Bowman Trail (Shortcut) to Haiku Stairs

by kenji SAITO on October 13, 2013

Hiking Bowman Trail (Shortcut) to Haiku Stairs

Stuart Ball called Bowman the most difficult of the ungraded ridge hikes in the leeward Ko’olau Range. With that being said, Chris wanted to try out the Bowman shortcut, which would chop three miles off the trail length. I only agreed because knowing the route would come in handy when the time came to tackle the Bowman side of Kalihi Saddle. Jasmin also joined our hike for today.

The road to Kalihi Ice Ponds

The road to Kalihi Ice Ponds

Parking at the end of Kalihi Street deep in the valley is extremely scarce. Carpooling is highly recommended if coming with a large group. Instead of going over the bridge and straight into Kalihi Ice Ponds, which I have yet to visit, we went up the dirt road to our left.

What commercial does this remind you of?

What commercial does this remind you of?

Anybody know the answer? I’ve been scratching my head to no avail.

Burmeister Overpass

Burmeister Overpass

We soon crossed the Overpass that was built by the state for the Burmeister family when construction of Likelike Highway cut off access to their land deep in Kalihi Valley.

Knock Knock

Knock Knock

George Burmeister shot and killed a trespasser back in the 1960’s. He got off with five years of probation. I don’t know if the family is still around, from the looks of these abandoned buildings. Not wanting to push our luck, we soon took the trail that winds to the right of the buildings.

Is this the shortcut?

Is this the shortcut?

We followed the ribbons and barbed wire fence as we made our way up the spur ridge.

Kokua Kalihi Valley

Kokua Kalihi Valley

Our progress up the shortcut ridge was soon halted by a group of surveyors that claimed this land was now private property. What? Where are the signs? Not wanting to push the issue, we took their suggestion to try the adjacent spur ridge. #1 Big mistake of the day.

Trail snacks

Trail snacks

We backtracked our way down and crossed over to the next ridge. As we started to make our way up, the smell of ripe lilikoi (passion fruit) hung in the air.

Where is the shortcut?

Where is the shortcut?

The ridge soon disappeared into a thick tangle of vegetation and heavily eroded sections. Bushwhacking is an understatement. I must have muttered “What frigging shortcut?” too many times to count.

Sky staring

Sky staring

Checking out the cloud formations at the top of the junction for the Bowman trail.

Hanging around

Hanging around

I was glad to see Chris and Jasmin after waiting almost two hours. It was getting pretty lonely at the top. Photo by Jasmin Nepomuceno.

Swallowed by uluhe ferns

Swallowed by uluhe ferns

As we continued our hike on the Bowman trail, coming up the “shortcut ridge” had taxed Chris to his limit. He called and said he was returning back down the trail. I asked Jasmin if she wanted to join him or continue the hike. She opted for the latter. #2 Big mistake of the day. An hour into the hike, rumbling thunder cracked open the sky and the proverbial cats and dogs poured on us for almost two hours. The trail became a raging waterfall. I was more worried about being struck by lightning. I could just hear Chris laughing at us.

Where's the rainbow?

Where’s the rainbow?

The thunderstorm eventually turned into a drizzle as we approached the climb up Pu’u Kahuauli (Bowman).

Chances of waterfalls...

Chances of waterfalls…

The intense soaking produced tons of waterfalls all around us. There were over a dozen of them coming down from Lanihuli.

..and partly cloudy

..and partly cloudy

Looking back towards town. The air always smells fresher after an intense downpour, especially if you were caught in the middle of it!

Marshy meadow

Marshy meadow

After reaching the top of Pu’u Kahuauli at an elevation of 2,740′, we turned left towards Tripler Ridge.

Is that the sun?

Is that the sun?

The sun would peak out every now and then, teasing us with scattered cloudy views.

HECO trail

HECO trail

Heading down the slippery and muddy trail. HECO maintains this section due to the power lines, so there are ropes to keep you from sliding off the ridge.

Makeshift weather station

Makeshift weather station

Total whiteout conditions from the top of the relay station. Bummers.

Smoky mountains

Smoky mountains

Looking back, the clouds partially cleared to reveal themselves wrapping around Lanihuli and Pu’u Kahuauali. Postcard perfect.

CCL Building

CCL Building

We soon passed the middle junction and the top of Pu’u Keahi a Kahoe at 2,820′ high above the clouds and made our way to the CCL building which marks the top of Haiku Stairs.

Losing daylight

Losing daylight

The sun’s rapid descent as it pierced the heavy clouds made the climb down the stairs more urgent.

Stairway to Heaven

Stairway to Heaven

Top of the stairs at 2,800′.

Coming down

Coming down

Jasmin climbing down the stairs, all 3,922 of them.

Sunset over Moanalua Saddle

Sunset over Moanalua Saddle

Looking to our left, the sun was setting. Where was my headlamp? Oops.

Haiku Stairs

Haiku Stairs

I believe this was the last of the five landings that breaks up the continuity of the stairs.

H-3

H-3

Watching the cars pass overhead on the H-3 as I waited for Jasmin. The guard was long gone. I could’ve used the company.

GPS Tracks

GPS Tracks

The roughly five mile hike marked a very long day. Chris picked us up and we all had dinner at Zippys. Food is especially tasty after a long hike.

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