Pu’u Ohulehule Southeast Ridge

by kenji SAITO on June 11, 2014

Hiking Pu'u Ohulehule Southeast Ridge

Stuart Ball called Ohulehule southeast ridge “the most dangerous hike on the island.” While I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that statement, I would say it’s one of the more physically taxing hikes.

Haupoa Street

Haupoa Street

Aaron, Darren, J, Marvin, Matt, Troy and myself joined Will on his hike today. Matt staged his truck in Kahana Valley and we all met up in Waiahole.

Where do we start?

Where do we start?

Right off the bat, there was some confusion as to where the trailhead started.

Found the trail

Found the trail

After finding a passable trail through the forest, we started following this heavily eroded section to the ridge.

Are we on the ridge?

Are we on the ridge?

No views yet.

Looking back

Looking back

Will and Marvin scrambling out of the forest.

Scenic point

Scenic point

The exposed ridge offered views of Hakipu’u Valley, Pu’u Kanehoalani, Mokoli’i and the Moli’i Fishpond (which is one of four original Hawaiian fishponds left extant on Oahu).

Rock climbing

Rock climbing

Our first dike on the ridge. One of many to come.

Hanging out

Hanging out

Darren enjoying the views. Pu’u Manamana and True Manamana are visible beyond Pu’u Kanehoalani.

Southeast ridge

Southeast ridge

The dikes offered a respite from the heavy overgrowth on the ridge.

Not too steep

Not too steep

We just had to watch our step, as there were drops to our right. No drops to our left.

Ridge hiking

Ridge hiking

The surrounding views made it all worthwhile.

Where's a weed whacker when you need one?

Where’s a weed whacker when you need one?

We had to plunge into heavy ridge overgrowth which plucked my GoPro from my backpack. Lucky for me, that Darren found it hanging on a tree. I still owe him a soda. Yes, I’m cheap.

Panoramic view

Panoramic view

The views from this valley have few rivals on this island. Just an opinion. Click here for the larger image.

Rocks are preferable

Rocks are preferable

J climbing down a dike. Much easier than battling the annoying and cloying overgrowth. Shortly after this section, Will and Marvin turned around, as Will was not feeling well. It’s always good to know your limits, I have cut a hike short before due to not feeling well. Better than ending up on the six o’clock news. The mountains will always be there.

Pu'u Ohulehule

Pu’u Ohulehule

The summit was still cloud free. How long would that last?

Clouds moving in

Clouds moving in

The cloud deck was capping Pu’u Manamana.

Use the tree

Use the tree

This particular dike was a little tricky to get up, a nearby tree served as a stepping stone. Aaron opted for the “pincer” hold.

Getting steeper

Getting steeper

The ridge started to get steeper as we approached the summit. As we contoured on the Leeward side, the old adage about not trusting ropes, rang false. Matt was holding onto a tree when it gave way and the only thing that kept Matt from plunging down was the rope in his other hand.

Panoramic view

Panoramic view

The valleys of Ka’a’awa and Hakipu’u split by Pu’u Kanehoalani. Click here for the larger image.

Windward view

Windward view

Looking back at the ridge we had come from. This route used to be on the HTMC schedule, until a hiker died on the trail. Stricken from the hike list.

Boulder fun

Boulder fun

We contoured to the right of a large boulder that was blocking the trail. Photo by Aaron Toma.

Pushing up

Pushing up

Now the fun part. Not really. The rest of the climb was at a steep pitch that involved pulling yourself up. Ropes helped. Considerably.

Almost there

Almost there

More uphill climbing.

Summit view

Summit view

J was the first to summit Pu’u Ohulehule and was rewarded with a clear view of the valleys. Click here for the larger image. Photo by Francis Joy.

Cloudy summit

Cloudy summit

This is the view that the rest of us got. Group photo left to right: Matt, Darren, Troy, Aaron, myself and J.

Going down

Going down

Going down northwest ridge, the traditional route to Pu’u Ohulehule. The initial descent was somewhat steep, but soon slackened off.

Dangerous trail

Dangerous trail

Hmm, I’m glad we’re going the other way. Maybe this was the section that the two Danish girls got stuck back in 1999. They spent an amazing eight days on this ridge before HTMC members found them.

Cloudy peak

Cloudy peak

Looking back at the 2,265′ summit wrapped in clouds.

Panoramic view

Panoramic view

Looking left to right: Pu’u Piei, Pu’u Manamana and Pu’u Kanehoalani. Click here for the larger image.

Can you smell what the rocks are cooking?

Can you smell what the rocks are cooking?

Close up view of True Manamana and Two Apes Talking rock formation.

Kahana Valley

Kahana Valley

As we made our way down to the valley, the rain started.

Say Ahhh!

Say Ahhh!

Troy ran out of water, so Mother Nature helped him out.

Fern country

Fern country

Uluhe ferns seem to have colonized most of the trails.

Stream crossing

Stream crossing

The group taking a break at the first stream crossing. Troy helped himself to free water.

Where's the dragon?

Where’s the dragon?

Awhile back, this area was burnt by fire. It left behind a blackened tree that looks like a dragon. Can’t see the dragon for the trees.

Follow the ribbons

Follow the ribbons

Troy about to cross the second stream. Still only ankle high.

Stroll in the forest

Stroll in the forest

The thick canopy of trees filtered much of the sunlight that reached the valley floor.

Shrinkage

Shrinkage

Water level was waist high at the third stream crossing. Ice cold.

Nakoa Trail

Nakoa Trail

Left? Right? Straight!

Dam crossing

Dam crossing

There was a rope hanging near the dam. Matt was the only swinger today.

Road out

Road out

Marvin and Will met us at the end and ferried us to our cars. What? No ice cold drinks waiting for us?

GPS Tracks

GPS Tracks

The hike was only 5.52 miles, but as Aaron put it “You earned every inch of it.” Great hike with familiar faces that I haven’t seen in awhile. Post hike meal was at El Mariachi in Kaneohe. BYOB.

Leave a Comment

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Troy July 1, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Good one Kenji! I drank the stream water and never got lepto. Remember to steripen or drop tabs!

Reply

kenji SAITO July 2, 2014 at 3:02 pm

Howzit Troy,
Always great hiking with you! Until next time!
Mahalo

Reply

Craig April 12, 2017 at 4:50 pm

Hey Kenji,
Where does this trail begin and how long is it to the top to where you can see Chinamans Hat?
Thanks,

Reply

kenji SAITO April 14, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Aloha Craig,
I will email you separately and it takes an hour or less to get to what some people are calling pride rock.
Mahalo

Reply

Blaino July 13, 2017 at 10:49 am

What’s up dude, can you email the same info that Craig requested? Also where do you park? Thanks!

Reply

kenji SAITO July 13, 2017 at 8:22 pm

Aloha Blaino,
I will email you under separate cover. Parking is a bit of a problem, best if somebody drops you off.
Mahalo

Reply

Katie October 11, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Thanks for the awesome and detailed blog. Attempting this one next weekend! We tried it a few weeks ago starting the way you finished up, but we lost the trail pretty early in and had to turn around. Going to try your route this time. Do you remember approx how long the hike took?

Reply

kenji SAITO October 11, 2017 at 6:06 pm

Aloha Katie,
Thanks and good luck on your hike. Hope the weather cooperates. It was roughly 10 hours, of course your time will depend on your group size and pace. Stay safe and have fun!
Mahalo

Reply

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