Pu’u Kaua to Palehua Trail

by kenji SAITO on December 29, 2019

Hiking Pu'u Kaua to Palehua Trail

This was a hike long in the making. It was over four years since I did this particular section of the Waianae Mountains. Time for another visit.

Kunia Farms

Kunia Farms

Thanks to Preston for dropping us off near the trailhead. We were somewhat confused as the entrance was blocked with private property signs, despite being informed that public access must be granted to the trails. Somebody didn’t get the memo.

Trailhead

Trailhead

Run softly and carry a big stick when barking dogs can be heard and not seen. Remember you don’t have to be the fastest, just not the slowest.

Kaua Trail

Kaua Trail

Most of us shed our outer layers of clothing due to the heat and humidity in the valley.

Kaua Trail

Kaua Trail

Switch backing our way up through the forest droppings. Short cardio climb to wake us up this particular morning. Works better than caffeinated coffee.

Kaua Trail

Kaua Trail

Looking for love in all the wrong places. Just look down. Photo by Cisco Quintanilla.

Kaua Trail

Kaua Trail

Watching the drifting clouds slowly blot out our views of Kunia and points beyond. Photo by Analyn Baliscao.

Kaua Trail

Kaua Trail

Analyn learned the hard way not to follow somebody too close, as Cisco accidentally kicked her in the face. To her credit, she just laughed it off and took it like a champ.

Pu'u Kaua

Pu’u Kaua

Stepping foot on the 3,127′ benchmark. No views for us at the socked in summit.

Waianae Summit Trail (WST)

Waianae Summit Trail (WST)

The air temperature dropped on the third highest peak and the layers came right back on.

WST

WST

We hit another patch of uluhe ferns and clidemia shrubs as we left the summit. Photo by Chris Bautista.

WST

WST

Sweeping views of the central plain that were diluted with the clouds.

WST

WST

Making our way down the ridge that were interrupted by pockets of exposed rocks. Photo by Chris Bautista.

WST

WST

Chris provided the drum roll as the others looked ahead to the main event ahead of us.

WST

WST

Looking back at the still socked in summit of Pu’u Kaua.

WST

WST

The rock climbing gym is now open for business. Membership dues of blood, sweat and tears. We can do without the blood donation. Photo by Cisco Quintanilla.

WST

WST

Analyn climbing her way down as Cisco watches.

WST

WST

Looking ahead to the elephant on the ridge.

WST

WST

Chris coming down the tricky climb. Photo by Analyn Baliscao.

WST

WST

Panoramic view of Lualualei Valley while I photobomb Analyn trying to figure out the best way to go down. Photo by Cisco Quintanilla.

WST

WST

We had to drop down and contour around a rock before scrambling our way over the narrow dike.

WST

WST

A different perspective of the dike. Photo by Cisco Quintanilla.

WST

WST

Climbing over another rock. This particular section of the WST has the most rock climbing. Photo by Analyn Baliscao.

WST

WST

Everybody looking for their next handhold and foothold coming up.

Cactus

Cactus

Cisco looks away as Chris attempts to give himself an organic circumcision. Photo by Analyn Baliscao.

WST

WST

Scrambling our way up and over. Photo by Cisco Quintanilla.

WST

WST

I’ll go this way … Photo by Chris Bautista.

WST

WST

… and you guys can go that way. Photo by Cisco Quintanilla.

WST

WST

We didn’t trust the tattered rope, so we used our own webbing instead to lower ourselves down. Photo by Chris Bautista.

WST

WST

Analyn passing through the short corridor of pine trees and structural remnants.

Pohakea Pass

Pohakea Pass

I took a quick bite and started my climb up the pass. Not going to lie. My third time and I was still nervous. Photo by Cisco Quintanilla.

Pohakea Pass

Pohakea Pass

After I had climbed my way to the crumbly top, it took quite a few times to lower the webbing to the rest of the group as the winds blew it everywhere except where it needed to land. I had to use my water bottle as a dead weight to deliver the webbing down. Photo by Analyn Baliscao.

Pohakea Pass

Pohakea Pass

Everybody taking their turns climbing up the 80′ crumbly cliff.

Pohakea Pass

Pohakea Pass

Half our group shot, as not everybody wanted to get too close to the edge.

