Friday, March 18, 2011

KSRT: Mariners Ridge to Kuliouou

March 15, 2011 KSRT:  Mariner's Ridge to Kuliouou

This section of the Ko'olau Summit Ridge Trail is unfinished business from a few weeks ago when we did Mokapu'u to Mariner's Ridge.  To recap, my hiking partner's knee was acting up and we ended up bailing out before finishing this segment.  Honestly, this is not my favorite section of the KSRT and we knew that going into today's short trip but in keeping with our goal of hiking the Ko'olau crest it had to be done.  I'm not ashamed to admit that 2 days after the Bowman to Stairway trail my calves were pretty sore.  Thankfully this was a short and easy one.

Another amazing sunrise...
We met at Hawaii Kai Costco at a little after six, me being the guilty late party.  After dropping off a car at the Kuliouou trail we headed to Mariner's Ridge, it's real name is Kaluanui Ridge, to begin the day.  On the way up I had to pull over to enjoy a beautiful sunrise above Molokai.
Trail Head

Early portion of the trail
Kamilo Nui Valley
Sunrise photo session complete, we parked the car and headed to the trail head.  Almost every blog, hiking website, and book touts the trail as the shortest trail to the Ko'olau Summit.  I'm really trying not to be too negative about it but I find it to be the ugliest too.  There are a couple nice spots on the way up with views of Kamilo Nui Valley on the right and Haha'inoe Valley on the left and if you pay really close attention you can spot a couple native plants in the sea of invasive species that call this part of O'ahu home.  Along the way I spotted some 'a'ali'i, akoko, and a couple ilima but that was about it.

It's fairly apparent that this trail is the remains of an old road that extends almost to the summit.  I spent some time searching for some kind of history about what the road was for but so far have come up empty handed.  I suspect a military use...  Anyway, because the route was intended for vehicles it's a very nice wide path with a fairly easy grade.  That makes it perfect for people not looking for a grueling trek that is suitable for kids, dogs, ect.  See, I'm staying positive!

Ironwood tunnel
As the trail makes it's way up the views of Hawaii Kai get better on some of the open stretches but towards the end you're swallowed up an iron wood tree grove that dominates the upper section of the trail.  

About midway
The trail cuts into the ridge, still wide enough for a car, makes a left turn and then opens into a small clearing.  This is where the road ended and the trail to the summit starts.  It's very short and still very tame.  A couple minutes later you top out to a great view of Waimanalo Town and bay.  This is THE defining view of the Mariner's Ridge Trail and considering the minimal effort to get here it's totally worth it.
Mariner's Ridge Trail Terminus

First descent from Mariner's
We paused here for few minutes to take a look at the short segment of the Ko'olau Summit Ridge Trail we'd be doing.  There were a couple ups and downs but it looked very tame.  There was no question in my mind that the only trouble we'd be having today is finishing late enough to be able to order off a lunch menu!

Descending down from the terminus of Mariner's Ridge involved a short climb down a not very steep rock face.  It looks about 50 times worse than it is in the pictures.  A reasonable amount of care is all that's required to negotiate this section and there are tons and tons of hand and foot holds. There are a couple small peaks along the ridge but they all seemed to have an option trail contouring them or you could simply go right over them.  No thousand foot drops here to worry about.
KSRT westward to Kuliouou

This pu'u intrigued me from the moment I saw it.  I wasn't disappointed as we approached to see a rope hanging from it.  As it turned out, this was the highlight of the trail- a small climb to the top.  I'm sure it has a name but I don't know it.  The topo maps only say it's elevation is 1594' feet.  I couldn't help myself with the goofy poses.

Billy Goat / Captain Morgan pose- photo by II

Trail through the poles
There are a number of ropes along the length of this section for aid-  None required but all very helpful.  In fact the entire trail is well laid out and there's little worry for a fatal slip anywhere along the route.  This particular one is right before my billy goat pu'u.  If someone happens to read this and knows the name of this little peak I'd appreciate you posting a comment. 

Hawaii Kai from the first power lines.
After the short climb up the pu'u we continued along the trail.  Nothing much stood out aside from the view of Waimanalo.  Ups, downs, ironwood, christmas berry, guava, ect.  Eventually we passed right between the first set of power lines we'd be seeing today.  Strangely, no helicopters and HECO guys working on them as seems to be the norm when we're up here.  The next stop along the route would be another set of power lines a few ups and downs later.

