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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-----

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

True Manamana hana hou!

Nate Rubio, Kale Tulang, and Albert Carcueva have become the 5th, 6th, and 7th to summit True Manamana, following the lead of previous summit conquerors Pete Clines, Laredo Murray, Jeremy Kreis, and Dave Concepcion.

See their accomplishment on youtube.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Olympus Windward (2002)

Wing Ng has made mention, to those who care to listen, of HTMC members of yore who used to descend to the windward side from Mount Olympus as a daredevil initiation ritual. More recently, some daredevil wannabes have tried to climb to  Olympus (aka Awa'awaloa) from the Maunawili by two different routes, only to be stymied by steep, dangerous conditions.On Saturday 10/26/02, Ed Gilman and I try a third route, and after a taxing and at times nerve testing seven-hour effort, we achieve the goal.We drive in my car to the Maunawili Falls starting point on Kelewina Street and shove off at just past 8 a.m. under partly cloudy skies. With just a tad of dampness underfoot, Ed and I hike up past the junction with the falls trail and onward up the connector trail that eventually merges with the Demonstration Trail at about the 2 to 2.5 mile mark.At that point, we head left (east) on the demo trail to get to the base of our target ridge.  We see the object of our attention  at various points on the way.  It looks challenging, even menacing, but we will give it a shot.  We meet some hunters with their dogs en route.  By chance, Ed knows one of the hunters from a meeting this past Wednesday while hiking in Pia Valley.  It is an interesting coincidence that they meet again today on the other side of the island.
Pic 1 -- by Dayle Turner
We arrive at the start of our target ridge after a 1.5 hour hike from Kelewina Street.  We don't mark the spot; we just plow up (see pic 1) mostly thru fiddlewood and uluhe. We both are wearing long pants.  In hindsight, I wish I had worn a long-sleeved shirt, for my forearms and elbows end up scratched up quite extensively from hours of fending off and pushing aside thick vegetation. Within five minutes of climbing, we come upon a wire basket on the ground with small pots in it.  This has to be for pakalolo though the plants in the pots don't look like pot.  Not interested in the pakalolo, we keep plowing upward, again mostly thru uluhe then soon come upon another 3 to 4-foot plant that looks like pakalolo.  Not sure if it is.  Doesn't smell like it. With my disposable cam, I snap a pic for the flora experts to examine and render a decision.We keep climbing and I notice, to my disappointment, that my altimeter watch is giving bogus elevation readings.  That is, it says we are at ~100 feet when the map says we should be 1000 feet higher.  Chagrined, I hope it corrects itself and later, thankfully, it does.  As we climb, we have a great vantage point to look to our right to see the ridge we tried on our last attempt and in particular the rockface that turned us back.  The face looks crazy.  Insane.  Why did we even attempt that?  I snap a couple pics of it.  Hope they come out.Today's ridge is much saner, at least until we reach the 1600-foot level. At that point, my altimeter watch kicks in and starts giving more believable readings.  Glad for that.  Not glad that we have reached a vertical wall that will not allow us to continue straight up climbing due to impossible steepness.  Ed suggests a rightward slab, and we move along cautiously, progressing slowly, machetes swinging, with a thick patch of clidemia and vegetation shielding us from a steep dropoff below it. After about 100 feet, our slabbing becomes more precarious when the patch of protective vegetation thins.  Ed is in the lead during the slab and after weighing the situation (vertical exposure below with not much of hand- and foot-holds to work with) and a nasty possible consequence (falling a long way), he decides to retreat.  I support his decision without question.We backtrack, regroup, then try a straight up ascent, only to be stifled by the steepness and lack of good holds.  We retreat again, bummed.At that point, heading back down and calling it a day is a possibility. However, we talk about setting up a belay on Ed and having him try the rightward slabbing move one more time, this time with protection.  Ed says okay to this and we proceed with the set-up.The belay, anchored to a sturdy ohia,  is established and with it, Ed moves across the exposed position with confidence, making it look easy.Okay, my turn.  Ed ties off his end of the 50 to 60 foot strap, and with my end tied off,  there is now an aid in place for me to make my way across.  I make my move and as I near the far end, a foothold I am on gives way, and I go sliding  down the exposed section but am saved, thankfully, by the strap and the grace of God.God is with me, as is the strap, and I hold on, say a quick prayer, and am able swing myself up to the strong roots and branches of an ohia.  From there I am able to climb to safety.  Whew.  Close call.  Amen.Having completing the slab, we now have positioned ourselves in a good place to continue climbing.  We have a distinct ridge to work with again, albeit a thickly overgrown one, predominantly with  i'e i'e. On this day, I do not curse the vegetation.  Why? It helps to protect us. Without it, we are stripped of the cover we need from steep dropoffs. Without it, we have no hand- and footholds to pull ourselves up.  Without it, we would not have completed the climb.As we do all day, Ed and I rotate into the lead position to conserve energy and sanity.  Whoever is in front has to expend more firepower to fight thru tangles of i'e i'e and clidemia and other kinds of thick flora.  This isn't to say the second guy has an easy time.  Far from it. It's just that the front guy has to battle harder because there is no swath to work with.  None.  Nada. Zip. Zilch.  So swapping the lead is the way to go.  As always, Ed does his share with nary a complaint.  Hats off to him.  An excellent hiking colleague.The going is painfully slow, so much so that after the slab & belay point, we only gain a couple hundred vertical feet over the course of 1.5 hours. As 1:00 pm nears, we are still battling vegetation but thankfully the angle of ascent lessens and we hunker down at a fairly level spot on the ridge for lunch.  My altimeter watch says we are at 1800 feet, still about 600 vertical feet from the summit crest.  As we eat lunch (see pic 2--the red dot in the pic, which is taken from the summit, is where we ate lunch), it's easy to see that we both are angsted.  We don't talk much and I don't feel like eating much, the latter being very unusual for me.
Pic 2 -- by Dayle Turner
I suppose we are not our chipper selves because we know we still have the unknown ahead of us.  We can see that more severely steep climbing is ahead and there is the chance we will be stopped by the steepness and will have to retreat.  That map shows this is possible.  So does the view ahead.  We are nervous.  Again, I say a prayer.After lunch, after about ten minutes of climbing, we finally break free of the vegetation to gain a vantage point with an unobstructed view of the final ascent to the summit.  It looks daunting:  a huge wall, with no apparent ridge, that is steep 80% of the way and super steep in the final 20%.  Can we climb this?  Should we even try?  Or should we just toss in the towel and head back down?We know that sometimes what appears horrid turns out to be not so bad once we are up close and face to face with it, so we mush ahead, hopeful that what we see from a distance will turn out to be not bad at all once we are on it.Luck and God are with us today.  The steep wall we face is indeed steep. But the climbing is doable because the vegetation, clidemia by and large, is so thick.  The dense thicket we climb up thru is like a womb to protect us, not only from the drops but also from views of the drops.  Enveloped in the clidemia, we plow upward like babes in the arms of our mothers and make good progress.As we climb ever upward, we can see that we will eventually have to slab to the left or right because straight up climbing will become impossibly steep within 100 feet of the top, we choose a leftward slab because a shelf is visible there.  This shelf pans out well for us, and we follow a good line that moves us leftward and gradually upward toward our goal, the summit.As we are slabbing, we catch a view of the ridgetop, a tantalizing twenty feet above us.  Overjoyed, we climb toward it, passing a couple of healthy lobeloids growing on the steep mountainside.  I think of Ken Suzuki and make a mental note to make mention of this sighting.  We get close to the ridgetop only to be thwarted by near  vertical steepness and a lack of reliable holds in the final ten feet.  It  seems that the thick vegetation we have relied on all the way has turned fickle right at the top.  Ed tries to climb the final couple meters but within an excruciating few feet of the top, he decides not to chance it due to very bad foot- and handholds.  I see Ed voice frustration for the first time ever.We retreat and regroup.  He and I sit for a while to gather ourselves and ponder our next move.  I have fleeting thoughts that we will be denied so close to the top and will have to head back down.  Ed, meanwhile, suggests continuing to slab to the left to try to hit the ridge at a lower point. I agree hesitantly because continued slabbing to the left means increased exposure to dropoffs. Ed leads and contours gingerly on a thin shelf with not much stable nor strong vegetation to work with.  Based on a suggestion by Ed, I slab on a line about ten feet lower.After some nervous moments (mostly for me), Ed completes a nifty move to get to a secure position; then he climbs up a small chute to gain the summit!!  A minute later, I complete my slab then wiggle and claw my way up the chute and I too am at the top. It is just past 3:00. The climb, which a map review says is less than half a mile, has taken us 5.5 hours!We shake hands and congratulate each other, for completing the climb and for not injuring ourselves (or worse) while doing so.  Probably because I have spent hours clinging to vegetation with a vice grip, my right hand cramps and is stuck in a closed-fist, grasping position.  I've never had that happen to me before.  Never have done a climb like today's before either.Handshakes and congrats out of the way, we sit down to rest on our summit ridge perch.  I am almost out of water (I start with four liters) and Ed gives me a liter of his.  I feel much better after downing the H20 and my hand cramps subside. A bit east of where we have summitted, I snap some pics of the ridge and steep area we have climbed.  From the top, our up-route looks crazy and Ed and I wonder aloud how and why we have climbed what looks suicidal.
Pic of slab route -- by Dayle Turner
I must mention that we have topped out not on the summit of Olympus (elev 2486), but in a low saddle area to the Makapu'u (east) side of it.  My altimeter watch is reading 2280 at our top-out point.  The demo trail is at ~900 feet so the total gain is about 1400 feet.During our rest, we decide going back the way we've come up is not an option, so I make a call on my cell phone to my ku'uipo and she agrees to come and pick us up in Manoa.  She says she will be waiting for us at 4:30.  At couple minutes later, my cell phone rings but I fish it out of my pack too late to answer it.  Listening to the message, I find out the call is from Saxman Scott (Villiger) who is over on Mount Olomana and looking mauka at Olympus. He is wondering how we are doing and wishes us well.Also during our rest, I look up at the steep climb we will have to make to get to Olympus and realize we have another option to get back to civilization, namely the trail down the west rim of Ka'au Crater, which is about a 15-minute hike away along the summit.  Ed isn't opposed to this option, so the Ka'au Crater west descent it will be. I call Jacque to tell her of our revised plan.
Dayle Turner -- photo by Ed Gilman
Tired but euphoric, Ed and I head east across the summit, negotiating a couple of humps along a mildly overgrown trail.  We then hike down Ka'au's west rim trai, also mildly overgrown, then continue down the switchback trail to reach the path along Waiomao Stream.  We reach the trailhead at the end of Waiomao Street at just past 4:30, ending a 1.5 hour descent from our top-out point. Within five minutes of our arrival, Jacque pulls up to drive us back to Maunawili.  Great timing and great to see her though she balks at hugging me because of my sweaty, dirty state. I do not blame her.  "You folks look terrible," she says to Ed and me.  We laugh, knowing we do and that we probably smell worse.So ends a tough grinder of a hike with two dangerous spots.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Piliwale Ridge - August Smith

