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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Upper Sacred Falls

Photo by Nathan Yuen
In early December 2010, a group of five which included extreme hikers Pete Clines, August Smith, and Nathan Yuen, hiked up the Papali Ridge extended trail, down the Castle Trail, and then down Kaluanui Stream to down-climb several waterfalls.

Nathan Yuen filed this report on his blog.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Hihimanu by Peter Artley

Photo by volcantrek 8/waialeale.org
Hike date: May 2006


I figured it was going to be relatively easy to summit the shortest mountain in Hanalei Valley. The elevation is only about 2400 feet and it took less than an hour to hike the first two miles, even if it was a bit steep at times. I didn't realize how totally crazy the trail to the summit is though. The first indication that only the extremely brave, or insane, should attempt this "hike" was when i came upon a rope descending through dense brush on a knife-edge ridge. Without a second thought i snatched the rope off of the ground and began the precarious descent, facing forward (i.e. down-hill.) The rope was obviously weather worn, but despite the signs that it had seen several rainy seasons it seemed sturdy enough to hold my weight, and did. Even when i tripped and caught myself while walking that first section of densely covered "trail" i didn't have the slightest intention of turning back.


I came to a second rope only after thinking myself lost but continuing on with the knowledge that i was at least going in the right direction. I was glad for this rope on the one hand because i could see that it was newer than the last one, which meant that people actually came out here frequently enough to warrant the occasional fresh rope. It occurred to me, however, that i didn't know the last time the older looking ropes had been changed. This became more of a concern the more ropes i came across only because the further i got the worse condition the ropes were in. This culminated in the most ridiculous slope i'd ever seen on any hiking trail ever. Almost immediately after i'd conquered that obvious landslide, i discovered a slope more ridiculous still. The rope coming down this nearly 100 foot cliff was so badly weather worn that when i grabbed it i didn't even have to squeeze for it to severely sting the palms of my bare hands. I wish i'd had a bullet to bite, or better yet some gloves! I stood there for a moment, the rope digging into my already tender hands, and peered almost straight up the side of this mountain completely covered with vegetation trying to make out the top of the rope and discern whether it was securely attached to something that would hold my weight. I gave it a little tug thinking to myself, "am i really this insane?" Then, "screw it" and began to climb.


Having experienced a number of these ropes already that day i concentrated on establishing my footholds and only used the rope as a guide, relying more on the small treesand shrubs to help me climb the crumbling slope. After about 20 feet or so i came to a section of "trail" completely devoid of any trees or strong bushes to grab on to, i would have to use the rope. I leaned into the mountain as much as possible, letting go of the safe solid tree i was holding onto with my right hand and transferring it to the rope. This meant putting most of my weight onto that poor rope in order to get my left leg up to the next foothold. The rope stretched like a long bungee cord. I fell towards the mountain as quickly as possible releasing the tension on the rope so as not to snap it and hugged that mountain like a best friend thought lost forever. Ten seconds later my heart started beating again. I erected myself using the rope as leverage to see if it would still hold, and it did. Again i stood on the edge of a precarious slope. I listened to the wind in the trees and the birds all around me and thought hard about how crazy i really am. I looked up that slope one last time and said to the mountain, "i'm crazy, but not stupid." and turned right around and went back the way i came.


Photo by volcantrek8

Kauai has a lot to offer in the way of hiking. Some of these hikes have some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, like from Hihimanu. But i would never suggest to anyone that they attempt this trail alone, if at all. Go hike the Kalalau trail 11 miles one way spend the night and hike it back. Or hook up with an eco-tour company and do the 10 mile Power line trail over some of the most rain beaten terrain found in the world. You'll see equally beautiful scenery, and in some cases even have your life threatened by extreme trail conditions, but you won't be in nearly as stupid a situation as i was when i hiked Hihimanu by myself in May 2006.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Mariner's Ridge Windward -- Pat Rorie


Hike date:  2 April 2003
Definitely one of the more memorable pau hana hikes I've done in recent years.For subscribers of OHE-L who aren't aware, during the past few years some of us on this list have been searching for do-able windward Ko'olau ridges as counterparts to prominent leeward Ko'olau trails. A few of these trans-Ko'olau routes have existed for decades (i.e. Schofield-Waikane, Kawailoa-Laie, and Haiku Stairs Moanalua Valley middle ridge). The late Silver Piliwale pioneered Piliwale Ridge (aka Windward Konahuanui, the narly ridge visible as one drives along the Pali Hwy hairpin turn), which Jason Sunada, Pete Clines and I have climbed recently. Silver also blazed a trail up Kaupo Cliffs (part of the Kaupo Cliffs-Kamiloiki Ridge traverse). The Bear Claws-Pu'u o Kona-Kuliouou Ridge is another example of a trans-Ko'olau route; author unknown. A group of us established a trail on a ridge in Waiahole Valley dubbed Kipapa Windward because it tops out near the Kipapa Ridge summit, and Dayle and Ed Gilman were the first in recent times (ever?) to ascend a windward ridge that terminates near the apex of Mount Olympus.
Photo of Mariner's Windward by David Chatsuthiphan
In the past two months, led by Scott Villiger, Dayle, Ed, and Wing Ng, a small band of explorers have been mucking around the Ko'olau foothills in back of Waimanalo looking to ascend a windward ridge that tops out near Kaluanui Ridge (aka Mariner's Ridge). This past Saturday, Dayle, Scott and Ed were successful in climbing a windward spur to the Ko'olau summit, which terminates at a view of Hahaoine Valley, earning it the name Hahaione Windward. I couldn't remember reading about anyone trying the ridge directly windward of the Mariner's Ridge summit, so I decided to give it shot yesterday, pau hana.After departing my workplace on the outskirts of downtown Honolulu at 4 pm, I motored to the affluent O'ahu neighborhood of Hawaii Kai, proceeding in the pat-mobile to the top of Kaluanui Rd (approx. elev. 800'). Yesterday was a beauty weatherwise, an abundance of blue sky and sunshine, but steamy (light and variable winds).Following final preparations, I continued mauka on foot at 4:41 pm via the Mariner's Ridge Trail. Mariner's Ridge is the most easily accessible and shortest route to the Ko'olau summit (the route on Kamehame Ridge is actually a paved road, so I don't consider it a trail). With a limited amount of time for exploration, I set a brisk pace in order to reach the summit as soon as possible.At 5:05 pm I gained the crest of the Ko'olau Range (approx. elev. 1600'), but rather than descending directly from the Mariner's Ridge terminus, I headed west along the Ko'olau spine to a spot where I could drop down a short distance and then contour to the crest of Kaluanui Windward.Once on the spine of Kaluanui Windward, I carefully negotiated a couple of eroded rock outcroppings, and then methodically lost elevation, maneuvering between tall ironwoods in the process. I could clearly see sheer cliffs on adjacent flanks to east and west, so I expected to eventually reach a precipitous dropoff. Much to my surprise, however, I never did! Other than some brief exposed rock scrambling and slabbing a short distance between/under Christmas berry trees to regain the crest below a vegetated cliff, I did not encounter an impossibly steep rock face like the ones located on most of the adjacent flanks.After battling through Christmas berry, I followed the ridge down to the floor of the Waimanalo Forest Reserve, tying orange ribbon periodically to trees limbs to mark the route. When I arrived at the origin of the ridge (approx. elev. 320'), I tied two ribbons to a tree to indicate the spot. I scanned the forest briefly for any of Wing's ribbons, but did not see any and did not have time to search for them.At 6:19 pm I commenced the return leg of the outing, tying several more ribbons periodically to tree limbs on the way up Kaluanui Windward. As I approached the Ko'olau summit, I foolishly let my ego take over. Instead of using the contour route like I had done on the way down, I chose to ascend the steep, narrow pitch to Kaluanui's true summit. Initally, this was not a problem, but farther up I had trouble getting beyond a particular ledge. I looked on both sides for easier possibilities. Finding none, I simply made like an opihi, inching my way up from handhold/foothold to handhold/foothold, keeping my center of gravity as close to the ground as possible for maximum leverage (let the reader understand that a fall here probably would not have resulted in death, just serious injury).After ascending past the tight spot, I breathed a sigh of relief but with darkness setting in, I noticed another ironwood up ahead, followed by the final climb to the true summit. Definately a psychological blow."Is the final climb do-able?" I asked myself. There would be no turning back.In a near panic, I moved quickly toward the ironwood, but as I attempted to go around the tree, a Christmas berry limb slashed my right knee, inflicting a superficial but painful wound. Upon regaining my composure, I continued upward, and, fortunately, successfully negotiated the final steep pitch to Kaluanui's summit, reaching the Ko'olau crest at 7:15 pm in darkness. I rejoiced at having completed the tough ascent, and then began heading down the Mariner's Ridge Trail by flashlight.The tramp along Mariner's in the dark was quite pleasant, stars twinkling in the evening sky (I easily recognized Orion's belt, Orion's hunting dog and the Big Dipper), the lights of Hawaii Kai visible in the distance.
Eventually, I emerged from the trail onto Kaluanui Road, and after entering the pat-mobile, sped off for home at 7:45 pm.Notes:Native plants growing along Mariner's Ridge: 'ulei, laua'e ferns, a'ali'i, ko'oko'olau, 'ilima.== Paka

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Oahu's Gnarliest Trails

Chris Walker





Here is Chris Walker's take on the most dangerous and daunting hikes on the island of Oahu. His top five include the KST, Pu'u Manamana, Pu'u Kalena, Pu'u Ka'aumakua, and Olomana.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lanihuli Windward


Submitted here is a photo of the probable route of Lanihuli Windward.

