The end of the year

My year of running on Oahu comes to a close this weekend.  I’ve been back from Iraq for a year, and I’m about to get on a plane to head back there for another year.  It’s time, though, to talk about the year.

  • I really did average ~40 miles per week of running.  That does kinda blow my mind.  I’ve only taken to running because a) I’m in the Army, and b) someone told me a while ago that I could run but just not very far.  40 miles in a week seems like a lot, but 40 miles on average per week, for an entire year, seems bonkers.
  • I really did do a 300 mile month.  July as crazy.  Averaging 10 miles per day was tough.  I’m very glad I did it.
  • I really have quit Nike.  Loved ya, but it just didn’t work out.  And no, I’m not considering getting back together.
  • Yes, on a whim, I went and did an Olympic-class Tri.  On a whim.  In my surf shorts, with my waterproof camera in my hand while I swam.  And yes, riding a 20-year old Trek mountain bike that sports mud tires.

I am very pleased with how this blog turned out.  It doesn’t have the number of runs I wish it would have, but it sure has the depth.  I do love the consistent range of things that I covered.  I do love the inclusion of the photos.  I do love that I made Garmin and Google Earth files for the routes, even when it meant I had to go back to do it again.  This is the blog I wish I had found when I had moved to the island.

My favorite runs from the year are:

  1. The 50km run I did up Kolekole Pass.  i did not blog this one, I just quietly did it one night.  I’ve done marathons, but never anything farther.  I did not train for it, I did not prep for it, and in fact, I really didn’t decide to do it until that afternoon (I ran into the night).  Of the runs I did this year, it is the one I will likely brag about the most, only because of the distance and randomness of the decision to do it.
  2. The running story I have told the most this year is the long and sordid tale of my near-fatal run in Tucson in May.  I was doing a 1/2 marathon-distanced run across Catalina State Park and out onto the 50 Year Trail, and I was chased and almost killed by a HUGE bull.  I wrote it up as a pretty funny email that I titled, “How I was almost raped by an angry adult bull” and sent it to friends along with some photos of said bull, as proof.  I’ve also told the story in person to a lot of people, maybe because it’s damn funny but also because there are a lot of good lessons to be learned from it.  The story has changed some with different tellings, to support the key points I want to make, but the humor is probably more of what people remember about it.  I will never forget that run.
  3. If I could go run right now, I’d go run the Poamoho Ridge Trail.  If I were to take you on a run, I’d ask you if you’re ready to try the Poamoho Ridge Trail.  The best trail I ran this year, the best run I had this year, the most fun I had this year, was on the Poamoho Ridge Trail.
  4. The Old Pali Highway.  I tell people that there’s nothing flat about this island, that everything here involves elevation change.  Running the Old Pali Highway demonstrates this well.  But it also shows well the hidden treasures that litter this island, if you’re willing to explore some.  I love the old road surface.  I love the trees and the canopy cover they offer.  I love the cool air and the gentle breezes.  And I love the views it offers.
  5. My other go-to run is a 10km out-and-back on the Manana Trail.  If bacon is the gateway drug that brings vegetarians back to eating meat, the lower Manana Trail run is the one that brings runners back out to the trail.  It’s a long, slow climb, but it’s gradual and on a good trail, and offers some kick ass views.  It’s a good run on a sunny day or in the rain.
  6. My run is the Big Schofield Loop.  Let’s face it — I’m a Soldier, I’m assigned to Schofield, and I’ve also spent the the year running around Schofield.  A ~16 mile loop is a good, good run distance, and to see the old post, and all her best sides, and to also blaze up the KoleKole Pass is as big part of my memories of the year.  I still remember clearly making my first ascent up the pass, and thinking I was likely going to die.  I did it again this morning, and it felt as comfortable to me as running down the street to the store.  It’s not a run for everyone, and it’s certainly not a run you’d go out of your way to run.  It just happens to be my run.
  7. The Tiki Trail run up Wai`anae Kai is the run I never thought I’d do.  And a year ago, if someone had suggested that I add it to the list, I’d have laughed.  It’s a psychotic run — 2.25 mile straight up.  It’s inhuman.  It’s not even a pleasant hike — it’s a mean-spirited hike.  But I sure loved it .
  8. And it’s not Oahu, but I loved the Thumb Butte run I did in Prescott.  They dropped me off at a lake, and I ran across the desert to the butte, zigzagging my way through the Prescott National Forrest on their awesome hiking trails.  It was just a half-marathon, but the trails were great, the views stunning, the distance spot-on, and the solitude remarkable.
  9. I have mixed feelings putting the Kamananui Valley Road run on this list.  I loved the trail.  I loved the isolation.  I loved the quiet beauty of the run.  I hate, hate, hate that the valley was, for far too long, the private property for an estate that dated back to the plantation days.  Making it publicly accessible land represents all of te hard work that has had to be done, and continued to be needed, to right some of the tragic wrongs that befell the people of these islands.  It is a guilty run, but it’s also the place I tell everyone about in the hopes that they’ll go there (it’s only been open to the public for a couple of years now).
  10. And last, but certainly not least, is the small trail that runs from the parking lot out to Pele’s Chair.  It isn’t very long, but for some reason, it always makes me smile.

I’ll still be around, virtually that is.  By all means, drop me a note or leave a comment if you have questions about what you find here.  I hope you enjoy the site and the information as much as I had collecting and posting it.

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

Gunstock Half Marathon

Summary: Set along the low hills of the North Shore, the Gunstock Ranch hosted its first half marathon and 5K run this weekend. The trail had runners circling and then crossing the working ranch, as well as through lush jungle and a well-flowing river.  It was a well laid out course, and for a first time effort, the event went off without any major hitches.  I had found out about it through the HURT blog, and with that, there were a lot of endurance runners that showed for this inaugural event; if I had to guess, I’d say that there were about 200 runners this year.

The Good:  It was a good, good trail run.  I loved the route.  I loved the most that they got the cattle off the course, but that’s just me and my bull issues.  I didn’t even mind the still-fresh cow pies along the way — it added a little somethin-somethin to it all.  And did I mention the creek?  I loved the creek — but then again, I am a Labrador.  Others, I am sure, will lodge their protest over the wide creek and delicate rocks they they chose to carefully try to cross; me, I loved seeing the creek coming, and plowing right through it.

The Bad:  While there were water points along the way, more would have helped.  I hate saying that — they have three on this course, two of which you pass twice (and did not run out).  That should be enough – but one more, especially in the second half of the run, would be a big boost.  Also, for an event called a trail run, there sure was a lot of time spent on pavement.  I understand — it can be hard to line up a 13.1 mile (or 13.7+ miles, in this case) route that is all trail, but I hope they work to find an even better route for next year that will be all trail or ranch road (which was fine, too).

The Ugly:  Only one thing: their mileage was off.  That half marathon we ran was a bit more than a half marathon.  Well organized event, for their first time putting it on; well run, all the moreso for the same reasons; and a lot of fun to run.

Type of route:  A little bit of everything.  A trail road, an off-road run, a paved road run.
Good to run in the rain? Yes.  That would be an awesome run.

Length:  13.7+ miles.  The course this year was a wee bit long.

Options for the route: They did have a 5k version.

Elevation change on the run: From around 50 feet up to around 300 feet, doing that several times, too.
Water used:  3 liters.

Where to start: Gunstock Ranch
Where to park: Same
Point your carís GPS towards:  56 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, Hawaii  96762

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes, at the water points (3 points along the route, five chances to get water).  Water, and fancy water.
Toilets? A couple of points along the way.  Nice and clean, too; well stocked.
Medical care? Did not see any.  Saw people with cell phones.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.  Private land, for the most part.
Picnic areas? Nope, unless you went across the Kam Highway.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.  Deck change, in the parking lot.

Rewards in the area:  Malaekahana State Recreation Area is on the other side of the Kam Highway from the ranch; it’s a great place to go and chill, or have a picnic, or take a dip in the deep blue sea.  We chose to stop off at Shark’s Cove, in hopes of finding more jellyfish and / or reason to buy more Maui Brewing Company beer.  No jellyfish, so we settled for some HD video of the shore break pounding some really big boulders.

