Kuilau Ridge Hike – January, 2016

My brother Eric was always poring over the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook finding new hikes.

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On Wednesday morning, Jan 13, Eric found some obscure waterfall and convinced David and me to take off with him on a trail head looking for it…

So far so good …

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Uh oh. Looking a little rough

Just add rain to make this really fun

Just add rain to make this really fun

“We’ve lost the trail, Eric.” Uh, where’s Eric?

Find Eric

Find Eric

Thank goodness for his girly-girl back pack. See the pink and blue dot? There’s a method to his madness.

“We’re turning around, Eric.”

David leads the way back out.

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We bailed on the waterfall hike – decided at this point to return to the Kuilau Ridge hike that we had already partially explored with Steph and Vic on Sunday, three days ago.

The complete Kuilau Ridge hike consists of two trails that start at opposite trailheads and meet to form a 5-mile arc: The Kuilau trail and the Moalepe trail.

To hike the whole trail at once you’d have to park a car at each end. The Kuilau Trail hike is the shorter, more popular trail of the two. There is a picnic table near the summit.

Steph, Vic, Eric, David and I hiked the Kuilau trail to the picnic table and back three days ago, Sunday, Jan. 10. It’s 2.5-miles round-trip. Let me take you back now to that Kuilau Trail hike three days ago with Steph and Vic. I’ll start with us trying to park…

I snapped a photo of the parking lot. Note the Brown Sign posted at the edge of the lot:

“Do not block gate.” it says

"We're not blocking the gate"

“We’re not blocking the gate”

Furthermore, ‘Do not block car blocking gate’:

Not blocking car blocking gate

Not blocking car blocking gate

The parking lot accommodates about 6 cars. Needless to say, it was full.

You have to park? Oh, too bad.

You have to park? Oh, too bad.

We managed to park alongside the road, off the curve enough to be safe but not get stuck in the mud. We found that ‘two left wheels on pavement’ works okay if there hasn’t been a recent rain. Just don’t get run over getting out of your car.

It’s a gorgeous hike.

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Kuilau Ridge Hike

Kuilau Ridge Hike

When Steph and Vic, Eric, David and I arrived at the the picnic table on Sunday it drove Eric nuts to know there was still 3.5 miles of unexplored trail in front of us, where Kuilau Trail joined with the Moalepe Trail.

So, fast forward three days, to today, after our failed hike to the ‘waterfall’ – Eric coaxed David and me into hiking the Moalepe trail from its trail head at Olohena Road, to the picnic table, and back – a 6 1/2 mile hike round trip. If we do it we will have hiked both trails, and covered all 5 miles over the ridge from trail head to trail head.

We are driving to the Moalepe trail head now. It’s a bit of a challenge finding Olohena Road, on account of the main route to it is closed. Next thing, we hang a sharp right on this road…

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through a residential section. I was sure glad I didn’t have to give verbal directions … ‘Hang a right here! on … uh, Ka-nee-poo-oo-noo-ee Road!”

With David driving and Eric as navigator we found the trail head on Olohena Road just fine.

It was totally worth it! Here are more photos of our hike:

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At the picnic table now.

Eric setting a new male fashion trend in backpacks

Eric setting a new male fashion trend in backpacks

With our spirit guide. I snapped this egret’s photo from about 4 feet away.

'Oh boy, another annoying tourist'

‘Oh boy, another annoying tourist’

Headed back down now…

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I mean, up … this spot is really slick after a rain. We know this because Steph fell on this muddy slope four years ago, the only other time we’ve done this hike.

We stopped where the Kuilau and Moalepe Trails meet – took photos of the signs:

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Soon we hiked past this big ol’ ancient tree

'Moss does not grow fat on a rolling stone'

Moss does not grow fat on a rolling stone

and jungle foliage

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We arrived back home a collective hot, sweaty and exhausted mess. But it was nothing a hot shower and Kauai sunset couldn’t remedy.

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Eric was so happy by the end of the day he broke out in song and dance.

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To his favorite Garth Brooks tune, “Friends in Low Places.”

Yeah, I know. I’ve no idea who he’s referring to.

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