Roger, Diane, and I hiked the Lanipō Trail yesterday. It’s really my favorite of the East Honolulu Koʻolau ridge trails. Here’s a Google Map showing the beginning and the ending of the trail.
It was a cloudy, breezy day — great hiking weather. I didn’t take as many photos as I usually do, partly because we kept up a pretty constant conversation as we walked, and partly… well, you’ll see.
“So, where exactly are we heading?” Diane asked. I squinted and pointed. “Over there.” About half an hour later, I realized I’d made a mistake — our target wasn’t a couple of peaks to the right of the KHPR transmitter, it was a couple of peaks to the left. Here’s where I should have been pointing. The peak is about 3 miles away in this photo.
At first I couldn’t make sense of this tall spindly tree I saw… then I noticed that it was actually the flowering stalk of one of the agave (?) plants almost hidden in the brush in front of me.
We stopped to admire an orange-and-yellow orchid along the way.
I usually am the one taking all the shots, so it’s rare to get a photo with me in it. Diane took this one of me and Roger, on the way down the saddle. Thanks Diane!
Diane and Roger heading down the saddle. Note the Korean Buddhist Dae Won Sa Temple of Hawaiʻi, nestled in the back of Pālolo Valley in the background. The temple’s construction has stirred up a lot of controversy due to conflicts with existing zoning. If you look closely you can see where they recently lopped several feet off of their roof to comply with building height restrictions, leaving a flat black rectangular top instead of a tiled peak as originally built. The black top has two large golden dharma wheels, one at each end, visible only from above.
I pointed out some ʻilima blossoms as we walked.
I was surprised to see coconut palms up so high. Aren’t they supposed to be a coastal plant?
The strawberry guavas were ripe. Sweet and tart and juicy, mmmm. I’m ambivalent about strawberry guavas: on the one hand, they’re an aggressive invasive weed species. On the other, though, the fruit is great — and their trunks and roots make great handholds in steep sections of the trail.
As we went, I pointed out a few more native plants… like this ʻūlei…
…and this pūkiawe.
But then, only a couple of miles in, both my camera batteries died, leaving me camera-less. Very frustrating, especially because I’d gone to the trouble of hauling a full-size honest-to-god tripod with me, in anticipation of some very sweet pano shots of Kaʻau Crater as well as the view from the summit. Ah well. Next time.
A red helicopter kept buzzing by to our right, on the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail. At first we wondered if someone was in trouble — but the chopper wasn’t sporting either Coast Guard orange-and-white or Fire Department yellow. We saw it land on the trail, with a couple of people (well, white dots that looked like people) standing nearby. Then it lifted off, and a few minutes later came back… and lifted off again, this time carrying a load at the end of a long cable. This was repeated a couple of times. Our consensus was that it probably had something to do with the KHPR transmitter station at the top of the trail, or maybe with trail maintenance activities. Perhaps the chopper was dropping off materials and tools?
We climbed into the upper reaches of the trail, and as we ascended we got better and better views of Kaʻau Crater to our left. We could see the waterfall that drained the marshy crater on the side facing us, and I commented that I’d read about a hike that you could do that climbed the waterfall. We agreed that that sounded like a fun hike for another day.
We were hailed from behind by a lone hiker, a young guy named Greg, who joined us and kept us company for the rest of the hike. He had some great stories about his travels all over the world as a ship’s engineer on cargo ships and container ships of all sorts.
At the summit of the trail, the view was glorious. We’d had a few passing showers earlier, which had worried me a little, but when we made it to the top the weather was clear and you could see everything from Kualoa Ranch to Bellows Air Field. The air was a little hazy, and Diane commented that because of the haze, you couldn’t tell where the ocean ended and the sky began. The water just went on and on, deep blue, and in the far distance just seamlessly turned into the deep blue of the air.
In the absence of my regular camera, I tried to do a panoramic image with my cell phone instead… but 640×480 per image just isn’t the same as 2048×1536. And I wasn’t able to do a very good job of swiveling in place with the cell phone, so Autostitch was only able to recognize and stitch together the first 4 shots out of an intended 7-shot panoramic. I have better photos from my first and second times on this same trail.
Guess it’s time to buy some fresh camera batteries. (Or maybe it’s time for a new camera. I got my Sony DSC-P8 three years ago, which is an eternity for consumer electronics…)
After a half hour’s rest, we made our way back down for a total round trip of about seven hours — which was about what I expected. Another great hike.