Waimanalo- The dominant view of the trail
Typical section of the trail
Concrete path near 2nd power lines
Looking back down the KSRT
 Later we passed the second set of power lines, there was a small  concrete pathway that becomes part of the trail.  It's even got little steps in it for convience.

As we approached the Kuliouou terminus I spotted some lehua ahihi, a kind of ohia only found on O'ahu.  This is the farthest east I've seen it.
Ahihi, center frame as we approach Kuliouou.
Waimanalo from Kuliouou Trail terminus
Me taking a shot over the ridge- Photo by II

 We stayed only for a few moments at the top of Kuliouou before heading down the trail to the car.  We wasted no time going down and with spring break there were a lot of people heading up.  I wasn't wearing a watch and I never did bother to note the time but I think we finished somewhere around 11:00 and we started up Mariners ridge around 7:00.  It's safe to say we were inside 4 hours and we didn't push at all.  It's a shorter segment if you've got some spare time to kill but honestly, that will be the one and only time I do this section of the KSRT.  That said, the trail itself is in excellent condition, very well maintained, and tame.  I'm glad it's checked off our list of ridge to do, now the only remaining segment of the Ko'olau Summit RidgeTrail for eastern O'ahu to do is Konahuanui to Mt. Olympus- and that is going to be an exciting one based on my research!

That ends my long winded write up of a pretty short trail (hey, I have to fill the space between the pictures).  If you're inclined, following are some pictures of the invasive plants from the trail.  There is video coming of this trail... my not so great computer is having a hard time crunching it into a file so I'll add it later.

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

Continue to meet the weeds!

I figured I'd throw in some weeds because they're just doing what everything else on the planet is doing... surviving and reproducing.  Most of these are incredibly adept and doing so which is why they've been so successful- at the expense of the endemic species that had evolved here.  These are some of the usual suspects found on Hawaii's trails that humans have introduced here.
 The common guava- a tasty weed found in low areas all around the island.

Sourbush- When rubbed, the leaves have an unpleasant, rather turpentine-like odor, and they can make your hands feel a bit sticky.  Found in dry areas.
Clidemia - Koster's Curse
Clidemia Flowers

The dreaded clidemia hirta-   It can form dense areas crowding out everything else.

Clidemaia Fruit
Shamelessly cut and paste, links and all ,from Wikipedia:  

Each fruit contains more than 100 tiny (0.5 mm) seeds. It flowers and fruits all year, if conditions are moist enough. A large plant can produce more than 500 fruits in a single year. The seeds are dispersed by birds, feral pigs, other animals, and humans. Sheep will not eat the plant, and the tannin inside the fruits is poisonous to goats. The seeds can remain viable in the soil for up to 4 years.

The human edibility factor of this berry has not been fully explored. The tannin inside of the fruit is not harmful to humans and a delicious syrup may be made from the fruit. The syrup has a beautiful indigo blue color and may be used to enhance and remove the bitterness of teas such as yerba mate.
It was introduced to Hawaiʻi in the 1940s; by 1978 it had spread to over 90,000 acres (360 km2) of land on Oʻahu.

Barleria repens - Coral Creeper

The coral creeper started showing up in landscaping here on O'ahu a number of years ago.  It's quite attractive and this is the first time I've seen in outside the urban landscape.  It looked pretty happy and healthy in Kuliouou Valley...

Chinese Violet

Chinese violet- ultra common along the coastal and drier areas of O'ahu.  Flowers range from white to purple and all variations in between.

Guinea Grass- "On the one hand, Guinea Grass is considered as a suitable plant to stop soil erosion on slopes (it has dense root mats) while providing valuable fodder. On the other hand, it is considered a dangerous exotic weed that suppresses or displaces local plants. Its resistance to drought also means it builds up a dangerous mass of plant material so when fires occur, the blaze is fiercer and native plants which have not built up fire-tolerance are wiped out. As Guinea Grass can survive fires, it dominates the ground after a fire."

I'll add that it is often found in coastal environments with it's partner in crime the lead tree more comonly known as Haole Koa.  The two combine to form their own habitat where little else can grow.

Mickey Mouse Plant

The Mickey Mouse Plant-  Starts yellow, turns to red.  Not terribly invasive but it's making it's rounds in the mountains.