As of 2010, this route has not been traversed in a number of years. Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club veteran John Hall has done this with Chuck Godek. According to Hall, Godek was the lead climber, who would ascend, tie off a rope, then beckon Hall to follow. Using this grind-it-out-to-the-top method, they eventually acquired the summit. Year: unknown but probably in the 1950s or 60s.

The access would be from the Likeke Trail, mauka of the Koolau Golf Course.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

What's Hawaii's Toughest Hike?

National Geographic lists the Muliwai Trail as Hawaii's toughest. 


What's your choice for Hawaii's toughest hike?



Friday, December 17, 2010

Pohakea Pass to Pu'u Kaua -- Lad Spinner

Hike date: January 2000

Today I went hiking in the Waianae range with four other folks, including my buddy Cleve Rich. Also hiking with us were Kawika Bew, Ming Ching, and Ming's friend Jean. We met at 8 at the Kunia Golf Course, then set off on the dirt roads thru the pineapple fields directly across Kunia Road from the golf course driveway.

We encountered pine field workers but they did not hassle us and we continued toward the mountain, following new/old jeep roads at times and wading through California grass at others.

Eventually we reached a spur ridge that climbed up toward the crest just to the right of Pohakea Pass. At the 1800 foot level (just got a new Casio Pathfinder altimeter watch), we hit the Honouliuli contour trail (HCT). Kawika and Cleve were ahead at this point and they missed the left turn they were supposed to make at the HCT. Instead, they kept climbing the spur ridge and, after some very steep climbing near the top, eventually reached the Waianae summit at 11 a.m. at a point between Kaua and Pohakea Pass.

Meanwhile, Ming, Jean, and I headed left along the HCT and eventually headed right and up toward the summit on an old jeep road that climbed up to Pohakea Pass. All this time, we thought Cleve and Kawika were ahead of us and when we reached the Pass at 11, we were surprised that there was no sign of them. Plus, as we hiked along, we noticed that spider webs across the trail were undisturbed, seeming to indicate that Cleve and Kawika hadn't come this same way.

Since it was still an hour before noon (and lunch), I decided to follow some old ribbons I saw that headed up the summit ridge in the direction of Kaua. About 60 meters up the ridge which was covered by ironwoods, I encountered a collapsed shed or hut, probably used by the military as and outpost years ago. Someone told me Pohakea Pass was the loneliest outpost on Oahu and that guards stationed there were known to freak out during midnight sentry duty. Yow!

Not far past the collapsed hut, I met up with a sheer vertical rockface that look much like monster teeth. Knowing I couldn't climb this face, I looked for an alternative and found a little contour trail on the right, probably made by goats. I contoured for maybe 60-70 meters and then found a steep hillside that I could go up with the aid of trees. Ming and Jean were behind me, and when Jean got nervous about going up the slope, they turned around and headed back down to the Pass.

So I climbed on alone, thinking that I'd make a go for Kaua. I yelled this fact down to Ming and Jean and I assume they heard me. So up I climbed, eventually gaining the summit ridge above the vertical rockface. The summit segment wasn't so bad at first, but then I reached some gnarly parts where I had to climb gingerly up and around rockfaces, semi-crawling in places.

Photo by Waianae Steve.
Pohakea Pass is at the top right of the photo,
which was taken near the summit of Pu'u Kaua.
When I reached a part where the summit leveled off, I saw Kawika and Cleve about 100 meters away on the summit in the direction of Kaua. At first I thought they had made it to that point the same way I was headed, but after yelling out to them and getting a reply, I found out they were coming toward me after having climbed the steep spur directly to the summit.

Getting to them was no picnic, and I had to be very careful so that I didn't go plunging off the crest. Kawika descended two dicey rockfaces to meet me and once he did, he reversed directions and headed back in the direction of Kaua. He also directed me up the best line for both rockfaces. After these, the summit wasn't so bad.

They had already eaten lunch but both were willing to wait till I had stopped and eaten mine (Vienna Sausage) before heading to Kaua. The views were super clear today and with overcast skies and a nice breeze, we hiked in relative comfort.

The section over to Kaua was super, view-wise and we decided to head down tree snail ridge instead of going all the way to Kaua and heading down that trail.

About ten minutes down tree snail ridge, we encountered a brand new fence that contours across the steep mountainside at around the 2500-2600 foot level. I'm not sure who is building the fence or why, but getting it constructed is a bust-gut feat involving hauling gear and materials up to the fenceline. Impressive.

We got offtrack on the way down but after 15 minutes of searching we found the trail again and made good time heading down.

When we hit the 1800 foot level and the HCT, we decided to head right instead of left toward the Kaua trailhead. We reckoned that we'd pick up the route we had used in the a.m. pretty quick-like, but that was a bad miscalculation, and we ended up crashing and thrashing around in thick vegetation and ducking and crawling under Christmas berry tangles. No joy.

With some persistence and occasional grunts uttered to no one in particular, we eventually found our way back to the pineapple field roads that led us back to the golf course. Kawika, Cleve, and I arrived there at 3:45 and were surprised to see Ming's car still there. Where were Ming and Jean?

I waited around for a half hour and then took off for home. When I got there, I found a message on my answering machine from Ming, who reported that he and Jean had gotten back to the golf course at 5:15.

They gone offtrack but eventually found their way.

This was a good hike and I'll sleep well tonight for sure.

Aloha,

** Lad **

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ohikilolo via Keaau Ridge -- Pat Rorie

Hike date: January 2000

"Winter is for the Wai'anaes" is a saying I have a firm belief in, and I enjoy hiking the Wai'anae Range (Leeward Coast) because of its stark contrast to the Ko'olaus - dry, rocky, open terrain vs. muddy, heavily vegetated territory.

Having sat around watching football games on Saturday and Sunday afternoons resting my left knee, I decided to venture out of my humble Waikele abode Monday (Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday) to visit one of my favorite locales on O'ahu, the Ohikilolo triangular peak. I've reached the triangular peak in the past via Ohikilolo Ridge (twice), Kea'au Ridge commencing from the region mauka of the former First Hawaiian Bank (FHB) rec center (three times), the entire Kea'au Ridge commencing from the Makaha surfing beach, but never via Kea'au Middle Ridge. Dayle Turner recently posted a very good route description of Kea'au Middle, so I'll skip the specifics unless deemed necessary for inclusion in this digest.

The Pat-mobile required some routine maintenance in the morning, so I got off to a late start arriving at the entrance to the former FHB rec center on Farrington Hwy (see pic below) a few minutes past 10 a.m. The trades had decreased to 10 to 25 mph from the gale force gusts of 20 to 35 on Saturday and Sunday making for a pleasant day on O'ahu's west end, ample sunshine with a cooling breeze. Unwilling to walk from the Makaha surfing beach about 1.5 miles away (a safer place to leave my car), I rolled the dice and parked on Farrington Hwy near the entrance to the former FHB rec center. As a precaution, however, I removed the computer chip that allows the vehicle to start, an option available on certain Honda cars/trucks, and placed a Wai'anae Surfrider baseball cap given to me by Wai'anae resident Lynn Agena on the steering wheel.



