table: 7:45 pm
Exit: 9:05 pm

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

April 28, 2020

Since we'll be doing a soft re-opening of our clinic next month, I wanted to get in as much outdoor time as I could.  I didn't have a lot of time since I had to pick Aprille up from work a little after 5 pm, I texted Cat and asked if she wanted to check out the native plants along the Manoa Cliffs Trail.  She agreed and we met at the Manoa Cliff Trailhead parking where I staged my truck.  She then drove us to the Kalawahine Trailhead to begin the hike.

Our goal today was to hike up to the Manoa Cliffs native plant enclosure via the Kalawahine Trail, check out some plants a little up the Pu'u Ohia trail, then exit via the Manoa Cliffs trail back to my truck.

We hit the trail around 1:20 pm and meandered along the nicely graded Kalawahine Trail.  About 30 minutes in, we arrived at the Manoa Cliff's junction.

We took the junction and began our uphill climb towards the native plant enclosure.  A little less than 15 minutes later, we arrived at a sign Cat calls the "Map Room".


We entered the enclosure through the gate and began our search for various native plants, which we hope were flowering.  We weren't disappointed!!  We saw . . .


Ha'iwale (Cyrtandra Cordifolia)

Oha Wai (Clermontia Kakeana)


Koki'o Ke'oke'o


Kamakahala - Labordia Tinifolia


And a bunch more I couldn't ID.  I need to keep going back till I learn all these beautiful natives.
Around 3:30 pm, we decided to start heading down the Manoa Cliffs trail.  In my opinion, this trail is the nicest of the Honolulu Mauka Trail system.  The trail contours along the west side of Manoa Valley.  The scenery and condition of this trail are extremely beautiful!

We made it back to my truck around 4:20 pm.  Just in time to clean up and pick Aprille up from work.  With the clinic reopening next week, this may be the last of my weekday hikes.  Big thanks to Cat for accompanying me on an awesome leisurely (and educational) hike along one of my favorite plant places!

Till next time!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

April 25, 2020

Being cooped up indoors all week due to the pandemic is rough, especially for an outdoorsy person.  So when Aprille suggested a summit crossover hike, I was definitely game!  Today's plan was to hike up Wiliwilinui Ridge, cross the summit to Kulepeamoa, and exit there.

Joining the hike today was Marilou, Cat, Matt, and OAG's Darren, Bernice, & Aprille.  We met at the Kulepeamoa trailhead at 7:30 to stage cars, then jumped into 2 cars to Wiliwilinui.  The weather was perfect: high overcast with nice tradewinds.  We hit the trail around 7:50 and began walking up the dirt road that starts Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail.

Trying to socially distance.  lol

The road walk is pretty uneventful for a while.  When you start to see a lot of Uluhe ferns lining the side of the trail, that's when you know you're starting to reach the upper levels of the trail.

About 40 minutes in, we reached the steps, indicating the steep section of the trail is here.

We huffed and puffed our way up all those stairs.  When we got to the badly eroded section, we noticed that Na Ala Hele filled in part of the eroded area and put a ladder in where the rope was.  Sure made that section a lot cleaner and safer.

At 9:15 we finally reached the iconic radio tower on the penultimate peak before the summit.

Shortly after that, we summited Wiliwilinui to a hazy windward view.  We rested for about 10 minutes, took a group shot, then headed southeast along the KSRT towards Kulepeamoa.

Almost immediately, we noticed tons of native Hawaiian plants.  We paused to take pictures since the view was still a little hazy.

Red Ohia Lehua

Kolea Launui


Me & Bernice enjoying a flowering Kawa'u

Kolea Lauli'i

And that's just between Wiliwilinui and Wailupe!!  We haven't even reached the next peak and we're high on native plants!

About 1 hour later, we arrived at Wailupe Summit.  We took a nice snack break there to enjoy the views as the haze began to clear.

At 11:05 am we gathered up our packs and resumed the trek across the KSRT.  The views towards the south began to clear and our pace slowed as we took more and more pictures.  In the section between Wailupe and Hawaii Loa, we found a rare gem on Oahu: Ohe Naupaka.

Alongside these were Ohia, Na'ena'e, and Ohe Kuahiwi.

We then arrived at Hawaii Loa's summit just before noon.  Upon arriving, there was a small group gathered at the summit, so we took a couple of pics then continued on.

The views began to open up and the cool breezes made for an awesome day up in the mountains.

The native plants kept on coming!  None of us expected to see so many native plants along this section of summit.

Just around 12:40 pm, we arrived at the Kulepeamoa summit.  There were 3 girls sitting and enjoying the view, so we took a seat in the back of the summit to rest a little.  By this time, the views were simply magnificent and we had a full course of native plants!

Just before 1 pm, we began our trek out.  The views on the Leeward side were clear and made for awesome pix.

10 minutes into our descent, we reached the steep and narrow rope section.

We carefully navigated the narrow section and continued on.  Along the way, we saw more native plants, which is why Kulepeamoa remains one of our favorite hikes for native plants.

Ho'awa Blossoms

Iliahi with buds

Ohia Lehua with buds and blossom


Iliahi alo'e

Upon reaching the first ironwood grove, Matt, Marilou, Aprille, & I stopped to rest while waiting for Darren, Bernice, & Cat, who were looking for a bug that lives on the Akoko plant.  Once the 3 caught up to us, we made our way out.  The descent off the ridge was a knee killer.  7 hours later, we found ourselves back at our cars.   I drove Matt, Darren, & Bernice back to Wiliwilinui to get their cars then went to Foodland Farms in Aina Haina for some poke bowls!!

What an awesome day in the mountains with awesome peeps!

See video here.

Start: 7:50 am
Wiliwilinui summit: 9:30 am
Began Crossover: 9:37 am
Wailupe Summit: 10:40 am (left at 11:05 am)
Hawaii Loa Summit: 11:56 am
Kulepeamoa Summit: 12:40 pm (left summit at 12:52 pm)
Exit: 3:55 pm

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