Hiking to the Ehukai Pillbox & Beyond | Memorial Day 2018
The morning of Memorial Day started off a rainy one, but we didn’t let that deter us from hiking. We drove up the Windward coast through heavy showers and made it to our destination: Sunset Beach, where we would begin our hike to the Ehukai Pillbox. I had done this with my mom and sister, but it wasn’t the pillbox views that fueled my desire to return. Instead, it was the memory of taking the wrong path while looking for the second pillbox, and ending up walking down pleasant trails all by ourselves. Knowing that many would be out hiking or at the beach on this holiday, those vacant trails beckoned me and I convinced Curtis it would be a good idea.
We even brought Charlotte on our hike today. Lately, she hasn’t been joining us for our adventures because it’s either too exposed and hot, or too steep and dangerous. She’s also pokey and has to stop to sniff everything, and trails here are busier than ones in New York were so we have to keep her with us at all times. But since this was an easier hike and the weather was cool and overcast, it seemed like a good day to bring her.
As soon as we began the hike, we found that the trails were a complete mud bath. It didn’t take long before Charlotte’s legs and belly were filthy. The trail starts out flat so it’s easy enough to avoid the bigger mud puddles, but then comes a brief uphill section before the ropes and built-in steps which proved to be very slick. This posed a bigger challenge while going downhill; going up wasn’t too bad as long as we kept moving. As we pressed on up the steps, it started raining again and I worried that we would be descending in worse conditions, but thankfully it didn’t last too long. The hike up isn’t too challenging, it just gets your heart rate up, and soon enough we made it to the Ehukai pillbox.
The view we came upon made the whole rainy day adventure worth it. A glimmer of sunshine broke through the clouds and created a partial rainbow that started in the ocean. It was faint but beautiful; one of those moments that reminds us how blessed we are to be here. We may have not wanted to be stationed here, and we may often dream of living elsewhere, but I have to admit that living on the island has probably ruined the rest of the country for us in a lot of ways. Where else can I leave my windows open year-round, wear sundresses every day, be minutes away from both a turquoise colored ocean with a white sandy beach and an incredible mountain range with accordion ridges and jagged peaks? What other place is filled with vivid colors every day whether it be pink sunrises or sunsets, rainbows in any direction, and tropical flowers blooming year-round? Truly we are privileged to be given this experience!
After spending a little time at the Ehukai pillbox (and cleaning up trash), we opted for the wide, vacant trail to nowhere rather than going to the second pillbox. Maybe someday I’ll go there, but I’ll never regret choosing the path less traveled. At first Curtis thought we could make a loop back to the second pillbox, but we ended up going the wrong way, and we didn’t care enough to turn around and find it. Instead, we found ourselves all alone among the cook pine trees, raindrops hanging on to their needles and sparkling in the sun beams as we passed underneath. We let Charlotte wander on her own, and she reverted back to her old ways of stopping frequently to sniff something, then running at full speed to catch up with us again before being distracted by another new smell.
Back in the woods, there aren’t maps or any particular destinations that we knew of, we were really just wandering for the sake of an adventure. There were random trails that crossed our path, with whimsical wooden signs nailed to trees with unique names. “Purple Z,” “Muddy Waters,” “Hula Skirt.” If you’re interested in seeing where we went, check out our AllTrails recording here. We ended up walking 5.4 miles in a giant loop, and found a few highlights along the way. There was a short section of trail (called the Shroom trail I believe) that had groups of brightly colored painted rocks to look like mushrooms along the trail. Had we continued meandering deeper into the mountains we may have eventually wandered our way all the way to the Pupukea Road.
As we looped our way back to what we hoped would be the trailhead, we came to a trail junction that was decorated with all sorts of odd things — several picnic tables, a bathtub, a bicycle in the tree, pineapple plants. There was a tall post with different signs pointing the directions of different places and the number of miles away. We’d seen this type of sign before, but the choice of locations listed were interesting; many of which were in the Southwest and were places we had visited and loved, such as Sedona, AZ and Fruita, UT. This area is called Lilikoi Junction, and we would have stayed to appreciate it longer had it not been for the mosquitoes. The clearing was buzzing with them, so we snapped a few pictures, attempted a geocache, and then hurried away.
From here, it was pretty easy to find our way back to the main trail and eventually the Ehukai pillbox. We actually ran into a family that was hiking to Lilikoi Junction, so I guess it’s not a top secret place. We found the Ehukai pillbox and the main trail to be much busier as we hiked back to our car. As expected, the muddy trail was much more challenging to walk down, we had a couple close calls and witnessed others slipping and sliding all around, but we made it back safely. At the steepest part, Curtis had to let Charlotte go so she wouldn’t drag him down the hill, and he found her lounging comfortably in a pile of tall grass at the bottom of the slope. It’s safe to say she was very happy with her little adventure! She was not pleased, however, when we forced her little muddy self to ride in the back seat on the way home.