Following final preps, I walked around the fence (the gate was locked) and began tramping along the paved road (elev. 17 ft) at 10:15 a.m. Further ahead, while approaching the middle ridge along the dirt road, I studied Ohikilolo Ridge and experienced steamy conditions. During the initial ascent of Kea'au Middle I lost the trail and had to proceed by way of the path of least resistance. I climbed methodically through dryland forest and took a water break when the ridge leveled off. One of the highlights of the footpath at this point is its relative closeness to the sheer rocky cliffs of Ohikilolo Ridge. They appear but a stone's throw away across the gulch separating Ohikilolo Ridge and Kea'au Middle. The best comparison I can offer is the waterfall shoots found along the Ko'olaupoko Trail (front cover of Ball's "Hiker's Guide").

Photo by Nathan Yuen
Pressing on, I carefully negotiated the narrow dikes, bypassed the huge vertical rockface, regained the crest of the middle ridge and accomplished the final, very steep ascent to the summit of unnamed peak (elev. 2,952 ft) at 12:11 p.m. (less than two hours from car to summit!). (see pic below)

Photo by Nathan Yuen

Without pausing, I turned left (north) and gained pleasure from the excellent open ridge walking over another narrow dike. Descended to a place I call "Mars", a severly eroded area of red dirt with rock formations that look like the dorsal fins on a fish, and finished the descent to the saddle between unnamed peak and Ohikilolo Ridge at a spectacular rock formation (dike), the subject of a Hawaiian legend according to Fred Dodge. Next, I dropped down and contoured to the right of the dike on a goat trail then climbed steeply to the crest of Ohikilolo Ridge. Paused briefly at the fence to gaze at the lone, tall Norfolk Island pine which appears to be dying.

Heading east on Ohikilolo Ridge, I climbed to the top of the triangular peak (elev. 3,052 ft) arriving there at 12:43 p.m. Occasional gusts made the spot chilly, especially when thick high clouds obscured the sun. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the awesome panorama, featuring much of the Leeward Coast from Maili Point to Kaena Point, beautiful Makua Valley, the Waianae Range from Kuaokala Ridge to massive Mount Ka'ala (socked in) to Pu'u Kaua, the north shore, the Ko'olau foothills above Haleiwa, the northern Ko'olaus, lush, undeveloped upper Makaha Valley radiating from Ka'ala's western slope, and Kamaile'unu Ridge.

After about half an hour, I descended on the Ohikilolo Trail a short distance then contoured along a goat trail on the Makua Valley facing slope of the triangular peak, careful not to damage any rare native flora, in an attempt to explore beyond the normal terminus of the Ohikilolo Trail. Following a difficult scramble over a slick, eroded tract devoid of handholds, I reached the saddle between the triangular peak and the broad pu'u to the northeast. A dike with crumbly ledges perpendicular to the ridge formed a steep wall between the two peaks. Alone, lacking courage and the gusts fueled my decision to turn back. I regained the apex of the triangular peak subsequent to 2 p.m. and for about an hour took pleasure from the magnificent vista, one of the finest on O'ahu.

At 3:08 p.m. I reluctantly departed the special place. While descending to the saddle between Ohikilolo Ridge and unnamed peak, I notice a few goats below, including a light brown billy equipped with long horns and a lengthy "beard", and had fun throwing rocks at them. Once at the pinnacle of unnamed peak, I tied two "hot" pink ribbons to a nearby branch and stared down into Ohikilolo Valley, the whole of Ohikilolo Valley spread out before me! A short distance into the descent of Kea'au Middle, I halted upon recognizing a truck parked on the dirt road deep in the valley.

"One of Albert Silva's men?" I asked myself. "Perhaps I was spotted earlier in the day and assumed to be a poacher!"

Not in the mood to debate the fact that I entered the valley via State land and determined not to get busted, I turned around, climbed back up to the summit of unnamed peak and hiked on the Makaha Valley side of Kea'au Ridge (the ridge separating Makaha and Ohikilolo Valleys) as much as possible to avoid detection. During the long detour I recognized a lovely full rainbow over the saddle below the red eroded peak and, later, observed atleast two more partial rainbows, one in Makaha Valley and the other above Ohikilolo Valley. When I reached Pu'u Kea'au (elev. 2,650 ft) I descended on a spur originating near the former FHB rec center. En route to the valley floor I startled atleast three dozen goats including a handful of kids.

The sun set as I emerged from the koa haole forest onto the gravel road, and I jogged from there to the locked gate near Farrington Hwy. Fortunately, the Pat-mobile was still where I left it, undamaged by would-be vandals. At 6:18 p.m. I entered my vehicle and sped off for home.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kamaohanui - Lad Spinner

Hike date: November 20, 1999

Needing five hours to do the deed, Cleve Rich and I reached the summit of Kamaohanui today. Kamaohanui is a peak (elev. 3450 feet) along a ridge that leads to Mauna Kaala, the roof of Oahu.

Here's what transpired.

I woke this a.m. feeling tired and aching. I had come down with a low-grade fever and nasal congestion a couple days prior and had been fighting to shake the bug. Cleve called me earlier in the week. "Let's try for Kamaohanui on Saturday," says Mr Rich. Kapa Reero, one of our usual hiking comrades, is camping at Pahole so he can't be with us. Ming Ching is banned from trail clearing so he's out too. So it'll be Cleve and I. Then this bug hits. I won't be in top shape. Doubts clutter my mind. "I'll break it to Cleve on Saturday morning," I tell myself. "He'll understand."



The day arrives and I drive over to Waialua to meet Cleve at the flashing light junction (see map above). Rendezvous time is 8 a.m. It is then that I tell Cleve I'm feeling less than good. He extends his sympathy and then says, "We'll see how far we can go." Man, that guy can't take hints. And like a fool, I tell him I'm still going with him. Bonehead.

We enter via a covert route inland from the flashing light junction in Waialua. It's 8:30.

At one point, we veer left up a paved road that leads to a ranch house on a hilltop. About a 100 meters up this road, we reach the Ito Ditch and a pipe bridge that crosses it.

We turn left to follow a trail along the ditch. In a minute, we reach a point where the ditch drops into a gully. We tightrope on the concrete edge of the ditch to get around its end, and then pick up another trail that leads us to a fenceline. We hop over a fence topped with barbed wire and land on a ranch road (dirt).

We follow this road until we reach a locked gate. We hop over this and follow the ranch road as it heads mauka up the broad ridge.

Cleve and I have no idea whether we're on the right ridge to Kamaohanui. "We can come back again if we're on the wrong one," says the unflappable Cleve-meister.



So up we go, following the ranch road, severely rutted in areas and which can only be travelled on foot, on dirt bikes, or on quads. Plenty of cow pies on the ground. No makers of these pies sighted, however.

We reach the upper boundary of the ranch property at a fenceline. It's 9:30, an hour after we left the cars. We rest in the shade of some eucalyptus trees. There's also a large fruit-bearing lama tree there. Steve is jazzed about the lama. He fills up a plastic bag with fruit. He'll share these with his students (he teaches at a local high school). He even eats one. "It's pretty good," he announces. "You want to try?"

No thanks, I say, citing the quasi-flu bug I'm battling. Actually, I'm not much of a fruit eater, particularly those from native Hawaiian plants.

After that, we hop over the ranch fence and continue up the ridge. We see pink ribbons every 10 meters. The ridge is mostly open. No need for ribbons so often. "Must be some novice hiker," I theorize.

"Yeah, what a waste of ribbons," Cleve adds.

Later we spot that string we've seen on other ridges. We also notice numbers written on the ribbons. "Ahh, ungulate impact study," I say.

The ribbons and string appear regularly up the ridge for a goodly distance. Then as some big pu'us appear, the ribbons and string stop. "The string folks must've gotten tired," I think.

We pass through a grove of Formosan koa and continue climbing, following goat trails up the ridge.

Cleve is safety conscious and will subject himself to abuse by flora to avoid sections he deems too exposed. I, on the other hand, will subject myself to exposure (but not extreme kind) to avoid long, taxing bypasses that involve crashing through brush and hanging onto trees.

He does the bypass thing several times while I climb up and over rocky dikes. At one steep section, I go up what I judge a relatively safe rocky dike. I urge Cleve to follow but he refuses, saying he'll look for a bypass contour.

Right at this point, we spot about a dozen goats, including a couple of large billies. One large male stands poised on a rock about 20 meters away. "If I had a gun, I'd shoot you," I yell at the defiant goat. The buggah just stares for ten seconds before bounding away off onto a contour trail off the ridge. Some nerve.

Cleve, judging the goats wiser than I, follows the contour route they take instead of the direct climb of the dike I use. Bottom line: we both reach the point beyond the dike in good shape. That's good.

