PIHEA TRAIL

January 08, 2016

Kilohana Wainiha Pali, Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
After the Awaawapuhi Trail, I headed up to the tippy top of the mountain for a afternoon hike on the Pihea and Alakai Swamp trail.  I follow the winding road through the clouds as it seemed to get thicker as I got to the top and after about a 15 minute drive, I am at the foggy and surprisingly crowded top. Here I am at the top and I can not see anything over the edge or the Kalalau Valley from the top. wah wahh.....


Kilohana Wainiha Pali, Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
I started the hike down the cloudy ridge with a eerie and limited view over the edge into the clouds. The first two 2 miles on the rim appeared to be a failed attempt to make a road on the top.  It was interesting to see over into the whiteness of the cloud and be misted in the face from the water droplets looming in the clouds as they blew over the cliffs lip.  Ohia Trees and Uluhe Ferns are some of the dominant plants that can be seen here but the higher I got in elevation the plants became dwarfed and strong rooted from the frequent wind and rain conditions they have to deal with on a daily basis. 
 
Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
Mokihana and other cloud forest altered plants can be found on the Pihea trail as well as the connecting Alakai Swamp trail.


Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
The trail becomes really muddy to the point where you might just decide to run through the mud which actually will take less time and give you an an opportunity to go around some of the other visitors attempting to preserve their shoes from the inevitable mud slogging fate they will end up finding as they pursue the connection trail.  
Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
There is a hill of sorts to walk up with mud slogging handholds and some "deepish" mud that reminded me a bit of caving back in the Midwest but it wasn't as bad as some people have made it out to be, truth be told, you will get a bit muddy but if you made it this far, chances are that you might like playing in the mud a bit, I know I did.
Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
Once at the top, you have a choice to take a trail that takes you down to the Kalalau Trail or continue in another direction to the cloud forest and the kilohana overlook.
Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
Heading towards the Cloud forest, the plants have altered just a bit more as I hiked towards the swamp and found that planking boards were layed down on the ground which prevent people from getting their feet wet and from ruining the ground thereby preserving the bog.
Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
There is a fence blocking the outbreak of pigs that have eaten and destroyed endangered species of plants in the regional area so the State Park decided to roll out a fence to protect a large amount of swamp land and keep the portion of the swamp pristine, good call!!!.

Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
The bottlebrush flowers were starting to bloom and the drosera plants can be seen if you look hard enough in the bog.  The Droersa Angelica is a rare bug hungry carnivorous plant that can not be found in may places on the planet. 
Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
It was interesting to be in this dwarfed cloud forest with the clouds misting through the plants leaving small droplets of water dripping on the moss and ferns below.
Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
The trail soon connected to the Alakai Swamp trail which I followed for a while.  I wrote up this trail which can be read here I decided last minute to pursue the Kilohana overlook as the clouds appeared to start to break and the chance to see the overlook as good.
Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
I followed the trail to the Kilohana lookout and the trail took me down to a stream and back up to a plateau swampland which was sunny! Wow the sun is actually out now, I guess this is a lower more windward side of the mountain so the lookout was about to expose its precious green jewel.
Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii
There was a telephone line that was connected across this section of the trail which allowed soldiers in WWII to communicate with each other after the start of the war.  They hung out at the kilohana overlook to communicate any further surprise attacks from the Japanese.
Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii

After walking through the plank boarded trail passing by bogs and occasional broken mud sections, the clouds started to slowly come back.  I knew I was close so I started hiking a bit quicker over a small hill and.......wwwaaaaaa!!! made it!! The clouds stayed away just enough to get a few photos of the valley and started to cover it back up after only 5 minutes from being there. I am so glad I got to see this and it is another highly recommended trail that I suggest tackling when visiting Kauai as you will find some very interesting plants and great trails with a lucky view of the kilohana region.

Pihea Trail Kauai Hawaii

FLICKR: https://www.flickr.com/photos/exploration-worldwide/albums/72157662674448320

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