OHE September 10, 1997

From: Kurt Heilbron (kurt@hula.net)

Mariner's Ridge to Hawaii Loa


After a brief conversation with psycho Pat on Friday night, we decided to plan for a hike up Mariner's ridge, traverse along the top of the Koolaus, descend down Hawaii Loa ridge, and finally down into Pia valley.

We met at McDonalds Aina Haina at around 10:30 A.M. We drove to Niu Valley where I dropped my car off at the end of the valley and then drove in Pat's car to the top of Mariner's ridge. We started on the trail at around 10:55 A.M. The weather was perfect for hiking, cloud cover and breezy trade winds. The initial part of the trail is like a freeway and the views of the adjacent valleys are awesome. We trekked out way to the top in around thirty minutes. That's the nice part about this hike. You can reach the top of the Koolaus with little effort. The view at the first summit (Kaluanui?) is just beautiful. You can overlook all of Waimanalo and Kailua.

From there the plan was to proceed along the summit to Pu'u Kona and then over to Hawaii loa ridge. The trail is very open most of the way but the rock is extremely crumbly and I took a few spills. There are also some very narrow dike sections that must be negotiated with extreme care as they are very close to cliffs that drop off.

After a few ups and downs and some minor rock-face scaling, Pat and I made it to the summit where the Kuliouou trail ends. We took a short break here and Pat commented to me on how wide the Kuliouou trail had become. He explained that too much widening is actually bad and can speed up the erosion process. After a brief break we continued on towards Pu'u Kona which is just a short distance from the summit of Kuliouou. I must say that parts of this trail are very thorny. The thimble berries did a number on both Pat and I and we decided to change into long pants after we ate our lunch at the summit. I took some pictures and Pat and I decided to head on towards our next goal. I cannot remember the name of the next summit but I know its the one that was just recently cleared by Dayle and the crew when they trekked up Wailupe Valley.

The hike to this summit took some time. The trail looked like it hadn't been used in a long time. This did not stop Pat. With his trusty bolo knife in his hand, he blasted a nice path all the way through. The views are truly breath taking in this section. Also, at one point we came to a semi-steep cable section. After pulling myself up I noticed that the cable was attached to some dried out eroded branch. I was amazed that the cable actually held my weight. We decided to re-attach it to a more sturdy tree. Pat lent me the bolo knife and I hacked away at a stump and re-attached the cable.

From the clearing of this summit all the way to Hawaii loa ridge, the trail is a freeway, a job well done by all of you who helped clear it. There are a few muddy sections, but from here on the trail is truly exceptional.

So, Pat and I made it to the end of the Hawaii loa trail at around 3:00 P.M.,(about four hours). Again we rested briefly before we started to descend along the Hawaii loa ridge trail. The trail down is so wide and open. It almost looks like people hike it everyday. There is one badly eroded section that has a cable for assistance, but this trail is very easy to do. It wasn't long either before Pat and I ran into other hikers on their way to the summit. We even saw many children running, screaming, and having the time of their lives.

Within twenty minutes after we left the summit, we reached the junction of the Pia valley trail. It was marked very nicely with ribbons. From here on the trail goes through some very thick guava trees. It's fairly easy but for some reason my left knee was killing me. Apparently I had twisted it on one of my spills. Going up was no problem, but going down made it almost unbearable for me to walk. I even started to limp and was in excruciating pain during the last part of the hike. Pia valley is really nice. You cross over a few stream beds and even pass a heiau.

After grunting with every foot step and trying to maintain my composure, we made it out near the water tank at the end of Niu Valley at 5:00 P.M. We walked down the road to where my car was parked. On the way a lady was walking with a little girl and she and Pat kept waving back and forth to each other. I was so relieved to see my car. I couldn't wait to get inside, turn on the A/C and relax. My knee was killing me and driving home was a little difficult.

I drove Pat back to his car, gave him some pictures of the Castle hike we did a few weeks before, exchanged hand shakes, and then headed home to Kailua.

I must say this is one of the best hike I've done. The nice part about this hike is the fact that you get to the top of the Koolaus in thirty minutes. The trail along the summit is very good, but I recommend taking long pants for the thick sections. The views are well worth the effort when trekking over to the other peaks. Take lots of water because the first part of this hike is very hot. Also, the trail to the other summits is somewhat eroded in some places. I slipped and fell many times so be careful. Use care when going down some of the rock faces. Again the rock is loose and crumbly.

So Pat, wadda ya say we push all the way to WiliWilinui next time? .

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