OHE October 1, 1998

Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 15:43:24 -1000
From: Jarrod Kinoshita (jarrodk@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kulepeamoa Ridge

I decided to join HTMC on a club hike to Kulepeamoa Ridge this past sundayy. I only have 2 more weekends here in the island, before I move to Los Angeles, CA, so I thought doing a hike lead by the 'guru' Stuart Ball would be a nice.

The trailhead is in Niu Valley, at the end of the road (don't remember what street) where you can see your entire hike even before you start, with Kulepeamoa Ridge to the right and Hawaii Loa Ridge to the left.

The hike begins with a short walk on the Board of Water Supply road to the water tank, where the 'true' trailhead is. After about 10 min. of walking through the forest, the we came to an eroded area where the we turned right and started the grueling climb straight up Kulepeamoa Ridge. This is the hardest part of the hike mainly due to the heat and very little breeze.

An hour later (most people made it in 30-45 min.) I gain the ridgeline where the shade of the Ironwood trees and strong trade winds were so refreshing. After a short water break, I continued along the ridge heading for the summit. This part of the hike is absolutely beautiful. The ridge is high, hence the strong trade winds we had that day, very refreshing. To the right is Hawaii Kai and in the distance I could clearly see Molokai, Maui and Lanai. To the left is Diamond Head (from the rear) and Honolulu. There's minor roller-coaster action along this ridge (small humps) which isn't that bad, but enough to slow me down.

About 30-45 min. before the summit I encountered the cable section. For the most part, the cable isn't necessary. There are lots of bushes to hang on to. It's only at the last 30ft or so, where the narrow ridge narrows, crumbly rock and few handholds, that the cable becomes important.

Finally after a little over 3 hrs of hiking, I reach the summit of Kulepeamoa Ridge. It's obvious that very few people come here since the summit looked like it has been cleared recently. I catch up with Stuart and Wing here. Stuart was waiting for us, to make sure we got there. Wing decided to eat lunch here. I opted to go on and eat lunch at Hawaii Loa to make sure I didn't get too tired and lazy. After a short water break I headed for the Hawaii Loa Ridge summit along the summit trail.

This section of the Koolau summit trail was amazingly dry. There were only a few spots mud throughout the entire section. I've only hiked the summit trail a few times and it has always been very muddy up here. Gusty trades and views of Olomana off to the right and Ohulehule in the distance to the north were worth it.

Twenty minutes later, I arrive at the sign "End of Hawaii Loa Ridge Trail" where Stuart having lunch with his wife Lynn. After a 45 min. lunch break, it was time to head down Hawaii Loa Ridge trail and back to the civilization.

I noticed that Hawaii Loa is hotter than the Kulepeamoa trail. Eventually we arrive at a very obscure 'junction'. I would've past it without a second glance if the markers weren't there. Following the ribbons, we walked into a forrest of guava trees (no distince trail) and found ourselves heading straight down the ridge toward the valley. BTW, Stuart took the markers down after we started the decent to avoid confusion for the Hawaii Loa Ridge hikers. Here, the ridge is very steep, steeper than the initial accent up Kulepeamoa Ridge. Guava trees are abundant and provided the strong hand-holds almost all the way to the stream.

The streambed was bone dry and cool from the shade of the trees. Again following ribbons, the trail criss-crosses the stream a few times and lead to the start of the loop.

This is a wonderful hike. It is an all-in-one hike, encompassing ridge, summit, and valley hikes. That day, I was greatful that we also had perfect weather. Strong, sometimes gusty trade winds were cool and refreshing. Good cloud cover to kept us in the shade most of the day, but were high enough not to block the views. The summit section was amazing dry, probably due to El Nino. Finally, the trail is an open freeway, enough to hike in shorts. Many thanks to the HTMC Trail Clearing gang for that. I saw a lot of their work in many parts of the trail.

Also, before the hike, Stuart mentioned to everyone that the hike is an advanced 6 mi. hike. I agree, although the trail is not very difficult or dangerous. There are steep accents and decents, narrow ridges, and cables that maybe a bit 'hairy' for the beginner or intermediate hiker. If they don't scare you, then, go for it.


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