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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kalena, Ka'ala, Kamaohanui -- Jeremy Kreis

Probably the first time the traverse from Kolekole Pass to Pu'u Kalena to Mauna Ka'ala to Kamaohanui to Waialua has been done.  The doers were Jeremy Kreis, Matt Church (left, below), and Jonathan O'Hagan (right, below).  The deed was done in July 2011.  Here is Jeremy's summation of the outing, along with some pics he took.
Connected the three highest peaks on the island. Original plan was to follow Ka'ala East to Kamaohanui, and then go down Kalena. We had access problems so we started at Kalena instead. Got lost in the Ka'ala Bog so we had to climb a tree to find the FAA Installation. The descent down to Kamaohanui was not what I expected. There is a fence about halfway down, and the climb to Kamaohanui was not very exciting. At the summit, we were debating about where to go down, and, unfortunately, Ka'ala East did not happen. That jagged ridge will have to wait. We followed a fenced ridge down to Waialua instead. Came out on Farrington Highway a block from where we finished on Dupont last year.

 Below: On the way to Kalena.



Below:  Pu'u Kalena in the upper right with Mauna Ka'ala in the distance in the upper left.


Below:  Mauna Ka'ala as seen from summit of Pu'u Kalena.


Below:  Matt Church on the traverse from Kalena to Ka'ala


Below:  Steep rope section on Kalena traverse before Mauna Ka'ala is acquired.


Below:  Ka'ala summit bog is acquired.


Below:  Kamaohanui in middle of photo.


Below:  Traverse to Kamaohanui follows fenceline.



Below:  Pu'u Kamaohanui as seen from the approach ridge from Mauna Ka'ala.

Below:  Summit clearing, Pu'u Kamaohanui


Below:  Descent ridge to Waialua from Kamaohanui


Below:  Descent ridge to Waialua from Kamaohanui


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kaau Crater Windward -- Pete Clines


This was another one of those “Nate-inspired” adventures.  Back in April (2011) he shared with us an archived account of a group of HTMCers from the early days (1911) descending into Maunawillifrom the top of Kaau Crater.  They reportedly went top-down using ropes, and endured several scares and injuries along the way.  Nate found reports of a couple more descents, but no ascents.  We (me, August, Duc) were game to check it out.  Using a VERY old hand-drawn map that Nate provided, along with careful studying of the topo maps, I had an idea for which ridge it might be.  However, being so obscure and not standing out from its neighbor ridges, we would need great visibility (no clouds on the summit) to guide in on the powerline towers that conveniently mark the summit.  But getting there would prove more difficult then we imaged.  As it happens, a dragon lives on this ridge and fiercely guards against visitors.  See photo below.


Back-story: The “dragon thing” originated during fatigued and semi-delirious conversation on the 6th or 7th trip to “find” Pauao earlier this year.  August can provide more details, but essentially these “untraveled” areas are home to protective dragons which must be crept up on and defeated.  There are several such dragons on Oahu, though fewer as time goes on.



Well, this dragon was particularly tricky to sneak up on.  The initial attempt was cancelled when Chenay broke her foot in a climbing accident the week before it, thus changing my priorities.  Another attempt was called off last-minute when bad weather (and worse vibes) had all of us finding excuses to do something else.  Then I broke a finger and couldn’t climb.  Then August twisted his ankle on one of our night hikes.  By the time the three of us actually hit the approach trail, the dragon had developed into something far larger and scarier.  You know, having all that time to grow.  So of course that attempt day was a failure when dragon snot (rain) poured down on us and made the conditions miserable for a bushwhack like this.  Not being able to see the target ridge, we bailed after a couple hours of hiking.

So we devised a new plan: August would go to Kalalau for a week in an attempt to lure the dragon into thinking we were not coming to bother her.  With that part of the plan secured, Duc and I would casually go for a walk on the Maunawilli Falls/connector/demo trails… and hope for the best.   The approach is a hike in itself, measuring 5-6 miles and taking us 2hrs to complete.  Along the way we kept an eye on the changing perspective on the target ridge.  At times it looked foolish to attempt, and Duc even came close to “throwing in the towel.”  (Not really.  We found the towel hanging on a tree.)


By 10:30am we were armored up in long pants and long sleeves with clearing tools ready to battle the dragon’s defenses.  Duc took lead spot through the thick uluhe to allow me to conserve energy for when I took over the lead at the start of the actual climb.  We were making good progress, but I soon noticed that our presence was detected as evidenced below.