You’d run this route when… you’re getting ready for the Honolulu Marathon in December.  When you want to run some otherwise off-limits areas.  When your buddy has just come back into the Army and you want to help him push himself in getting back into fighting shape.

My rating:  7

Music:  Something loud, and something booming.  This is the place to fire up some old school AC/DC, or some old Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden.

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

More reading: here. Photos: here

Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail

Summary: The Kuli`ou`ou Ridge Trail is a 2.25 mile trail that rises almost 1800 feet, before peaking on the spine of the Ko`olau Ridge.  It’s a tough run, for it is steep, but it is very run-able and offers a great reward in the form of spectacular views.  The locals say that you’re suppose to run to the top, come back down to the picnic table, and then run back to the top again.

The Good:  The trail is in very good shape.  Unlike a lot of other trails that go mauka on the Ko`olau Ridge, this one is wide and easily navigable all the way to the end.  There are no ropes, there’s no forced hiking; you can run as hard and as long as your legs can handle.  Being steep, there’s some erosion, but it’s been well addressed and should hold up well for a long time.  And the views — wow, the views.  Fantastic.  From Diamond Head, all the way around to the Makapu`u Lighthouse and on to Kaneoha Bay, standing at the top of the trail lets you see everything from Honolulu to the Kona Brewing Company restaurant in Hawaii Kai.  And the foliage is awesome; like the website says,

The trail traverses through an assortment of exotic vegetation typical of arid areas: Christmas berry, haole koa, formosa koa, ironwood, Norfolk pine and guava. Beyond the shelter and the guava forest, the trail breaks out of the canopy and into uluhe-o`hia-koa-lama forest.

The Bad:  Are you OK with ascending about 1800 feet of elevation, in 2.25 miles?  Because you’re going to do that.  Are you happy only running on bike trails?  This ascent features rocks and roots and stairs and all kinds of things that will make you question your footing, and question your sanity on the way down.  Now, I happen to like that stuff, but hey, that’s me.  And remember — this is an active hunting area, so be careful on the weekends.

The Ugly: Nothing.

Type of route: Trail
Good to run in the rain? It’s be a tough one, especially the last little bit.

Length: 2.25 miles to the top.
Options for the route
: Run to the top, come back down to the picnic area, then re-assault the top — that’s 10km once you get back to the car.

Elevation change on the run:  300 feet up to 2100 feet, and back down.
Water used: I used 1.5 liters, but could have / would have used more.

Where to start: Kalaau Pl, Honolulu, Hawaii 96821S
Where to park: Same.  The very end of the street is marked no parking, and that seems to be enforced.  Get there early, or your parking options won’t be close to the trail head.
Point your car’s GPS towardshere.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? One.  Mid way up, about 1.5 miles from the trail head and .7 miles from the top.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area:  The truly stunning view.  That, and the Kona Brewing Company restaurant.

You’d run this route when….it’s not actually raining Windward, and you want a nice view.  When the skies are clear, and you think you can get up there for the sunrise.  When you’re training for the DipSea.  When old ladies call you out.

My rating:  9

Music: Some classic 80’s tunes.  That is, assuming no one is close enough to you on the trails to actually hear what you’re listening to.  If that’s the case, go with NWA.

Weather / Trail warnings (yes) / Permits (not required)

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

Wai`anae Kai

Summary: Wai`anae is home to the Wai`anae Kai Forest Preserve, that stretches from near Poka`i Bay all the way up to Mount Kaʻala, the islands highest point.  While a number of trails will take hikers up to Mount Ka’ala, leg-strong runners can make a good dent in running Wai`anae Kai – a history and ancient trail that heads up to a saddle just below Mount Ka’ala.

The Good:  You will be alone on this trip.  Unlike other trails down near Honolulu or even over near Kailua,   few seem to venture up these trails.  It’s not that they’re bad trails, they’re just off the beaten path.  All the better, I say.  If you head out there in the morning, you’ll likely get some shade from the mountains themselves.  Being leeward, the odds of getting soaked are much lower, too.  Oh, and the views.  My goodness — the views.  Splendid views — you’ll want to stop from time to time, just to soak up the views.  Lastly, the trails are well marked; painted bottle caps (Gatorade, from the looks of them) adorn the route, color coded to keep the various routes straight.

