Laauhihaihai

Sat, Dec 15, 2007

With: Ryan Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Map Profile
later climbed Mon, Dec 17, 2007

One of the side trips I wanted to explore on my visit to Hawaii was the possibility of climbing Kahili, a 3,000-foot peak near the town of Koloa, not far from Poipu Beach where I was staying with the family on vacation. I had absolutely no information on the peak and discovered nothing with a web search, so I decided to just drive over and give things a look based on the topo map I had. I got my son Ryan to join me, figuring it would be a short drive and then we'd come back.

I found a dirt road off the main highway (just west of the turnoff to Koloa) that headed in roughly the right direction. I led to a place signed "Kahili Mountain Park." Ah, just what I was looking for! The No Trespassing signs were a bit discouraging as I quickly found this was not the state or county park I had presumed. It turned out to be a large piece of property owned by the Seventh Adventist Church, complete with a school, picnic facilities, cabins for rent (by church members or members of peace organizations I found later), adminstrative offices, and more. Not letting any of this deter me, I just drove in like I knew what I was doing, staying on the main road as it wound its way past the school and cabins and closer to Kahili, several miles to the northwest. At a fork I took the one signed Hiking Trails, and at a green water tank was elated to find a crude sign marked Ridge Trail. Just the ticket! I parked on the left side of the road at a small clearing just past the water tank, and before Ryan knew what was happening we were off and hiking.

"Hey, I thought we were just checking things out!" he protested. But I offered him no alternatives - he was with me on this bit of illegal adventure. The trail was crude (aren't all the trail on Kauai?), muddy (ditto), and after the first bit, fairly steep. It climbed one of the main ridges of Kahili, leading to an overlook named Laauhihaihai on the topo map. I have no idea how one pronounces that. Ryan was quite the sport to put up with me for more than an hour as we climbed over 1,000ft to the ridge above, with some pretty spectacular views of the Garden Isle's east side spread out below us. Once at Laauhihaihai, the forest gave way to some sheer cliffs on either side of a knife-edged ridge that made me a bit nervous to have Ryan along on. He seemed to be completely unafraid of the dangers only inches from our feet and was starting to think I was somewhat of a coward with my constant admonitions to be careful. We didn't go too far past the lookout before I called a retreat. The trail was growing thinner (most parties appeared to stop at the lookout) and time was growing shorter. Ahead was a communications tower another half mile, then the summit of Kahili another half mile beyond that. If I had time I would come back on my own to explore further. The whole outing took us about 2.5hrs, and we were plenty muddy to show our spills and slips along the way. We drove out the same way as we came, no one stopping or hindering our passage through the park.


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