A few weeks ago a group of three of us set out for Waianae around midnight to hike to Puu O Hulu for lunar eclipse that was suppose to start at 2:30 am that morning. When we left our house, near Pearl City, it was pouring down rain but as we got closer and closer to Waianae the sky slowly started to clear and the full moon came in to sight. We were just keeping our fingers crossed at this point that it would stay this way all night for us.
Pu'u O Hulu is located between Maili and Nanakuli in Waianae. I have heard many people compare it to Kaiwa ridge (Lanikai pillboxes) but the only real similiarity I saw between the two was that they both had pillboxes. There are, I believe, five World War two bunkers stretched along the summit from the the makai side of the hike to the mauka side. While this hike is short there is a little bit of scrambling required and a few rock climbing sections (there is a contour trail if one opts not to rock climb). The ridge section is not very narrow but I could see it giving someone problems if they are affraid of heights.
Around 1:00 am in the morning the three of us who would be hiking on this night, arrived near Kaukama road and parked our car and grabbed our packs and headed for the trailhead. I had decided to bring my huge ruck sack, filled with pillows and blankets and hot chocolate and food for when we got to the bunkers at the top, since I knew we would be hanging out up there for most of the night. I also brought my big folding chair. This seemed like a good idea but by the next morning I was really regreting this choice. As we left our car and started the hike, we found a discrete trail and followed it. Within ten minutes we all realized that we had no idea where we were going, and decided to just rock climb to the summit. With my heavy pack and my chair in my hand, this absolutely sucked, and to top it all off, it had started raining on us. Due to this random route we took, the climb up took us a lot longer than it should have. As we were almost to the top, we came to what appeared to be a trail and followed it for about two minutes until we had happily reached the top of the ridge.
Thankfully, it had stopped raining at this point and we put our packs down and headed toward the ocean along the ridge. Once we were done checking that section out, we proceed back towards the mountainside of the ridge and headed for the bunker where we would set up camp and wait for the eclipse to start. We arrived at the pillbox where we would hunker down for the night with about 15 minutes to spare before the eclipse. We set up our tripods and pulled out the blankets and pillows that I had brought to keep us comfortable and then set up my chair. The views down the coastline were absolutely beautiful. The sky, which had been totally clear earlier in the night, was now starting to look a little nasty and I was positive that it was gonna pour on us.
The clouds obstructed our views of the moon for a short time but they did eventually discipate and we were able to watch as the moon turned a redish color while it was in the full eclipse. We then were able to watch the whole ending of the eclipse, as the moon went back to being full and once again lighting up the night sky. Thankfully, the rain stayed away and allowed us to keep our cameras out all night. An eclipse was something that I had never seen before and I was incredibly thankful to have had this opportunity and to have had my wife join me. My wife was going to be working a 12 hour shift starting at 9:30 that morning, so she really surprised me by toughing this one out with us. Matter of fact, we got home just in time for her to shower and get ready the next morning. She made it to work just in time.
Just before sunrise, we all packed our gear up and took off for the mountainside of the ridge. As we were coming down our headlamps caught someones attention and they began shining lights at us (probably to see if we were okay). This seems to happen on almost every night hike we do, and we have even had the cops shining their bright spot lights on us a few times. At this point we turned off our head lamps and continued down the ridge. As the sun rose we reached the first of a few rock climbing sections. I opted to contour since I was carrying so much stuff, but my wife and our buddy decided to rock climb every section that we passed, and they commented on how each section was pretty easy and a lot of fun. We got closer and closer to our destination but once again, I don't think we had any idea where we were going. We made our way down the side of the mountain and then came to a fence, which we followed in the wrong direction, taking us an insane amount of time to reach our cars. Once back to our car, we all rejoiced and were happy to be heading home to get some rest (except for my wife). I am a big stickler for researching things thoroughly before I go and do them, but due to us choosing to do this hike at the last minute, our group totally winged this one and we paid the consequences by getting a little lost. Lesson learned, and now we would be in a rush to get my wife to work on time and not be able to stop and get a slurpee.
Directions: I will go back and do this hike during the day and post directions then. I obviously have no credibility when it comes to giving directions for this trail, at this point. I will post good directions when I go back early next year though. There are a few good sites with directions to this hike though. Just google Pu'u O Hulu.