Pu'u Heleakala 2x P500
Kalepa P300

Dec 30, 2019

With: Tom Becht
Iris Ma

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profile
Pu'u Heleakala previously climbed Jun 11, 2014


Today was a travel day. The family was heading back to the mainland while I was heading to Kauai where I was to spend a week with Tom and Iris. My flight was in the afternoon while our AirBnB checkout was around 11a. I got up early to get a hike in because I didn't know if there would be time once I got to Kauai. Plus, an early hike has a way of calming me down for the unavoidable run through the TSA gauntlet that makes me loathe air travel. Surviving that, with only the loss of two Yoplait yogurts, I met up with Tom and Iris with enough time for a short hike before sunset.

Pu'u Heleakala

I'd pretty much cleaned out all the easy peaks on the west side of the island, so I paid a return visit to Pu'u Heleakala, a summit I had visited three years earlier. It lies atop the dividing ridgeline between Nanakuli Valley to the south and the much larger Lualualei Valley to the north. Previously, I had used the NW Ridge to reach the summit, this time I took the much better trail up the SW Ridge. I parked on Helelua Stapartment complex that abuts the hillside. I walked between two of the buildings towards the back where a fenceline coming in from the north ends abruptly, allowing easy access. I aimed for a pillbox on the hillside where I picked up a use trail that would lead to the ridge and on to the summit, a distance of a bit under 1.5mi from the starting point. The ridge offers views the entire way. The Oahu landfill takes up a good deal of space on the north side, while the interesting Nanaluki High School with its odd, circular buildings can be seen to the south. I was hustling along at a good clip to give me time to get back and pack up. I made it to the summit in under an hour, noting the fine weather today, hardly a cloud obscuring the views to the Waianae Range to the east. Ka'ala could be seen to the northeast with its distinctive flat summit plateau. Palikea beckoned to the east - I had been within 500ft of its summit the previous day, unable to get to the top. The ridge I stood upon this morning offers a way to reach it, starting with a 670-foot drop to a saddle, followed by a long climb to reach the 3,000-foot summit, about 2.5mi from Pu'u Heleakala. The use trail continues for some distance, but then fades and becomes a pretty grueling bushwhack, not for the faint of heart, and not for today. I returned back the same way I'd come in about 40min, also at a pretty good clip. This would give me plenty of time to shower, pack up, and have some breakfast, too. Time to say goodbye to Oahu...


After landing on Kauai, Tom came to pick Iris and I up at the airport. He'd arrived a few hours earlier and had already climbed Sleeping Giant. Iris needed something to climb so we set out for nearby Kalepa. This is a very easy summit just north of the town of Lihue where we were staying for the week, less than two miles of driving for about a mile and change of hiking. There are small telecom installations at the summit with a paved road going nearly to the top. Despite some big rains earlier in the week, the hike had very little mud. We reached the top at sunset with surprisingly good views overlooking Lihue and the eastern side of the island. As usual, Waialeale & Kawaikini were smothered in a blanket of clouds, though Haupa showed off nicely to the south. On the way down we took a motorcycle track, part of a small network of such trails in the area. The whole outing is easily done in about 40min.


Stunned comments on 01/07/20:
I just blinked and you're at 6127 peaks already? +127?? WTF? (Can censor that if u prefer)
Nick C comments on 02/28/20:
Hey, I just climbed Heleakala the other day! I really liked the aesthetics of that pyramidal formation to the East, so I scrambled down to the saddle and up the pyramid. Nothing magical up there, but a nice vantage point nonetheless.
Submit online comments or corrections about the story.

More of Bob's Trip Reports

This page last updated: Fri Feb 28 19:03:49 2020
For corrections or comments, please send feedback to: snwbord@hotmail.com