The dragon began trying to melt us with her fire-breath (sunny and no breeze).  And when we began the steep climbing she tried to tangle us up with her serpent-like tail (plenty tough vines and clidemia snagging us).  But we pressed on, using all the vegetation as handholds.  At one point, I discovered a buried and very weathered rope – more like thick paracord, actually.  (photo below) Duc also found fragments of two old ribbons in this area - a good sign that we were on the historic route.  But this rope was in the lower third of the ridge, in a place where we agreed it was not needed.  Above this, we would see no more signs of previous dragon-slayers.  Perhaps they were defeated?  The middle sections were extremely dense and some of the i’e i’e walls took considerable time to cut and untangle before we could get through or under.  And a couple times the ridge was so steep and “loose” that we were forced to “leap” upwards to find something more trustworthy.  When we finally reached a short, relatively level section…we were able to take a much needed lunch break.


Following lunch, we continued upwards, past hanging valleys on both sides.  Looking up, I saw that we were getting closer to the powerline towers on the summit.  This meant no turning back. The photo below shows the west tower, just a ways over from the east tower we were aiming for. 


45 minutes later and we could see the east tower (our goal) within striking distance.


It was here that we heard whoops from above.  Lots of traffic on the summit area this day, and we did not go unnoticed.  (Later on there were several stunned responses from hikers who asked us where we came from.)  Seeing how close we were, I charged straight ahead for the east tower.  But in the final 20’ the slope was too risky and the handholds were failing rapidly, so I had to retreat downwards about 30’ before contouring to the left (east).  The contour/final ascent required caution, but at 2:10 I was on the summit trail and could see Duc working his way around the contour.




Moments later Duc made the last steps to the top, climbing like a spider on the soft soil.


It was only then that we realized that we had NOT defeated this dragon.  It merely flew off in frustration to go live somewhere else.  Probably Lanipo Windward judging by the direction she went.  She’ll be safe there.  (At least from us.)  However, the dragon took off in such a hurry that she left behind her baby.  Not wanting it to make trouble for future hikers, I chopped it in the head before Duc slit its fire-spitting throat.  It’s all good, it was a non-native dragon.


And with that done, the ridge was deemed “dragon-free” and we could enjoy the view from the top.  Looking back down, our swath was visible through several of the uluhe sections far below.    


A couple of passing hikers offered to take our photo.  Unfortunately, Duc still had dragon dust in his eyes, hence the blinking.  (Sneezing and itchy eyes were the norm in this mess of a bushwhack.)


Following a second lunch, we went east to the next prominent peak (Palikea) and then down the Kaau Crater “Leeward” trail passing all the scenic waterfalls along the way.


A quick dip in the pool by the lowest falls, and then the Borja Taxi Service picked us up at 5pm to drop Duc off at his car before driving me to mine in Maunawilli.  Awesome traverse.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Moanalua Saddle to Keahiakahoe

There are some sketchy sections of the Koolau summit ridge and one of them is the segment from the Moanalua Saddle (reached via the Kulana’ahane trail from deep in Moanalua Valley) to Keahiakahoe and the top of the Haiku Stairs (aka Stairway to Heaven). [Photo at left is by David Chatsuthiphan].

Although not heavily hiked, this section has been done with some regularity in recent years and was documented quite well by David Chatsuthiphan @ Unreal Hawaii, who says...
What a hike.We had the good fortune last weekend to be invited to hike the Moanalua Saddle to Haiku Stairs. The hike was lead by Marcus, an avid Oahu extreme hiker. He does this trail frequently and offered to lead us on it. Had he not been available to show us the way, I’m certain that I would not have attempted this trail. It’s very risky. One slip up and you would be tumbling down the mountain.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Castle Trail/Koolau Summit Trail/Pauao Ridge -- Pat Rorie

As is my weekly custom, I phoned my hiking buddy Laredo Murray on Friday night to suggest a jaunt we could do the next day (Saturday, April 17th, 1999). Sundays are usually reserved for HTM trail clearing. I bounced some possibilities off "Rainbowman" including a combo of the Castle Trail and Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST). Curious as to how long Castle would take and desiring to experience both the lower and upper sections in one day (something I had never done before), I talked Laredo into joining me for the trek. Where we would end the loop was still up in the air (Waikane? Pauao Ridge?). Kent Bien made it a threesome.

Read more...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Extreme Exploits of Marcus Griego



In reading about the recent descent of Lanihuli to the Kalihi Saddle, it was clearly apparent that the lead hiker was Marcus Griego who recently reported the following:
Since then, I've done quite a few more. Piliwale down the Notches. Kalihi Saddle to Lanihuli, no ropes. Free climbed down the door stop & pimple.
He also indicated the following which included a query:
I recently free climbed up the "back side" (of No Name peak) .The 60 foot wall (from Makaha Valley). Was wondering if anybody else has done it before me?
Pictured above are the backside of NoName Peak from Makaha, with the topmost photo (by Dave Concepcion) being Marcus on the climb.

I'm guessing Marcus is the first. Anyone know?

In any case, congrats and good job.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pali Notches to Konahuanui 1

The "hike" from the Pali Lookout to Konahuanui via the Pali Notches Ridge is now becoming pretty regular fare for hikers hence treks by


Monday, August 22, 2011

Po'o Nia (Bolohead) Ridge Conquered


Kaleo Lancaster and company have established a route to/from the apex of the Waianae Range (aka Mauna Kaala) via Bolohead Ridge, so christened by Waianae Steve Rohrmayr because of a extreme rockface on this "trail" that appears like the head of a hairless man. Perhaps this trail/route might be called Po'o Nia Ridge (the Hawaiian translation for bald head).

Whatever the case, Bolohead/Po'o Nia has been done as documented by David Chatsuthiphan at Unreal Hawaii.

The pic at left (taken by Nate Rubio) is Kaleo climbing Po'o Nia.

Congrats and good work, people!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Poamoho-Schofield via California Avenue

Kaleo Lancaster and friends recently completed an extreme hike from Poamoho to Schofield, which included that wonderful crossing along the Koolau Summit Trail between the Poamoho and Schofield termini.

Kaleo's account begins as follows:
Hiked from Poamoho Ridge to Wahiawa Heights last weekend. It was cold, rainy, muddy, and wild. In terms of beauty, not many hikes can touch this one. The route traverses some of the most remote and undeveloped terrain on the island of Oahu, with an incredible two mile walk along the Ko'olau summit trail. Exactly how awesome was it? Unforgettably awesome: in fact, the route is so awesome, that we all agreed to do it every year for as long as we're still alive and able to hike. Yeah, it's that beautiful.
Read more from Kaleo ....

To lengthen the hike and to avoid the need for vehicle shuttle, it is possible to make this into a big loop which starts and ends at the end of California Avenue in Wahiawa (this is the trailhead for Schofield and Wahiawa Hills).

To do this loop, follow the Wahiawa Hills trail to the Bamboo Grove along the jeep road Map Point F (see map from Stuart Ball's book below). At that point, leave the Wahiawa Hills trail to follow the switchback trail in the bamboo down to Poamoho Stream. Once at the stream, cross it to pick up a spur ridge almost immediately and follow the spur (this is a hunters' trail) which will lead to the dirt road that leads to the Poamoho Trailhead.


A half hour hike along the road will bring one to the start of Poamoho. From there, happy hiking to the summit, right turn at the summit to follow the KST (a wonderful two-hour stretch where one will pass the top-off of Pauao Ridge Trail from Kahana Valley--recently re-opened by Clines, Ong, and Smith).

Once the the terminus of Schofield Trail is reached, it is a right turn and then the rollercoaster trail back to the trailhead followed by an hour's walk on the dirt road back to California Avenue.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Lanipo Windward attempt forthcoming?


As far as I know, Lanipo Windward (pictured above, photo by Jeremy Kreis) has not been done since HTMC legend Dick Davis descended this ridge back in the 1940s.

But there is renewed interest in LW, especially by Jeremy Kreis (see pic above by him of the ridge), so it seems probable that an attempt will be made JK and friends in the near future.

Be careful, folks!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pauao Ridge (Kahana) re-opened


Yesterday, Pete Clines (above left) reported that after eight visits to Pauao Ridge in Kahana Valley, the trail to the summit as been reopened. Joining him for this trail resurrection effort were August Smith (orange shirt) and Duc Ong.

Mahalo and good work guys.

According to HTMC prez Jay Feldman, the Pauao Hike may be put back on the club schedule after being in mothballs (or overgrown uluhe) for years.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lanihuli to Kalihi Saddle

A crew of young intrepid hikers (Jeremy Kreis, Dave Concepcion, Michael David Loftin, Rhonda Navarro Hutchison, and Marcus Griego, L to R above) completed another of those "extremely difficult" (read: death-defying) sections of the Koolau Crest, this one from Pu'u Lanihuli to the saddle at the head of Kalihi Valley (aka Kalihi Saddle).

Check out a video depiction of their extreme exploits (by Dave Concepcion)



Friday, July 15, 2011

It's Been Awhile -- Kahuali to Kalihi Saddle

Not sure how many years it's been. Maybe 30 or 40. But the section of the Koolau crest from Kahuauli (Bowman trail terminus) to the saddle atop Kalihi Valley (above Wilson Tunnel) has been done by Dave Concepcion and friends. He reports:

There are three saddles on the Ko'olau mountain range on the island of O`ahu. All three have trans-Ko'olau tunnels running underneath that are part of highways that link the windward side of the island to Honolulu and Waikiki. These are the Moanalua (H-3), Kalihi (Likelike), and Nu'uanu (Pali) Saddles. Numerous hikers have documented their hikes on the Moanalua and Nu'uanu Saddles while Kalihi remained virtually untouched. Hawaii hiking legend Dick Davis called the section between Pu'u Kahuauli and the Kalihi Saddle as no-man's land. Pete Caldwell and Don Fox ascended to the saddle via a steep trail that was situated above the Likelike Tunnels on July 14, 1997. Pete Clines and company did a loop from the highway to the saddle and back in spring of 2011. Kaleo Lancaster and his crew ascended to the saddle via a powerline trail on June 25, 2011.
Read more...






Friday, July 1, 2011

Lanihuli Windward -- Pete Clines


Some time away from the mountains had me aching for adventure. Thought I would check out this one to scrape the rust off. Turns out it had a little bit of everything: an obscure start, brittle rock, crawler’s ledges, and some ridiculously steep slopes. It was also overgrown; with the upper half being a complete bushwhack. And starting the actual climb from ~600’, there was about 2100’ of elevation gain in a VERY short distance. All told, it was a grueling ascent And most refreshing.

8:15 I left the car parked at the Golf Course/Church. Not sure what it is used for these days. Passed by the waterfall, and eventually reached the point where I would start the ascent. And I am being vague on purpose. This route is very dangerous. Although MUCH less taxing now that is has been cleared, there are a couple critical spots that suffer greatly with each passing hiker. And these spots were horrible BEFORE I further damaged them. Fair warning.

The route can be imagined in the photo above. It essentially runs straight up the center to the summit. (This photo was taken on a much sunnier day than the one of the hike.)

A steep, slippery climb - complete with unstable rocks – soon led to a wall that was fragile and devoid of firm handholds. I chose a contour, which was steep enough to pose its own problems. I was literally leaping from one tree root to the next. When I could contour no more, I resumed climbing on a nasty pitch with nothing but loose soil and rocks. I made the error of looking down at this point and was not encouraged. My feet kept slipping and had I built momentum here it would have been ugly. The trick that got me to the top of this section was to dig out the soil and loose rocks until I got to anything that resembled a solid, flatish surface. A final leap of faith got me to a branch that was gracious enough to support my weight. (The lower end of this branch already snapped on an earlier pull.) Once at a relatively secure spot, I was able to photograph the sheer Pali to my left.


Now on a very narrow ridgeline, I had to battle the greenery with my machete to make any progress as a misstep to either side would suck. The view to my right shows just how sheer the drop is.

The narrow but heavily forested stretch continued for a bit until the ridge started to curve. All at once the ridge was so narrow that I had one leg easily dangling on either side as I scooted my way along it. A true “crawler’s ledge!” Aside from grasses and one or two ie ie vines, it was rather bare. And the rock was so rotten that it was falling off left and right as I inched along. Then a surprise ahead: a notch. It was a fairly shallow one, but I had to carefully flip around on the narrow ledge to descend into it with my body hugging the wall. No solid grips, so I slid down it like a slug. The drop on the west side was imposing but “padded” with trees, but the drop to the east side was dead vertical. In the notch, I was forced to stand an inch away from a 100-foot-plus dry waterfall chute that bottomed out into the nearest hanging valley. Climbing up the mauka side of the notch meant trusting ie ie vines – not a preferred climbing aid - and I had serious doubts about the success of the climb at this point. Visions of a recent climbing tragedy cluttered my thoughts. But I was here to overcome this, so on I went.

Out of the notch, a rain squall blew in on strong winds and I was forced to hunker down for about 5 minutes until it passed and I could safely continue. Moving along, the route began to widen. Just before noon, I could see a false summit ahead with a curiously steep face. I wondered if there would be enough strong vegetation to allow a direct climb.

After much struggle and sliding downhill a couple times, I ascended in an irregular pattern and found enough scattered patches of uki uki grass to use as handles. My feet slipped around so much that I basically pulled myself up this wall, using my legs and body only to create some friction while resting. By the top of this wall I was beat. My right arm was particularly drained from all the machete action prior to this. But by 1:30 I was moving along on a more level stretch and as the clouds rolled in I noticed the infamous “W” on Lanihuli’s East side that has been tackled by a couple groups recently.

Looking ahead, I hoped that it was the actual summit that I could make out through the clouds

As I continued along the clouds began to lift and I was able to see the broad top of Lanihuli, confirming that I was almost there!

A little higher and I was treated to an awesome view as the clouds retreated even more.

Looking back, I was out of the clouds again, and could see the steepness of the route behind me.


At 2:15 I reached the summit after some final pulling and slipping. I rested for a short while before heading west to eat lunch at the junction with the leeward Lanihuli trail. En route, I looked back on the upper part of the taxing climb.

After enjoying the summit for a short while, I packed up to leave and was headed leeward at 2:45. (My initial plan was to descend via Lanihuli East, but I was too drained to give it my full attention.) In about 20 minutes I was at the junction with a ridge that drops down into Moole. Last April after ascending Lanihuli East I bushwhacked down this same ridge and it was virgin territory at the time. But I heard that someone has recently been looking for a trail from Moole Valley up to Lanihuli and that he eventually found an old route and improved it. As I guessed, it was this ridge. Lucky for me, I had a swath this time around, and I noticed fresh ribbons next to my year-old ones. Cool. Blasted right through all the uluhe, and then through the guava near the bottom.

Once at the stream, I followed the heavily marked trail downstream. Interestingly, this hiker chose to contour on the east side of the stream to avoid the tall waterfalls that must be bypassed. In fact, I could never even see the falls from this trail. My route last time kept me in the stream longer, before dropping steeply down the west side of the falls using guava for handholds. Either way, the two routes merge above the 7th falls, the one with the nice pool. No time for a dip, I kept moving.By 4pm I was at the first (last) waterfall. Sadly, a tree had fallen here and was hanging into the small but deep swim hole. I got to work with my hand saw….removed the fallen branches….and enjoyed a quick cooling before packing up and heading through the nearby tunnel.

Back along the Pali, I endured a 1.5 mile walk to the Lookout where the high winds were putting on their usual show. Then it was down the Old Pali Road, stopping to take a profile picture of the windward ridge I just got to know so well.



Friday, June 24, 2011

East Oahu Super Loop -- Duc Ong


Duc Ong completed a truly super hike, starting and ending at the top of Maunalani Heights at the head of the Lanipo Trail (aka Maaumae Ridge Trail). Here's his report:
First, I would like to thank all of the people who have helped me clear and mark these trails and to all those who came before and provided the inspiration for this project. Not wanting to implicate anyone, I won’t name any names. The route was developed as an expansion to the East Honolulu Rollercoaster, which started from Wai‘alae Nui Valley and ended in Haha‘ione Valley. I wanted to make this a closed loop, so as to avoid the need for car shuttling.

In the misty wet morning of the day after the summer solstice at 4:30 AM, at the Lanipo trailhead, I embarked on what is the longest day hike I’ve ever done. By 5 AM, I was beginning the descent down “Ironwood” trail into Wai‘alae Nui Valley. The trail itself hits a pseudo-bottom, where one might think that one has arrived at the valley floor. However, it turns out that more descending is in order before the true bottom is reached. At the valley floor, the stream was flowing quite nicely. By 5:40 AM, I was starting the ascent up “Beehive” trail. The name is more of a tribute to trailblazers of the past, since I never encountered any bees here. At this point, there was enough light to allow me to put away my headlamp.

At 6:13 AM, I had arrived at the back of the mansion on Wai‘alae Nui Ridge. The confluence of this mansion and another homeowner’s wall provided some of the inspiration for this project. After walking along the ridge for 5 minutes, I began my descent down “Guava Tunnel” into Kapakahi Valley. This trail got its name from my tunneling through a dense thicket of strawberry guava saplings on my knees while cutting each sapling at the base with borrowed loppers. I reached the bottom of Kapakahi Valley at 6:45 AM and started going up “Pua’a Akamai Mauka.” This is an improved pig trail that intelligently contours around cliff faces up to Kalani Ridge. I attained Kalani ridge at 7:07 AM, and headed towards Wiliwilinui, where I had my first stir-fried noodle break. After filling up my camelbak with the 1.5 L of water I had stashed, I started descending the HTMC route from Wiliwilinui at 7:52 AM. The club route was so much easier than the previous more obscure trails due to the heavy foot traffic and obvious trailbed.

At 8:26 AM, I veered off of the jeep road in ‘Āina Haina Valley and headed towards the base of the “Pōhaku” trail. This was named after a decent cliff face that stands out leading up to Kului Ridge, the eastern most ridge of ‘Āina Haina Valley. This climb was especially taxing, due to the steeper grade. I was feeling the first signs of fatigue at one rock face, where I had to rest mid-climb. I reached the Kului ridgeline at 9:18 AM and took another short break. The views from here are one of the best of the day, due to the steep drop into the valley. After a nontrivial ascent of Kului ridge, I began the descent into Kului valley at 9:50 AM. This was one of the smaller valleys, but the footing here was very slick, which provided ample practice in the art of falling. I pulled myself up through the guava dominated forest and reached Hawai‘i Loa ridge at 10:14 AM. To my surprise I ran into two of my former students, who happened to be hiking up to the summit. I find it strange that this happened even though I was only on the ridge for a few minutes. At this point I filled up with the next 1.5 L water stash and proceeded down the HTMC route into Pia Valley. This descent and the ascent up to Kulepeamoa ridge were relatively easy, thanks to the work of the trail maintenance crew.

Upon gaining the Kulepeamoa ridge at 11:06 AM, I took another break and proceeded up the ridge to the connector trail down into Kupaua Valley. Creative juices were no longer flowing at this point in the project, so no names were assigned for these trails. It was here where I had the most trouble with the fatigue and was moving very slowly. I didn’t make it to Kuli‘ou‘ou West until 12:49 PM. When I sat down and ate a snack, I resolved to move faster through the next valley, Kuli‘ou‘ou. I refocused and decided to override the feeling of fatigue and to move with greater determination. This coupled with being back in HTMC territory resulted in my arriving at Kuli‘ou‘ou East Ridge at 1:40 PM. I felt a lot more confident about completing the route at this point. However, this confidence waned as I faced the reality of traversing the Haha‘ione jeep roads and climbing the Haha‘ione Spire under sweltering heat. Before the climb, I grabbed another 1.5L water stash at the base of the Spire trail. Telling myself that I could eat another solid meal at the Ko‘olau summit inspired me to endure the 45 degree grade and the heat to reach the summit at 3:03 PM. Climbing the last steps to the Spire was immensely fulfilling, as I had been hiking for 10.5 hours at this point. I found it mildly amusing that this is only the half-way point in terms of distance.

After a 20 minute break to re-energize and connect with my support crew via text, I started going back along the KST. The Haha‘ione KST section was open enough to allow me to run and make up some lost time. At 4:09 PM, I reached Kuli‘ou‘ou East. The KST section above Kuli‘ou‘ou remains one of my favorites for views as it bends around Pu‘u O Kona. I also ate many thimble berries and ohelo berries, which turned out to be not so sweet. I reached Kuli‘ou‘ou West at 4:42 PM and laid down for a minute on the nice grassy knoll. I felt like I could stay there forever, but I still had a lot more to go to get back to my car, so I got up and pushed on. Having previously worked on the section, it wasn’t as overgrown as it can be, but the climb up to Kulepeamoa was intense. Around here, I discovered a method of getting through the mental challenges of distance and fatigue. I synchronized my breathing with my steps a la yoga. This was the lesson I was to learn from the Ko‘olaus.

With renewed energy, I was able to float almost effortlessly through the rest of the KST. I reached Hawai‘i Loa at 5:47 PM, Wailupe Middle at 6:17 PM, Wiliwilinui at 6:37 PM, and Wai‘alae Nui at 7:05 PM. I had doubts about reaching Lanipo before dark, but those thoughts were far gone at this point. I got to Kainawaanui, the summit of the Lanipo trail, at 7:32 PM. There was still enough light to allow me to descend Lanipo trail for 15 minutes without the aid of headlamp. Because of the darkness, I decided against running down and took each step carefully. By 9:45 PM, I was at the car, concluding the longest day hike I’ve ever done. What I went through this day was not just a rollercoaster of elevation, but also one of emotions—from frustration and doubt to elation.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Poamoho/KST/Castle/Papali Uka -- Keith Palmer

A Koolau Summit Trail hiker from the mainland told me about a water
source he found in the Peahinaia section of the trail, and referenced in
one of Stuart Ball's books. It is on the windward side of the trail at
Peahinaia at a gap. He was able to make a mud dike, stick a straw
through it, and slowly fill a water bottle. For people who might not get
to the excellent water source at Poamoho junction or those studying the
plants in the fence interior and staying thereabouts, decided to pack up
and see if I could find the meager source.

Thursday June 27, 2002

6:05 AM Walk out the door of house with light backpack. Worked the
night before until 3:00 AM and had packed up just before leaving.

6:20 AM Arrive at Hookele and Farrington Highway bus stop.

6:37 Bus #40 "Honolulu" arrives. Pay $1.50, the new higher bus fare, and
get a transfer. Thinned down internal frame backpack draws no comment
from the driver, and I slide it under my bus seat.

7:28 Get off bus at Leeward Community College. Cross to westbound lane
of Kamehameha Highway to other bus stop.

7:56 Bus #62 arrives at stop. Driver says Circle Island no longer stops
at LCC. Drive refuses to take my transfer, perhaps because it is the
first time I have been "bitten" by the change in route.
8:28 Arrive at Wahiawa California Avenue shopping center stop.
Discussion with two ladies about the bus route confirms #52 Circle Island
I tried to catch at LCC has been rerouted now because it has to go up
into Mililani Mauka.

8:49 Bus #52 Circle Island comes. Board, give driver my transfer.

8:58 Dole/Helemano Plantation. Have managed to get from Ma'ili to
Helemano for $1.50 and three bus trips, mahalo to The Bus. Get off one
stop early at the Dole tourist place and walk short distance to the
Helemano Plantation road, the road that serves as access to Poamoho
Trail. The road is now **completely** blocked, not just with boulders
but also with earth that has been pushed up against the boulders. And
the barricade is not just at the end of the Helemano Plantation road but
along it on the north side also, so a four-wheel drive vehicle cannot go
over the bank to the access road. Wrestle on my gaiters at the blockage.

9:15 Start up road. Such a great day, Martha Stewart would be doing her
insider trading outdoors. Bright sun, no clouds, and a cool morning
wind. Living dangerously decide not to dig out sunscreen, not even my
hat, which is handy in the backpack.

11:10 Arrive at Hunter/Hiker sign in station. Sign in as hiking and
camping and "X" off the return time block since do not plan on coming out
on the Poamoho Trail. 11:15 arrive trailhead. Take a long break.

12:15 Start up Poamoho Trail. Take breaks along trail, getting sleepier
and sleepier each time. Past my normal bedtime. The trail is
delightfully cleared, looks like recent Na Ala Hele work. Wide, a real
joy. A guess would be within two months or so ago judging from how far
up the cut Clidemia, Clidemia hirta, and guava, Psidium spp., have shot
up. The clearers have taken pains to clear around native plants that are
growing into the trail, even going the extreme of leaving a few koa
seedlings two to five feet tall. Mental note that they will block the
fine trail if not moved or cut. Guess the Na Ala Hele guys have to be
overly cautious.

2:35 PM Time for a nap. Reached a cleared spot just above the end of
the well-cleared section. Perhaps transition to another landowner who is
not as hiker friendly. Set alarm on watch for 5:30 PM and shove in
breast pocket. Lay down on raincoat next to pack.

6:37 PM Wake up. What happened to the alarm? Must have had my arm over
the watch, muffling the alarm. Too late to continue North on KST towards
my intended overnight at a high grassy knoll just off the trail, so hope
the DLNR cabin at Poamoho has no official users and head there. Arrive
Poamoho water source, a really lovely spot. The open field like area
next to the trail that is such a good campground seems smaller, for some
reason. Just an impression, no doubt. Walk to Cline Memorial. Windy
as usual. The "mop head" Lobelias, Trematolobelia macrostychys, that are
often in such abundance in the wet area just below the junction are
almost all gone by, all the seed bearing arms are brown and naked bearing
their many dried out porous seed capsules. Take a brief look over the
Pali at the windward side.

7:49 PM Arrive at the Poamoho Cabin. Cabin is particularly clean.
Check for the three rattraps left there last year behind the plywood
sheet, still there waiting for anyone with cheese to tie them to a post
below the cabin and control the inevitable rats. Rats kill snails and
native birds, so why not do a little rat control? The traps have a hole
drilled through one end with string through the hole. You tie the trap
to a post or nail with the string so if the trap does not result in a
clean kill, which they often do not, just catching a leg or so of the
rat, you can go out and take a piece of lumber from underneath the cabin
and with a quick blow humanely crush the invasive rodent's skull. Walk
away from the cabin and give the dead rat carcass a good toss. Plenty of
old two by fours under the cabin, no doubt left by ecologically conscious
DLNR carpenters for use in rat control. Make dinner, red beans and rice
for six cooked over an alcohol stove constructed of two soda cans and
perlite, one third of a half pound block of hard goat cheese, Triscuits,
and an apple. Debate setting the traps, but decide to keep the cheese
for myself. Read a few articles in a recent Science News magazine by
headlamp before falling asleep. An unnecessary candle on a tin foil
holder creates a glow for a while over one side of the plywood interior
of the cabin.

Friday June 28, 2002

7:43 Sweep up and leave cabin for Cline Memorial. Heading north, soon
after the KST-Poamoho Trail intersection pass through some fairly dense
Clidemia groves. Pass the long open pali section, which is in need of
clearing and some pickaxe work to clear the slides that create danger by
pushing hikers out to the very edge of the Pali. Innumerable small
landslides above the trail fill in the inside edge, and make for a harder
walk than is really necessary.

Beautiful views south towards windward Oahu. Stop to take three photos
of a misty trail, Pu'u Ohuluhule, and a knob on the trail. Start up a
few knobs where due to lazy hikers or overgrowth of the original contour
trail "cut throughs" have been made that bypass the back and forth
serpentines of the trail. The original trail is choked over with growth
but findable. Some hearty trail-clearing sort could restore the trail in
a couple of hours if there was someone so inclined. Reduce erosion,
create a more pleasant journey free of fear of losing the trail.
Clidemia in a few dense patches. Some of the trail is surprisingly
choked with plants, which grow into the only opening there is, the trail
cut. Overall the trail climbs gradually up. Pleasant walking, and a new
and unique experience on the KST for me, walking in the morning and not
getting soaked.

Every so often encounter a common damselfly of the endemic genus
Megalagrion, probably M. oahuense, flying or perching along the trail.
Pretty animals, dark gray and red. They actually seem to be hanging out
along the trail opening, a good flyway for them in their search for
smaller insects to catch, or a member of the opposite sex to impress.
They move without haste to avoid me as I pass.

