This is an advanced / extreme, challenging and long hike.
Started deep in a valley between Ohikilolo and Kea'au ridges. After an hour and a half bus ride from Ala Moana (a/c blasting), I walked a further 2 mi. from Kea'au Beach mostly along a dirt road littered with cowpies to reach the trailhead in the already blistering early morning heat and sun glaring in my eyes. Hiking in this region is recommended only in winter months btw. There are some narrow dyke sections along middle ridge, however the trail for the most part involves steep climbing with lots of trees to hang onto. After a few rope sections the summit beckons, offering spectacular views of the ocean, Kamaile'unu Ridge, Pu'u Kawiwi, "No Name" peak, flat - topped Mt. Ka'ala, Ohikilolo Ridge, Wai'anae and Makaha valleys. The trail up Kea'au middle ridge was pioneered by Steve Rohrmayr (a.k.a "Wai'anae Steve") and is well marked by ribbons (we had the pleasure of meeting and hiking with him btw ... he's one of THE legendary hikers). Fortunately for me, it became overcast soon after I reached the summit, yet clouds were not socking in the views. Turned right along the ridge makai (toward the ocean). Upon reaching the second "Mars" section I found a plane crash site. Further on the ridge narrows considerably, esp. after the saddle. You can go up and over or contour most of this section so take your pick ... just be aware that the rocks are extremely fragile, and that contouring allows no room for slip or misstep. Take your time ... negotiate every move ... test hand and footholds and concentrate ... a fall along this section could be your last! I attempted many times to tread on top but found the rocks too crumbly or fractured to take chances. Passed an American flag standing proud but frayed further on (somewhere on the ridge above Makaha towers). Mountain goats can be seen and heard everywhere as well. At a junction I descended the right side ridge, where I was treated with awesome views of Ohikilolo and Ka'ena Pt. After 9 hrs I reached the bottom where I followed the ribbons to a gap in the barbed wire fence alongside a cliff, then walked back to Farrington HWY on a private dirt path.
Video taken with the GoPro2 HD head cam, edited and uploaded with Final Cut Pro X.
Music: "Everlasting" by Asura.
If you're a non-resident / first time visitor or novice hiker, start with the easy - intermediate (maintained) trails and graduate yourself on subsequent visits. Do yourself a favour and purchase Stewart Ball's "Hiker's Guide to Oahu" ... it's your best and most valuable resource. Do your homework and study topo maps, weather forecasts / radar / sunset times. There are numerous blogs and media posted frequently by local experienced Oahu hikers (these folks are super-friendly and will give you directions and advice). Wear and bring proper gear and don't forget lot's of water and a fully charged cell. If hiking alone or with others, tell someone where you're hiking and keep in touch. Above all there's no shame in turning back if you don't like what you see ... better to stay alive and continue on a subsequent visit. You are solely responsible for your own safety and the risk you take. Hikers, including locals have gotten lost, suffered serious injury and even died while hiking these trails, so be careful. Mind your insurance coverage limitations as well.
Last but not least ... RESPECT THE LAND! Stay on the trails, don't litter (in fact if you come across any and are able ... take it out with you). Do not unneccessarily disturb the flora, understand and respect historical / cultural ethics, wash, brush or bag your boots upon completion of the hike, and do not intentionally tumble any loose rocks / boulders from ridges as there may be hikers / hunters on trails below or houses that you are unaware of. Be a SAFE, CONSIDERATE and RESPONSIBLE hiker. Enjoy and bask in the privilege of being able to hike some of the most beautiful and unique trails in the world ... you'll be rewarded ... and get addicted ;-)
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