Thursday, February 24, 2011

KSRT: Makapu'u to Mariner's Ridge

February 22, 2011 KSRT:  Makapu'u to Mariner's Ridge

My toe a couple days after I broke it.
I was more than a little annoyed at work this week watching a huge radar return hover southwest of Kauai.  It wasn't that this great big weather system was causing me any grief with inbound flights to Honolulu, it was that I KNEW it was WAITING for me to get off work Monday afternoon so it could swoop in and ruin my days off and force me to cancel my weekly Tuesday venture in the the mountains!  To further complicate things, I'm pretty sure I broke my toe this week on one of my trips up Ka'iwa Ridge.  Sure enough at 2:30am this morning I was standing on my front porch in Kailua unable to see the silhouette of the Ko'olaus.  My hiking partner who'd been out with a knee problem for the last couple weeks emailed me just before 3 am saying it wasn't raining on his side so we went with Plan C- head for a dry area.   Hasty plans and shoddy research was done and in keeping with our goal of completing the KST from Mokapu'u to Konahuanui we decided we'd do Makapu'u to Kuli'ou'ou leaving us with just one section incomplete.

We agreed to meet at the Costco Parking lot in Hawai'i Kai at 6:30 but traffic was bad from town so my partner arrived a little after seven.  We dropped a car off at the trail head of Kuli'ou'ou which was shrouded in clouds and headed to Makapu'u.  Some time after eight we crossed the highway and started up the ridge following a chain link fence. The views were amazing in the golden morning light.  The initial climb along the fence was quite reasonable and where it ended we could see the anchors that hold much of the chain link and cables the state is using to control rock falls onto the highway below.  We paused for a while to check out the view and I snapped some shots of the landscape.  This part of the trail was filled with coastal vegetation and the entire trail was alive with butterflies.

What had initially looked like a bad day for hiking was shaping up to be fairly decent.  A little haze and some high clouds but no rain!  Continuing along the ridge we climbed above Sea Life Park and the sounds of a seal barking below drifted up.  So far the climbs were pretty tame and the rewards great.  As we topped out at the first peak we discovered that as we continued we'd be giving up a lot of the altitude we'd just gained crossing above Kapalama Valley.  Easy come, easy go!

On the descent I began to notice the maoli'oli, Schiedea globosa, with it's really neat globe clusters of flowers.  I had never noticed this plant prior to doing the KST from Wiliwilinui to Kuliou'ou.  It's numbers steadily increased on this section of the trail up to and past Kamehame Ridge which would be our next stop after passing the not so greatly named peak just prior to it:  Waimanalo 2!

As we picked our way across the ridge we passed the Makapu'u Puka which the wind has carved over the years.  This puka is smaller than the one at the Nu'uanu Pali but the view through it is just as cool.

Continuing past the puka, the poo started.  I've never seen a goat up here but it sure looks like goat poo.  Further down the trail I found what appear to be goat tracks. Passing the puka the trail began to climb again so we could regain all the altitude we'd just given up.  Thankfully it wasn't super hot because of the high clouds and the trade winds blowing over the ridge kept us cooled off most of the time.  Every once in a while the trail would go to the leeward side away from the ridge and the breeze would stop meaning we'd start sweating again.

A brief level off then the final climb up Waimanalo 2 which was pretty steep but not risky at all.
Topping out to Waimanalo 2

Looking back at the trail so far.  I will never whine about a roller coaster ridge again unless it looks like this.
Kamehame Ridge is pretty interesting.  There are a couple buildings that were associated with the Nike Missile battery that was based at Bellows decades ago.   According to my Google search the property is owned by Kamehameha Schools and they've let an organization called Winner's Camp move into them as their headquarters.    There's a wooden hang glider launch pad a little further down the trail.  I tested it out.

Continuing down the ridge we walked into a area where civil defense, the FAA, and others have antennas.  Due to problems with vandalism this are is fenced off.  The antenna inside are critical to air traffic control operations and entry into the site is forbidden.  The site is easily contoured around so please remain outside of the fence.
Just below is the estate used in Hawaii Five-O and, more famously, in Magnum PI as The Robin Masters Estate- Robins Nest.  

The descent down from for the communications site was steep but thanks to a double cable/strap the descent is pretty safe.   In keeping with the theme of the section we gave up most of the altitude we'd just worked so hard to get.  Gone were the views of Mokapu'u and in were the views of Waimanalo from here on out.

I almost forgot to mention that in keeping with tradition, Hawaiian Electric was doing some work on the lines with a helicopter.  It seems I'm always running into these guys on the KSRT.  I don't know the guy who flies this chopper personally but he's got some really great areal photos on Flickr.  The chopper made a couple trips between this pole and Kamehame Ridge while we traversed the Ko'olau Summit.  As we passed by them the HECO guys were pretty friendly even though their work had to stop with us under the lines. 
Leaving the HECO guys behind the trail continued into mostly introduced vegetation.  Christmas Berry, Iron Wood, and all their usual companions were present.  After the pu'u with the power lines the trail rolled up and down until a steeper section with a cable to assist the climb. 
 As we descended down there was a yet another cable.  This one seemed more to help with the Iron Wood pine cones and needles that made it pretty slippery.  From here on out the trail was just a series of less pronounced ups and downs to Mariners Ridge.  As you recall the plan was to hike to Kuli'ou'ou right?  Well, on every down hill section my toe was pressing into the front of my boot which didn't really feel all that great.  Although I'd have pressed on my hiking partner's knee was getting pretty sore so, disappointingly, we bailed out and made a left turn at Mariner's Ridge.  It was getting later in the afternoon anyway...
The segment that got away...
Looking back to Mokapu'u from Mariner's Ridge at the day's trail.
Last Shot of the day... 422, 22, 22
I'd never done Mariner's Ridge before.  It's a super short hike that took me about twenty minutes to get down.  I was in a huge hurry though because I didn't want to miss the taxi we'd called to take us one valley over to retrieve the car we'd left at Kuli'ou'ou.  The ride only cost us $25.00 and we headed back to the Mokapu'u Lookout to get my Grand Cherokee.  I'd been worried all day about it because the lookout is famous for broken windows and there was a ton of shattered glass right next to where I'd parked.  Thankfully the windows were all intact! 
While today's hike didn't go exactly as planned, I'm thankful that we had good weather.  The rest of the island was pretty cloudy and we didn't get a drop of rain.  The tradewinds kept us pretty cool and aside from our previous injuries the trail was trouble free.  There are tons of ribbons to follow and the trail is very well defined most of the time anyway.  While the trail is a really great workout I think I'll skip the last part after the power lines next time.  It's really not all that great and I think the Tomtom trail is the way to see this part of the island. 


More pictures of this trail and others I've done are can be viewed  Flickr.  Aloha and mahalo for reading.


  1. I always enjoy reading about your hikes!

  2. Thanks Marian! I have vacation coming up in March... that means I'll actually have a weekend off if you guys want to hit a trail.

  3. You are an asshole and criminal trespasser, who puts rescuers at risk and encourages other assholes to break the law and put rescuers at risk. I hope you sleep well when a rescuer dies saving you or one of the other assholes who publishes your idiocy. The widows, widowers, and orphans appreciate that their loved ones died to protect your right to be an asshole and your right to publish asshole deeds. Asshole!