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Kalahaku Teeth to Waimalu Middle Ridge

Updated: Mar 6, 2023

by Nandor Szotak August 19th 2018

A long journey up on one of Oahu's less traveled ridge lines.

misty Kalahaku teeth
Kalahaku here we come!

After finishing all my KST sections, and having 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's inner part, for me it looks like from Makapu'u to Kahana or Punalu'u Valley.

hikers startin kalahaku teeth trail
Let the adventure start!

The Kalahaku Teeth was on my list for a long time, especially because it is right in my neighborhood. This ridge is North of 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 ridgA coupleple of weeks ago I was hiking with Krista, knowing that she was up there before I mentioned to 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.

aerial shot of kalahaku teeth
Can you count all the 7 teeth?

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 an 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 wly did this troute before, so they took over the lead when we approached the actual notches.

climbers on kalahaku teeth
One of the hardest tooth to climb

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.

kaneohe bay view from kalahaku teeth
Looking back to the beautiful K - Bay

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, where we had to put up a webbing to help us down.

kalahaku rock face
This looks like the Kalahaku Pimple...I guess Kenji said the same thing :)

After the descent, we never had to use our ropes anymore, but still had to push ourselves hard through overgrown areas.

hiking up kalahaku
Cisco and Alex making their way up

windward koolau mountains
Windward view right under the cloud blanket

The weather was holding up pretty well, 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.

Team bushwhacking kalahaku teeth
Team bushwhack

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".

hiker in ukuhe fern
The trail got worst after the 5th tooth, and the uluhe got higher too

hikers on kalahaku teeth
Perfect spot for a group shot

And YES after 6.5 hours we arrived at Waimalu Meadows where of course the weather was nasty as usual, whiteout conditions, cold and windy.

misty waimalu middle ridge
Headed down the misty Waimalu Middle trail

So we just decided to head down to Waimalu Middle and stop later for a short break.

The trail was super nice and easy to walk on even with bad weather. But if you have 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 a couple of years ago :)

After descending for a while the weather started clearing up and we saw a couple of beautiful waterfalls on the side of Waiau ridge, so Oli just named them Waiau falls.

waterfall in the koolau mountains
Waiau Falls???

Waimalu Middle felt like a never-ending hike down the valley, and the worst thing about it, the closer you get to the end, the more overgrown it gets.

waimalu valley
This just reminds me the never ending Moanalua Middle Ridge

Reaching the Waimalu stream Steve kept telling us only 2 stream crossings before 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. Wasn't an easy journey, but feeling the accomplishment at the end, it's the best thing ever.

Google Earth Image of kalahaku track
Google Earth Image

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 your 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 limitations and be safe out there!


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