We keep climbing, stopping at times to yell out to see some of our hiking colleagues going up Dupont can hear us. They do, and we hear return whoops. Later, one of our friends says he saw me and my red shirt "plain as day." I'm hiking without glasses or contacts (my eyesight is 20-100), so I'm visually impaired. I hear 'em but can't see 'em.

At this point, we see no more pink ribbons. But I do spot an old blue one. "Hey, someone's been up here," I say to Cleve. We later find a couple of old orange ribbons in the last couple hundred meters of the climb to the summit, but for the most part we find little to indicate that anyone has pushed through to the top via this ridge in a while.

At about 11:30 (three hours from launch), we reach the point of the ridge where we leave dryland forest behind and enter the uluhe and blackberry zone. The goat trails we've been following also disappear.

"It's Howdy-Dowdy time!" I yell out, trying to make light of the torture Cleve and I are about to subject ourselves to. We have one machete between us, so we take turns as ramrod, trying to forge a path of least resistance. When I'm in front, I swear a lot. "Give me a flippin break," I say to the bushes, as if they can hear me. We also ribbon this section pretty extensively. Future return hike someday? Maybe.

The blackberry is unforgiving, and blood appears on my forearms and kneecaps. Like an idiot, I don't stop to put on the long pants I have in my pack until later. Cleve, meanwhile, hikes shirtless for a long spell through the uluhe and blackberry. "Either he's tough as hell or a complete idiot," I think to myself. We do a lot of hands and knees crawling. Shades of Paoao Ridge. Ahh, it's Howdy-Dowdy time.

At several points, we emerge from the uluhe and blackberry abyss into beautiful clearings. One has what appears to be a goat or pig nest right in the middle. Maybe it's home to some X-File alien creature, I think. Man, I'm losing it.

Earlier, we set a turnaround time of 1 p.m. At 12:50, we arrive at a clearing on the ridge where we finally can see the summit of Kamaohanui (intermediate puus on the way up obscure it). It's maybe 200 meters away but there is a steep climb through thick, daunting vegetation to get there.

Cleve announces that we should stop to eat lunch and return another day to complete the climb. I agree to eat lunch but nix the plan to terminate the summit attempt. "We're too close to turn back now," I say. We debate the issue. Cleve thinks if we try to summit, we may make it but not make it back to the cars before dark. I point out that the descent will certainly be faster than the climb up. Plus (and here's the clincher), I agree to ramrod the final ascent.

So we eat a 10-minute lunch. That done, I put on my long pants and gloves. Then proceed to use my body as a battering ram through more uluhe and blackberry for the next 25 minutes, the time we need to reach the summit of the peak Cleve says he's looked at and wanted to climb for thirty years.

There's a large, grassy clearing there, maybe 20 meters x 15 meters. Someone has cut large branches of trees using a saw. No trash spotted. Good place to camp. The climb up with big pack would be hard. Good views of Kaala, Kalena, and the Schofield firing range. The climb up the ridge to Kaala looks formidable, with a big drop from Kamaohanui and then a big climb through thick vegetation to reach Oahu's highest point. Surely, there's plenty of blackberry on the way too. How do you spell s-u-f-f-e-r?

Feeling good, I yodel out "KA-MA-OHA-NUI!!"

"Right on," says Cleve when he arrives.



We shake hands, admire the views for five minutes, and then head back down the way we came up. We also hear some of our colleagues whooping out from Kaala (the photo above was taken from Kaala; the peak at the far right is Kamaohanui)

We need three hours to return to our cars and are out by 4:30. Some of the crew who've ascended to Kaala on Dupont have gone already. Others are hanging out, resting and partaking of refreshments provided by some kind folks. Great to get off my feet and guzzle some cold drinks.

A good day. Mission accomplished.

Who knows what Cleve has in mind next.

--LS

Friday, December 10, 2010

Awaawapuhi Extended



Awaawapuhi is a trail up in the Koke'e environs on Kauai. David Concepcion contributes this video about a trek out on a wild ridge that is an extension of the main trail. Not for the acrophobic!

See David's video here.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Bear Claw Ridge aka Pu'u o Kona Windward

This trail/climb/ascent is one of the legendary ones in the annals of Oahu hiking. Named "Bear Claw" because it has a similar appearance to the extended appendage of a huge grizzly, the ridge was climbed by HTMC daredevils of yesteryear and then conquered once again by Stan Yamada and son in the late 1990s.

Following the Yamada-ascent, a flurry of activity on Bear Claw ensued by host of intrepid HTMC types of more recent vintage. After that, activity on The Claw dropped to nil. That is until recently.

In 2009-2010, assaults on Bear Claw have been numerous, including ones by Andrew Bayang and friends, and Dave Concepcion and company, and Nathan Yuen and friends.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sacred Falls descent - Merlin Wollenzien







Well, I'm not quite sure just how to tell this story. The trip was the most phenomenal and exciting undertaking that any of us had attempted (at least for hiking/canyoneering). We put a great deal of time, planning and preparation into this activity to ensure it would be done as fail-safe as possible but, sometimes things happen that you're just not quite ready for. Seldomly, it's the unthinkable.


Read more...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Star Trek Trail (Waianae) -- Waianae Steve

Photo by Waianae Steve








The Star Trek trail starts in Waianae Valley and climbs to crest of the Waianae Range between Kolekole Pass and Pu'u Kalena. The following account is provided by Waianae Steve.


"The story of this trail began while Dan and I were hiking on Hobb's ridge. I spotted what looked like a narrow valley cutting the Wai`anae Pali and thought 'Hey we might be able to do that!'"


Read more...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Ahuimanu Uka -- Pete Clines