The Bad:  Bring your thighs.  From the parking area, it’s up.  Parking is at about 600 feet of elevation, and the power lines in the saddle are at about 2800 feet of elevation.  2200 feet of ascent, in about 2.25 miles.  If you’ve got legs, you can probably run the first 2 miles, and hike / hot air balloon up the last quarter mile.  How steep?  The paved road at the bottom has markings from what appears to be tracked vehicles — you know, the types of tracks yo see on tanks, snow cats, etc.  Crazy steep.  But it does have splendid views — you’ll likely need to stop from time to time, just to soak up the views and to keep your thigh muscles from actually exiting the skin.  I don’t really see this as a bad thing, but it merits mentioning — yes, it’s a hunting area.  So, yes, you may encounter hunters and dogs (though in all my encounters around the island, I’ve never had an issue with hunters or dogs).

The Ugly:  Cattle.  Granted, I have cattle issues already, but they are sometimes out there in small numbers.  Yes, bulls, too.  No water, no restrooms, no rangers wandering about.  It’ll be just you and a steep run.

Type of route:  Steep trail.  It starts paved, becomes a dirt road for just a little bit, and then becomes trail.
Good to run in the rain? Wow.  I’m going to say no.  You’d likely slip and slide all over the place.

Length:  4.5 miles, round trip.

Options for the route: For running?  Maybe start at Poka`i Bay and run up instead of driving up.  Running higher up on the ridgeline just isn’t possible, though there is great hiking to be had there.

Elevation change on the run:  From 600 feet to 2800 feet .
Water used: 2 liters going up, almost none coming down.

Where to start:  At the end of Wai`anae Valley Road.
Where to park: Same
Point your car’s GPS towards: Waianae Valley Rd, Waianae, Honolulu, HI 96792

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? Yes, actually.  Here.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area:  Poka`i Bay, of course.  Stop in for a dip, maybe something to drink.  It’s a great beach for just sitting.

You’d run this route when….  you’re training for the TransRockies Run.  When your thighs need a good reminded of who’s the boss.  When just running 4.5 miles is enough.

My rating:  7.  It’s good, but it’s a lot.

Music:  Stuff from the late 70’s.  Black Sabbath.  Iron Maiden.  When I ran into the bulls, I had Johnny Rotten piping into my ears, and that was followed by some classic Rolling Stones.

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

More reading: here and here and here. Flickr: here and here. More photos: here State Park Info: None — it’s forest land, not state park.

Manana Trail

Summary: The Manana Trail is a state / country trail in the Pearl Ridge area, that heads mauka (towards the mountains) up the Koʻolau Range.  While it’s close to six miles to hike all the way to the ridge, the lower first few miles of the trail make for some great running.  It offers easy access, great views, rolling ascent and wide, safe paths.

The Good:  The first three miles of this trail is good.   It’s a nice, rolling climb from about 1000 feet of elevation, up to about 1600 feet of elevation.  Nice wide trails, the route is well marked and easy to follow.  It mixes lots of shade with open areas of panoramic views.  And on a nice and sunny day, this is a beautiful place to go run.  Mid way up, there’s even a camping area — a nice place to stop for a sit, though there’s no water or anything other than the clearing.

The Bad:  There are a few stretches of the trail that are narrow, with a drop off on both sides.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing – it’s probably just not for everyone.  Also, parking is at the end of a residential street — I always feel guilty, parking in front of someone’s house when I head out running (though I do try and police up the trash in the area, and leave it better than I found it).  Did I mention dog poop?  Yep — some of them, unfortunately. Did I mention pig hunting? I don’t see it as a problem — I’ve never had a bad experience with hunters on the trails. But it is a hunting area.

The Ugly:  Have you noticed that I’ve been talking about the first three miles of this trail?  Well, after the three mile  mark is stops being running and turns into hiking.  Or mountain climbing.  If you’re wanting a run longer than 6 miles round trip, this isn’t it.  If you want to run to the top, this isn’t the trail for you.

Type of route: Trail run
Good to run in the rain? Yes, for the first 3 miles.  After that, no.

