OHE March 18, 1998

Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 10:55:18 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kuliouou Bowl

I'll be assisting John Hall with the HTMC hike next Saturday so I marked the route and did some light trail maintenance yesterday in preparation.

The route begins at the Kuliouou Ahi trailhead on Kala'au Place. Less than 100 yards past the hunter check-in, there is an indistinct trail that heads upslope on the right. I didn't put any ribbons within easy view at this junction on Ahi since I didn't want to lead any of the many hikers of Ahi astray. However, once one finds this route, orange ribbons will mark the way.

For the most part, this trail heads straight up the ridge, basically following a shallow ravine, until topping out on the right side ridge of Kuliouou Valley. Once at the ridgetop, hikers will turn left, heading mauka. Actually, if one continues along the ridgetop, the picnic shelter along the Ahi trail will eventually be reached. However, the HTMC route will follow a trail down into the back of Kaalakei Valley.

This path is wide open and may have even been part of an old jeep road at one time. After a quarter mile of gradual descent toward the back of the valley, the trail bends right, heading makai down Kaalakei. This makai interlude ends at a junction where hikers will turn left and arrive almost immediately at a clearing used as a campsite. There was a pile of trash (auwe!) at the site, including a box a brand new tent once occupied.

From the campsite, the trail continues mauka, crossing (a dry) Kaalakei Stream. The trail then proceeds makai again, climbing steadily on an old jeep road to gain the crest of Mauna o Ahi ridge. The junction at the crest is distinguished by a powerline tower and plenty of head-high buffalo grass and koa haole.

From there, one begins a steep climb to the Koolau summit on Mauna O Ahi ridge. This path needed very little clearing and I put up occasional "confidence" ribbons. I can't recall how long this ascent took but I do remember having to stop to apply some Second Skin to my right heel when I felt the telltale pinch of a blister developing.

Mauna O Ahi crests out at an eroded clearing just Makapuu-side of several massive powerline poles. At the clearing, I could see a half dozen people standing at the summit of the Ahi trail a quarter-mile away. To windward were clear views of 'Nalo country plus the unmistakeable odor of cow kukae. A fairly brisk wind coursed over the ridgetop, so I stopped to put on a windbreaker.

By the time I reached the Ahi summit, the half dozen folks I saw earlier had departed. I spent a few minutes resting there and eating some graham crackers I brought along.

The eroded sections between Ahi and Pu'u o Kona were drier and crumblier than I had ever seen them. Fortunately, climbing an eroded hill is easier and less perilous for me than coming down it. Plus, someone had affixed a solid rope to a small tree on the second larger hill as a welcome climbing aid (Wing's thread-like rope is also still there).

I reached Pu'u o Kona, stopping momentarily to scan the ridge that drops down to windward from that point. I imagined ancient Hawaiians stopping here and then making their way down that ridge to the Waimanalo. Maybe someday I'll muster the gumption to do the same.

The half-mile segment between o Kona and Kuliouou west could have used some clearing but wasn't bad by Koolau crest standards. I always enjoy hiking along this part, especially when it is clear as it was yesterday providing a view all the way to Konahuanui. There is one short, fairly steep pu'u to climb, but plenty of ukiuki grass and ie'ie vines made the task manageable. Plus, there was no mud at all, and the sure footing was welcome.

To indicate to club hikers that this was the terminal point of the crest section, I put up three ribbons at the summit of Kuliouou west (KW). From the trailhead of Ahi, this peak is the distinct high-point on the left side of the Kuliouou Valley. From the summit of KW, the trail heads left down the west ridge of Kuliouou which forks a couple hundred yards downslope, not far above two cabled sections.

The trail we'll use veers left to follow a subsidiary ridge that terminates at an empty lot on Papahehi Place. The true Kuliouou west ridge appears trackless--at least no discernible trail heading to the right was visible at the fork point yesterday.

The descent from the summit to Papahehi took about an hour and the trail I followed was a bit overgrown in places but no real problem. From Papahehi, the walk back to my car on Kala'au took less than 10 minutes.

In all, this 6-mile route is ready for the members-only club hike next Saturday, and I'd encourage everyone to try it out for an interesting, vigorous, but not overly long workout.


Reply from: Wing C Ng (wing@lava.net>

1) This hike used to terminate at Puu o Kona! Looks like _you_ extended it to go down Kuliouou middle.

2) _I_ put another rope at Puu o Kona next to the "thread" I put up before. They are tied to the same tree. Are they?

3) The "true" Kuliouou "Extreme" West was done by me & others in March 1983. Last Saturday I climbed over the water tank at the bottom and explored the bottom 1/2 mile. Very few people come down this way, which is a shame since it's very nice, probably because the exit is errhh "blocked" at the bottom.


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