Thursday, January 20, 2011

1-19-2011: Kea'au Ridge - 'Ohikilolo Valley Middle Ridge

Predicting weather in Hawai'i is like trying to predict that your next reel on a slot machine is going to land on 7,7,7. The weather here is simply too unpredictable. This proved true on the day of this particular hike. The night before, they were forecasting gloomy weather, rain, and the like from a powerful storm near the islands. This storm was also producing an extra large swell and they were going to see if Waimea Bay would call the day for "The Eddie" or the 2011 Quiksilver - In Memory of Eddie Aikau. Unfortunately, it was a no go on Thursday (1-20-2011).

The following morning I woke up, expecting gloomy weather, but to my surprise after looking out the window, there was not a single cloud in the sky and the contrast of the Ko'olau popped out like I could reach out and touch them. Ahh, too bad there wasn't any hike scheduled for this picture perfect, vog free, day! While sitting around at the house, I received a message from Albert at around 12:30pm and asked if I wanted to hike Kea'au Ridge. I asked him that if it was kinda late to do such a hike. Apparently today was the last day of his vacation and I guess the picture perfect day was just beckoning him to go on a hike, even if it was last minute and late in the day. Since I haven't done Kea'au Ridge, nor have hiked with Albie before, I agreed without hesitation but made sure to bring the flashlight as I was pretty sure that we would be out after dark.

After Albert picked me up in Ewa, we parked at the beginning point of Kea'au Homesteads Rd, which snakes it's way into the heart of 'Ohikilolo Valley. This valley is situated between the larger valleys of Makua and Makaha. I've heard that this area was closed to the public but as with any other closed trail, we ventured in anyway. Since we couldn't drive inside (gated), we opted to walk the entire length of the road and boy what a walk it would be! The road started out paved for about an 1/8th of a mile then became a 4x4 road with a stream crossing (stream was dry). To our left was 'Ohikilolo Ridge, which I've hiked back in early 2010. To our right was the actual Kea'au Ridge that starts behind Makaha Towers. Dead ahead was the menacing peak that marked the summit of Kea'au Ridge, our destination. Slightly to the left of that peak was Pu'u 'Ohikilolo, the pointed pyramidal peak that marks the terminus of 'Ohikilolo Ridge.

After about a 45 minute sweat inducing walk on the old 4x4 road, we could make out the middle ridge that heads up to the massive peak. In relation to the road, this ridge was slightly to the left and we noticed a trail just across an old abandoned tanker storage that branched off the road on the left and appeared to make a beeline for said ridge. We decided to take the trail and it eventually got overgrown to a point that we thought we were on the wrong trail. Up ahead was a gully with a flowing stream and behind that was our target ridge. We crossed the stream at some point and eventually found our first ribbon and the trail was more discernable.

The climb up middle ridge was brutal and I fell behind as Albert made it look like a cake walk. Unfortunately, all that walking on the road under the sun at a gradual incline zapped all my energy away. But my motto is slowly but surely. Once I gained the top of the ridge, the trail narrowed and the trees gave way to some pretty big drops on both sides. Up ahead, I could see Albert scoping out his surroundings. He called out to me, saying there was a dike formation up ahead. My excitement finally started to build in me as I caught up to him. Beyond the dikes was the final assault to the summit of Kea'au Ridge. We even saw some good sized rock faces that looked pretty darn mental, but looks can be deceiving and we wouldn't know what we were in for until we got there.

Going over the dikes was no problem for us and I couldn't help but admire the views of the fluted cliffs of 'Ohikilolo Ridge. The now low sun created a cool shadow effect on each of the gullies, a photographer's delight! We soon began our final climb with the aid of some ropes in the worst parts. We discovered that the trail actually contours around all the big rock faces and the climb was not bad at all.

At around 4:30pm we reached the summit and just with any view from the Wai'anae Range, it was spectacular! Albert pointed out the connector between Kawiwi and No Name Peak just beyond the Kamaile'unu Ridge. I pointed out Three Corners, a hike I did last April and the last hike on the Wai'anaes prior to today. Dead ahead was massive 4,025ft Mt. Ka'ala and following off to the right along the summit crest, Kalena, Hapapa, Kanehoa, and Kaua.  Directly to our left was the connector ridge leading up to 'Ohikilolo Ridge which from there you could turn right to easily reach Pu'u 'Ohikilolo.

After about a 30 minute or so break on the summit, we double timed it on our descent, for as the sun was quickly setting. We followed the ribbons this time all the way back to the road and it turns out that we missed the trailhead by maybe only 50 yards! We were on the road by around 6pm, just as the last daylight disappeared. My flashlight would come in handy after all as we needed until 7pm to get back to Albert's car.

I have to say this was a well executed hike despite being a spur of the moment kine! It was definitely much shorter than I have expected.

Fun times!


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