This was by far the scariest and longest (time-wise) hike we’ve done since arriving in Hawaii.  And it was also the most exciting.  For two reasons: one, the greater the danger, the greater the exhilaration.  And two, we met a celebrity! Who?  Keep reading to find out.

So normally, we are over-prepared.  We bring plenty of water and a lunch plus snacks.  But our research this time was lacking, and we greatly underestimated the distance of the trail.  Because of that, we only brought one snack for each of us.  Oops.
On a positive note, we brought plenty of water.  After our last hike (which I’ve yet to blog about), we decided we needed to stop carrying around heavy water bottles.  It was time to buy the kids some camelbaks to match our own. Amazon link here: Camelbak Kid’s Mini-M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack (50-Ounce/91 Cubic-Inch, Turkish Sea)
So despite our lack of proper food, we all had plenty of water.
The Hawai’iloa Ridge Trail actually starts within a gated community.  The process is fairly easy – you check in with the gate guard and sign a waiver releasing the state (community?) from any liability.  And because there are only 10 parking spots provided, you have to get there early.  So we did.

We were immediately excited about this adventure.  Although I have to admit, the overcast skies were bumming me out.  On the one hand, it’s cooler.  On the other, the pictures aren’t as amazing!

Just as we were getting started, we had a pretty fantastic view of Koko Crater (left) and Koko Head (right).

This part was such a piece of cake.  We were just loving every minute.

The kids were having so much fun with their Camelbaks.

We did have a little hiccup early on.  Austin got something in his eye and couldn’t even open it.

Okay, so as we were walking, I saw these two people off in the distance.  James and I are part of a hiking group on FB.  I figured I could just upload the photo to the group and let these people know about it whenever we passed them on the trail.  I just kept an eye out for their clothing.  And it’s not like tons of people hike these longer trails at the same time.

Well, I’ll just skip ahead for a minute.  When we eventually caught up with them (they were on their way back from the top), I noticed the white shirt and then looked up to see his friend had a yellow shirt on. I quickly told them about the photo, and then I finally focused on the guy’s face.  It was Matthew Morrison from Glee!  (He plays Mr. Schuester.)  Like an idiot, I said, “I know you!”  But then I moved on and we just quickly chatted about the trail.  He and his friend told us that getting to the summit was actually kinda scary, and we shouldn’t feel bad if we stopped short because of the kids.  They were very nice.

Now, you’re just gonna have to take my word for it because I didn’t get a picture with him.  We were sweaty and muddy and worried about the path ahead.  But I just looked at his Twitter account, and he posted a picture with the caption “Aloha!” on April 22.  That’s just four days after this hike.

Anyway, I thought it was cool, mostly because I feel like anyone who visits this place (celebrity or not) should explore the less-touristy areas.  And I’m always impressed with anyone who is famous and down to earth as well.  They are just normal people obviously.  Normal people who lots of people recognize. 🙂

But moving along.  We just did lots of walking.  It was beautiful, but I don’t have a lot of interesting things to say about this part.  So I’ll let the photos do the talking.

I grabbed this short video of the view.  The wind was blowing so hard, but man the scenery is incredible!

Back to the pictures…

By this point, Austin’s eye started to feel better.

Isn’t hiking glamorous?  Oh, the mud.

By this point, we were getting up into the clouds.  That’s kinda freaky.

This is where it started to get scary.  When you see ropes, you know that means the climb is going to be difficult.  And the truth is, you can’t really fully trust the ropes, so it’s a battle trying to decide how much weight to put on them.

And in this case, the slippery mud made everything more difficult.

But a look backward showed us just how worth it this is!

So these steps are supposed to help you climb up the incline.  The problem is that the soil has eroded and they’re no longer steps!

At this point, you give up trying to stay clean.  You embrace the mud and just stick your hands directly in it.

I really can’t explain how scary this was.  Several times, we considered turning around.  But the kids were doing okay, and we took it incredibly slow.

As we were ascending the final part of the climb, I stopped taking pictures.  It was all I could do not to curl up in a ball and cry.  It was seriously THAT intense.  But we made it.  It took us three hours to hike 2.5 miles, but we made it.

And look at that view at the top!

Oh, wait.  Just clouds.

The kids ate their snacks and we all rested for a bit.  James and I were too keyed up to really eat anything anyway.

Then it was time to go down.  Which normally, that’s the fun part.  Or at the very least, less intense.  It was the opposite this time.  James is smiling in this picture, but even he admits that it was scary.  I cannot overemphasize the fact that one slip and we would have just gone flying off the mountain.  No pressure.

So cloudy.

We went so slowly that I had plenty of time to take pictures.  It took us 2 hours to climb and descend the half mile distance at the top.

James was truly a rockstar during this hike.  I was having my own issues (fear of heights, anyone?), so he was responsible for helping the kids down each section.

And using the ropes going down?  Not. Less. Scary.

But the view…

Going back down those useless steps.

Once we made it past the majority of the intense sections, we had to get our traditional family selfie.

See this smile?  This smile says, “It’s almost over!”

The girl was no longer having fun though.  She kept falling behind and honestly, it was a really long hike.  I don’t blame her.

James and Aidan got ahead of us because I kept stopping for pictures.  So it was just the three of us for a while.  We kept hoping we were nearing the end.

And then we finally made it!  It took us about 6 hours in total, and the trail ended up being 5 miles instead of the 3 we were anticipating. We were exhausted and starving, but it was one of those days that we’ll never forget.  Even though it was the scariest thing we’ve done, we were so proud of ourselves for not giving up!

Secret Encounter with the Sea Turtles
Makapu'u Tidepools (& Bunkers)