Pupukea Summit and the Giant Cash Register

May 16, 2008 by

The trail to Pupukea Summit is 9 miles round trip from the Boy Scout camp, but it feels like less. The first part follows a wide dirt road. After a few miles the trail takes off to the right. It had been recently groomed, which was great, and there’s very little elevation gain, so before we knew it we were at the summit clearing. A nice hike, but not a great hike. It was good to get up to the North Shore. The curry at Haleiwa Eats was as yummy as I remember it. The curry and blood orange witbier were the highlights of the day. And, oh, the ancient Polynesian cash register, too.


Kamanaiki in Kalihi with HTMC

May 7, 2008 by

Saturday morning we joined the HTMC for a Kalihi hike on the Kamanaiki trail.  This is a nice moderate hike with just a few narrow, steep sections – nothing too hairy.  The start of the trail is unique.  Narrow stairs ascend right between two houses and continue up to a water tank.  After the tank, the trail mostly follows a ridge up to a clearing with a view of the Kalihi Valley on one side and Kamanaiki Valley on the other.  Squawking chickens and barking dogs composed the sound track.

Hike Club and a Half at Hank’s Haute Dogs

May 4, 2008 by

Check out Friday nights at Hank’s featuring lobster hot dogs and truffle mac n cheese. It’s BYOB. I suggest hitting the hobo liquor store on the corner for some vodka to add to your lilikoi lime soda or pineapple slush.

Wherever you go, there you are

April 26, 2008 by

Theme song – Hawaii Five Oh

“Where am I?” I thought, as we drove through the quaint cottages of an old Kunia plantation blasting the theme from Hawaii FIve Oh. Earlier that day, Chris, Jennifer and I convened at the old Volcano Joe’s near UH with the intention of heading for Laie Falls. As clouds rolled in, we decided we would be better off heading west, so with Jennifer navigating and only a very vague idea of where we were going, we hit the road.

We eventually found our chosen route blocked by huge dirt piles. Long story short, we stealthily parked the car at the slightly shabby golf course down the street and set off to see what we could find. Just when we had concluded that we were hopelessly lost, we encountered the Honouliuli Preserve. The moss-covered huge rocks and trees felt like Oregon. Some time later, and with some adventures, we reached the crest of a ridge with a spectacular view. I don’t think we were anywhere near where we intended to be and we probably weren’t supposed to be there, so I’ll leave it at that. But it was an excellent hike. We congratulated ourselves on our accomplishment with burritos from Taco del Mar.

What to do on a rainy day on Oahu

April 7, 2008 by

We planned to conquer “Hawaii’s Matterhorn,” Olomana, today, but woke to pouring rain. Acknowledging that discretion is the better part of valor, we convened at the Manoa Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf over Stuart Ball’s Hiker’s Guide to Oahu. We dismissed all Windward options because of the weather, considered the North Shore and Waianae, and wound up at good old Koko Head stairs.

Alex and Jennifer admire Conrad’s new camera atop a bunker covered with interesting graffiti.

Heading to Kona Brewing Company. Which, BTW, must have gotten a new chef or something. They have new menu items and the old ones are way better. Try the “Puna Pie,” a pizza with two kinds of mozzarella, gorgonzola and chevre and whole cloves of garlic.

Hike Club in search of lava on the Big Island

April 5, 2008 by

There’s been lots in the news lately about the volcanic activity over on the Big Island, so Hike Club went to check it out. A helicopter tour over the latest active flow was fascinating, even though the flow is mostly underground and so not as spectacular as hoped for.

The active flow is north of the Hawaii Volcanoes State Park, actually outside the park boundaries, starting from Pu’u O’o and flowing down to the ocean. Much of the area covered by the new flow was formerly residential, but already destroyed years ago by lava. Some new land was also covered, however. Somehow, the crazy “bed and breakfast” standing alone in an area surrounded by lava (and featured just this past December on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations) has once again survived, although their road through the old lava was cut off by new lava.

Much of this flow is underground now and all you can really see are steam vents and billows of sulphur dioxide. But if you look closely at the pic below you can see some glowing lava through a hole in the surface crust.

The best part of the helicopter ride turned out to watching whales breaching just offshore. Unfortunately, didn’t catch any pics of the whales though.

The helicopter doesn’t actually go over Kilauea Caldera, so drove down there the next day to see what was happening. Halemaumau Crater has been putting out a lot of sulphur, resulting in the closing of roads within the park. There was an explosion in the crater on 3/19 and the plume had been gray with ash, but currently it is just putting out billowing white clouds.

Consequently, the visit to the park proved to be short. That left time for the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens, right outside Hilo.

Namaste, the white Bengal tiger.

A two headed goat.

Peacocks courting (this was peacock porn just a few seconds earlier but I didn’t get out the camera in time).

Got great coffee and a yummy bagel sandwich at Hilo Coffee Mill, and brought back a variety of coffees from the budding local industry which is growing up to rival the Kona coffee dynasty on the other coast. Puna coffee – who knew? It’s good. And hanging out in Hilo was surprisingly fun. It’s amazing that the awesome old buildings have survived years of earthquakes, tsunamis, and economic challenges.

A spooky hike up Wiliwili Nui Ridge

March 27, 2008 by

Theme song for hike – “You Better Hope You’re Not Alone”


Wiliwili Nui is a Koolau ridge hike that parallels the other ridge trails, including Waahila Ridge (Mt. Olympus), Lanipo, Hawaii Loa, and Kuliouou. From the top of the trail you could hang a left to Lanipo or a right to Hawaii Loa. Overall, this is the easiest of the ridge hikes, but the last small portion to the summit is eroded and kind of scrambly. There are some old ropes for assistance. It’s a good hike for the novice with a little challenge at the end to make them feel proud of themselves.



Just before the peak is a large antennae installation. Just when you start thinking you are out in nature… The great thing about it (that I discovered over the days after the hike) is that the tallest antenna visually marks where you stood from far away – like from a kayak off Kahala. Everytime I look up now I see that antenna.


We met a solitary old man on the lower dirt road portion with a really big back pack. He said he only went as far as the steps. So why did he need that big bag?? We were glad we weren’t alone… The wind howled in the trees and the bamboo creaked…. And then we rounded a corner and suddenly there was a dark mysterious figure in a billowing black and blue track suit with dark hair covering his/her face, doing something in the trees at the edge of the path. Better hope you’re not alone…

We made it back safely and chowed down at California Pizza Kitchen.

Righteous waterfall hike up Ka’au Crater

March 26, 2008 by

Theme for hike – “Right on righteous.”


The drive up Palolo Valley to the Ka’au Crater trailhead feels like a trip off of Oahu. You could easily be on Kauai or Big Island. Probably a good idea to park a block or two below the trailhead. We left my little red car, Bindi, to meditate at the Zen Center while we hiked.



There are two ways to get up to the rim of the crater and two ways to traverse the crater rim to the highest point overlooking the windward side. As with many things in life, each has an easy way and a hard way. We took the more difficult way up to the crater rim, the waterfall climb. (Follow the excellent directions at backyardoahu.com.) The first and second waterfalls are beautiful, as promised, but what they don’t tell you is that the entire rest of the climb is along waterfall! It just keeps going and going! As cool as that is, it isn’t even the best part of the hike – the best part is that for long portions of the climb you can see almost no signs of civilization, no houses, no cars. It was absolutely quiet except for the water and the birds.


At the top of the crater rim, you can follow the ridge to either the right or left. We took the shorter and steeper right path. The trail is mostly very narrow here, but there’s a great place to stop and rest in a shady clearing under a random tuft of ironwood trees. Near the peak, the trail is significantly eroded and a bit treacherous. We returned to the crater rim the same way, but took the easier path down the valley to avoid repeating the waterfall climb in reverse on slippery ropes (of questionable age and strength). To reach the easier path, do not descend at all along the water. As soon as you return to the water, cross straight over and ascend steeply again on the opposite bank. As soon as you start thinking you must have missed the path, you’ll see a trail on your left that descends the valley at a gentle slope.


I have no idea how long this hike is, but we were out there for almost 6 hours… earning our later carbo-loading at Romano’s Macaroni Grill.

It’s an Easter double header – Hawaii Loa and Pu’u Pia

March 25, 2008 by

Started the morning with the Hawaii Loa trail.  Conditions were perfect – it threatened to rain but held off the whole time, keeping it grey and little cool.  The trail was damp, but not slippery.  Parts of Hawaii Loa (mainly the last steep quarter of the hike) really need the attached ropes when it is raining or very dry and dusty.  We got a little bit of the Windward view from the top before the mist rolled in.


If you are hiking HL, be sure to remember that you need a Hawaii driver’s license to sign in at the guard shack.  And they are very particular about not using any of the “community” facilities at the top, like the picnic shelter and the bathroom.  I’ve used that bathroom plenty of times, but you have to be kind of low key about it.  If I lived there, I would prefer that hikers use the bathroom rather than the alternative, but they don’t seem to think like that.


Hawaii Loa usually takes around 3 hours at a leisurely but continuous pace, but to make it down for yet another hike in the afternoon, I left my friends at the top and made it back in a little less than 2 1/2 hours.

In the afternoon, Conrad, Moksha and I joined Chris and the Hawaii Hikers for a picnic on Pu’u Pia.  It was drizzly and at times frankly raining, so I didn’t get any pics, but I hear there will be a video at hawaiihikers.com.  We ate (and drank) ridiculously well, including stilton, cheezewiz, pecans, fruit, olives, easter eggs, and a chilled bottle of chardonnay, and sipped mimosas on the way back down.

Hike Club on the West Siiiiiiiiiiiiide

March 17, 2008 by


As you drive past Nanakuli toward Waianae, there’s a big rocky hump on the right side of the road, topped with some old concrete bunkers. This is Pu’u o Hulu. When I used to drive past this to work in Waianae, it never occurred to me that I would be on top of it looking down.


To get up to the bunkers, one takes a steep rocky scramble starting on the right side of Kaukama Road. This part isn’t particularly difficult, but there are a few spots where you have to rock climb. The bunkers command an unobstructed view from Barber’s Point to Kaena Point. And they are surprisingly clean and don’t stink. Either someone maintains them or the climb keeps away the casual beer drinker.



You can return the way you came or follow the ridge onward. The ridge trail has a few narrow hairy spots and a little rock climbing. The trail ribbons are ancient (pink faded to white) and far between. At the water tower, stay to the right along the fence and start to switchback downward. You should see some more recent green ribbons placed by the Hawaii Trail and Mountain Club.


At the bottom, follow the fence to the right to get out. You emerge into a strange cookie-cutter new neighborhood called Sea Country. Seems to be largely occupied by military types. From here, head back to Kaukama and your car. Be warned that at least one hiker has had his car spray painted here. And be sure to bring plenty of water – enough to last hours on an exposed ridge in Waianae. Nuff said. Overall, a very cool hike. Supposedly the loop is about 4 miles. Not the most difficult, but certainly challenging enough to be interesting, especially on the ridge.



Finished the day by welcoming a new Hike Club member and roommate, Jennifer, at the always fabulous Green Door.  We tried the oyster mushroom sea bass for the first time and it was a revelation.  My mouth waters just thinking about it.