Wednesday the 21st of July (2010), me and a couple of my closest hiking friends (myself and I ) were thinking of a new challenge. I had previously scouted the lower part of Piliwale ridge the week before, and it didn't seem so bad. I had stopped just short of the "worst" place ascending out of the notch at a octopus tree growing out of the cliff face.

Photo by August Smith
The weather on Wednesday morning was not so good. The Pali and surrounding cliffs had gotten their fair share of moderately heavy morning showers + it was already 8:30 am by the time I got going, heading up the board of water supply road under a light rain. Feeling discouraged by the heavily overcast conditions and slippery wet ground I spent a good deal of time improving the path to the notch, reaching the notch at 10:15 am. since it was already so late and the clouds were still dark, I had just about thrown in the towel on summiting , I told myself, I just want too see how bad it is above the previous turn around point.

Going down was easy enough. I slid down the worst section, then took a higher route ( then last time ) to contour around until I reached the up-climb tree. After a little negotiating I had found for the most part suitable footing , although slippery and crumbly I only lost one foothold on the way up. Once at the top I was looking down at the notch. Just past this was a cable which I gave a tug on thinking it must be the cable which had been pulled down in 08. It seemed solid ( thank you to whoever reinstalled this ) w/out the cable upward progress would have been possible but hand holds were few and far between. At this point I was just starting too get a dose of Piliwale exposure: the ridge had narrowed considerably and the soil was loose though not as wet as I had expected, and I figured I had made it this far so I might as well keep going ... I had about 70' feet of rope and figured I could just loop my rope going back down the bad parts. With that problem solved onward and upward it was.

I soon started to encounter stray honey bees here and there 3 total. Continuing on cautiously no hive ever materialized neither did a swath or any type of trail. It started off w/ shin to knee high uluhe and intertwined trees Ohia, Kopiko + some Ie Ie for good measure the going was very slow. every 20 - 30 minutes I would come across another steep section w/ not much too hold on too, each one was a challenge as much physically as mentally + it was one more reason that I would end up making the decision too keep moving forward.

One particular section had a christmas berry tree growing right in front of the rock face, tried the Maunawili side but it was nearly vertical and exposed looked on the Pali side which had foot holds it was also really exposed and the rock looked awful ... so up the tree it was ( this was not a big tree ) part ways up the tree started too lean back and out I quickly came back down , pulled out my hand saw and cut it down as I made my final pass on it I ducked while it flew up and over my head and continued down ridge ( I was glad to be alone here + glad to be alive ) the stump provided a excellent foot hold.

Photo by August Smith
A couple more memorable spots: one foot was in Maunawili and the other on the Pali side both on a tuff of moss barley held on by a small Uki (sedge) plant. I am not sure which came first or after ...+ the second cable section (which is still intact and anchored to a healthy tree) and an eroded spot that met up w/ another ridge on the right that one could contour to and then up .... the middle section proved to be an exhilarating ride between its exposure, steepness, narrowosity and overgrowth every minute was exciting!

Somewhere along this section at 1:20pm I found a 12"x12" space and deemed it "the lunch spot." Good thing too. I don't think I ran into another suitable spot for hours. After an avacado sandwich and a banana + some brain food I was ready to roll. Fighting head and beyond head high uluhe, I was socked in from here on out. Realizing how late it was getting I did my best to up my pace. Plowing as fast as I could through the overgrowth from here to the summit I didn't hit another major obsticle. Although it was my biggest concern, a night out on Piliwale would most likely be cold and wet.

one of the coolest things about this hike is you get too see all the different levels of plant life on the Ko'olau cliffs from the base elevation too the middle section and onward too the Cloud forest . at least for me these are not common experiences.

Up in the now dominant cloud forest things were slippery but much more mellow (aside from the vegetation) as the ridge broadened out. It was around 3:00 pm and feeling extremely tired I knew I must be closing in on Konahuanui. Just then the clouds lifted and I could see that the summit was far away and I was worried I might have to spend the night out, so I continued on at a steady pace not having given up yet. On the way there I must have hit 3 false summits w/ Lapa Lapa trees just below them ( just like the real summit ). On the third false summit I got a glimpse of the Ko'olau summit ridge just off to my right and realized once again this is not it! Pressing on, I was soon at the junction of the two ridges and just below the actual summit. I found my Lapa tangle that I been to years before and then saw the three stacked pink ribbons signaling the lunch spot ...... I was ecstatic!

At 4:10pm I summited Konahuanui, fully relived. I knew the trail from here on out well. I sat down to rest, eat and Satta. 4:30pm came fast while packing up my hand saw I cut my thumb decently. After some water to clean it out, I made a band aid from medical tape and lens cleaning tissues.

August Smith, self-portrait
Now 4:40pm and on my way to K2 I stopped when I got reception to let Pete know I was on my way down safely. Thanks to the trail clearing crew I made it to K2 in 20 mins in style! I ran into campers at the junction of the ridge and Castle trails (not very friendly ... they let out a grunt when I passed, I remember thinking to myself there are some civilized pigs up here ). An hour from the summit and I was enjoying the shade and sunset from the iornwood grove just above the Nu'uanu Lookout ... Made plans to meet my ride at 7:45pm in Manoa . At 6:45pm I departed my favorite spot and made a beeline for the trail, l hit the overlook then Pauoa Flats and Aihualama trail ... got to Manoa Falls at 7:25pm as light was fleeting. I saw a couple enjoying the pool. I waved but no response (the day of unfriendly hikers). I don't think they had lamps. I waited a bit and took off so they could follow me. They couldn't keep the pace and made no effort to ask for help, so I left them in the dark (hey .. I got a ride to catch) I made it out just after 7:50pm just as my ride pulled up. I contemplated going back in to help them but figured that ungrateful peps don't deserve help + they could always get the helicopter in the morning ; )

By 8:30pm I was back at the whip and grateful to be alive! Thus ended a long 12 hour day on the trail.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pali Lookout to Lanihuli - Pete Clines

Hike date: 17 April 2010
I took a gamble on Saturday's chilly/grey morning and headed for the Pali lookout.  AC/DC blasted over the car speakers in an attempt to pump me up for a long day on the trail.  Arrived in the very windy (and very empty) parking lot at 8am, had seconds thoughts about the weather, but the exposed summit told me she might want visitors.Began towards the gap in the bamboo by the stone wall and made great time along this now very familiar route, arriving at the puka by 8:15.  Wasted no time skirting the cliff face here and was soon at the base of the climb that would bring me 200 vertical feet back to the ridgeline.  I skipped the first rope as it looks quite old and unreliable.  Worse, the rock here is always weeping making for poor footing.  The orange extension cord was next (more reliable) followed immediateley by the yellow rope (also reliable.)  Finally, the long rope helped me in climbing the last 100 vertical feet (altimeter measurement) getting to the ridgeline at ~1900 ft.  After four visits, this section was becoming routine, despite the steep/slick footing.With the initial heat-inducing climb over, I paused at the ridgeline to put on long pants, long sleeves, and a warm hat - an uncommon practice for me in sunny Hawaii.  But the winds were strong enough to rip away body heat and I didn't want to risk problems.  By 8:40 I was dashing along the ridge, careful not to get blown off the edge.  Summit was temptingly clear, though far away.
Photo by Pete Clines
When I got to the first tooth I cut to the town side and followed a path I made through a thick patch of uluhe.  All the work from previous trips allowed me to plow right through.  Back to the ridgeline, and encountered the second tooth. Stan Yamada told me that he and his son had gone over these teeth, but the deterioration of the rock was pretty awful when I tried to do the same.  (Photos we both took of this section confirm the changes in the last several years.)  In my photo you can see a pink ribbon near the bottom of the tooth.  It was near here that I roped to a tree sticking out of the side of the ridge, and dropped vertically down to a place where I could get some footing.  Upper body strength helped on this steep drop.  At the end of my 50 foot (blue/white) rope, I continued to drop steeply until I could work my way along the ridge - well below the ridgeline.Major trail-making and generous ribboning last time meant I had no trouble finding my way through tangles of vines and other progress-slowing plants.  I contoured at a relatively consistant elevation, passing over one steep spur ridge, before climbing straight up the second.  This spur allowed me to bypass some of the brittle teeth, but this climb had its own challenges.  It was steep, and the upper parts were mainly uluhe - lots of it.  Going up and down this spur a few weeks ago meant I had the advantage of a swath, but it was still a total-body climb.  Two steps up...one step back down.At the ridgeline again, I was at 2200 feet and the place where I stopped last time.  Only 10:15, so I had lots of time.  I called "Basecamp Sherpa" August to inform him of my whereabouts in case of trouble.  The wind was still kicking, but temperatures were improving and it looked like I would be spared from rain.  Pressing on, the ridge gave me an easier time (relative term) for a stretch.  Up in the distance, though, I could see fun a comin'.  
Photo by Pete Clines
Photo by Pete Clines
Photo by Pete Clines
  In this photo, there is a false summit on the left, followed by a couple teeth on the right of it.  These teeth would get uglier as I neared the false summit.  Stan informed me that he had roped to a tree on this mound and dropped down to a spot where he found an old cable running horizontally along the ridge as an aid.  I searched around, but found no rope.  As is turned out, I wouldn't need to use mine, and I dropped down to the cable using only plants for handholds.Followed the cable (getting unreliable at the anchor point, but probably not necessary anyway) to the teeth where a steel cable popped up.  Mostly buried, I pulled it free of the soil where I could.  Too thin to offer much grip, but it guided me around one tooth.  Not sure what to do about the second tooth, I decided to go directly over it rather than around.  Wish I had a picture of me ON this one, as it was very intense.  Totally vertical sides and narrow as all.  I did get a decent photo looking back at it (see below).  Yes, I climbed OVER that "incisor."  Imagine the wind.
Photo by Pete Clines
I was enjoying this section, and had no difficulties... until getting to what Stan referred to as the "anvil rock."  Immediately after the incisor, the ridge goes straight up for a short distance - no, it is actually overhanging here, with a concave section where material has eroded away.  If there ever was a "second puka" in this ridge - as referred to in the "Lost on Lanihuli" article - I agree with Stan's report that this was probably it.  Time has taken it toll.  Stan's extension cord was still looped around a rock here, so that one could drop down the town side a ways before contouring around and then back up onto the ridgeline.  However, the rock was in DREADFUL shape.  While straddling it and inching towards the concave cliff, it was falling apart into sand.  Completely bare of vegetation, and the whole thing moved when I pressed firmly on it from one side.  Yikes.At this moment - still straddling - a tour helicopter flew by.  I did my best impersonation of a rock just so I wouldn't freak anyone out.  (Wonder what they thought if they did see me.)  I spent too many mintues here deciding how to get around.  Grabbing the extension cord, I dropped below the anchoring pile of sand - I mean, rock - and slid down a loose gravel slope.  As I pulled on the cable I could see/feel the rock shifting DIRECTLY ABOVE ME!  Not good.  However, footing here was poor to non-existant so I had to balance my weight between the cable and my other hand on meager clumps of grass.  With some effort and panic, I was able to work around to the town side of the overhanging cliff and get into a place with strongish vegetation.  Let go of the cable, relaxed a moment, hung a ribbon, and clawed my way back up to the ridgline.Back on the narrow ridgline, I was past the teeth and almost to the top.  This final section was interesting.  Ie ie and other plants choked up the way, but also provided decent security and handholds.  I cut with a machete when needed, but mostly pulled myself over or through the tangles.  The exposure was severe at times, but knowing that I was so close to my goal I was loving every moment of it.  Just after noon, I made the final short climb to the summit of this ridge.  Awesome!  The high cloud cover that was keeping me cool also allowed fantastic views of all directions.   The Nuuanu reservoir below... Moole ridge and valley...all of Kaneohe....  The sun even came out for a short while during my summit lunch.  What began as suspect weather turned out to be a perfect day.Thrilled, I called August to let him know the news.  Enjoyed the summit for a while and then rememebred what a non-hiker friend says to me with concern every time I get him to a summit: "You know we still have to go back!?"  I could have gone back the way I came....but I just did that.  Could have followed the Lanihuli trail all the way to Alewa Heights....but then I would need a ride back.  Came up with a more interesting escape.  Part 2 on this report will soon follow.-Pete

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Laie to Waimano via the Koolau Summit -- Gene Robinson

May 1998
"A man's gotta know his limitations."

I learned my limitations on the Silver Piliwale Quest this past weekend, and now that I've caught my breath, re-hydrated, slathered antibiotic ointment all over my feet and hands, and showered about fifteen times (my B.O. was toxic as nerve gas), I'm ready to tell my story. Actually, it wasn't so bad, just kind of like "Deliverance" without the hillbilly rapists and banjos. Patrick took lots of notes and will post a detailed account, should any of you like to give The Silver Trail a try yourself.

We left Saturday morning, very appreciative of all the aloha and encouragement from the ohe-l folks. Thanks very much! It was my first trip up the Laie trail, and I was pleasantly surprised by the beautiful North Shore views and Norfolk pines. The summit came up quickly, and Pat and I blasted out of there, into the clouds and mud. That section of the KST has few redeeming qualities. The only highlights are the ruins of the Kawailoa cabin, the ruins of the Kahuku cabin, and the Castle and Peahinaia trail termini. These landmarks are notable because they relieve the mud-sucking tedium and, as you pass them, encourage you to believe that you just might be getting somewhere. Theoretically, along this section, there are views of the Sacred Falls and Punaluu area to windward, but all we saw was a lot of mud. Finally, the Cline memorial (when will the plaque be replaced? I'll donate) came into view, and we headed down to the Poamoho campsite and water source.

There was lots of water in the stream, and there were even more bottles of water stashed around the campsite in the bushes; it was like an Easter egg hunt! Everywhere I looked there was water, thanks to those of you that came up the previous weekend. I had my freeze-dried dinner and turned the burner over to Patrick, who whips out some CANS of stew! This was a little mind-boggling, since I'd been trying to keep up with Patrick on the trail all day, and he was carrying CANS of food in his pack? He claims to have stashed the food there the previous weekend, but I don't know. He may have been trying to make me feel less wimpy, struggling to keep up with him while he's got your basic Foodland shopping bag in his pack! Patrick on the trail is a cross between Michael Jordan and that little bunny that keeps going and going and going... He has incredible strength, balance, agility, cool, and he never seems to get tired. Must be something in the grape or orange tang he drinks.

Saturday night was one of the two coldest nights I've spent in the Ko'olaus (Sunday night was the other), with intermittent tent-rattling gusts of wind and rain showers. The Poamoho campsite is a little too exposed for comfortable camping, at least in the conditions we had. During a calm, clear, Kona winds night, it's probably fantastic. As I shivered and ate my breakfast Sunday morning, I heard Pat sharpening his machete, which is called "foreshadowing" in literary terms, or "trail-savvy" in KST terms. We got going around 8am, passed the cleared site of the ruins of the Poamoho cabin (starting to sound familiar? Anybody want to start a campaign to rebuild these cabins?) and, after a little more of the overgrown leeward stuff, we burst out onto the glorious windward section of the KST between Poamoho and Schofield-Waikane. And it was clear! For those of you who haven't hiked it, you've got to do it! You're walking along a very decent, usually sidewalk-width trail cut into the side of the pali, a thousand feet above Kahana valley, and the views are spectacular!

As we neared the Waikane-KST junction, we could see hikers coming up Waikane, and with amazing precision timing, met them right at the junction. It was Pete, Don, and their friend Kristen. Kristen, on her first hike with fearless Pete and Don, agreed that coming up the Waikane trail could be described as "gnarly." We hiked up to the top of Pu'u Ka'aumakua and had lunch, with fresh oranges and other goodies courtesy of Pete, Don, and Kristen. And of course, we toasted Silver Piliwale and his achievement 25 years ago, raising our plastic wine glasses and snapping photos. And then, guess what? The clouds rolled in and never lifted the rest of the trip. Honestly, that was the last time we saw the sun. Coincidence?

Pete and Don loaned me some dry shirts, which were what I really needed most. Future KST hikers take note: nothing ever dries out up there. I wore representatives of all fabric types, cotton, wool, polypropylene, everything but hemp (hmmm, that's an idea), and everything was WETTER the next morning than when I took it off, soaked in sweat, the previous night. So just bring extra dry clothes in your pack, right? Well, that means more weight, more bulk, and a heavier pack the next morning, loaded with your wet, muddy clothes jammed into plastic bags. Maybe when we rebuild those cabins we can put some solar-powered heaters of the radiator-type in there, so we can put our wet clothes on them, OK?

Patrick and I spent the rest of the afternoon after the wine-tasting flogging along the KST towards Kipapa. Pat's machete and my City Mill folding saw were put to good use. The good news is that we re opened the lost segments of KST; the bad news is that we approached exhaustion doing so. Pat suggested going over the top of the tougher early ridges, but I wanted to OPEN that trail UP. This may have caused us to pull into Kipapa campsite by headlight, but maybe not. It was a lot of work, though, with Patrick looking like a cross between MJ, that bunny, and Zorro.

