Monday, November 8, 2010

Kuli'ou'ou West Ridge

From Hawaiian BU

Hiking is still the passion that drives both members of 2-Bu Paina, but when it comes to writing about our adventures, we get lazy. We both get out there at least 3 to 4 times each month, but now we have expanded the groups of people we hike with. As I predicted awhile ago, Chinese BU has made trips with Kaleo and his gang on several outings. Most of those I was unable to join due to work, or some of them are absolutely too NUTS for me. Someone do me a favor and convince Chinese BU to write about these hikes, especially Kaupo Cliffs (I love the view of Waimanalo from the top), Mariner's to Hawaii Loa Ridge, and Olympus to Konahuanui.

I'm happy Chinese BU has gotten out and met the bigger hiking community. He brings back info and stories that help us out with the hikes we do, for work and for fun. He also has his own Go Pro camera, and I REALLY want him to post more videos of the stuff he's shot. But I think he's searching for a good editing program before putting them up, so if you have suggestions, shoot us a message.

This adventure we decided to do after a camp we had both attended on the weekend. I had gotten a lot of sleep the previous night, and was super energized to do some hiking on a Monday. Chinese BU wanted to find the terminus point for the Bear Claw hike, and I wanted to get to Pu'u O Kona, so it made sense to hit up Kuli'ou'ou. However, I wanted to find an old HTMC route that Dayle Turner had written about, and had gotten there early to try and find some old ribbons. Luckily, I found some old ribbons, but it looked like the path hadn't been traveled in some time.
When I showed the path to Chinese BU, we agreed that it probably was the right one, but that we'd save it for another time. He wanted to go up the reverse way to Pu'u O Kona, which I didn't object to.

When you get to the point where the path leads to the state trailhead, and the road leads to the left, take the road. In short order, you get to this fenced off building and an obvious trail up on the right side. Take this path up the mountain. And get ready to start huffing and puffing up this mountain. In my opinion, you will work your tail off gaining the ridgeline, but it is way faster than taking the state trail and it's relentless amounts of switchbacks.

You gain the ridgeline of Kuli'ou'ou West in an ironwood grove, a great place to take a break before moving on to the right. This begins a steady diet of climbing up hills and going through brush, occasionally coming upon some roped up climbs that requires some focus due to the exposed terrain and the lack of footing in some spots due to the mud. There is no rollercoaster action like there is on other hikes to the Koolau summit, just a good dose of steady climb to reach the summit.

I have to admit that even though I was gassing, I was enjoying this hike more than I had any other hike in good long while. We even came up with the next idea for Mid year Raggers (We'll see if this one happens). After relaxing for a bit at the top, we set about looking for the Bear Claw Ridge. Kaleo was looking forward to reaching the top (which already has happened) and Chinese Bu wanted some scoops from the top (unfortunately, Chinese BU didn't join Kaleo on this one). We both looked at the possibilities, and no matter which on you look at from the top, it is one sketchy hike to complete. I'm not sure which on is tougher, Piliwale or Bear Claw, but you should not take either on unless you know what you are doing.

We ended up going right on the summit trail and heading down the state trail. I remember doing Kuli'ou'ou as a kid and thinking it was the coolest trail to climb up. It's been fixed up tremendously since those days, a far cry from the trail we ascended on the opposite wall. I guess it would be cool to do the the state trail again, but there are so many different options out there just waiting to be explored. Then I remembered that I was in the business of introducing people to the joys of hiking, and I felt relieved that people maintain this hike. My recommendation for all you people that consider yourself a novice hiker, do the state trail to the top. Kuli'ou'ou West is for all of you hikers looking for a new challenge to find that same reward. I really like that hike!