Pohakea Pass

Pohakea Pass

Panoramic view from the top of the pass and looking out towards the now clear summit of Pu’u Kaua.

WST

WST

Walking on solid rock never felt so good. Photo by Chris Bautista.

Lualualei Valley

Lualualei Valley

Analyn enjoying the fenced views of the island’s largest coastal valley. Photo by Chris Bautista

WST

WST

Somebody didn’t learn from their earlier kick in the face.

WST

WST

Analyn straddling the fence as she makes her way over to the other side.

WST

WST

We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the trail was not as strangled and suffocated with uluhe ferns as previous hikes had been.

Heleakala

Heleakala

Cisco overlooking the brutal and exposed spur ridge that leads to the WST. Photo by Chris Bautista

Palikea Summit

Palikea Summit

We bumped into another group approaching the ti leaf planted summit. Group photo left to right: Clyde, Andie, myself, Analyn, Kim, Cisco and Chris. As luck would have it, they were willing to give us a ride back to our cars. Ask and you shall receive.

Palikea Summit

Palikea Summit

Leaving the 3,098′ white cliff summit. Photo by Chris Bautista

Palehua

Palehua

Chris walking down the picturesque stairs through a stand of ohia trees.

Palehua

Palehua

Thanks to Clyde Imada from Bishop Museum; who pointed out the numerous rare lobelia, violet and other native plants.

Palehua

Palehua

Contouring our way around the trail cut into the rock.

Palehua

Palehua

Analyn entering the boulder stacked passageway.

Palehua

Palehua

Coming out with no boulder rolling behind me. Photo by Analyn Baliscao.

Palehua

Palehua

Ferlino would climb this tree. Photo by Cisco Quintanilla.

Palehua

Palehua

We stopped on the trail and helped to clear out a patch of air plants, bag and carry them down the trail.

Palehua

Palehua

Looking out towards Nanakuli. Photo by Chris Bautista

Palehua

Palehua

Golden hour in the bamboo grove.

Palehua

Palehua

No champagne or crowns this time around. Congratulations to Analyn and Cisco for completing the Waianae Summit Trail in its entirety.

All pau

All pau

A big thanks to Andie who gave us a ride down the 5 mile plus road in her Kawasaki Mule and provided a brief historical and educational commentary about the place.

GPS Tracks

GPS Tracks

Great way to end the year and decade with an adventurous 10.84 mile hike and great friends. Post hike meal at Zippy’s as somebody didn’t want to spend more than $10 on dinner. Even though I’m pretty sure he dropped close to an Andrew Jackson for his food. Good times all around.

Note: I have been made aware that some hikers have been using my blog as a hiking guide and getting lost on the trails. Please note that this blog was made to document the hike for the crew(s) that did it. That is why some of my comments will seem to have no relevance or meaning to anybody outside of the crew(s) that hiked that trail. My blog was never meant as a hiking guide, so please do not treat it as such. If you find inspiration and entertainment from these hikes, that is more than enough. If you plan on replicating these hikes, do so in the knowledge that you should do your own research accordingly as trail conditions, access, legalities and so forth are constantly in flux. What was current today is most likely yesterdays news. Please be prepared to accept any risks and responsibilities on your own as you should know your own limitations, experience and abilities before you even set foot on a trail, as even the “simplest” or “easiest” of trails can present potential pitfalls for even the most “experienced” hikers.

Leave a Comment

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Cisco January 14, 2020 at 12:04 pm

Great write up Kenji of our WST Adventure, That was a Fun one with alot of Adrenaline…Thanks again, I couldn’t have completed the Waianae Summit Trail without you…Shoots!!! until the next hike…

Reply

kenji SAITO January 14, 2020 at 11:02 pm

Aloha Cisco,
It was just all teamwork and thanks for the company in the mountains! Glad everybody could knock this section off their list.
Mahalo

Reply

Aida Gordon January 15, 2020 at 10:17 pm

Great narrative and photos! Congratulations to Cisco and Analyn! Just wow!

Reply

kenji SAITO January 16, 2020 at 3:57 pm

Aloha Aida,
Thanks! Yes everybody did a great job. Great way to end the year! One day, I’ll take you. :)
Mahalo

Reply

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