Papali to Pig God (Castle) Trail

by kenji SAITO on December 3, 2022

Papali to Pig God (Castle) Trail

The biennial migration where we planned to hike against the stream to the upper reaches of the headwaters to bear witness to waterfalls was hatched this weekend.

Hau'ula

Hau’ula

A big thanks to Lilia for dropping Allison, Chico, Lilyn, Quan, Tessa and myself off in the neighborhood and for all the tasty tidbits that she took the trouble of making for our camping weekend.

Ma'akua Ridge - Papali Trail

Ma’akua Ridge – Papali Trail

We turned off the service road to access the trail marker that was moved up to avoid unnecessary contact with the nearby heiau and made our way up the switchbacks.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

Left the bench lookout with views of the town of red sea hibiscuses to start on the Papali Trail.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

A brief break at the junction where another trail presumably leads down to the valley and loops back.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

Chico coming up the ridge which steadily gained in elevation.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

Lilyn making her way through the endemic forest full of plants and trees that I can barely identify.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

Allison crossing over an eroded section of the trail.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

The group emerging from the forest before climbing up the signed hill.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

Group photo at the halfway point, with the yellow and blue sign still marking the spot.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

Traversing the saddle or pig wire.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

Passing through bog like conditions on the trail.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

The group climbing up another small pu’u (hill).

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

Reflecting back on our climb so far.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

Relaxing in the field of flowers as we waited for the rest of the group to catch up.

Papali Trail

Papali Trail

Tessa climbing up the rutted hill with the assistance of the weathered webbing.

Kaluanui NAR

Kaluanui NAR

Established on Valentine’s Day back in 2014, this Natural Area Reserve was the first of its kind to be established in the Ko’olau Mountains.

Kaluanui NAR

Kaluanui NAR

Quan following the fence line as the clouds blanketed the mountains.

Kaluanui NAR

Kaluanui NAR

Opening the gate to step foot on the historic Castle Trail.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Making our way down the switchbacks to the hanging valley.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Note to Art: Oh, and by the way, they’re real, and they’re spectacular.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Tessa straddling the side of the hill to avoid falling into the hole.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Allison making her way down the tree lined trail.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

The group traversing another landslide before we soon dropped into the stream.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Getting our feet wet in the stream that are home to all five of Hawaii’s native fresh water fishes.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Home for the night. I believe this is the original campsite established back in the early 1900’s that has seen several cabins being built in this area over the years.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

HTMC was having their Christmas luau in their Waimanalo beach house, so we had ours up in the mountains complete with poi, laulau, lomi salmon, chicken rice, and sardines and tomatoes over rice. The best luaus are found in the mountains with good company.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

The meeting of the hiking chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous came to order. And here I was, without my Coca-Cola.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Chico avoided the smoking politics by taking it outside. Second hand smoke was desired by some. That some I could not collectively identify.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Picture taking outside in the chilly air before retiring to the tent for the night. It was only 6:30pm. Not much of a night life in the mountains.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Day 2. We woke up the next chilly morning to filter water and explore upstream.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Trees with the endemic Hawaiian White Hibiscus lined the stream banks as we made our way upstream.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Could this be the original stream gauging station installed back in 1915?

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Rock hopping our way up the stream.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Allison and Quan decided to sit out the rest of the stream exploration and returned back to the cabin to make hot cocoa for us. Fat chance.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Tessa standing at the stream fork. We went left. Right for a return trip.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Passing through a stand of loulu palm trees.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

We went up the stream alternating between rock hopping and wading through the stream.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

End of the stream for us. No waterfalls today. This was our turn around point due to time considerations.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

We’ll be back.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Fish eye point of view.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Going back down the misty stream.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Tessa hugging a native palm tree.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Somebody was looking for dry land, as we didn’t have a mynah bird to send out.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

The group rock hopping their way back down the stream.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

We made our way back to the cabin expecting cups of hot cocoa waiting for us. We were in for a big disappointment.

Kaluanui Stream

Kaluanui Stream

Group photo at the cabin before the raindrops started falling on our parade.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Leaving the campsite and valley as we picked up the trail on our way out.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Looking down at Kaluanui Stream as the body of water wound its way through the mountains.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

The group pushing their way through the overgrowth that dominated the trail.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Passing through bog like conditions as we picked our way through small landslides, blowdowns and the constant overgrowth.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

We almost missed the gate that would lead us out of the wilderness into an even more extreme wilderness, due to the shoulder high overgrowth. A taste of things to come.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Yes, this is the gate!

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Passing through the notch and onto the switchbacks that were first carved out of the steep mountain flanks back in 1906 by crews from the Kahuku Plantation Company.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Headed makai (ocean) on the trail that was pitted with false holes and dominated by pink fringe flower vines.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Looking back as the group descended the trail and admired the spectacular valley views.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Castle is described as “the finest hike on the island” by Stuart Ball. Pictures does not do the views from the trail justice. However, the trail itself is not the finest hike on the island by any stretch.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Sliding our collective butts straight down the spur which eliminated a bunch of switchbacks.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

The group coming down a corridor of the invasive strawberry guava trees.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Can somebody please identify the waterfall behind me? Laredo? Patrick? Anybody?

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

The trail soon turned from makai (ocean) to mauka (mountain).

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

We temporarily lost the trail at one point due to the dense uluhe ferns and clidemia shrubs that carpeted and masked the terrain. I had to burrow like a rat to find the trail again. Fun times. Not really.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Chico taking a turn at pulling and pushing his way through the impossibly dense wall of uluhe ferns.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Quan taking the shortcut down.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Contouring around the jungle was often the better choice than the direct route. Just had to be mindful of the drops to our right.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Lilyn trying her hand at finding the trail through the thick vegetation.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

We left most of the overgrown trail, downed trees and small landslides behind us as we crossed the streambed in the valley.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Somebody tried to fool me with the tried and true “carry my bag scam.” Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. No victim shaming here.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

We were still not out of the woods yet, but at least the overgrowth was only waist high at spots.

Castle Trail

Castle Trail

Leaving the mentally and physically exhausting and taxing overgrown trail behind us. We were so glad to hit the valley floor.

Punalu'u Valley

Punalu’u Valley

Walking out through the low area that used to be home to Chinese rice farmers that have since been replaced by an eclectic mixture of farms and stately homes.

All pau

All pau

Our nearly nine mile trek through the domain of Kamapua’a was exhilarating and exhausting with fun company. Mahalo to Chris who picked us up and took us to our post hike meal at Waiahole Poi Factory. Encore meal.

Photos taken by Allison Banks, Chico Cantu, Lilyn Avendano, Quan Haberstroh, Tessa Bugay and yours truly. Not necessarily in order.

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. One should also always let somebody know of your hiking plans in case something doesn’t go as planned, better safe than sorry.

Leave a Comment

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Wahinee01 January 2, 2023 at 11:08 am

Great blog. Can we please go back. I really want to see where the stream ends. And I wanted to explore the other stream we saw as well.. Lol
Miss eating my sardines, tomatoes over rice in the mountains. However, I don’t miss that overgrown castle trail.. Haha

Reply

kenji SAITO January 5, 2023 at 5:58 pm

Aloha Tessa,
Yup we need to go back to fully explore all the stream junctions. Yup, scratch that trail off the list for now.
Mahalo

Reply

Previous post:

Next post: