Monday, September 14, 2009

Mt Olympus from East Manoa and ending in St. Louis Heights


I'm headed to one of those peaks!
Trails: Kolowalu Trail to Waahila Trail to Mt. Olympus
Distance: Depends on route. See variations below.
2.5 miles one way - Manoa Valley to Mt. Olympus summit.
2.8 miles one way - Waahila Ridge State Rec. Area to Mt. Olympus Summit

5.3 miles - Manoa Valley to Mt Olympus to Waahila Ridge State Rec. Area

Elevation Gain: 
about 2100 ft from Manoa valley
about 1400 ft from St. Louis Heights (Waahila Ridge State Rec Area)
Hiking time: about 4 hours and 15 mins (Manoa to Mt. Olympus to St. Louis)
Area: Manoa Valley, Waahile Ridge, Palolo Valley
Trailhead: From Manoa Valley, corner of Woodlawn Dr. & Alani Dr (these 2 roads intersect at 2 points, it's the one with the higher elevation and more North.
From St. Louis Heights, Waahila Ridge State Recreation Area.
Trailhead Coordinates: 
Manoa Valley Entrance: N21 19.253 W157 47.926
St Louis Heights Entrance (Waahila Ridge State Recreation Area) : N21 18.430 W157 47.835
Sights: EVERYTHING!! Well you have beautiful views of Manoa Valley, Palolo Valley, Diamond Head, Honolulu, Koko Head in the distance. From the summit you can view the windward side, Kaneohe, Kailua, Waimanalo!
Directions via bus:
To the Manoa side. Take the 6 from Ala Moana and ask the driver to drop you off at the closest stop at the intersection of Alani and Woodlawn. You'll see a side road at the corner. You'll see the above sign.
Directions via car: Take East Monoa road and follow it all the way up. It will become Alani Dr. Then it will intersect with Woodlawn Dr. Park around there. You'll see the above sign.
Recommendations for hike: Sunscreen, bug repellent, plenty of water. Though manageable in my walking shoes, hiking boots are highly recommended.
Trail Conditions: Muddy at the top. Steep. Narrow trails. Prepared to get extremely dirty!!! Not for the feint of heart.

The yellow trail is access from Manoa Valley. It joins with the more common route from Waahila Ridge Recreation Area. 

This is my entire hike, Manoa to the Summit and to St. Louis Heights area.
Wow! This is one intense and amazing hike! I've never climbed this much in a single hike before. I'm really glad I was able to do it. If I had researched the elevation via this route before hand I might have opted out. It's grueling and tough and seems to never end. It's a bit scary at points knowing that you're that high, especially when the trail is narrow and muddy.
Well the first part, Kolowalu Trail, was intense. It's a straight climb through the forest. It's 1.1 miles. I was off to a steady pace surprisingly and it took a bit under an hour to hit the junction that leads up to Mt. Olympus summit. I guess last week's Koko Crater stairs helped prepare me. 
The hike to the summit is amazing. It follows the ridge lines. The trail is easy to recognize. There are moments where you need to climb over rocks or down them. It's a bit narrow and steep. The higher you go the muddier the trail gets. Some of the steeper parts, you'll be on 3 points. Just make sure you're stable before making your next move. You'll come across a couple of different summits. Of course the final one is the best and totally worth the climb!
Make sure you enough energy on the way down. It wasn't as bad as I had thought. Often I was sliding down on my ass (on purpose) or crab walking down. Along the way down, you'll still do a bit of climbing as it follows the ridge line. The lower part of the Waahila Ridge has some intense climbs on the way back. 

This is the first junction you'll reach starting from Manoa Valley. Get ready for a climb.
The first half of Kolowalu Trail is through terrain like this. It's full of fallen strawberry guavas and mosquitoes.

This is the junction where Waahila Ridge Trail and Kolowalu Trail meet. The first sign on the left leads up the ridge to the summit. The right just shows how steep it is.
Still more to go. At every ridge top, you'll see another! Just when you thought you were done. The right shows some of the more interesting terrain.

Keep going!

Still about 40 mins before you reach the summit.

See those people up there!
This is one of the trickier parts. It's steep and muddy and narrow.

Looking back. Not from the final summit though.
From the summit: The ridge line I came from.
From the summit: Some crater. I think its Kaau Crater. I have to explore it later.
From the summit: Manoa Valley
Various views from the summit. This last panoramic looks over the windward side. Amazing view.
On another note, close to the summit, there was a hiker with a sprained ankle and his friend. Though it wasn't a serious injury there was no way he would be able to hike down on it. They were calling the local rescue for an airlift out of there. There wasn't any place to land though so I was curious how they were going to do it. I gave them the GPS coordinates to let the rescue know. This thing is handy! Totally worth the purchase.
I was about 20 minutes away and figured I'd catch them on the way back. At the summit I heard a helicopter come up. That's pretty good response time! I started heading back and grabbed some photos and a movie of them airlifting them out. I wasn't at the actual site of where they were rescued from but still it was amazing to watch. The helicopter didn't land. 
After first scouting there location, they headed back (I guess to pick up some equipment). Actually that hovered over me for a bit and I directed them to where the hiker was. Glad to have helped! Soon after they came back and dropped some sort of rescue basket out. I'm not sure if someone was in the basket on the way down. The helicopter circled for a bit while they secured the hiker (didn't have a line of sight to see that part). Soon after, the helicopter returned and they hooked the basket and flew off. The hiker was dangling from a line from the helicopter (I'd imagine 20 - 30 ft below the chopper) as they flew back.
I was impressed.
Before I post the video, I want to contact the local news channel and see if I can make some money off of it. Why not? Otherwise I'll give it to them and have them mention the website or something.

An amazing sky! Picture taken from St. Louis Heights residential area. It's good to be in Hawaii!

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