Octopus Tree
Octopus tree / umbrella tree-  One of the worst weed trees in Hawaii.  Just take a look at Haiku Valley where it's practically taken over.  This tree will grow on a vertical cliff!

Hope that wasn't too painfully boring!


  1. Nice blog....big fan...loved the captain morgan pose

  2. nice blog......
    very nicely done
    very interesting series.....

    Jobs at sea

  3. Thanks for this blog post. I had a lot of fun looking for the things you wrote about as my friends and I went from Kuliouou to Mariner's.

  4. I don't know if this is the officially accepted name but I've heard it referred to as "The Dart" because from Hahaione Valley it looks as if a Dodge Dart is teetering on top.

    1. I'll have to go check that angle out. Thanks for the tip!

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    Gorkha district and then route leads past Lo and Bhi-Gaon villages to reach a large Samagaon village, which is on route to Manaslu base camp and Larkya-La pass.
    At Samagaon explore the ancient culture of Manaslu Bhotia tribe of people who have migrated from across the border in Tibet, where the ancient culture of Buddhism

    religion still practiced with much trade between Tibet and the local villagers of Manaslu Circuit Trek.
    After rest day for local hike and acclimatization walks leads past Samdu village to reach at the base of Larkya-La pass known as Phedi or bottom, this spot also called

    as Dharmasala or Larkya Bazaar, where in early days huge trade and market used to take place.

  19. Everest Trekking Routes is Genuine Trekking Agency in Nepal, since 1997 to till regularly guide and package selling authority from Nepal Tourism board as Professional Trekking Company in Nepal. Many years experienced and customized package program various type of dealing and choice of own activities design by Tour leader.
    All team are local base train and excellent hospitalities over 75% past client repeated Trekking in Nepal. The trip will be every month small and biggest and also group size departure, so Everest Trekking Routes has been leading all over in the world. Over 99% client are fully satisfied with services also recommend us those who are interest trekking in Nepal and looking for Best Trekking Company in Nepal. Now days many trekking agency in Nepal, which is best or bad very difficult to select, every one saying we are great.
    We have regards for 20 years experience trekking, tour and peak climbing operating in Nepal. Therefore we guarantee departure as our packages which are most important and care our customer. Anyway do not hesitate talk or email us. Everest Trekking Route will support you 24 hours as your remark thank you.

  20. The Everest Base Camp Trek is mostly popular trekking route in Nepal.That trekker really wants see Mt.Everest and Khumbu Glacier first test Everest Base Camp. Later if would like to take more experienced many choice of Routes there. As Everest Gokyo lake

    , Everest Cho la Pass Trek, Everest Three Pass Trek,Everest Sunrise trek and Jiri to Everest Base Camp. Better to select Mt. Everest and Other Routes. Because

    everyone know where is mountain Everest. Therefore select Main Items Base Camp with Kalapathar after tries to Best and good luck.

  21. Most Adventure and Challenging Everest Base Camp Trek which is popular all over in the world, The Everest Trekking Routes will daily departure as 10 to 14 Days EBC Trekking as Multi routes Everest Three high Pass, Everest Gokyo lake, Jiri to Everest Base Camp and Everest Cho la Pass. Amazing scenery above 8000 meters top of the world and white Himalayan snow covered peaks.
    Those who are real travel to do mainly focusing Everest Base Camp and try to summit 8848 m. challenging Expedition. Moderate and high adventure Trekking routes khumbu region border of Nepal and Tibet high Himalayan ranges, now daily update all accommodation and foods choice of trekkers reliable various dishes and luxury trip maker and custom trip Designing. High qualified Trekking guide team and local base training Porter with Reasonable Cost Travel packages operate since 1997 as professional Mountain Guide Team. If anyone interest to visit everest trekking routes link

  22. If you are looking to go to Nepal please we are here one of the best trekking agency in Nepal . We organize all trekking packages in Nepal . Everest base camp trek is a charity trek from Pristine Nepal Treks & Expedition. Pristine Nepal is helping to health center, water project, & school in remote villages of Nepal. So are the best trekking agency in Nepal . We have a professional & experienced team working in tourism sector since 15 years back. We have expert team for Annapurna base camp trek , Manaslu trek , Langtang trek , Uppper Mustang trek , the deepest gorge trek . So probably, we are the best Nepal Holiday Organizer .