Kuliouou Ridge Trail shows off the effort and rewards of the Sierra Club
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Jan 30, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 10:54 a.m. HST, Jan 31, 2011
Five years ago Richard Bailey was overweight, lonely and a bit down on life. After reading a magazine article about the benefits of hiking, he decided to walk the easy, 1-mile Jackass Ginger Trail near his Nuuanu home.
"It took an hour — I can now do it in 30 minutes — and I loved it," recalled Bailey, the 47-year-old director of network operations at Mobi PCS. "Doing that hike re-energized my entire being. Since then I've lost 50 pounds and gained as many friends."
Bailey joined the Sierra Club in 2008 and became a certified outings leader the following year. One of his favorite hikes is the Kuliouou Ridge Trail, which at the summit reveals a spectacular 360-degree view encompassing Waimanalo, Rabbit Island, Makapuu, Lanikai, Kailua, Mokapu Peninsula, Hawaii Kai, Maunalua Bay, Portlock, Koko Head, Koko Crater, Diamond Head and the Koolau Mountains. Maui, Molokai and Lanai can be seen on clear days.
KULIOUOU RIDGE HIKEA strenuous 5-mile hike led by Jean Fujikawa:
» When: 8 a.m. March 27; reservations required at least two weeks in advance
» Meet at: Church of the Crossroads' back parking lot, 2510 Bingham St., Honolulu
» Cost: $5 donation, $1 members and children under 14. Participants under 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
» Call: 203-8508 for this hike; 538-6616 for general information; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
» Website: www.hi.sierraclub.org/oahu, for information about Sierra Club service projects and hikes on Maui, Kauai and the Big Island
On the last half-mile, you'll walk through the tall aerial roots of a banyan tree and into a native Hawaiian forest of uluhe ferns and ohia and lama trees. The path then narrows and becomes rougher, and you must climb 244 steps to the top.
Constructed of recycled plastic, the steps were placed in the mid- to late 1990s. Over the years, the elements took their toll, leaving many of the steps in bad, sometimes dangerous condition. From March to November last year, a dozen Sierra Club volunteers, led by longtime member Randy Ching, repositioned 30 old steps, added 120 new ones and created water diversions to reduce erosion.
Experienced hikers can complete the Kuliouou Ridge trek in two to three hours. Families with children will take about five.
Bailey says children should be at least 10 years old for this hike, but "it really depends on the individual. I've seen younger kids do just fine, and I suspect some older sedentary kids would have a hard time.
"Whenever you feel you don't want to continue, however, it's easy to turn around. The trail is well maintained, and the return trip will be downhill."
Bailey hikes an average of six hours per week, on trails throughout Oahu. "If I could do it more often, I would. For me, every hike is a minivacation; I leave all my problems and worries behind.
"The Sierra Club's outings and service projects are varied and broad in scope, hence we attract people from all walks of life who embrace our mission to explore, enjoy and protect our beautiful aina (land)."
Cheryl Chee Tsutsumi, a Honolulu-based freelance writer, has won multiple Society of American Travel Writers awards for her Star-Advertiser features.
The Sierra Club was incorporated in San Francisco on May 28, 1892, "to explore, enjoy and render accessible the mountain regions of the Pacific Coast; to publish authentic information concerning them; (and) to enlist the support and cooperation of the people and government in preserving the forests and other natural features of the Sierra Nevada."
Many of the club's 182 charter members were scientists and scholars who had traveled extensively throughout the mountains of California and Nevada. They included its founder and first president, acclaimed naturalist and conservationist John Muir, who has been dubbed "The Father of America's National Parks." He was instrumental in the creation of several national parks, including Yosemite, Sequoia, Mount Rainier and Grand Canyon.
Today, with more than 1.4 million members in every state, the Sierra Club is the nation's oldest and largest environmental organization, and one of its most influential. Founded in the 1960s, the club's Hawaii chapter has 6,500 members.
SIERRA CLUB FEBRUARY AND MARCH HIKESLengths are round trip. Call the hike leader listed for details: