Schofield-Waikane Trail

Summary:  We all have our Moby Dick.  For me, it’s been two trails, the Poamoho Ridge Trail and the Schofield-Waikane Trail.  Both caught my eye early this year, when I saw on the State of Hawaii Trail and Access Program website Na Ala hele that each required special permits (one permit from the State for Poamoho, but one from the US Army at Schofield and then one from the State for access to the Schofield-Waikane Trail).  Special permits to go on a trail?  They must be special trails.  Six weeks ago, with a couple of Army buddies, I had the good fortune of heading up the Poamoho Ridge Trail, but I had to wait until today before I could take a stab at Schofield-Waikane Trail.

When I contacted the Na Ala Hele crew about the status of the trail, I asked if anyone had been up there recently.  With the dual permit requirement, I wondered just how often people ventured up there, but I also wondered just how often any of the volunteer s had been up there in order to do trail maintenance.  I was hoping to glean some good intel ahead of time, so we’d better understand what we were getting into.  Their answer?  Honest, and worth it’s weight in gold.  The key nugget was this: “it’s a complicated permit, a long hot walk to an overgrown trail. In other words, it’s currently not the Poamoho experience you may be looking for…but you can legally hike it.”  I’ve been up Poamoho, ladies and gentlemen, and let me tell you — this is no Poamoho.

The Good:  It’s dead quiet on this trail.  Running through the Army training areas is a bit uneventful, but even that boring ol’ tank trail has some awesome views.  And once you get to the trail itself, the views may well knock you over the edge.  They are awesome.  I could plant a chair along this trail, and stay a week.  And I am guessing that the low numbers of visitors has something to do with the fantastic foliage being matched with a wonderful lack of human presence; we came across just one piece of trash on this trip, when we’ve damn near filled our packs with trash on other trails.  Also, this is a wet trail; be ready for ferns, and be ready to be soaked, as you’re going to bust brush on the way.  I loved it; the sun was out, but between the moisture, the occasional drops from the sky, and the sections of trail in the shade, we kept cool and kept moving.


The Bad:  OMG, you have to actually plan to go up this trail.  You can’t just wake up one morning and decided to head up there.  It’s something you have to think of a few weeks ago; the Army permit can take a day or two, and the State permit has to be submitted a week or ten days in advance of when you want to go (and after you have the paperwork from the Army).  Granted, the permit process is amazingly easy, and moved along by the nicest of people, but I am sure that there is someone who will read this who will actually think to themselves that this is a bad thing, having to apply for a permit.  For me, I see it as just part of the process.  Permits in hand, you also have to call in to the US Army’s Range Control before you start your trip (and have to take a cell phone with you), as well as call back in when you get in off of the trail.

The Ugly:  The trail does indeed go to pot maybe 3.5 miles in.  I think Schofield-Waikane Trail would be a great trail to hike.  Notice that I didn’t say that it’s a great hiking trail, or that it’d be a great hike.  It would be a great trail to hike. The route, with its long stretch of tank trail, has only a relatively short section of perhaps a mile and a half that is run-able trail; before that is the tank trail, and after that is trail with tough footing.  This is not a trail for running to the top of the Ko`olau range, but it certainly is a rail for putting in a quiet 10km run on a nice weekend morning.  If you’re going to hike it, wear pants; raspberry plants can be mean to people.

Type of route:  Tank trail, then trail running
Good to run in the rain? It’d be OK to run in the rain.

Length:  Probably 14 miles to the summit and back.  We did about 9.5 miles round trip, but if you’re going to run, plan on doing a 10km.

Options for the route: Um…. keep going father than we did?  No, there are no other side trails from this one.


Elevation change on the run: Starts at around 1300 feet, summits closer to 2800 I think.  We stopped at ~2000 feet.
Water used: ~2 liters.

