Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rained out KSRT / Pele's Chair

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 KSRT- Konahuanui to Awaawaloa

Tuesday morning we were all set to do the KSRT from Konahuanui to Olympus.  The forecast was for good weather so despite the cloudiness we dropped a car off outside the gates of Wahila State Park and headed for the Kalawahine Trail.  As the first light dawned, the top of Konahuanui looked closed in so we piled our stuff back into the car and drove away from the trail head.  We made it about 20 yards and did a U turn and headed back to the trail head.  We unloaded again hoping that the weather would improve.  Curiously as I tried to get a better look at the tops of the Koolaus I found some corn stalks growing near the trail head... weird.  Convincing ourselves that it would turn out to be a nice day we headed up the Kalawahine trail.  We've done this section a few times before both for Konahuanui and as part of the Manoa Cliffs Trail.  Not much exciting to see this early in the morning but I snapped a couple pics and some video along the way up to Pauoa Flats.

As we left the forest behind us and broke out at the lookout it was pretty obvious we we'd either be spending a really wet day on the trail or we'd be turning back.  The tops of K1 and K2 were enshrouded in dark black clouds and as if to reinforce the point, it began to rain- not drizzle, but nice big, fat, and cold water drops.  The wind picked up and the rain began pelting us horizontally as we stood looking out over Nuuanu Valley.  It was either a wet and cold trail or a retreat.  We opted to retreat.  As we made our way back into the bamboo forest it had turned into a complete downpour so we took shelter under a huge tree waiting for a break between showers.

About ten minutes later we left the shelter of the tree and headed back down the trail.  Somehow we missed the clearly marked idiot-proof junction and ended up continuing on the Pauoa Flats Trail instead of returning to our car parked at the Kalawahine Trail.   I realized we were on the wrong trail but we elected to continue to the junction of the Manoa Cliffs Trail.  There's a nice map there of the Honolulu Mauka trail system that confirmed my suspicions and since it wasn't raining anymore we elected to take the cliffs trail back to the road where we'd walk back to the Kalawahine Trail head.

The Manoa Cliffs Trail has a managed section that is completely enclosed by a fence and two self closing gates.  A group of volunteers spends countless hours each week weeding, clearing, and planting this 6 acre area.  The very first thing one sees before they even open the gate are a couple of 'oha wai, Clermontia kakeana, an endemic lobelia.  We opened the gate and headed down the trail with me stopping to check out the various plants.  I figured this would at least make up for all the gas I'd burned driving into town!  Leaving the fenced section behind, we continued along the cliffs trail and out onto Round Top Drive.   The walk down the road was a little longer than I had figured.  I've mentioned  before I hate hiking on roads and this one seemed like it was getting longer and longer.   At one point I lifted my hands to the sky and proclaimed, "You forgot the rain!"  Less than 30 seconds later we were seeking shelter under a garage's overhang as it poured down again.  Note to self: do not tempt the heavens.  About ten minutes later the downpour turned to a drizzle and we continued around a few more bends, dodged a few more cars, and arrived back at the Kalawahine Trail head and the Jeep.  I will be adding a short video from this trail sometime over the next couple days... it will be pretty bad even by my not so great standards!
Wednesday, March 30, 2011 Pele's Chair
Luckily, Mrs. XJ's trust had been regained on last week's short hike along the Mokapu'u cliffs so Wednesday she agreed to accompany me on a really short hike out to Pele's Chair, the rock formation near Queen's Bath near Mokapu'u.  When I say regained trust, I really mean she was still suspicious but willing to give me a little more slack since last week's trip up Mokapu'u hadn't been bad.  She even admitted to me that it was fun.  I had been reluctant to push my luck by asking her to tack on a side trip to Pele's Chair so this was my chance.
We dropped the kids off at school and headed back to the parking lot for the Mokapu'u Lighthouse.  A couple yards down the road we turned right onto and old dirt road between two poles.  We followed the road along the dry pasture like area for about 10 minutes before I spotted some Hawaiian Cotton, M'ao.  It has really nice bright yellow flowers and loves the extreme heat and dry conditions on this part of the island.  I was happy to see that there was a pretty good number of Ma'o along the side of the trail. 

The walk here is very easy and pleasant, more like a walk in the park than a hike and when we arrived at Pele's Chair Mrs. XJ mentioned we should have brought breakfast it was so easy.  She sat down on the rock while I scaled along the Moloka'i side of the chair and up onto the "chair".  I hoped Madame Pele wouldn't be offended but I noticed that Justin P. had already carved his name into her chair way back in 1946 so I figured I'd probably be okay if I just sat down and enjoyed the view.  I sat there for a few moments watching the ocean boil below before scaling my way back down to rejoin my wife. 

The trip back was uneventful but we took another more overgrown road back to the asphalt of the lighthouse for variety.  I'd recommend this short trail to anyone with kids.  There's very little up or down and the trail  is almost still in drivable condition.  The only thing to watch would be the cliffs near Pele's Chair and of course the surf conditions along any of the rocks along the shore.  We didn't go but Queen's Bath would be a great place to so swimming.  It's hot out there so bring water and sunscreen.
Pele's Chair

Beach near Pele's Chair
I realize that the last two weeks have been pretty weak as far as trails go on the blog but the really nice clear days that we usually get here as winter ends seem to have vanished already and my days off and the weather just haven't lined up well.  Hopefully next week will be better.  My left knee has been really starting to bother me too.  Maybe it could use a break anyway.  Keeping my fingers crossed for next week!

More pictures from this trail and others I've done can be viewed on Flickr. Aloha and thanks for reading! 


  1. That is sure a pretty place to hike.

  2. Aloha Mr. XJ. I'm a big fan of this Not So Great Blog. In case you didn't already know, you can descend to the coast from Pele's Chair and follow that up toward the tidepools instead of going back up to the road. It's very rugged and I wouldn't recommend it for children or skeptical wives. But it is beautiful and a nice alternative. Peace.

  3. I've heard about it and seen pictures but haven't found the time to get out and do it. Thanks for the warning, it's never wise for me to anger Mrs. XJ! Aloha!