Ascent of Puu Alii on 2017-06-25

Climber: Greg Slayden

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, June 25, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Puu Alii
    Elevation:4199 ft / 1279 m

Ascent Trip Report

My main objective for today was Kamakou, the ultra-prominent peak that is the Molokai Island high point. That was a long and grueling effort (see report), and I was done with the hard part of that, taking a well-earned rest on the easy boardwalk section of trail, at about 5:15 PM or so. I could have easily hiked the half-hour out to the waiting car, and I was very low on water and food.

So I hemmed and hawed and finally realized that I did not want to have to return to Molokai, rent another expensive Jeep, and come all the way back here for a silly liner CoHP. I wanted to finish the Hawaii counties on this trip, and I had told Laura (waiting in the car) that my deadline was 8 PM, giving me enough time to head to Puu Ali’i. So I started down the boardwalk as it headed north.

I came to the grassy viewpoint I had inadvertently hiked to while enroute to Kamakou, then hiked a further short section of boardwalk to its end at another viewpoint, where a sign warned “do not go beyond this point”. I was pretty sure I had forgotten to load a GPS track for Puu Ali’i, so all I had was Bob Burd’s printed trip report. A wide grassy path headed left, and I saw recent footprints in the mud there, so I assumed that Laura had gone that way on her Puu Ali’i hike earlier today.

That route petered out in the woods, though, so I returned and seemed to find a better flagged path beyond the sign, which I followed. It was better going than my bushwhacking “route” on Kamakou, but it had many more deep mudholes to worry about.

Unfortunately, I lost the path when I could not find a ribbon, and I plowed on ahead with no GPS track to nudge me the right way. I soon was in a really bad dense thicket, and had to cross a perpendicular stream canyon on a rickety log that collapsed under my weight. I was OK, but the bushwhacking here was utterly desperate, similar to the miserable terrain on my Volcan Barva trek earlier this year. I forced my way to my right and happily came back upon the trail, close to the cliff edge.

More muddy going got me to a fenceline, and here I started following it, expecting it to lead me to Puu Ali’i. However, my GPS showed me heading off to the west—not good. I read Bob’s trip report and he noted getting confused here, just like I was, but I could not figure out his solution from what he wrote. I went back and forth a few times, but I could not find a fence leading north. It was getting late, I was wasting time, and I figured I would have to bail. I started back.

But I thought I should double check to make sure my GPS did not have a track—and, surprisingly, it did! I had taken the time back home to load Rob Woodall’s track but had assumed I had not. With that to follow, I quickly saw that I had to go through the gate in the fence, and then cut ahead in brush a short ways to pick up the northbound fence, which was the continuation of the one heading east from gate—it apparently made a sharp left turn a short ways uphill from the gate.

With a good fenceline to follow, I climbed over a couple of minor knolls and then descended to the Puu Ali’i area. My GPS guided me to the right spot, near a gate in the pig fence. I took a brief rest here, tried to get as close to the county line corner as I could, saw some views from the nearby cliff edge, and took some photos. But it was getting late and I could not tarry long.

My return hike was much less eventful. I followed the fenceline south, returned to the first gate, and stayed on the mudhole trail without losing it this time. I did step in one particularly bad mud pit and lost my water sandal—I had to dig it out from a two-foot deep hole. I was a totally muddy mess after that.

Once back on the boardwalk I hustled to get back the car by nightfall. I was still rationing my water but I took longer and longer sips as I neared the trailhead. It got pretty dark after 7:30 PM, but the metal grate on the boardwalk nicely caught what little light there was, and I could still truck along without a headlamp. I only tripped once on a flap of grating.

At 7:45 PM I finally staggered back to the car, where Laura was happy to see me—in 15 minutes she would have started worrying. I was very lucky and thankful to have someone willing to wait for me for most of the day. I was quite beat after 15 hours in the jungle, after doing both Kamakou and Puu Ali’i.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:120 ft / 36 m
    Total Elevation Loss:445 ft / 135 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.9 mi / 4.7 km
    Quality:5 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Mud/Swamp
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
Descent (To Destination) Statistics
    Gain on way in:60 ft / 18 m
    Loss on way in:86 ft / 26 m
    Distance:1.2 mi / 1.9 km
    Route:South Ridge
    Start Trailhead:Boardwalk/Fencline  4225 ft / 1287 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:359 ft / 109 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 299 ft / 91 m; Extra: 60 ft / 18m
    Gain on way out:60 ft / 18 m
    Distance:1.7 mi / 2.8 km
    Route:S Ridge/Boardwalk
    End Trailhead:Overlook  3900 ft / 1188 m
Ascent Part of Trip: 2017 - Molokai

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Kamakou2017-06-25 a2461 ft / 750 m
2Puu Alii2017-06-25 b120 ft / 37 m
Total Trip Gain: 2581 ft / 787 m    Total Trip Loss: 2581 ft / 787 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Greg Slayden
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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