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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Aiea to Waimano

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
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