Photo by Oahuhiker

Hike date:  6 June 2010, Sunday
Since I had to work on Saturday (National Trails Day) I figured I would make up for it on Sunday by adding a fourth option to the Aiea trail network: a windward continuation.After months of putting it off, yesterday became the day for a summit attempt of this obscure windward ridge.  I had been looking for a new route on that side and spotted a ridge that begins behind Ahuimanu and climbs to a peak north/west of the Aiea Ridge terminus.  This ridge is fairly prominent, and is between "Ulupaina Uka" to the south and "Kalahaku Teeth" to the north.A little history:
My initial scouting trip began from a poor access point, but subsequent clearing trips began from an access point at the end of Heno Place - ~300 ft elevation where I parked, just down the road.  I believe this might be the access for the Ahuimanu trail that the Club uses to get to the waterfall.  I have never joined them for this one, but the trail is wide and well ribboned.After a several hours of exploration on my inital outing, I found that the much more subtle ridge just south (to the left) of the prominent one would be the way to go.  It already had a swath leading up a broad uluhe slope and it was closer to the trailhead.  (From the trailhead, you are on the main trail for less than 5 minutes before turning right on the "Uka" trail.  Look for my pink ribbons.)  The ridge I would decide on becomes quite steep - and exposed in places - but unlike the neighboring prominent ridge it did not have any notches.  My route would be a consistent uphill battle.My last two visits here - a few months back - were short trips to blast open the uluhe swath, hang ribbons through the valley section below it, and assess the exposed part I could see from the road below.  Machete work made me a nice corridor through the uluhe and I would have a more pleasant start on summit day. Whoever had been using this swath on the lower part of the ridge must have stopped shortly after the uluhe as I would not see any signs of trail or travel after ~800-900 ft elevation.  And not surprisingly.  It was around this elevation that the ridge narrowed considerably, and became a steep climb on very brittle rock using scattered "trumpet" trees as handholds.  Two prior visits ended at 900 ft when I was doubtful of further upward progress at one particular spot with no trees to grab.  This climb will make a monkey out of you as it involves a lot of upper body effort.Yesterday:
Loaded down with over 200 feet of strong rope, I hit the trailhead just before 9am.  It was cloudy up top, nice down below, and I thought I had a chance of the summit clearing up.  (Wrong.)  In roughly 45 minutes I was at my prior trouble spot at 900 ft.  Taking a chance (knew I had the rope in case I needed to get down) I was able to claw my way up to a higher spot.  Rocks were being dislodged, but I was confident that no one was in the impact-zone below.  I quickly reached a place that was even more tricky.  I tried to climb up the right side, but rotten rock and poorly rooted trees meant I would struggle for about 15 minutes.  Several times I would get near the next handhold...only to have something give way and send me sliding back down in a hurry.  One notable drop was about 10 feet, and I was lucky to catch the (only) trumpet tree with my left foot.  But I remained determined, and was eventually able to finesse my way to a more secure spot.A look to my left reassured me that I was making progress upwards.  It also remined me of why I was NOT climbing THOSE ridges.  Looked like Kalalau.  As I got higher still, I reached a spot where it leveled off momentarily and I could admire the views both left and right. On the right was the prominent ridge that I was paralleling.  You can see the second notch - the smaller and higher of the two notches - in this photo.  As I got higher, I would intercept this ridge, labeled as "Junction" on my last photo.
Photo by Pete Clines
After 1000 ft, I was on a short section that reminded me of the narrow dikes on the cemetary route to Manamana.  Higher still and I started to find myself in the clouds.  Bummer.  I would get no views - or photos - after about 1400 ft.  The exposure and danger of the ridge was now replaced by a very overgrown route and super-slow progress.  I was struggling to get me and my bulky pack through all the vegetation.  Blackberry and/or thimbleberry thorns were ravaging my forearms and even getting through my gloves.  I soon encountered an abrubt wall of uluhe, and the uphill climb continued to be slow as I alternately went through it or over it.  Again, no swath or hint of trail at all.A moment of satisfaction and relief occurred when I reached the junction of the ridge I was on and the more prominent ridge.  (I ribboned this spot heavily.)  The route uphill would be more gradual for a while, and though overgrown, I would get breaks where the growth was windswept and low to the ground.  Occassional clumps of trees on the ridgeline would force me to work around them, but the perceived danger level here was never great.  Possibly since I could not see how far the drops were.  Visibility was maybe 50 yards, and when I snapped a PHOTO of the trail behind me, I was frustratingly amused at how little I would see from this spectacular climb.  It was also cold and raining by this point, so getting to the summit was no longer for enjoyment and panoramic views.  It was "man vs wild."From prior observation of this ridge from up above at the Aiea terminus, I knew I was about to come upon the possible deal-breaker for this climb.  Labeled as "Sheer" on my last photo, I kept hoping this spot would not be a wall of rotten rock.  It is temptingly close to the top, and I could not see it coming as I was still in heavy cloud cover.  But all of a sudden, I saw the massive feature unveiled in front of me.  Eerie as it began to appear.  As I neared the base and the detail came out, I was pleased to see that there were some clumps of thick grass dotted along it.  No trees or bushes...and the footing was poor.  A fall would have been painful, so I clung to the wall for all I was worth and I managed to tug my way to the top.  Adrenaline pumping, I scrambled the last short stretch to the summit!  1:55pm.  2,450 ft by my measure.Surrounded by wind, rain, and clouds...I hollered loud at my achievement, then ribboned my top-out point and cleared a spot out of the wind on the leeward side to have my lunch.  At 2:15 I departed with the Aiea Ridge teminus as my next goal.  Terrible visibilty meant I would very briefly take two incorrect ridges en route (shown as yellow dots on my last photo.)  I realized just how easy someone could get turned around up in this remote part of the Koolaus in such poor weather.  But I was able to use my altimeter/compass watch....memory of the summit ridge as viewed from the Aiea terminus...and "KST Common Sense" meaning that if you aren't getting wind-blasted on one side of you body (in this case, my left) then you are on the wrong ridge.No ribbons en route ( I left some, though) and not much of a distinct trail, but the travel was relatively easy if I kept to the low growth on the windward lip of the ridge.  A powerline tower soon appeared out of the clouds - I figured this was halfway there - and I was soon climbing up to the Aiea summit.  2,700 ft on my watch and three red ribbons confirmed I was at my target.  3:00pm.With the grueling part of my day complete, I could relax knowing that I had only 6 more miles left on the wide open trail ahead of me.  I was also pleased that I would soon have company.  As planned, three of my best hiking buddies, August, Nate, and Nikolaj were doing the Halawa to Aiea hike.  We were to meet up at the Aiea summit.  Lobelia searching meant they would be delayed and I arrived at the meeting spot early.  I toughed it out at the actual summit clearing for a while, but waiting in the wind and rain sucked away my heat and I eventually moved down to the powerline towers just below to look for a windbreak and dry my clothes. 4:00pm I heard voices above me, and three familiar figures emerged from the clouds.  (PHOTO)We excitedly discussed our respective adventures....then began our search for better weather lower down the ridge.  Good conversation and a steady pace kept us warm as we all successfully completed our hikes.  Following a few short breaks - one was to re-direct a lost hiker and her two kids - we were all in the Aiea State Park lot at 7:00pm.  Nikolaj's wife (and beautiful baby girl) was waiting for us there.  She drove us to Halawa where Nate and August could retrieve their cars....and then August shuttled me back to Kaneohe-side to retrieve mine.  Home at 9:00pm.  Sore, hungry, tired, and thrilled.Thanks to the fellas for their company on the way out.  Thanks to Mena and August for the rides.
Photo by Pete Clines
One more PHOTO. It was taken from the Aiea summit recently when August, Laredo and I did the Halawa/Aiea Loop.  (MUCH better weather that day.)  This photo shows my route, though the bottom portion is not visible from this angle.  Red for the way up, yellow for summit section.
-Pete

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mo'o Kapu o Haloa - Patrick Rorie

There are moments in extreme hiking when participants say to themselves,"Is this more than I can handle? Am I pushing the envelope too far?" On the other hand healthy growth can only take place when an individual's limit is stretched. Such was the case for three men on Sunday, February 22, 1998.

After picking up Laredo Murray at his home in Haiku Valley I drove the two of us to a well-known windward Oahu ranch. Dayle Turner and FWH had already arrived and were waiting for us just inside the main entrance. FWH went to confirm that we had permission to do the hike. She returned a few minutes later and we drove our cars to an area not far from the trailhead. It was a high overcast day with nice breezes.


At 8:16 a.m. the four of us began bushwacking thru a small forest of mostly haole koa and tall grass working our way toward the foot of the fourth ridge (the first ridge being the one that goes directly to the prominent peak Kanehoalani (elev. 1,900 ft)). We essentially made our own trail since no one had done the hike in years. While in the forest our group climbed straight up two rocky hills. It was at this point that I took the ram-rod from Dayle. We had to be careful of loose rock under the grass lest one of us sprain an ankle or worse. Eventually the four of us emerged from the forest unscathed.

Pressing on our group started gaining altitude ascending steeply, first over low grass and other low level vegetation, and then across small rock ledges. The section was open and windswept. Laredo and I moved ahead of Dayle and FWH creating a distance gap as the initial ascent continued. All of us followed the main ridge line until it became a dike. Along the dike larger rock outcrops were encountered forcing a basic decision to be made - contour around or climb direcly over. Sometimes natural steps in the rock were available so the four of us used them.

After traversing a narrow level section of the dike Laredo and I climbed to the base of a large lengthy rock outcrop most of which was on the left side of the ridge. I noticed a short black cable (cable section #1) and scaled the first part of the outcrop to check it out and continue the hike. I reached the top of the cable where it was wrapped around a rock and fear of the unknown kicked in. To my left was a sheer vertical drop off. I hesitated which allowed Dayle and FWH to catch up. I retreated to the base of the outcrop and Laredo climbed up for a look. For safety sake I removed two one-liter bottles of grape drink from my pack and left them on the trail. Someone discovered another longer (20 foot ?) black cable running along the right side of the rock structure. While helpful, neither cable contained loops or knots. FWH used the longer one occasionally as she climbed steeply to the top close to end of the rock outcrop. Laredo followed her and I him. Just before joining FWH, Laredo accidentally dislodged some rocks which rolled/flew thru the air down toward me. Fortunately I was not pelted by any of them. Dayle chose the over the top option using the short black cable and a red and white rope he had brought. FWH gave him assistance while Laredo tied loops in the longer cable.

Once all of us were reunited Dayle, Laredo and I considered turning back shaken by the hazardous cable section. FWH encouraged us and admonished me to,"Lead on, Patrick !".

I slowly and nervously crossed a dicey extremely narrow spot marking the end of the rock outcrop. Next the dike widened which I was relieved to see and gave me confidence to pick up the pace. Our group ascended steeply over a rocky triangular peak. When the dike came to an end it was followed by an open (low vegetation) stretch featuring a steep ascent over a series of small rock outcrops. Once again Laredo and I began pulling away from Dayle and FWH. He and I went to the right of a huge rock face being careful not to slip on the loose rock and dirt. Occasionally the rock we were using as hand or foot holds came loose which was very unnerving!