Length: 6 to 12 miles; I recommend just the 6.

Options for the route:  Yes — one.  There’s a split off, to go down to the Waimano Pool.  Take caution, though — it’s a steep hike down, and a mean hike back up.  If it’s raining, or been raining, it’ll be slick.  More info, here.

Elevation change on the run: Three miles will be about 600 feet of elevation gain.
Water used: A solid two liters.

Where to start:  At the end of Komo Mai Drive
Where to park:  Same.  be sure not to block the circle at the end — emergency vehicle access, so you’ll get a ticket / towed.
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Komo Mai Drive, Pearl City, HI 96782 (here)

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? No
Toilets? No
Medical care? No
Ranger / park folks? No.
Picnic areas? Yes (via).  Mid way up, at the camp site.
A place to change afterwards? No.  Which is a bit awkward — doing a deck change outside someone’s house is, well, awkward.

Rewards in the area:Try Miki’s (1001 Lehua Avenue, Pearl City, HI 96782-3334) for some grinds.

You’d run this route when….it’s a sunny, sunny day with some clouds that are mauka.

My rating:  8.  I look forward to running this one a few more times.

Music:  It needs to be something older, like the Squeeze (try this).

Weather / Trail warnings (yes) / Permits (not required)

More reading: here and here and here (great website).  Flickr: hereMore photos: here State Park Info: here

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.

North Shore (Shark’s Cove to RFF Opana)

Summary:  I have been in love with the North Shore since I was a kid.  Growing up on a Boogie Board in the 70’s and 80’s, it was hard not to hear the tales of Sunset and Waimea and to become enamored by the sales of sand and surf and the beautiful sea.  Since returning to the island, I’d been trying to work out a decent run to do across the North Shore, something more than just the 3 miles of bike path but something that would been me off of the thin and dangerous roads out past Turtle Bay.  Shark’s Cove to RFF Opana seems to fill that need nicely — a good length (11 miles round trip), with plenty of bike path (6 of the 11) and sidewalk running, with great views of the beaches and plenty of places to divert to see the sand and sea.  Over the 11 miles, the elevations changes very little, while the route is a mix of shade and exposed roads and paths.

The Good: This route is flat.  Gloriously flat.  The bike path sections also have a lot of shade, low volume of bike traffic, and slow bike traffic (the serious riders keep to the street, it seems, while the beach cruisers stick to the bike path).  The many beaches along the way feature decent enough bathrooms and the occasional water fountain, making this an easier run to do without a camelbak.  The bathrooms come in handy for cleaning up after the run, though I favor a dip into the cove more.  There are also some good eats in the area for afterward.  This run would be amazing if the bike path were longer, but hey, it is what it is.

The Bad: It gets a wee bit warm mid day and into the early afternoon; this is definitely a run to do in the morning.  If vehicle traffic is abnormally high, some stretches of this route won’t be much fun to run, as there’s not a lot of spare room on the side.  There can be some traffic in and around the entrance to the Kahuku Motocross  Park, but the riders always seem to do a great job leaving plenty of room for folks to go by.

The Ugly: None.  For me, the worst is looking off to the hills, knowing I can’t run there.  Out past Turtle Bay, the road really has no spare room for runners, though I know people do run it.

Type of route: Paved.  Some is bike trail, some is something like a sidewalk (though not really), and for some stretches, it’s running along the edge of the road.
Good to run in the rain? Yep.

Length: 11.5 miles, round trip.

Options for the route:Yep, with some risk.  The best would be to keep right on going, and to run to La’ie Point State Wayside.  That’d make it about 13 miles one way — and a perfect place for family or friends to come get you before spending the day at the PCC or the beach.

Elevation change on the run:Less than a hundred feet.
Water used: None, though if I’d had some with me, I’d likely have used a liter at most.

Where to start: Shark’s Cove, just past Waimea Bay
Where to park: Here
Point your car’s GPS towards: 21.645300,-158.063600, or Kamehameha Hwy at Kapuhi Street.  If you get to Foodland, you’ve gone too far.

