Pu’u Heleakala

by kenji SAITO on April 12, 2014

Hiking Pu'u Heleakala

Rain kept me off the mountains. Again. Plan B. Despite assurances from a hunter at the Manana trailhead, that it only rains in the morning, we all piled into Jose’s car and drove to the West side looking for a dry trail to hike.

Westside Pavilion

Westside Pavilion

We soon found ourselves roughly two miles deep on Lualualei Naval Road in Nanakuli, where we parked outside Westside Pavilion, a party venue. If one has the proper military clearances, the road goes all the way to Kolekole Pass and beyond. A somewhat suspicious caretaker swung by and quizzed us as to what we were doing and if we worked in the insurance or law enforcement fields. Hiking was our reply. His parting advice to us was “Lock your car as this is Waianae.” Sound advice anywhere.

Trailhead

Trailhead

The trailhead is across the street and easily gained by climbing up a concrete wall and squeezing in between a barbed wire fence.

Where is the trail?

Where is the trail?

We followed the faint foot trail in the dry grass and kiawe trees.

Heiau?

Heiau?

Going up the rocky slope, we skirted the remains of a rock wall. Perhaps it was once part of a heiau?

Scrambling

Scrambling

The trail going up the northern ridge is somewhat obvious, punctuated with faded ribbons that marks the path.

Two more humps

Two more humps

Going up the somewhat steep ridge provided a cardio wake up and several rock faces sprinkled along the way were easily climbed thanks to numerous handholds and footholds.

Can you see the rainbow?

Can you see the rainbow?

Rain made a quick show in Lualualei Valley and a rainbow soon appeared over the coastline, washed out by the strong Waianae sun.

Maui!

Maui!

Passing the second false peak, the triangular face of the adjacent ridge which bears a striking resemblance to a pyramid, popped into view. Heleakala means “where the sun is snared” as the Hawaiian demigod, Maui, caught the sun and slowed her down so that his mother’s bark cloth would have more time to dry.

One more hump to go

One more hump to go

Thessa climbing towards the summit of Pu’u Heleakala.

Pink flowers

Pink flowers

As we neared the summit, we left behind the dry shrub, which was replaced by greener vegetation and a profusion of these tiny pink flowers.

Lualualei Valley

Lualualei Valley

Looking down into Lualualei Valley and the Navy’s VLF Antenna Farm that towers over the land at 1,503′.

Hawaiian Pyramid

Hawaiian Pyramid

Jose pointing to the ridge commonly called the “Hawaiian Pyramid” for obvious reasons. As one climbs higher, the perspective changes and it looks less like a pyramid and more of a ridge.

Pu'u Heleakala

Pu’u Heleakala

Group photo at the 1,900′ summit left to right: Jose, Brian, Thessa and myself. I heard that a Buddha statue once marked the summit, Buddha was nowhere to be seen.

The trail to Palikea

The trail to Palikea

Looking towards the 1,000′ drop to the saddle and the 1,200′ climb back up towards the pyramid ridge. The ridgeline continues to Palikea and Palehua if one so wishes. Today we had no such wish. Another hike for another day.

Going down

Going down

We decided to take the gradually sloped southern ridge, which splits Nanakuli and Lualualei Valleys, back down.

Baby mantis

Baby mantis

Jose found this tiny critter, which was about the size of a grain of rice. Thank goodness for macro capability in cameras.

Raining in the ocean

Raining in the ocean

Looking out towards the ocean, we saw several rainclouds. Recycling in action.

Looking back

Looking back

The summit of Pu’u Heleakala is easily gained and easily lost. The hike seemed too easy to be true.

Henry Guevara, we meet again

Henry Guevara, we meet again

Coming down the ridge, we ran across this base that had “Henry Guevara” tagged on it. Apparently, he had just died a week earlier as his ashes are hanging on a tree at the summit, perhaps this was his favorite trail. Luckily, Brian did not sit in the ashes, like the last time on Olomana. Inside joke.

Down to the pillbox

Down to the pillbox

We started descending down from the ridge before the residential housing area and towards this white topped pillbox.

No vacancy

No vacancy

The pillbox was taken, in terms of occupancy, by homeless people as their camp was located nearby.

Trail out

Trail out

Walking back towards the road with Puu o Hulu Kai and Uka in the background.

Following the tracks

Following the tracks

Remnants of railroad tracks that once crisscrossed the island.

Emergency Access

Emergency Access

The road to nowhere? Photo by Thessa Bugay.

Is the coast clear?

Is the coast clear?

Thessa hamming it up. No palm trees were taken or harmed during the photographing of this event.

GPS Tracks

GPS Tracks

Our dry hike in Nanakuli was a short and sweet 3.9 miles, as compared to a wet and long muddy hike if we had stuck with the original plan on going from Manana to Waimalu.

Leave a Comment

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo L. March 29, 2015 at 4:50 am

Aloha,
I loved all the pics on your adventure. Thank you for not harming my plants. Next time you feel like hiking up the mountain, please come visit , come talk story, I no bite????,only da centipedes bite. I can add to your stories about this sacred place.

Mahalo,
Jo

Reply

kenji SAITO March 29, 2015 at 7:48 am

Aloha Jo,
Glad you enjoyed our pictures. Thanks for the offer! Always enjoy learning the history behind the places.
Mahalo

Reply

Banessa June 15, 2015 at 8:12 pm

Wow this looks awesome! How long did it take to complete?

Reply

kenji SAITO June 15, 2015 at 8:44 pm

Aloha Banessa,
Thanks. Took a little over 4 hours. We were taking our time. So your time may vary, could be faster or slower. Please keep in mind that this hike is very hot and some minor rock scrambling involved.
Mahalo

Reply

Joe Gronwald December 23, 2017 at 12:48 am

Just did this but up to the Waianae summit and down to Kapolei . Tough and overgrown but great views . 9 hours of brutal hills with two rock faces. Thanks for the idea.

Reply

kenji SAITO December 23, 2017 at 7:16 am

Aloha Joe,
Thanks. We did that to Palikea and down Palehua a couple years ago too, it was a tough one. Glad you enjoyed it.
Mahalo

Reply

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