I observed quite a few pellets (goat dung) along the trail. Sheer rocky vertical cliffs were on the right along the side of the fifth ridge and to the left the other three ridges had spectacular narrow, at times vertical, rock dikes. A beautiful triangular peak was located to the right of the Kanehoalani peak. Looking toward the ocean we could see Chinaman's Hat dead ahead, Kualoa Beach Park, most of Kaneohe Bay, Mokapu Penninsula, Coconut Island, Pu'u Maelieli, Dusty Klein's peak, Oneawa Hills, Kaiwa Ridge, the Mokulua Islands, and Rabbit Island in the distance.

Toward the Ko'olaus the highlights included the first part of the Southeast ridge of Ohulehule featuring the lone ironwood, Waikane, Waiahole, and Waihee Valleys, 7 "shoulders" along the Ko'olau Range - Konahuanui, Lanihuli, Keahi a kahoe, Aiea Ridge summit, Kalahaku leading up to the Waimalu Middle Ridge summit, Eleao, and "The Corner".

Pressing on Laredo and I scrambled steeply up yet another rock outcrop, ascended steeply over an open narrow section of the ridge most of which was covered with buffalo grass (there were occasional Christmas berry trees on the right), and ascended gradually thru more buffalo grass with precipitous drop offs to the left. A steep ascent thru a forest of Akia and Christmas berry trees including a brief contour to the right of a huge rock outcropping followed. Laredo and I did not have visual contact with Dayle or FWH again until we were on the crest. We did hear them talking to each other on a couple of occasions, however.

Reached the beginning of another long cable section (cable section #2). I removed my gloves because I wanted the best grip possible. There could be no slipping on this section. While I was attempting to negotiate the first part of it on the left side of a rock face Laredo climbed ahead of me along the direct route and started making his way up the very steep ascent. Due to the absence of loops or knots in the black cable I looped it around my left wrist. Footholds were tough to come by on the loose dirt and rock. Progress was slow and I was focused but not terribly afraid. I could see ledges below on the right side of the ridge followed by trees further down which helped me psychologically. I theorized that if I fell I would end up on one of the ledges or the trees would break my fall. Serious injuries would occur but not death. Whether my theory was correct or not is open to major challenge. Also, this section was very similar to the steep area Gene Robinson, Laredo, Dayle and I successfully completed on the way to the summit of Palikea from Pu'u Heleakala on September 1st of last year. Most importantly though was the fact that Laredo was showing the way above me. I asked him,"How's it look?" and he replied,"Good!"

On at least one occasion the cable zigzagged between trees which made progress tricky. The angle of ascent decreased noticeable after the termination point of the cable. As a result the ridge was relatively level as I passed Laredo watering the flowers if you know what I mean ! Unfortunately the relatively level section was brief. The final climb to the crest was very steep but another black cable (cable section #3) was provided for assistance.

I arrived at the Mo'o kapu o Haloa ridge crest at 10:26 a.m. As Laredo was making his way up the final segment I heard someone yell. The sound of it echoed throughout the gulches below. "What was that ?!" I asked myself. "I hope FWH and Dayle are alright !". Laredo joined me a few minutes later.

The ridge crest was narrow (not a lot of room to sit down and Laredo could almost straddle it) but the views were wonderful of Kaaawa Valley below to the northwest and the true Manamana and Kahana Valley toward the Ko'olaus. I was bummed that I could not see Ohulehule, however.

Eventually FWH and Dayle reached the start of the final ascent. FWH came up to the crest but Dayle refused. He looked visibly shaken from the entire ordeal. I give him credit for making it as far as he did. It was certainly no picnic for Laredo and I.

FWH, Laredo and I enjoyed food and drink on the crest for about half an hour taking photos of each other and of the awesome panoramic vistas.

With rain visible near the Ko'olau Mountain Range and the potential for it to blow our way the three of us decided to head down. It was approx. 11:30 a.m.

Descending to the relatively level section was much easier than the final climb (it almost felt like repelling!). Our group slowly and carefully moved down the next cable section (the most dangerous part of the hike in my opinion). Dayle tied his red and white rope around himself while Laredo tied and untied the other end to trees along the trail. We went one at a time because of the potential to dislodge rocks. During the wait I got out my pen and notepad and began jotting down the route description for the hike ala Stuart Ball, Jr.

Once the four of us reached safer ground above the first long cable we sat down to take pleasure from the views and snap more photos. The rain had stayed away and we were glad of that.

The first long cable was easier going down esp. since Laredo put loops in it and Dayle tied his red and white rope to the end of it. I retrieved my one-liter bottles drinking briefly from one of them and then placed them into my pack.

The remainder of the hike was rather uneventful although I did remind myself constantly not to let my guard down.

Our group emerged from the small forest near the trailhead at 2:30 p.m. all grateful to be alive with some brimming with confidence. Laredo, Dayle and I thanked FWH for such an exciting hike and bid her farewell.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Of Head Cams and Videos

Have you noticed that in this new age of hiking, trail reports are increasingly presented in pictures and videos more than words?  Of special interest to me are the HD videos being shot which led me to investigate the hardware being used to capture the footage.

One particularly thorough review was put out by The Hike Guy, who discussed the pros and cons of the GoPro HD Hero camera.  Maybe if I'm lucky, I'll get one of these cameras for Christmas!



Friday, November 26, 2010

Aiea Ridge to Waimalu Middle Ridge -- Pat Rorie

On Saturday, Jan. 10, 1998 Laredo Murray (blonde hair) and I took advantage of the incredible weather conditions (light and variable winds resulting in a crystal clear Ko'olau summit crest) and went for an all day hike (aka "Super" hike or Xtreme hike).

We met at Anna Miller's in Aiea around 7:40 a.m. It was a chilly (for Oahu) morning but the mountains were completely cloudless and the two of us were psyched. Laredo followed me as we drove to the top of Onikiniki. He left his truck there and I then drove us to Keaiwa Heiau State Rec Area. I parked in the lot near the Aiea Loop trailhead.

At 8:12 a.m. we started up the trail. I had to constantly wipe/blow my nose and it didn't take Laredo very long to realize that I was sick. I told him it was only post nasal drip and a minor problem. Although my nose was running I felt fine because Mike Adams recommended I take a certain 24 hour cold medicine the night before.

Laredo and I worked our way along the loop trail thru a very pleasant forest of guava and eucalyptus trees. We encountered several members of a running team/club as they ran past us going in the opposite direction. Reached the junction where the Aiea Ridge trail begins at 8:45 a.m. As we continued our trip (now on Aiea Ridge), Laredo and I couldn't help but notice the noise of the recently opened H-3 freeway. It was a constant distraction and was with us almost all the time we were on the Aiea Ridge Trail. One thing which helped us get our minds off of the freeway was the presence of lovely Kalauao Valley on the left.

Laredo and I chipped away at the miles and after a stiff ascent took a break at the top of Pu'u Kawipo'o (elev. 2,441 ft). The time was 10:06 a.m. This was the first time Laredo had been on Aiea Ridge so he took delight in the superb views of Pearl Harbor and the Waianae Range. The dome atop the building which marks the termination point of the Haiku Stairs was also visible. Both of us studied the peaks along the Ko'olau summit crest toward Waimalu which we would have to scale later that day.

Pressing on at 10:20 a.m. the two of us climbed over a series of small humps (this part of the ridge is "open, windswept, and at times narrow"*). Next Laredo and I ascended somewhat steeply to a large grassy clearing, the spot where one can either drop down to a gully and ascend to the second power-line tower or go right, still on the main ridge, toward the first power-line tower. At 10:45 a.m. we arrived at the clearing and paused to take in the good views of the windward side including Mount Ohulehule and Kanehoalani Ridge. Because Laredo had never been to the Aiea Ridge summit the two of us went that way instead of descending to the gully. I wasn't feeling very well but didn't have the guts to suggest to Laredo that we turn back, not on such a beautiful day. I drank a liter of malolo grape water (3 parts water, 1 part malolo grape syrup) and led us to the summit.



The views were marvelous of the Mokulua Islands on the right and Kaneohe Bay dead ahead. Temple Valley is directly below. At 11:17 a.m. Laredo and I departed the Aiea Ridge pinnacle bound for the Waimalu Middle Ridge. The conditions were totally different for me compared to those I had to endure on Thanksgiving day - excellent visibility, light southerly breeze, warm temps. Instead of backtracking the two of us descended slightly along the Ko'olau summit crest. We followed what looked like a faint swath in the vegetation and reached the second power-line tower in 17 minutes.

Continuing on, Laredo and I began traveling up, over and down a series of 8 major peaks between Aiea and Waimalu. Ascended somewhat steeply to the top of the first peak where we noticed three small boulders protruding out of the soil toward the windward side. Went along the leeward side of the summit following the path Gene Robinson had created on Nov. 16.

