Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tripler Ridge to Haiku Stairs

A few months back I was sitting at home an was becoming exceedingly antsy to get out of the house and do something.  Being that my wife was at work and had the car for the day, I elected to walk the two or so miles from my house to Moanalua Valley Park, and head up Tripler Ridge.  Sometime around 11pm or so, I gathered my stuff and made my way to the park, arriving right at 12pm.  Once I had entered the park I made my way to the back where there was a gate positioned.  I crawled through the gate and quickly set off down the gravel road.  The Tripler junction appeared in an absolute hurry as I was setting a pretty good pace.  There was a very obvious junction on the right hand side with banyan roots covering the floor.  I took this junction seeing that it was going up, and within a few minutes I arrived at a little valley overlook in front of me with a bench and powerlines behind me.  From here the trail really started to gain some elevation and a few minor climbs came in to play.  The trail was not in nearly as good of shape as I had expected it to be.  It wasn't neccessarily hard to follow but there were a few spots where I could see someone getting led astray if they weren't familiar with the trail.

After some tiring uphill climbing, I finally reached the junction with Tripler Ridge trail that starts from the back of the Tripler military hospital.  I took the left junction and briefly and slightlly descended through some strawberry guava trees.  Once I had emerged from the trees, I was greeted by views of Moanalua valley and Pearl Harbor in back of me.  Directly in front of me I could clearly see the summits of Tripler and Puu Keahi a Kahoe.  Even the stairway summit was clear, but I knew that this probably wouldn't last.  I was just happy to have finally reached the actual ridge portion of the hike.  As I set off on the ridge section, I was again a little surprised.  I kept expecting more exposure but it just never came.  I guess the ridge had it's points where it was a little exposed but for the most part I found it incredibly safe and very easy to set a fast pace.  The ridge had a surprisingly nice grade to it as well and I didn't find it to be nearly as steep as the valley portion was, until just before the summit.  With that said, as I was getting ever so close to the summit, I finally encountered a few rope sections and some decently steep climbs.  One steep climb and then another and then at last I had reached a huge open grassy knoll area and I knew I was finally at the Tripler Ridge summit.  By this point the clouds had crept in and were obscuring most of my views and being that it was closing in on 2pm and I had been on the trail for about two hours now, I decided to waste little time and almost immediately up reaching the summit I made the left hand turn and started across the Koolau Summit towards the middle ridge junction and the Haiku Stairs.

As I made my way across this short section of the Koolau Summit Trail, I kept hopeing for the skies to clear and give me just a few views.  Within just a couple of minutes that is exactly what happened and I was incredibly thankful to the weather gods for opening up a splendid view of the windward side for me.  I quickly made my way across the KST.  I hate to complain about hikes but outside of the KST portion, this hike just is not one that I care for at all.  As I walked the KST, all was forgiven and right in life though.  There was some exposure now, at least in comparison to the Tripler Ridge portion, but still nothing really scary or dangerous or at all hard to manage.  I passed by a few electric towers and then made one steep climb and reached the little peak in between middle ridge and Tripler.  From here I scurried to the Middle Ridge junction and then just a few minutes later I reached the Omega Station and summit of the Stairway to Heaven.  It was now 2:30 and knowing that I was nearing the end of my hike, I took a short break to take some pictures and get some water.  The weather was surprisingly nice at the stairway summit.  After a little breather I grabbed my camera and my pack and set off down the Haiku Stairs, taking pictures every so often on my way down.  As I neared the bottom of the stairs I saw a welcomed sight.  My good buddy was waiting for me at the very bottom of the stairs.  I was happy to see him.  A little over 3 hours round trip and I had completed Tripler Ridge to the bottom of the Stairway to Heaven and was reminded why I had never set foot on this trail before.  I'm sure many people would enjoy it but to me there is just so many better trails here to ever warrant me hiking this ridge again.  I'm sure I will one day but it won't be anytime soon.  It is just way to long for what it offers, which is very little, all though the KST crossing is always enjoyable.  Once at the bottom of the stairs I was happy to be able to catch a ride back to Moanalua Valley, near my house.  I was a little bummed that I was unable to stop and get a slurpee, but, oh well.  Waiting until 9pm for my wife to pick me up would have sucked so I was incredibly thankful for the lift back to my side of the island.  Even though I am not a big fan of this trail, I still had a fun time and a great day on the trails by myself.  In Hawaii, even crappy trails are still awesome.

Directions:  Will be up in the next week, but are easy to find if you just google tripler ridge.