I had dropped Tom off at the Hilo airport in the early afternoon, then spent
about 5hrs hanging out at a Starbucks before picking up Eric at the same
airport later that evening. His sister and her family live in Hilo where we
would stay for the next six nights. She had joined us in Telluride the previous
summer for some peakbagging there and seemed to enjoy it as much as any of us.
Eric's "Christmas present" to her had been a subscription to LoJ in an effort
to get her to embrace the peakbagging bug as much as he had, and she seemed to
take the bait hook, line and sinker. On our drives around the island,
she took up her position
in the back seat of the jeep with her Delorme map book spreak out on her lap,
smartphone with the peakbagger app in hand, coordinating road and summit names,
satellite views and all manner of approach options. It was glorious to behold.
The weather this week had rain pretty much every day in Hilo, local streams and
rivers running to capacity for most of the time. Drier parts of the island
could be found, but there was very little sunshine anywhere, not exactly
unwelcomed considering we were there to hike, not lie on the beach. From Hilo,
we headed across Saddle Rd to the western side of the island, finding the rain
had stopped as we went over the large saddle between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.
Rain would come later in the day to ensure we had at least one good soaking
before calling it a day.
Our first peak was located inside the
just off the Beltway Hwy. Hunting is allowed on weekends and since today was a
Friday, we had the place to ourselves. There are various dirt roads that
provide access to the area, but these were closed during the week, requiring
us to park at
to the highway. No matter - the roads didn't get
us any closer to our summit anyway. It lies less than a fifth of a mile to
the east, covered in tall grasses that we would have to
to reach it. It seemed like such an easy summit, yet proved a bit of a workout.
The tall grasses hid loose volcanic rocks lying in wait to trip us up, making
for slow going. We took about 15min to make our way across the initial flat
area, then more steeply
of the old cinder cone before making our way
to . We found in one of the
summit rocks, but
(and we spent far too much time than it was
worth), we had no luck finding the benchmark. On the way back, I led us down
the northwest side of the summit to get us to the highway, a longer route
overall, but less grass. We simply walked along the side of the highway to
return to the parking lot.
The next four summits are all located around the .
this might present some access problems, but found no such issues. The golf
club isn't exactly derelict, but it isn't one of the finer properties on the
island. Located in the middle of Mauna Loa's northern lava fields, there
are no homes along the course and it seems to be underutilized and underfunded.
Security seemed completely lacking, allowing anyone to drive past the unmanned
entrance station. Pu'u Lili is located on the northeast edge of the golf
course, an old cemetery occupying the high ground at the top. A short walk past
along an leads easily
to the top. A short rectangular rock wall marks the periphery of the cemetery,
overgrown with tall grasses and weeds, a few are found
and looking far newer than one might expect.
Located in the middle of the golf course, this one was an unexpected drive-up.
We drove past the uncrowded club house to the end of the pavement, then onto
a dirt service road used by the groundskeepers. was at
the top of a knoll just as the road drops onto one of the fairways. We got out
to take a few before driving back out - no need to press
our luck as we certainly didn't look like groundskeepers in our bright white
The lamest of the day's summits, really just a large flat area with no
discernable summit. has been bulldozed but never developed. It
sandwiched between the golf course and the Pu'u Anahulu Community Association,
a local community facility built with funds from the impact fee charged when
the golf course was approved in the 1990s. It includes a rodeo arena and
picnic grounds, but it was closed and lifeless today. We parked off the
highway and past the locked but , past
and up the small hill on the backside.
This is the highpoint of the golf club, found on the western edge. We drove
to the golf club's maintenance area but were told we couldn't access the summit
from that location. They did tell us we could use the periphery road that goes
around the outside. So we drove back to the entrance, found the dirt road near
Pu'u Lili, and drove around the dirt road until we were a short distance below
the summit on . A steep, tiring, and thankfully
through thick, spongy vegetation led to the periphery fence. Just on the other
side of the fence is marking the highpoint. It was
the only summit on the grounds with .
The Pu'u Wa'awa'a Cinder Cone State Park is located about a mile south of the
golf course, adjacent to the highway. It is a popular hiking spot to reach
Pu'u Wa'awa'a, a large, grass-covered cinder cone with more than 400ft of
prominence. Along the way, an old branches northeast to
reach to a smaller summit, . Our roundabout route was
designed to keep the
cross-country to a minimum as it looks to be pretty rough in this area, though
not impossibly so. Most of our route was along the maintained and unmaintained
roads until we were a few hundred feet from the summit on the southeast side.
Goat and sheep trails lead up from the road
really just the highest-looking point along a north-south ridgeline. Not too
much to recommend this one. After returning to the main park road/trail, we
with intentions of hiking to Pu'u Wa'awa'a with numerous other
parties that were using the trail today. I could see a wall of rain approaching
us from the east and was hesitant to give it a go since we'd left all our rain
gear back in the jeep. Eric and Ingrid seemed blissfully unaware or unconcerned
about the rain, so I didn't say much. As expected, it began to rain and was
soon coming down in torrents. We reached the base of the cinder cone and
considered how much work there was remaining. I'd already climbed this one on
a previous trip so didn't feel any need to reach it today. I was
happy when the two of them suggested turning back without much need for
prompting on my part. As it turned out, they would get back to this one a week
later after I'd already left the island.
As we started driving back along the highway, the weather gave us a respite, so
we looked for some short ones we could quickly bail on, if needed. Pu'u Iwa'iwa
is found ,
a few miles north of the junction with the
Daniel Inouye Hwy. It lies on private property, though unsigned for
No Trespassing. We went over an unused ranch gate and
small cinder cone's crater rim. A mix of grass and loose volcanic rock made it
somewhat tricky. The highpoint is found at the northeast corner of
. The whole outing was completed in about 20min.
This was the only summit of the day with more than 300ft of prominence. It is
located near the junction of Beltway Hwy and Saddle Rd, about 5mi northeast of
the previous summit. The area to the east and south of the summit is part of
another game management area. This one was closed as well, so we parked at the
entrance off Saddle Rd and slipped through to gain access.
cinder cone is surrounded by a roughly cleared area (more like some sort of
firebreak rather than a road) and a tall fence, the latter designed to keep
pigs, sheep and goats outside. This may be part of a replanting effort that has
yet to take place or perhaps done in the past, or perhaps just giving the
slopes of the cinder cone a chance to recover more naturally on its own. We
went and climbed up to
in about 20min's time. There are the remains of a survey
monument found at the top, etched with the name of
the summit and completed by the Hawaiian Territorial Survey back in 1938.
from the summit, but not a good day for pictures. We
descended for a change of pace, Ingrid and I waiting at
the bottom for Eric to join us. He was pretty tired by this time and
a few times on the tricky slopes, luckily surviving without
injury. Nothing a cold beer couldn't take of, anyway...