Reached the top of the second peak just before 12 p.m. (noon) and paused for a brief rest. Laredo was surprised at how quick and easy our progress had been so far. I gave the credit to Gene's swath and the fact that I had been this way before. Periodic "hot" pink ribbons along the route didn't hurt either.

Following the break as we started moving again Laredo brought to my attention the existance of a short metal pole in the ground. Between peaks three and four was a very pleasant windswept ravine covered with low level grass. Between peaks four and five were ti plants. Thick vegetation could be found on peak five and an unusually large concentration of flora and phauna close to the summit crest existed between peaks six and seven. Laredo and I took another rest after a steep climb to peak seven. It was approx. 1 p.m. Not much of the ginger which Gene and I had encountered in November was around for Laredo and I to appreciate.

The final climb to the Waimalu Middle Ridge was long and difficult. Laredo and I were forced to struggle thru leeward vegetation while ascending, sometimes steeply. The summit ridge leveled briefly at one point but became very narrow. This was followed by more climbing. If we tried to stay to the windward side of the crest where there was less vegetation the two of us found ourselves hanging precariously over the side of the sheer cliff !

At 1:52 p.m. I reached the summit of Waimalu Middle Ridge and collapsed from exhaustion. Laredo joined me a few minutes later. We both lay there in the sun until we caught our breath.

For the next hour the two of us ate lunch and greatly delighted in the awesome vistas. Ohulehule dominated the scene with "the corner", Eleao and the Waimano Ridge summit clearly visible.

Very reluctantly, Laredo and I began heading down into Waimalu Valley at 3:07 p.m. Laredo told me that I looked peaked as we slowly descended. I felt terrible because of fever and about half way down the middle ridge I had to stop and take a swig of grape drink. This seemed to revive me and the two of us made it to the valley floor without incident. Before we got to the bottom Laredo informed me that he had left his keys in my car. We would have to find a phone, call his wife and have her deliver another set. At 4:30 p.m. Laredo and I stopped at the termination point of the HTMC Waimalu Ditch hike marked with three "hot" pink ribbons. Laredo washed his face in the stream as I had another drink.

Pressing on, we hiked quickly thru hau and over stream crossings. The Waimalu Ditch Trail went on and on and on ! I ran out of water before we reached the end of it.

At long last Laredo and I arrived at the start of the final ascent to the top of Onikiniki. During the final climb I could feel my legs cramping up badly.

We emerged from the ditch trail at 5:57 p.m. and asked some pig hunters if they had a cell phone. "No" was their answer so I attempted to ring an old friend from the gated community. Neither she nor her parents were home. Laredo suggested ringing Gene. I replied, "There is no way I'm going to bother Gene again !". But he insisted so I told him,"YOU call him !".

By chance Gene was home and a few minutes later the three of us were on our way to Aiea Heights. A huge mahalo for his help. As we entered the Keaiwa Heiau rec area there was a gathering of people followed by police vehicles and a body on the ground wrapped in a white sheet. Apparently a disturbed man had ended his life near Kalauao Stream. Very tragic. Gene got us to my car just before the gates were to close. I thanked Gene for his help as he and Laredo entered Gene's truck for the trip back to the top of Onikiniki.

Notes: This trip is best done over a two day period. If possible don't hike when you're sick. There were times during the hike when the enjoyment of the trip was lost because I felt so bad. Bring extra water on variable wind days. The Waimalu Middle Ridge Trail is slowly being lost to uluhe. On several occasions Laredo and I had to backtrack to find the path. Go for it, Wing! Get up there and clear that trail!

* Ball Jr., Stuart, THE HIKER'S GUIDE TO OAHU - 1993 University of Hawaii Press

Wanna see a climber? Check out this dude!

With all the recent activity on True Manamana, Piliwale, and Bear Claw Ridge which all require above-average climbing ability, when I saw this clip I thought the climbers among us (and the many of us who are climber-wannabes or climbers-in-training) would love this:

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Nuuanu to Makapu'u Thanksgiving Hike - Man Friday


