Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wiliwilinui Ridge

The other day my wife and I were in the middle of a busy day trying to get some stuff done at home before she had to work.  It seemed to be a pretty nice day outside but we had all but ruled a hike on this day out of the equation, so I was pretty surprised when my wife suggested to do a short hike before she had to go to work and I asked me if I had any ideas.  It was around noon and she had to be at work by five so we decided on Wiliwilinui Ridge, a hike in Hawaii Kai, that we had never done, and that we figured we could finish pretty quickly.

My wife and I left our house and luckily didn't hit any traffic on our way to Hawaii Kai.  As we driving through the subdivision to the trailhead we continued gaining more and more elevation.  I remember commenting to my wife that I thought that we were gonna drive straight to the summit.  The drive through the neighborhoods is a very nice one though, with the houses being extraorindary to look at and some ocean views coming in to view along the drive.  We parked just before the street ended in a stall that was marked for Wiliwilinui Ridge and headed down the dirt road to start our hike.

Wiliwilinui Ridge is a five mile round trip ridge hike that follows a rather boring dirt and gravel road for about 70 percent of the hike.  The entire hike to the summit is steep and can get pretty tiring.  I found my legs aching more than once during this hike.  As my wife and I tried to make good time and set a fast pace, I couldn't help but wonder when we were gonna end up on an actual trail and get off the dirt road.  It eventually did happen and we started steep climbing up the ridge.  There are ropes and stairs in place so the ridge never becomes dangerous or difficult in the least.  The views behind us looking back towards the Hawaii kai area all the way to Pearl Harbor were amazing.  The mountains in front of us and the Wiliwilinui summit had no clouds anywhere in sight.  I was sure we were gonna get another amazing KST view once reaching the summit.  As we kept climbing and saw our goal get closer and closer, out of nowhere, clouds began to roll in and I had a feeling that I knew what was gonna happen next. 

Sure enough, the entire summit trail ended up getting socked in by all the clouds.  We made our final push to the summit and were greeted by a huge white blanket with absolutely zero views.  We scoped out the Koolau Summit Trail briefly in both directions and then came back to the bench at the summit.  I was pleasantly surprised by how good of condition the KST was in in both directions.  It was not overgrown in the least and despite all the rain recently wasn't all that muddy.  We relaxed at the bench at the Wiliwilinui summit for just a little bit and the summit did briefly clear just enough for us to get a couple, half way decent, pictures.  We decided that this just wasn't our day and the summit was not going to clear so we began to make our way back down the ridge.

We jogged almost the entire way back and upon arriving back to our car we were amazed to realize that the entire hike took us only an hour and a half round trip.  WOW!  Neither my wife nor I expected to make that good of time.  We stopped at 7-eleven for or post hike slurpee and made it home with tons of time to spare before she had to go to work. 

On the drive home I realized why I had put the Wiliwilinui Ridge hike off for so long.  It was exactly what I expected.  A somewhat boring hike that followed a dirt road most of the hike.  The views from the top are decent and it's definetly a hike everyone should do, but for me it's one of those rare hikes that I will probably only do once.  Next on my list in that area is Kulepeamoa and Kamiloiki since I'm trying to knock out all of the ridges to the summit in that area.  The all day trek along the KST, from Mt. Olympus to Makapuu will also be getting hiked by me and my good hiking partner in the next few weeks, once it finally dries up a little.

Directions: Coming from Waikiki take Kalanianaole Hwy. driving in the main direction of hanauma bay.  Take a left on to Laukahi until you come to a security guard station.  Check in with the security guard and then proceed up Laukahi until it ends. Turn left on Oko`a, following the trail signs. Park in the parking area before the cable gate and proceed on foot along the access road to the trailhead.

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