Where to start:  California Ave at Nonohe St, in Wahiawa.  I asked about parking at the NCO Academy, and running through the training areas (I am, after all, an Army guy).  The answer?  A resounding NO!
Where to park: Same
Point your car’s GPS towards: 21.508306° -157.986457°  2568 Nonohe St, Wahiawa, HI 96786

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Nope
Toilets? Nope
Medical care? Nope
Ranger / park folks? Range control.  But you won’t see them, you’ll just talk to them on the phone.  If you actually see them…. yeah, that probably wouldn’t be good, because they’d probably have MP’s with them.
Picnic areas? Nope
A place to change afterwards? Nope.  Deck change, in front of someone’s house.

Rewards in the area:  There’s a porn store in Wahiawa, if that counts.

You’d run this route when?  You’ve run everything else and you can plan a weekend to do it.  When you’ve raced a half-marathon the day before.

My rating:  8

Music:  None.  Don’t spoil this run with headphones.

Weather / Trail warnings (here) / Permits (here)  I ended up mailing in the request to the US Army, and they scanned and emailed back to me their approval.  I faxed that to the State, who mailed me a lovely, embossed permit package to take along on the trip.

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here. More photos: here and here.   State Park Info: here and here and here

Running Baghdad

Summary: It’s time for another deviation from the regular writing, to talk about running in Iraq.  As an Army guy, well, I’ve run there a bit.  And it looks like I’ll be running there some more.  I am just back from a short visit to Baghdad, where I was able to sneak in 5 runs and about 66 miles of running.  Almost all of it was before the sun came up, in part to beat the heat but also in part due to jet lag (it’s 13 time zones from Hawai’i, after all).

The Good:  It’s flat.  How flat?  Think 80 to about 120 feet in elevation.  It’s flat.  And it’s secure.  I know, I know — it’s Iraq, and “secure” is a relative term.  But if you’re going to run in Iraq, this is a pretty good place to do it.  Also, there are gyms sprinkled all over the place, with plenty of cold water (and more pallets out in the open, all over the place).   And if you can adjust to running there, you can often find yourself running alone.  And with as many exterior lights as there are in the area, it’s pretty easy to run on moonless nights without a flashlight.

The Bad:  The scenery is pretty set.  Not a lot of variety when you’re confined to an American base.  And there’s not a lot to do to change that.  And being an Army base, there’s no running with an iPod or earphones.  Blah.  It’d also be easy to poo-poo the roads, but they’re actually in fair shape.  There’s one stretch that has some especially ugly speed bumps — not low, round ones, but rather some high, triangular ones that I think were built to trip runners.

The Ugly:  OMFG, it gets hot.  I ran one evening, at around 8pm and just after the sun had gone down, and the residual heat coming from the road and land was enough to kill a man.  That run — just 9 miles — used the full 3 liters in my Camelbak, after having tanked up on a liter plus before the run, and I still was dehydrated when it was over.  Somewhere over Iowa is a huge rain cloud, fed by the water sucked out of me when I was running in Iraq.

Type of route: Paved road that were likely made by the lowest bidder.
Good to run in the rain? Rain?  In Iraq?  Sure — if it rains, go ahead and keep running.

Length: 18 miles.  I did two laps of this 9 mile route.

Options for the route:  Not really.  9 miles is about as far as one can run around the lakes.  However, there are other options, for running around the airport.

Elevation change on the run:Maybe 40 feet, tops.  It’s Iraq — flat .
Water used:  All that I could carry.  If I could have figured out a way to run with a 10 gallon jug, I would have.  For the 18 miles, I drank 5+ liters, and still came up short.

Where to start: Base of Signal Hill
Where to park:  Right — like anyone has a car.
Point your car’s GPS towards: Um….

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes, at the gym
Toilets? Porta-potties all over the place.
Medical care? Best in the world, all just a MEDEVAC flight away.
Ranger / park folks? No, but a lot of armed people are in the area.
Picnic areas? Actually, yes — along Z Lake there are some.
A place to change afterwards? Nothing special, no.

Rewards in the area:  Cookies & Cream at the DFAC, any time of the day or night.

You’d run this route when….you’re deployed there for the year.

