OHE July 14, 1997

Pete "Pekelo" Caldwell contributes this piece about a hike in upper-Kalihi Valley:
Want to spend some time on the Koolau crest and only take less than 40 minutes to get there? Nope, you don't have to be Paka-lolo either to make it that fast either. What's more, no sign of recent hikers - only a few pig tracks. Nope, it's not a scramble up from the Pali lookout. Here's the story:

The idea started the previous weekend as Dayle, Gene, & I were climbing up to Lanihuli. Looking down into Kalihi and over the low ridge above the Wilson tunnel, we spotted what looked like a groove in a ridge going up to the power line tower on the top. Hey, we were saying - it almost looks like a trail. One of these days we'll have to check it out.

Being forced to allow our job to interfere with more important things on Saturday, I was talking to my hiking buddy and colleague Don Fox about our lanihuli hike and past adventures we had shared up there. In particular, I was talking about the view down towards the Wilson tunnel from the northernmost summit. On our just recently completed hike, I had been unable to resist the temptation to bushwahack over to check out the view down. An old HTM map (1910) has a route marked down the ridge but it also has some other routes (like down the Lanihuli ridge to the Pali that these days at least look like nothing any sane person (don't even think about Patrick) would attempt. Anyway we thought, let's go see if we can find that "trail" up above the power station that we were noticing and check out the view up that ridge. Perfect for an afternoon's adventure after work.

We got rolling around 2:30 and drove up to the Wilson tunnel not really having any idea of where we were going to leave the car. In spite of the fact that Don and I have been exploring the Koolaus for years for some reason we had never even considered checking out this particular place. As everybody knows, the Wilson tunnel highway is not exactly a car-parking friendly spot. Hey, how about that turnaround place just before the tunnel entrance? We could be making a phone call, right? So with cars roaring by us, we walked back a little ways on the center divider, ran across the road, and then quickly climbed up the bank to reach the power station access road which has a locked gate most of the time.

The road winds up a short distance to the power station. Weeds growing through the asphalt testified to the lack of traffic. Near the entrance, we spotted some major mountain apple trees with lots of fruit on the ground. Hmmmm, on the way back we decided as we began our search for the trail. Sure enough, we found a path leading along the fenced enclosure on the left. Making our way through a lot of ginger, we found what appeared to be a trail winding around a shady slope followed shortly by a route heading upwards. With better views, we soon found ourselves on a partially overgrown but definite trail heading up near the powerlines. Slipping and sliding up a section underneath an arch of trees, we saw the ridge narrowing above us and looking more and more like the place we had seen from Lanihuli.

The ridge began to drop off more steeply on either side. Awesome views back toward Kalihi and upwards on either side greeted us as we paused at a point where the trail nearly disappeared as it left the main ridge and contoured around up toward the tower. Lanihuli's northern ridge looked very menancing to say the least, and there were some significant knife edge sections that said clearly forget it. We also had a great view of an impressive waterfall coming down the flank of Lanihuli. Must be a way to get up there we decided as looked at possible route. On the opposite side, the ridge leading upwards looked equally forbidding.

We noted a possible route continuing straight up above us but opted for pushing along through the vegetation to find the contour trail. It was narrow and obscured but at least we didn't have to deal with uluhe, and there were some convenient small guava trees. We could hear the wind now in the power lines as we were very close to the top. Hey, let's get a little ways from the high voltage we decided as we were greeted with the always spectacular windward view and saw cars whizzing by below us on a portion of the highway. The other side was steep but not a sheer pali so we scrambled up to the base of a rocky section and took in the view. It's always fantastic to see familiar island sights from a new vantage point, and of course it was a bigtime photo opportunity spot. We watched some birds working the winds stalling and rocketing backwards - eat your heart out, Air Force Thunderbirds. Supposedly there was a route over the pali here according again to the old HTM map and logically in old Hawaiian days. We traversed back past the tower to see how difficult it would be to climb up the small pinnacle and take a look down on that side as you could see directly below there was a real drop-off lower down. We stopped below an relatively exposed section deciding it could be done but as elsewhere the exposed rock was very crumbly and broke off in your hand. We were guessing that once over the pinnacle, perhaps the next gully down might have been the route because further along on the windward side, it was a sheer pali. On the opposite side of the tower, it looked like you could probably go for a little ways further before getting into some serious stuff as we had noticed on the way up some rocky pinnacles blocking the route. Probably some adventurous daredevil type has gone further in both direction but we decided that was enough adventure for us today.

Happy with our afternoon's exploring, we negotiated our way back downwards thinking about the big mountain apples dying of old age on the trees down below. Pausing a couple of times for pictures and after only a couple of minor wipeouts on the muddy sections, we were back down. We had spent about 40 minutes to get up to the top, and the hike had turned out to be a real winner especially since our car was still waiting for us back at the turnaround!

Can't wait for next weekend!


Pete and Don

Wing Ng replied:

I checked that out on May 27, 1989. I parked the car at the side road to the power station; that road was open then; in fact one could have driven in, risking certain dismemberment. I went on the road and then veered right, over the tunnel, and it swept around to the other (Diamond Head) side. Then there was an obvious trail turning towards Lanihuli, and it ascends a steep ridge.

Probably the same as the one you expored. You subsequent narrative is a bit confusing, and I can't identify what you did on a topo map.


Return to OHE top | Return to Oahu Hike Tales | Email Dayle