Man Friday in 2008 via this link
In honor of Thanksgiving Day 2010, here is the story of an extreme hike  completed on Thanksgiving Day, 2001 by R.B. aka Man Friday.  Awesome accomplishment.
------
There was talk within the HTMC member ranks about doing a day hike the length of the Pali.   So on this beautiful Thanksgiving Day, man-Friday decided to take the leisure stroll on his own.  It should be known he attempted to solicit other HTMC members to participate, but alas there were no takers.Arriving at the hunter sign in on Pali highway man-Friday made the final preparations for the hike.  At 6:05 am he did not expect to see anyone else there but to his surprise two hunters where signing in at the check in.  Five minutes to gear up, lock the doors and say aloha to the hunters and MF was ready to head down the pitch-dark old Pali road towards the Nuuanu Judd trail.  On the way MF felt ice cold water dripping down his back on into his board shorts, but shrugged it off figuring it was just condensation on the outside of his camel pack bladder.   Reaching the ironwood grove he stopped and checked his camel pack and sure enough the bloody thing had been leaking.  Inspecting it in the blind revealed a loose cap, but since it was still dark MF had no way of knowing how much precious sky juice was lost.  With that little irritant taken care of MF moved on but wondered just how much water was lost!
MF crossed the brook by the bamboo area of the Judd trail and proceeded up the winding contour.  The trail was not difficult to make in out in the dark but care had to be taken least he trip over the many exposed roots. The connector was located to Nuuanu and the steady uphill grind began. After passing the rock face section, with the safety rope, MF noticed the trail had recently received a thorough work over by pigs.  He could not believe that there was pig damage to the trail all the way to the switch back overlooking Pauoa valley.  After that nothing interesting was observed on the way to Pauoa flats.A quick H2O break at the flats and MF was on his way to Puu Konahuanui (K2).  It was still early with little or no wind and K2 was socked in.  MF decided not to carry his usual daypack but opted for a camel pack on this outing.  This decision would allow MF to hike continuously without stopping to unscrew a water bottle cap every time he needed a drink.  Also by taking sips every now and then it was hoped he would avoid hamstring and quad cramps during the long day.  
Climb to K2 -- Photo by Waianae Steve
The only eventful detail concerning the ascent to K2 was the beautiful symphony being sung by four or five bird species.  The music they played was quite lovely, so much so MF sailed up the trail to the tune of the birds and was at K2 summit at 8:10 am.  Upon reaching the summit man-Friday was rewarded with a spectacular view of the Pali just as the sun was breaking through the morning clouds. The spectacle is difficult to articulate in writing or speech you really have to experience it and in so doing must admit, "There is a God"!
Konahuanui to Olympus section
The sun began to bake away the clouds as MF descended K2 towards Manoa middle.  MF had done the crossover two years ago but forgot just how steep and slippery the initial descent was.  No sense in trying to find a purchase on the way down, more like butt slide and hope you can hang on to something before crashing through the uluhe on the way down to who knows where.  There are two difficult descents and MFs behind was getting sore quickly, plus his left arm was getting tired from hanging onto any vegetation he could clutch to slow his descent.  Alas with the worst behind him he proceeded on only to encounter a new challenge.  A portion of the cross over takes the hiker off the windward side and down a little to leeward where there is very little footing, or room for error.  Well MF brought a ski pole with him that day and sure enough when he went to plant it nothing was there and off the side he went.  Fortunately a stout clidemia plant was at hand which MF clutched for dear life.  It was very steep and footing was nil so MF hoisted himself back up onto the so-called path with one arm, only to drop himself off the side again to retrieve his ski pole.  With pole in hand MF proceeded onto Manoa middle without incident.  It should be noted that the cross over was difficult for three reasons; very poor footing, sun  directly in eyes, and absolutely zero wind.  Anyhow MF made it to the middle ridge from K2 in 58 minutes.  He had no idea if that was good or bad, but he figured the most difficult part of the hike was over.
Man-Friday had decided earlier if he could make it to Olympus by 10 am then he would exit out at Makapuu.  With that in mind he set off towards Olympus.  Initial travel from middle towards Olympus was pleasant as MF felt no need to hurry and besides this particular part of the summit was virgin ground for him.  MF was amazed at how steep the drop offs were to windward, 100 to 200 verticles are common along the Pali.  When MF arrived at the saddle with the small ironwood stand he contemplated as how to cross the thin rocky section just beyond.  In so doing he took his eyes off the path and tripped off leeward (thank God) and was able to stop his fall by crashing into a small ironwood.  Gee, he thought to himself, this hike is getting tough.  Once past the saddle he spotted what looked like a trail about 10 feet below him towards leeward.  Indeed it was, perhaps this was that Manoa contour trail he had heard of from other HTMC members? Anyhow the trail was over grown with uluhe, but in some sections cleared, so MF decided to follow it as far as it would take him.  At one point it appeared a better idea to gain the summit ridgeline again, which he did, and then just before the final push to the Wa ahila terminus he dropped back down on the contour.  The contour intersected with the Wa ahila trail a hundred yards or so and within minutes MF reached the junction.
Looking back toward Konahuanui from Olympus
Photo by Kaleo Lancaster
A burst of energy propelled MF to the summit of Wa ahila at 9:45 am and a much needed10-minute break was enjoyed.  He ate a Kudos bar, squeezed the water out of his socks and thrilled in the views of Olomana and the entire Pali.  MF had participated in this past summers super hike from Olympus to Makapu u and during that hike the group left Olympus at 9:05 and exited at 4:30 pm.  MF felt confident he could finish the hike around 5:00 pm.
Refreshed physically and mentally MF set off to finish the hike.  The initial going was not difficult racing up to the real Mt. Olympus summit and then past the two sets of power poles. MF was cruising along and looking forwards to the hard uphill scramble to Palikea or is it Kainawaanui.  If youve hiked the summit ridge youll know the pu u, it is the one that starts past a small eroded bowl and man it is a heart pumper. Anyhow MF had the hiking pole and there is good purchase the entire ascent, but the hill is a killer by any ones standard!  MF would like to change the name of the Pu u to heart attack hill!  Really, he made the ascent and did not stop to take a break but continued on to the next puu and then ascended past a row of wooden electrical poles.  While passing the poles MF felt a wave of fatigue hit him, as no doubt the prior ascent sapped his reserves.  The sun was still beating down, and still no wind! He decided to take a break, eat a nutrigrain bar and hydrate.  He also began to feel some cramping coming on so a set of hamstring and groin stretches where in order.  After a 6 or 7 minute rest he continued on towards Lanipo at a reduced pace.  The vegetation was getting thicker but the trail was dry so focus was on maintaining footing and balance.  It was a fight to get Lanipo and when MF finally made it he took a healthy sip from his camel pack only to find it empty!
Lanipo summit
He did not linger at Lanipo but crossed over to Wailupe and praise God again as cloud cover had now moved in.  This section was a breeze as the HTMC trail crew had been through just a few months before.  MF arrived at Wailupe about 11:50 and decided to have lunch.  Thank goodness he packed plenty of celery sticks and carrots, he would chew these slowly to draw the much needed liquid out.  After eating a salmon/cream cheese sandwich and munching on the celery and carrots at 12:10 MF packed up and headed towards Pu u O Kona.
MF was a little concerned about running out of water, as he feared he would cramp up before getting to Kuliouou.  About a month ago he had stashed 3 liters of water and 2 quarts of Power Aid at Kuliouou and knew he could gut it out until there, but the cramping was certainly on his mind.  From Wailupe to Hawaii Loa was not that difficult, overgrown yes, but a steady pace kept MF moving along.  In between MF observed a landslide, which took out part of the prior summit path, no problem as that section was wide enough to just step leeward of the slide to continue.  On the way also MF observed two para sailors soar by one within 30 yards of him and at eye level.  MF waved a greeting and told the sailor, "thats the way to move up here".  The high flyer waved back but his companion ignored the earth bound sole!After Kulepeamoa the summit path turned outright SAVAGE, the path was completely overgrown and difficult to negotiate.  There is a long descent through thick vegetation and the hiker can not see his/her footing so it is all guesswork.  As would have it MF fell a number of times.  After surviving the brutal descent MF would have to deal with the wall of green mass ahead of him.  Although only waste high the vegetation was thick and strong, either that or MFs legs where fatigued and giving out.  Every step was a push and drag; you would push through some greenery and at the same time drag some with you.  Thank the good Lord again as the hot sun was blotted out with high cloud cover.  MF was getting demoralized and tired. While pushing through he heard a pig squealing over and over but could not determine its where about.  He knew the pig was leeward as he could make out a ridgeline running parallel to the summit.  That ridge was very steep so MF surmised the pua' a had fallen off the steep face and was calling for help!  MF felt like squealing himself but KW was insight and getting closer.  MF thought to himself, "just push to KW and after that it is a freeway to the water cache!Hurray KW was topped out about 1:15 pm or so and MF put it into overdrive to get to the water cache at Kuliou' ou.  Twelve minutes later MF was glugging down one of Gods most precious gifts to man, water.  While replenishing his camel pack 4 hikers arrived up Kuliou' ou, these were the only hikers MF saw the entire day.  The hikers asked MF where he came from and where do the trails lead to up here?  MF told them, but also advised them a different set of attire would be required and bring plenty of water!At 1:35 pm MF refreshed and hydrated set out for Makapuu.  Good news the desert was still under cloud cover and a trace of wind was forming.  MF has done the Kuliou' ou to Makapuu segment before and under less fatigued conditions could realistically expect to complete the leg in 3 hours.  As he moved along he wondered if there was enough fuel left in his tank to get him there and back to the clubhouse?

The first leg to Mariners went by in good form, 40 minutes, and on the way the wind picked up a little more.  The sun peeped through the clouds for a few moments but after the cameo would not be seen the remainder of the day.  MF recharged the camel pack at Mariners, as he had stashed another 1 liter bottle there just last weekend.  Yes, MF drank the entire 1 liters he took from Kuliou' ou on the way to Mariners.  Well he figured he may as well saturate with liquid before crossing the desert to Makapuu.
Shot from Mariner's Ridge summit
After the short break MF was off and hiking again and actually was feeling pretty good.  The legs actually had some snap in them and MF was relieved he was no longer fighting the heavy vegetation subjected to earlier.  MF topped out at the Tom-tom summit around 2:48 pm and never hesitated.  Now the wind was picking up and MF was on home ground.  The Makapuu Tom-tom trail is like MFs back yard, he hikes it regularly and some times jogs it! It felt good to be on home ground and MFs pace picked up.  A decision was made on route to take a break at the usual HTMC ironwood lunch spot.  MF arrived, drank plenty of water and consumed his last power bar.  He lay back for a few moments but almost dozed off, cant be pulling a Wing here he thought, had to get out by 5 pm.  With that thought in mind he picked himself up and set out for the Nike station.
The ascent to the Nike station is not really that difficult it was the next ascent to three poles that was on MFs mind.  Up past the Nike station and past the para sail jump off mats and down the long descent on towards three poles.  The climb up to three poles was ardouos and sapped whatever strenght was left in MFs legs.  Just keep going MF thought, once you top out, it is all down hill to Makapuu.  MF topped out about 4:15 or so and took a short water break.  He couldnt sit on his favorite rock at that spot as two large wooden crates were plopped down in the middle of the trail.  Appears the electric company will be doing work on the three poles, they must have been in a hurry to leave because whoever was there left a nice pair of leather gloves behind. Not being of thieving nature MF left all undisturbed.
Makapu'u Lookout: Hike's End
The final descent to Makapuu was without incident with MF reaching K highway at 4:44 pm.  With no one to shake hands with or give a high five MF set out for the HTMC clubhouse 3.4 miles away.  On route he ran into big John, who was riding back to town from the clubhouse.  Big John was heading back from the traditional HTMC Thanksgiving Day dinner and expressed interest in MFs latest adventure.  Big John told MF to get a move on if he wanted any leftover turkey.  MF was more interested in getting a ride back to the Pali highway to retrieve his truck, but certainly was looking forward to both turkey and an ice-cold beer!  MF continued the walk to the clubhouse and arrived about 5:45 pm and was immediately handed a beer by Larry.   With beer in hand man-Friday called it a day.
HTMC clubhouse in Waimanalo
A word of thanks is given to all the fine HTMC members for clearing portions of the summit ridge to make the hike enjoyable and less taxing. Thanks to Kalalau Rich for giving MF a ride from the clubhouse to Pali highway to pick up his truck after the hike.  Special thanks to Dayle Turner for sharing his knowledge of the trails and wisdom on hiking them. Mahalo to Grant and Joyce for saving MF a turkey plate from the thanksgiving dinner gathering.  And of course thanks be to God the Almighty Father for allowing MF to share in his wondrous creation and granting him the physic to experience it.
God bless and hike onman-Friday-----end post-----