Lanipō/Mau’umae Ridge Trail
Normally, I can’t wait to tell you all about a trail so you can round up your family and head on out. Not so with this one. Unless you want your kids to cry, complain, likely bleed, possibly fall off a skinny path, and most definitely dislike you in the days to come. But other than that, it’s a great one to try!
Everyone calls this the Lanipō Trail, but it’s technically Mau’umae Ridge. Looking at the sign below, I’m pretty sure we only went as far as the Kainawa’aunui Summit, so it was a 7 mile round trip hike. And because we are a bunch of Slowy McSlowersons, it took us a full eight hours. Three kids on an eight hour hike? Just go ahead and imagine how much fun was had. (Although, I personally loved it.)
We parked just near the trail head off of Maunalani Circle in Honolulu. We spotted a few other vehicles, but we didn’t see another person on the entire trail.
We slathered on the sunscreen and got on our way. I swear it feels like every single trail we do feels different. This may be because I have a bad memory or maybe the terrain is just truly that varied. But I have a love/hate relationship with the rocks and climbing. It’s nice to break up the monotony of a straight trail, but my knees aren’t what they use to be. We had read from various blogs and reviews that this was a killer hike. The next few photos give you an idea of the ups and downs we encountered just in the beginning. The views looking back toward Honolulu were just incredible.
We had read that although this hike is rough anytime, it’s even worse when it’s raining (or has been raining). The below image shows you very clearly why. We’re simultaneously trying to teach the kids that the ropes can be helpful AND that they shouldn’t rely on them completely. So in this image, James is holding the rope taut (with his feet planted), and Audra is using it to guide her way up. And here’s where the fun began. Uluhe fern. I can’t say for sure, but I’m pretty sure it dominated 2/3 of this trail. And as you can see in this image, there was no getting around it. We knew this going in, so James and the younger two wore long pants. I wore capris, but poor Aidan wore shorts. Consider this a less than fantastic parenting moment. He’s grown too much for all of his pants, and we couldn’t find any his size when we stopped on the way. Here and there, we’d get a break from the ferns. And then it was right back to it. So very scratchy. And these poor kids are short, so they couldn’t do much but just fight their way through it. If you know Aidan, you know that having his dad pick him up and carry him was probably more torturous than the fern itself. But I give James props for trying to help. You’ll see Austin most often throughout this post because he was the only one who wasn’t miserable. Because of this, I stuck close to him and left the other two to James. Exhibit A (B? C?): Audra is totally pouting here.More ferns. Good times. You may remember our hike that led to the first waterfall on the Ka’au Crater trail a few months ago. This was our first glimpse of the inside of the crater and it was magnificent! I was starting to lose my hiking mojo and the excitement of this discovery totally reenergized me.
Just recently, we purchased microspikes for the whole family. We held off on using them during this trail, but it was at this little climb right here that we realized it was time to bust them out.
But first, another look at Ka’au Crater. The inside is supposedly a marsh. People hike around the rim of the crater, but as I understand it, you can’t walk in the middle. Gorgeous though, right? Okay, back to the microspikes. I am SO excited about these. I absolutely cannot believe we waited so long to buy these. They are a game-changer when it comes to climbing up/down wet dirt paths and just hiking in general.
I did quite a bit of research on the spikes, and we ended up going with two different brands. Based on a trusted recommendation (thanks Marcus!), James and I went with a local distributor. The brand is Hillsound and ours are called Freesteps6 Crampons. If you live on O’ahu, I highly recommend you check out their Facebook page and send them a message. Meeting up with them to purchase the spikes is super easy. Tell them Nicole from The Wandering Five sent you!
For the kids, we had to find a different option. The Hillsound brand doesn’t make a product that will fit their tiny feet, so we decided to go with the Kahtoola Microspikes. Now here’s something to keep in mind: Kahtoola used to be the brand everyone raved about. But from my research, the recent buzz is that they aren’t designed for the terrain here in Hawai’i. However, we decided that they would work just fine for our kids. Less weight on the spikes = less potential problems. (At least we hope!)
But this very first hill proved just how effective the spikes were going to be. We all climbed it with ease. I was mentally smacking myself for waiting so long to make the purchase.
The girl always hates climbing, and she handled it with ease as well. (And look at that view into the crater!) Just before we made our final descent to the summit, we considered quitting. I know that sounds ridiculous, but we were 3.5 hours in, and we weren’t sure how much longer it would be. It had started raining, we knew we wouldn’t have a view at the top, and the older two were absolutely miserable. Aidan and I were both covered in scratches, and the Uluhe ferns were unrelenting. But I begged the kids to just give it another 30 minutes and then we’d turn around.
Somehow, we made it in exactly a half hour. Just as we suspected, the summit was socked in. But at least the snacks were good and the ground was soft. You can’t see it much at all in this picture, but we think the way to the actual Lanipo summit might be just in the middle there beyond the grass. It was just too foggy though for us to even consider trying to find it. And really, another 0.2 mile could have taken us another 45 minutes. We were so excited about our spikes that we decided to capture them!And then we headed back. And I have to say, the ferns seemed to hurt about 5x worse on the way back. Pants, people -wear pants. So I have to say, I trust my children and the respect they have for the land. But I can’t tell you how many times I said “Watchitwatchitwatchitwatchit” while we were near the summit. This picture doesn’t adequately show how truly steep and narrow the path was. But trust me when I say my pleas were totally reasonable. Another view. And although my wide-angle lens is distorting the image a bit, I wasn’t about to ask him to back up and let me try to capture it again. This stuff gives me nightmares. That’s the peak we hiked to. Another shot of the spikes in action. So very helpful. (And those are my favorite guys in the world.)
I can’t remember how many ropes there were on this trail, but there must have been a few. I can imagine they’d be immensely helpful during and after a heavy rain. It did drizzle for quite a bit while we hiked, but we never encountered much mud. Pretty thankful for that!
Those areas where you have to climb up are less fun when you’re coming back down. But I was there to save the day.
It started to clear up as we got closer and closer back to the trailhead. It was a little frustrating because we would have loved for that to happen at the summit! But at least we still had some beautiful views. And a rainbow! Look at those smiles! The way back didn’t go any faster than the way there, but the kids knew that with each step, they were a foot closer to ice cream. And freedom. Once we reached the bench, we knew we were soooooclose. And I don’t know why, but I love this image for some reason. This kid is gonna give me a heart attack. Not an ounce of fear. A sunset shot of us just before we finished up this brutal hike. I can’t really tell you how grateful I am to the four of them for indulging me on a regular basis. James and Austin enjoy hiking of course. But the other two? They know how much their momma loves to be in the mountains, and although they don’t love it, they love ME. So they keep doing it. (And they give me amazing images such as the one below.) While they might complain while we’re out there, it all stops the minute we hit the van. They like me again, and we all talk about how awesome we are for conquering yet another adventure that once seemed so daunting. And then they decide which McFlurry flavor they’re gonna get this time… Done. 8 hours. 7 miles. And an endless amount of pride.
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