My Google Earth file: here
My Garmin file: here

Facilities
Water? Yes.  Water fountains at public beaches along the way/
Toilets? Yes, near the start / finish of the run
Medical care? Nothing specific.  Bring your cell phone to call 911, though there are plenty of people around.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.
Picnic areas? Plenty, at the beaches along the way.
A place to change afterwards? Yes, public restrooms.

Rewards in the areaTed’s(Map)

You’d run this route when….you want to relax and put in some miles without getting smoked.  With so little elevation change, this is a great cruising run.

My rating: 7.  The sun can be mean, and the whole running-on-the-edge-of-the-road thing isn’t so cool.  I did not give it extra geek points for going to the entrance to RFF Opana, though the thought did cross my mind.

Music:  Jimi Hendrix.

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

More reading: here and here and here.  Yes, I am a nerd.   Flickr: here and here (I like this one). More photos: here and hereYouTube: here and hereEddie Would Go, here.

Old Pali Highway

Summary: The Pali Lookout rests on the only easily traversable point along the Koʻolau Range between Honolulu and the Windward side of the island, which gave it an important role in the history and development of the island.  What started as a chancy journey became a jeopardous path, and eventually a flat-out scary road.  As Oahu grew, the road became Highway 61, which still closely followed the original route down the windward side of the Koʻolau Range.  With the last major upgrades to the highway, around 1960, the old, original route was abandoned in favor of a tunnels and a new and faster descent, leaving the Old Pali Highway intact and as a great and underutilized place to run.

The Good:   Running the Old Pali Highway can be broken down into three parts.  The upper section leads from the lookout, down to where the route crosses under (yes, under) the new Highway 61.  Though it isn’t very wide, the road surface is still in very good shape.  And the mass amounts of foliage that crowd the road do just that — crowd it, but don’t block it.  Once you pass under Highway 61, there’s the Old Pali Highway, and what I think of as the new-Old Pali Highway — the easily discernible difference is in the road surface and material (and thus the road condition — the older road has held up much better).  Either way, the lower half is mostly covered with a nice canopy, providing shade for much of the run.  And it certainly is pretty — running the old road is definitely a trip through history, and a wonderful chance to away from people (I’ve only ever encountered people on the upper portion) and through some very pretty foliage.  Lastly, the grade is good; for as steep as the Koʻolau Range is, running up this won’t kill you.

The Bad:  The new-Old Pali Highway section is in meh condition.  I think that is in part due to more modern (and less durable) construction, but also in part to the large sections that are covered in moss.  I’d not want to run that part in a heavy rain; it probably gets a bit slick.

The UglyThey’ve started to charge $3 to park at the Pali Lookout.  For a place with no restrooms and no water, that seems a bit much.

Type of route: Mostly old road.  There’s one stretch, under the new Pali Highway, that is dirt.
Good to run in the rain? Fantastic to run in the rain.

Length: ~5 miles

Options for the route:  Three or more.  One is to run the new Old Pali Highway; it’s a short leg that adds just a little bit to the overall run.  Another choice, after running down the new Old Pali Highway, is to keep going on Auloa Road and rejoin Pali Highway; from there, continue on to Kailua Beach State Park before turning around (this will make it closer to a 12 mile run).  The third option is to start at Ala Moana Mall and run up to the Pali Lookout, before running the old road.  Round trip, that’s be about 15 (I think).

Elevation change on the run:  I dunno (I’ve been running it without my GPS lately).
Water used: Usually around 60 ounces.

Where to start: Pali Lookout
Where to park: Pali Lookout
Point your car’s GPS towards:  Pali Lookout

My Google Earth file: (none yet)
My Garmin file: (none yet)

Facilities
Water? Nope.
Toilets? Nope.
Medical care? Nope.
Ranger / park folks? Nope.  Early morning, though, you’ll often find HPD in the parking lot, feeding the chickens.  Really — not making that up.
Picnic areas? Nope.
A place to change afterwards? Nope.

Rewards in the area: Nope.

You’d run this route when….you’ve had enough miles for the week, but not enough hills.  When your ankle is on the mend from too much trail running, but you don’t want to be stuck on sidewals.

My rating:  7

Music:   Guns N Roses.   And loud.

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

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