There is an other-worldly campsite just before you get to the end of the KST and the junction with the Kipapa trail, with the ruins of another cabin, called Uncle Tom's cabin (I don't know why). The site is in a dark, narrow, perpetually cloudy valley forested with a juniper-type tree. It's somewhat protected from the wind, very quiet, and very spooky. It's hard to say what makes it so unique, but it feels like the loneliest, most isolated place on O'ahu. We didn't camp there, because, ummm... there was no water source! We got out of there fast and headed down the Kipapa trail, Patrick in the lead with his headlight, me stumbling along behind, whining, "Are we there yet?" like the classic kid on vacation in the backseat of the station wagon.

We reached the Kipapa stream water source, set up our tents in the dark on a wide spot in the trail, and I crawled into my tent as quickly as possible, after fixing a snapped tent pole with duct tape. I was feeling VERY tired, had no appetite (bad sign) and after a cup of hot tea went to sleep. It was another cold night, but less windy, with scattered showers and scattered rocks everywhere I tried to put my hips or shoulders. Ko'olau campers take note: spend the big bucks and buy the lightest weight but most luxurious mattress you can. Ditto with sleeping bag. You won't regret it.

I woke up sometime during the night (Nathan is waiting for the Kaupe story right about now) and felt extremely anxious. I lay there in the dark, listening to Patrick snoring, and tried to remember the last time I had urinated (sorry if this is getting a little too clinical). I couldn't remember the last time, and I got even more worried when I realized that I wasn't thirsty! I became convinced, in my somewhat exhausted/delirious state, that my kidneys had shut down, and I was going into renal failure. I wondered if I would need dialysis, and how I would get down the trail to reach a dialysis center. I decided to drink all the water, over a liter, that I had with me in the tent, and feeling better, went back to sleep. Not to be too clinical again, everything was fine the next morning, and my kidneys were... functioning properly. I even cooked Sunday night's dinner and had it for breakfast that morning.

We left our foggy campsite Monday morning around 8am, headed back up the Kipapa trail, and set off along the summit trail that Pat, Dayle, Pete, Laredo and I had explored last year. We came out of the clouds at the Waiawa gap, and while we rested before ascending the steepest, hairiest climb of the trip, I let Patrick know that I missed my nice, soft, warm, dry bed too much to continue all the way to the end of the Silver Piliwale trail. Patrick was very understanding of my wimpiness. Perhaps I frightened him with the story of my delirious/crazed state the previous night? Maybe he asked himself, what am I doing out here with this crazy guy? Anyway, Patrick was very gracious when I told him that I wanted to bail out at Waimano, then he tried to push me off a cliff. Nahhh, joke!

As we climbed up from the Waiawa gap, I got stuck on some loose stuff about halfway up, took off my pack, tied rope to it, and threw the line up to Patrick. Then I climbed up another route and we hauled my pack up about twenty feet. It was a nice diversion. We went up and down, up and down, along the summit overlooking Waiahole valley, which, of course, we couldn't see. We reached one point where we lost the (minimal) trail, and had to figure out which ridge to take. Interestingly, the correct choice was to go due east by the compass, as the summit curves from its usual north-south route in that area, just before reaching "The Corner" and heading south again towards Manana.

Nobody was at the Manana trail terminus, so we set off for Waimano. In my mind, I had trivialized the Manana-Waimano segment, because I had done it several times before. Let me tell you, that is NOT a trivial crossing, especially at the end of the day with a pack on. We crossed the most knife-edged segments of trail on the trip before and after Eleao. And the up and down, up and down section before Waimano terminus had me whining, "Are we there yet?" again. But we finally reached Waimano, took off our packs, and rested.

I said goodbye to Patrick and set off down slippery Waimano trail, running into Dayle the Ko'olau Bear, and later on Wing, the Ko'olau Camel, making his waterless ascent. I had to use my headlight on the way out, but like the horse heading back to the barn, I was unstoppable on my way back to the trailhead. I got out about 9:30, and within an hour was soaking in a nice, hot bath, wondering how my buddies were doing up at Waimano (fighting off mystery animals, it turns out!).

Thanks again to everyone who dropped off water (like Gary at Aiea... sorry!) and sent their best wishes for us. I just might try to do the whole thing again, learning from this attempt, and I bet Patrick will. But I suppose that the best way to memorialize Silver Piliwale's hike is to do it at age 72, just like he did, right?

Well Patrick, how about it?