Kalahaku Teeth to Waimalu Middle Ridge
Updated: Jan 15, 2020
by Nandor Szotak August 19th 2018
A long journey up on one of Oahu's less traveled ridge line.
After finishing all my KST sections, and had to bail from my KST traverse, I needed a new to do list: Windward ridges. Still not clear to me from where to where people consider those ridges, but looking at the old Ko'olau volcano inner part, for me it looks like from Makapu'u to Kahana or Punalu'u Valley.
The Kalahaku Teeth was on my list for a long time, especially because it is right in my neighborhood. This ridge is North from Ahuimanu on the South side of Waihe'e Valley, Eleao Windward being on the North (another ridge on my list). It is considered an extreme hike, and you have to climb over 7 crumbly notches to advance to the top of the ridge.
Couple weeks ago I was hiking with Krista, knowing that she was up there before I mentioned her that it would be nice to organize a hike up the ridge.
She was in!
We got a good team of 6: Krista, Alex, Cisco, Steve, Oli and Me.
The morning of the hike started with very cloudy weather, and of course we started late too (wondering if Alex has something to do with that:). Thanks to Cisco's wife we got dropped off close to the "trailhead", where we had to be quick and quiet... After a short walk on a old road, we headed up the ridge and shortly reached our 1st peak Kalahaku (965ft). I am guessing that's how this ridge got his name?
Leaving the peak the trail started to get more overgrown, but still easy to navigate. Krista and Steve was the only one who actually did this trail before, so they took over the lead when we approached the actual notches.
I stayed behind to take pictures of the group climbing up the tooth. Eventually Krista had to put up a rope on e very slippery section, so everybody could pass faster and safer.
The next interesting spot was this narrow rock face which fortunately we didn't have to climb, so we just contoured around it. That's where we found probably the most difficult descent, and actually we put up a webbing to help us down.
After the descent, we never had to use our ropes anymore, but still had to push ourselves hard through overgrown areas.
Weather was holding up pretty good, but sometimes we got some drizzles over us. You don't want to climb those notches in rainy weather.
Krista suggested that everybody should walk together to make a more efficient uluhe bulldozing action.
At this point everybody started to struggle a bit, so we went from socializing and singing to huffing and puffing through UluHell. Everybody took his turn in pushing through the overgrowth, meantime the others could take it "easy".
And YES after 6.5 hours we arrived to Waimalu Meadows where of course weather was nasty as usual, whiteout conditions, cold and windy.
So we just decided to head down Waimalu Middle and stop later for a short break.
The trail was actually super nice and easy to walk on even with bad weather. But if you never been up there or you don't have a topo map, the trail can get confusing and you may walk down on the wrong side ridge (like Alex did couple years ago :)
After descending for a while the weather started clearing up and we saw couple beautiful waterfalls on the side of Waiau ridge, so Oli just named them Waiau falls.
Waimalu Middle felt like a never ending hike down the valley, and the worst thing about it, that closer you get to the end, the more overgrown it gets.
Reaching the Waimalu stream Steve kept telling us only 2 stream crossings and we get to the trail. Well after like 6 of them we got to the trail and he kept saying "there is only one way, and you can't get lost on this trail"...and 2 minutes after he got lost :).
Luckily we made it out safely just passed sunset!
Altogether was a good, but long day with a lot of variety. Extreme ridge hike, bushwhack, falling rocks, slippery climbs, lot of stream crossings, but a lot of smiles at the end.
This was the longest time spent on a ridge for me, and definitely wasn't an easy journey, but feeling the accomplishment at the end, it's the best thing ever.
Team: Krista, Alex, Cisco, Steve, Oli and Nandor (Me)
Distance: Around 8.5 miles
Hiking Time: 11h 45min
Please don't use this documentation as a guide for you future hiking activities. This hiking route it's unsafe and very dangerous, mistakes made up here can have consequences such as serious injury or death. Make sure you know your own limitations and be a safe out there!