|Stolen from Amazon.com|
|Reflections in Moanalua Stream|
Heading through the metal gate at the back for the park I enjoyed the cool morning air passing over the picturesque bridges that cross the stream. On our last adventure up here we totally missed the petroglyphs at the seventh bridge so I made a mental note to count the stream crossings. However, I lost count as my mind drifted to other things. I got lucky when I noticed small side trail to the right of one of the bridges I figured had to be close to the seventh. Sure enough, carved into the rock were a few images of what I interpret as a man and a woman. There is another rock with more but I didn't notice it and I'll figure out where that one is another time.
Continuing up the road I passed a group of older ladies accompanied by a lucky lone guy heading in the opposite direction. Winding up the valley I reviewed the directions in the Hiker's Guide. Passing the Kulana'ahane Trail I continued up the road unaware that I'd just past the return leg's junction along the Moanalua Middle Ridge a few yards beyond that junction. The valley began to narrow and I reached a junction with a road to the right. I elected to stay to the left and soon the road narrowed into a trail with a few ribbons here and there to follow. Along the side I noticed the army's rat bait stations hanging in trees from time to time as the trail wound it's way through the forest.
After the short break I resumed climbing to the poles where I noted some apparently abandoned equipment. I took a few more pictures before continuing up what was now obviously a trail constructed to service the power lines.
As I passed another set of poles in a badly eroded section I heard the buzz of a helicopter and paused to watch as it climbed up the valley below getting both bigger and noisier as it approached. The little red Hughs 500 chopper flew by me and hovered along the Ko'olau Summit dropping off equipment for some workers near one of the power lines that stretch down to the windward side. The chopper then buzzed back down the valley and I returned to the task at hand, climbing up to Tripler Ridge. As I worked my way up the trail, I could see the workers in there florescent orange and green shirts moving around and could hear them pounding on something.
|Pacific Helicopters 500 series.|
|Looking down the spur ridge from Moanalua Valley|
|A look up the final section of Triper Ridge|
|Southwest view Tripler Ridge|
|Honolulu International Airport AKA Work. It's much better looking the farther I get from it.|
|Even Diamond Head can be seen from here.|
|Olomana, Konahuanui, Lanihuli, and Bowman. It's like being a kid in a candy store!|
|Ford Island & Pearl Harbor|
|Misty Ko'olaus to the west.|
As I continued westward I passed the windward trails I'd wondered about last time. I don't know why I didn't figure it out the first time but they're for the anchor points on cables attached to the powerlines that stretch down to Kaneohe. They stabilize the wires so they don't swing wildly from left to right or up and down in the strong winds that pound the summit. I bet those are fun to descend!
|The trails lead to stabilization wires|
|Not just cleared, wiped clean.|
My next stop was the microwave relay station then the climb up a steep hill to the Moanulua Middle Ridge Junction.
Of course I climbed the relay...
|The climb up to Middle Ridge|
Arriving at the Middle Ridge Junction, the Stairway to Heaven's CCL Building atop Pu'u Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe just looked too inviting not to add to the day's activities. After all, it had been almost a full week since my last visit!
After crossing the ridge to the top of The Stairway, I paused to take a few more pictures before dropping my pack for a quick descent down to the first landing. On the way back up I stopped to visit the Lehua Papa that lives just off the Kailua side of the stairs.
|Kaneohe from the CCL Building|
I've seen videos, read accounts, and heard people discussing the Middle Ridge that splits Moanalua Valley but I'd never done it. Almost immediately I regretted not having done this trail before. The upper windswept slopes were beautiful. Along the way I passed a Loulu palm that was flowering and noted the half eaten seeds hidden under one of the fronds. Also, a lone manono tree, Hedyotis fosbergii, coated in moss appeared a ways down the ridge. It reminded me a lot of the tree the Keebler Elves live in.
While we're on the subject of plants, I also found a very different looking Ohia. It grows close to the ground like a Ohia Papa, metrosideros rugosa, but lacks the thick, deeply veined leaves, and the bronze colored under leaf hairs. The lehua blossoms on it were interesting too. Later I'd learn that local plant expert Joe Lau has labeled this one Metrosideros C. It's definitely different.
There was plenty of Lehua Papa around to photograph as well. It's showy red blooms, dark green veined leaves, and feathery white buds are quite a display. The undersides of the leaves also feature bronze hairs.
The views Moanalua Middle Ridge afford of the valley below are breathtaking.
Proceeding down along its spine, I was shielded from the afternoon by the endemic forest that now swallowed up the trail. The Ohia and Koa covered the ridge continued relentlessly downhill.
|Walking through the native forest.|
|Large Koa across the trail|
|Two types of strawberry guava|
|No good angle to catch this 'Iliahi from but it's HUGE.|
|Kulana'ahane Trail junction|
|The old carriage road|
On the way out of the valley I didn't pass a single person on the way out of the valley and arrived at back at the park at about 4pm. This loop trail was fantastic! I really can't think of a single thing to complain about. The walk on the road is pleasant, the ridges are filled with views and some uncommon plant life, and the bonus trip to the Stairway to Heaven all combine to make this one a winner all the way around. I guess you could say this trip straight out of Ball's first edition Hiker's Guide to O'ahu was well worth the penny I paid for it! By the way, this trail is also in the revised edition so give it a try!
|Manene (above) / Alani (below)|
|Lehua papa (above) / Kupaoa (below)|
More pictures from this trail and others I've done can be viewed on Flickr. Aloha and mahalo for reading.