My rating:  4

Music:  None.  Yeah, that sucks.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: hereState Park Info: Just kidding

Keaiwa Heiau Loop Trail (aka Aiea Loop)

Summary: The Aiea Loop is a very nice, 4.5ish mile loop on the ridge up above the H3.  It’s certainly not flat, but it does run through a well-shaded area.  It’s a bit off the beaten path, and seems to only get the regular morning walking crowd, though hikers do show up from time to time.  This is definitely a hiking and running train; it’s not bike friendly in any way, shape or form.  You’ll pass the heiau on your way in; it’s worth a stop on the way out, both for the signs to read and a chance to see it (it’s a good shape).

The Good: Trail.  It’s all trail.  No pavement, no steps, no hand rails, nothing.  Quiet and peaceful, this is a nice area away from the world, perfect for running.  You’ll likely see a few people out on your run, but really, it’s solitude; even the groups of pig hunters and their dogs have been both isolated encounters, and pleasant ones (everyone, even the hunters, seem willing to say hello and stop to chat).  The coolness of the morning seems to linger a bit longer on the trail, making it a pretty good place to run later in the morning, too.  And the length is about right — at 4.5ish miles, it’s not hard (I would think) for most to get through this in an hour.  The route itself is also pretty self-evident; there are no markers, but I really don’t think any are needed.  I think you’d be hard-pressed to get lost.  Lastly, the facilities there are indeed good enough to support running; there’s no shower or anything, but there are well kept, clean bathrooms in which to change afterward, as well as water fountains.

The Bad: It’s not flat, by any means.  And I’m not referring to elevation change — I’m talking about the trail itself.  This is no city bike path; there are some places where the trail have a pretty decent angle, heading off the side and down the ravine.  For the sure footed, this isn’t a problem; lose your footing, though, and you’d be in for a spill down the side.  can you lose your footing?  Yep — the trail is littered with roots.  Zoning out and running does not mean taking an eye off of where you’re putting down your feet.  Also, there are obstacles — there are a few places where fallen trees, well, have been left, with notches cut into them to facilitated getting over them.  On a good day, they can be a bit hairy; on a bad day, they can be rather ugly.

The Ugly:  The rain and the mud.  That uneven trail can get a bit slick in spots when it rains, and I’ve seen one guy come close to sliding right off the side and down the ravine, due to the slick mud.  Now, being part Labrador, I happen to love running trails in the rain, stomping through puddles and mud, the mud here might seem like the perfect thing.  Not so.  The closest I have come to dying on this trail was trying to get over a fallen tree, on a rainy and slick day; the approach to the tree was slick, the tree itself was slick, and the footing on the other side was slick as well.  Good runs, I think, should leave you with a fresh review of your life’s history, of what you did right and what you did wrong; I had that that day.  Good runs shouldn’t mean slowing your pace, to keep from falling to your death.


Type of route: trail
Good to run in the rain? Only if your life insurance is up to date and you’re really, really into trail running

Length: Around 4.5 miles.  The park sign says 4.8, but I find that suspect.

Options for the route:  Nope, though I did spent one fine Sunday out there running back and forth, from one parking lot to the other, for about 3 hours .

Elevation change on the run:  It drops down to about 800′ elevation, and tops out at about 1600′ at the highest point .
Water used: 1.5 liters .

Where to start: Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area (here)
Where to park:  At the parking lot all the way at the end of the road.  There’s a good fountain there, a nice and clean bathroom, and a nice picnic area that’s perfect for a cool-down.
Point your car’s GPS towards:  99-1849 Aiea Heights Dr, Aiea, HI 96701.  The cross-street is Uluaau Drive.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes
Toilets? Yes
Medical care? Nope
Ranger / park folks? Yes, at the entrance (often).
Picnic areas? Yes, and even camping areas.
A place to change afterward? Yes, in the good & clean bathrooms

Rewards in the area:  Plate lunch at the Aiea Bowl.

You’d run this route when….it’s August, and hot, and you’re getting a late start to the morning after having slept in.  Or, when you want a nice, quiet, away-from-people trail run, some place where you can turn up the music and tune out the people.

