After Tuesday's small outings to the Pali Notches and Ka'iwa Ridge I was left unsatisfied and I guess a little bit moody because Wednesday my wife kicked me out of the house ordering me to go find a trail. I'd already slept through the Halawa to Hidden Stairway hike and I didn't really have much of a plan when I got into the Jeep and headed into town. The Ko'olaus were mostly cloud free with a high overcast layer so it was a great day to do something a little longer than a normal ridge trail so I figured it was time to knock out the final segment of the KSRT I've been meaning to do for months now, the Ko'olau summit from Konahuanui to Awa'awaloa also known as Mt. Olympus.
Driving through the light but amazingly irritating traffic on the Pali I ran though some of the options of which trails to use to get to Konahuanui and down Olympus and back to my car but finally decided to take the Kalawahine Trail to Pauoa Flats up to Konahuanui and just follow the Waahila Ridge Trail down from Awa'awaloa. That meant I'd need a ride from Waahile State Recration Area back to Tantulus Drive at the end of the day.
I arrived at the trail head of the Kalawahine at exactly 0907 and headed onto the trail. I've been on this Na Ala Hele trail several times before doing Konahuanui, connecting to the Manoa Cliffs Trail, and a few other short outings. There's a native snail habitat, at least according to a sign, along the way although I've never stopped to look for any. Being a weekday, there was nobody else on the trail until I ran across two guys and their hunting dogs just before the Aihualama Trail Junction. I stopped to talk story for a few minutes and pet a few of the dogs before continuing on. I arrived to an overcast view from Pauoa Flats of Nu'uanu Valley at 0951 according to the time stamps on these shots.
|Nu'uanu Valley from Pauoa Flat|
I couldn't help but take a few minutes to enjoy the view of the valley below and of my second favorite peak Lanihuli. After a few minutes it was time to move on. Contouring along the ridge I stopped myself from spending too much time looking at all the plant life around me but couldn't resist taking the time to examine and snap few pictures of the mountain naupaka, naupaka kuahiwi, with it's half purple flowers, this really neat symmetrical ohia, these budding and blooming ohia ha flowers, or the flowers of the Hawaiian holly, Käwa'u.
|About midway up the ridge|
|The KSRT Junction|
Further down the trail, I spotted the first Metrosideros macropus I've ever seen actually growing on the summit of the Ko'olaus. It was even on the windward side of the trail right along the edge of the pali! I've always seen them on the leeward side at lower elevations. I didn't realize they'd tolerate the harsher conditions of the summit but this one seemed very healthy and happy.
As I got closer to Manoa Middle Ridge, I ran across a really nice large Ohe mauka, tetraplasandra oahuensis. This endemic relative to ivy is still fairly common on O'ahu. Nearby a Kanawao was also in bloom.
Enjoying the amazing views and the cool windy conditions of the summit, I continued my advance towards Awa'awaloa. I really couldn't believe how lucky I was to be enjoying such great visibility considering the terrible luck I'd been having with the weather over the last few weeks.
|Maunawili Valley and the spine of the Ko'olaus|
About midway to Manoa Middle Ridge, I passed through an area with a small patch of Loulu palms. These endemic fan palms were once common all over the island prior to the arrival of humans and the pest that they brought with them, the polynesian rat. This was the first time I'd actually seen the evidence of the rats eating the loulu seeds.
|My favorite shot of Maunawili Valley|
Departing Manoa Middle ridge I was now approaching the two obstacles I'd been concerned about- Ironwood Ridge and Sedan Rock. I hike a lot by myself (not really smart) so I try and really be cautious. What I'd read had made me a bit leery about trying this crossing by myself. I'd also seen the video what appears to be a narrow ridge in that same area. When I saw the unmistakable needles of an ironwood tree ahead, I mentally tensed and prepared myself for the worst. Would I wuss out and have to turn around and head back down Manoa Middle Ridge with my tail between my legs? Here's the dreaded section....
|This is the much hyped section.|
|Looking back to Konahuanui|
|Awa'awaloa / Mt. Olympus|
A few pictures of the trip down...
I rolled into the parking lot of Waahila State Recreation Area a little before 5pm. I'd called Mrs. XJ hoping to time it perfectly with me walking out of the pine trees and her pulling into the parking lot. No suck luck! She ended up on Round Top Drive, near where my car was parked. Eventually we got it straightened out. After all, she could have just left me there...
The completion of this segment means I've only got Pali Notches to Konahuanui left to complete the Eastern Ko'olaus. I guess I should throw Piliwale in there from good measure too. I was so lucky to do this section on such a great day!
More pictures from this trail and others I've done can be seen on Flickr. Aloha and mahalo for reading!