Hihimanu overlooking Hanalei. Kauai.

Hihimanu Ridge: A Ridge Ascent Above Hanalei.

Looming above Hanalei, to the left of Namolokama, is Hihimanu, Kauai's Twin Peaks. They're actually prominent high points on a long ridge leading to Namolokama - which at 4423 feet, is one of the largest, free standing mountains in Hawaii. It divides the valley behind Hanalei from the Upper Hanalei River Valley.

With my wife and and I've often hiked Okolehao Trail which follows the lower part of the ridge. Near the top of the hike, the trail goes left off the main ridge which dips down steeply at that point. The trail ends at a open, flat area that perhaps had been cleared at one time for a helo pad.

At the left turn, I'd often looked down the steep ridge and up at Hihimanu and been wondered how far I could get toward Namo (another summit I've contemplated). But I'd never gotten around to it until I stumbled across an account -- sorry, the link is long lost -- by a couple of guys who made it to the top, at least the north peak or ear.

Armed with their beta, I gave it a shot. The first portion of the ridge is narrow and roller coasts. Apparently somebody has adopted the trail, because it was fairly clear and had several fixed ropes of varied ages. The ropes come in handy. I did surprise one good sized porker that was following a pig trail that transects the ridge. I increased my opinion of the climbing abilities of pigs.

After the ups and downs, you get down to business as the route climbs steeply, zig-zagging a bit as the ridge blends in with the steep face. The ropes come in handy. Of course, old ropes can break, trees can pull out. You could die at some point along this trail if you work at it. Well, actually you wouldn't have to work that hard at it.

Kauai's Canyons. Waimea, Olokele, Loli Waialae, Koaie, Poomau, Iliiliula, more.
Getting close to the Twin Peaks.

Eventually the angle drops off and the Twins Peaks come into view. A bit more frustrating roller coasting, and then you're atop the northern peak. If you've been lucky enough to pick a clear day, the views are incredible. Most of the north side is visible, you've a close up view of Namolokama and the south Peak only a few hundred yards away.

Namolokama
Actual summit is a charming, flat spot. Great place for a picnic.
Kauai's Canyons. Waimea, Olokele, Loli Waialae, Koaie, Poomau, Iliiliula, more.
No, I wasn't tempted to go further. And could see no sign that anybody else had been so tempted.

Kauai's Canyons. Waimea, Olokele, Loli Waialae, Koaie, Poomau, Iliiliula, more.
Our Princeville condo (only rented unfortunately) is in the center.
Kauai's Canyons. Waimea, Olokele, Loli Waialae, Koaie, Poomau, Iliiliula, more.
I'd hoped to merge this and the previous shot into a panorama but Photoshop balked. I must have barely touched the zoom.

I underestimated the difficulty of this hike, failing to bring enough water even though it was high overcast weather for most of the hike. The descent was an ordeal. Beware. On a hot clear day, bring mucho agua and get an early start, as it is a long day.

And before you attempt this hike, please read this Account. Mo' beta, mo' betta, I always say.

More full resolution photos here.
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