My rating:  8

Music:  George Thorogood.  This would also be the place to play Whitesnake, or the Go-Go’s, because you just won’t run into someone who will ask, What are you listening to?

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and hereHere‘s some info on the crash.   Flickr: here and hereMore photos: here and here.   State Park Info: here and here.

KoleKole Pass

Summary: Kolekole Pass is a well known running route, but one that today sees many fewer runners than it once did.  In this post-9/11 world, access to Schofield Barracks, Lualualei Naval Reservation, and this historic road is restricted.  While it has historically been best known as shortcut across the Wai’anae range, these days it is a nice, quiet, and steep place to run.

The Good:  There’s little traffic on this road.  In fact, at during some parts of the day, there’s no through traffic at all, with only military vehicles heading to and from various ranges.  And it’s a nice little climb; the grade is steep enough to strain the legs, but not so severe as to bring you to your knees.  Also, the road is well maintained, and the side grass is regularly cut and cared for; for an out-of-the-way little side road, it’s in remarkably good shape.  Lastly, the road up has both great shade and a wonderful breeze, keeping the temp down during the hardest of times.  Time it right, and you can duck right into the showers at Richardson pool to clean up, before swimming a few laps.

The Bad:  Run what you brung; there’s no water along the way, no fountains, and a single porta-potty (that is actually pretty clean and regularly serviced).  While there are cars that transit the road pass, there are also large military trucks and commercial trucks; all of them do drive slow and are very good about making way for runners (and soldiers on ruck marches, etc).

The Ugly:Well, it’s not really that ugly, but there’s really nothing on the side of the road.  There are sidewalks for a good part of the way up through the military sections of Schofield Barracks, but that ends with the last of the motor pools.  From there on out, you’re running on the edge of the road; it shouldn’t be an issue.

Type of route: Road
Good to run in the rain? Fantastic to run in the rain.

Length: 9.5 miles, from the Inn, up Trimble to the pass, and back down Lymen Road and the cemetery.

Options for the route:I’d love to tell you that there’s still an option to run over the pass, down the other side and on to the ocean.  In the old days, the military use to have organized run to do just that.  I have not heard of it being done recently, or of plans to let anyone do it (though, if a guard would ever give me the chance, I’d surely do it).  Also, there’s a longer (11.5 mile) route that loops more to the northern point of the post, before looping around and back to Trimble.

Elevation change on the run:I’m not really sure (I’ve been running up there without my Garmin) .
Water used:   None.  That being said, I should add that I run in the morning, and I often run in the rain in the morning.  It would be easy to go through 2 liters running up the pass and back, if not three liters of water.

Where to start: The Inn at Schofield Barracks
Where to parkHere (library parking lot, across the street)
Point your car’s GPS towards:  The Inn.

My Google Maps link: here
My Garmin file: None

Facilities
Water? Not on the route
Toilets? One posta-potty along the way
Medical care? Oh, yes.  Get injured, and just about everyone stops to ask what’s wrong.  Army docs are plentiful, and all are quick to call for an ambulance.
Ranger / park folks? Nope, not in a traditional sense.  The closest thing is probably the Tropic Lightning Museum.
Picnic areas? Yes, at Bowen Field and also adjacent to both Richardson Pool and the Inn.
A place to change afterwards? Yes — Richardson pool (0600-0900 during the week, but weekends it opens at 1100).

Rewards in the area:  There’s a Baskin-Robbins over at the PX, but really, there’s no super-secret bonus for running up this route.

You’d run this route when….it’s raining and the run is coming up.  Or when you’re wanting a harder 10 mile run; this hill is a very good one.

My rating:  8.  I really like this one.  It’s not all that picturesque in some parts, but running across the post and up the hill is a great, great thing.

Music: Military cadence.  No matter what time you run this, no matter the day of the week that you run it, you’re going to pass soldiers coming or going from the pass.

Weather / Trail warnings (no) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here Flickr: here and hereMore photos: here.   State Park Info: none