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Hike the Mt Ka'ala

On the northernmost end of the island (oliver 95), the summit of Mount Kaala, Oahu's highest peak, sits 4,010 feet above sea level. The 40-minute drive to the north shore where our adventure starts is almost as spectacular as the hike itself. Go west on the H-1 freeway from downtown Honolulu. Keep left on Route 78 West to Aiea near the Middle Street. Bear right to join H-1 to Pearl City by Aloha Stadium. Take theH-2 motorway to Wahiawa (exit 8A). At the end of the freeway, continue on Route 99 North (Wilikina Drive) bypassing Wahiawa and Schofield Barracks (in this area there are other hiking trails including Waikakalaua, Kaukonahua Stream and Poamoho.

Take the left fork in direction of Waialua. Bear left under the overpass to Mokuleia in a small traffic circle and look out for Waialua High School on the left. Park on the street next to the last lot of the school. From here we walk on foot. Just past high school, turn left onto an unpaved cane road for the haul. At this point, you can see Mount Kaala rising in the distance through the clouds. At this point, climb over a yellow gate if it's locked; as it's 50% of the time. At this time, you're going to pass a small reservoir on the left and another usually open gate. The road, now dirt and dramatically narrowed, bears right and starts climbing.

The dirt road becomes more and more obscure as I gain elevation. At around this point, I leave the stress and pressures of everyday life behind. From here on up, I become a part of nature. At between the 1,500 and 2,000 foot elevation, surroundings begin to drastically change. Although the climate is still warm and quite dry at this level, flora and fauna seem to flourish. While walking through the dry-land forests of strawberry guava and giant Ohia trees, a family of wild boars feeding on guava or mango is not an uncommon sight. Peacock, quail, ring-neck pheasant and other otherwise rarely seen birds of Hawaii can also be found here.

The tops of ohia trees are now well below us and the North shore line of Oahu sits clearly beyond them; we near the 3,000 foot elevation and the hike has certainly become more challenging. The trail has now steepened considerably and dampening of the ground makes walking a little more difficult. However, it is nothing that the novice hiker can't handle. My suggestions are that you stay on the trail, use the existing foot holes as necessary, and check all of the climbing facilitator cables before using them to pull yourself up. This section of the trail is obviously not a cake walk, but it doesn't last for very long. Just stay focused, watch your balance and you'll be fine.

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