10:07 Come upon the fence built by Army Environmental to excude pigs
from 150 acres of Bishop Estate land. This is the Opa'eula Watershed
Protection Project. There is a sign at the first cross of the trail with
the fence with small yellow lettering to let hikers know they are on the
trail, and a crossover stile. The stile consists of two steps on either
side of the fence, the one by the fence higher than the outer. Each step
is made of two two-by-fours bolted together over the top of a piece of
metal fence post. I walk up on the near side, let myself down the other
side. Step on the lower step on the north side and feel it sink about an
inch on one end's support. Put my full weight on it and it sinks another
half an inch. At this point where the trail first crosses the fence the
fence line runs roughly 290 degrees west and the trail 30 degrees east
towards a grassy swale. Having crossed the stile the trail is now inside
the fence. The trail heading north here is hard to follow, and manage to
get turned around. Walk back up towards the ridge and fence. The trail
was lightly marked here to begin with, and with the fence is hard to
follow.

Cross outside the fence again to see if this swale could be the top of
the water source, and walking downhill towards the pali come upon some
large metal helicopter pads that are sitting with grass growing up
through their holes. Look around the pali side of the swale and no
water, nothing really fitting the description of the seep. Walk along
trail again and stop at another stile to take a photo of the fence line
heading along the pali and the trail heading off at an angle a little to
leeward. The fence does not stay on the trail but crosses back and
forth, and due to this makes following the trail a bit of a chore. Due
to the esthetically challenged planning management at Army Environmental
the fence manages to be built on the trail off and on. It also cuts
through native plants along most of its path here. At one point a
certain past president of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club, Pat
Rorie, felt it best to clear some of the original trail to allow less
confusion. Perhaps that and some sort of low-key trail markers could be
put up at intervals along here to so hikers can stay on the trail instead
of following the fenceline and wondering if they are anywhere near the
K.S.T. Some people like my friend from Ohio ended up walking most of
the fence line.

11:07 Reach a notch on the windward side that faces directly east that
looks steeper and more promising than the previous gentle swale. Walk
down it all the way to its pali drop off and find no flowing water.
There are several shallow pools in the moss covered rocky channel, one
about five inches deep with algae growing in it. This must be the place.
Try a sip, no off taste. Fill up plastic bottle with slightly greenish
water. Walk back up towards where left pack and take a photo of the
notch. The photo frames Pu'u Ohuluhule. Whether water is flowing here
must depend on how often and how hard the rain falls. Back on the trail
notice several large bundles of heavy fencing wire left hanging at
intervals along the fence line, leftovers still not cleaned up from the
construction.

Walking along the trail/fence can see the Army Environmental platform
and tent off to the left. When first spy it check it out with
binoculars. Because of the foreshortened perspective and the fact the
tent platform is built on stilts with open air beneath it the whole thing
bears an odd resemblance to a wagon train wagon. Arched or hooped top,
vertical sides, and open beneath. No oxen pulling it though. Closer
inspection shows it for what it is. The tent is up which is surprising,
since the Environmental Assessment issued for the fence construction
specifically states it is to be taken down when the fence line
construction crew is through and between visits by environmental workers
to the site. No one is around working. Walk along, the fence present
for a surprisingly long ways to the side of the trail. Along the fence
find none of the disturbing wire snares that were there earlier, though
not walking the entire 2.3 mile fence line cannot vouch for that for the
whole distance.

12:20 Arrive at a small enclosure, built earlier than Opae'ula, and with
taller wooden stakes instead of metal. The trail takes me to the sign on
the north end of the fencing, which has a created name for the area
"Lehua Maka Nui", with translation of "misty eyed Lehua" bog. The
exclosure area is on a surprisingly steep slope to be a bog, but perhaps
the plant community there is as unique as the signs indicates. The sign
also says to stay out, that the fence was built to keep pigs and humans
from trampling the area. There being no boardwalk or marked path stay
outside the fence. There is a small clearing a little beyond the sign
along the fence that looks like a small campsite.
On the KST eat a light lunch. More cheese and Triscuits.

12:50 Leave lunch spot by fence sign, trail bears a little west of north,
about 315 degrees. Just after starting look down a broad open valley on
the right to see a solar panel and what looks like a rain gauge. Visible
for the next twenty minutes or so along the trail. Above this rain gauge
on the trail come to a spot with pieces of helicopter landing pad shoved
off to the side of the trail. Also in the trail several pieces of what
look like landing pad reinforcement or some very heavy metal, directly on
the trail and speculatively there to prevent the trail from eroding a rut
in the ground.

1:13 PM Come up surprisingly to the junction with Castle Trail.
Recognize the open spot in the trail where have camped before when coming
south on the KST. There is a plastic piece of pipe with three bright
pieces of flagging tied around it. The realization that now most of the
trail after the meeting with the fence has some sort of human
construction visible along it makes a sad note.

1:20 Start down Castle Trail. Overgrown and narrow at places with signs
of some clearing attempt. Not hard to find the trail, but definitely
overgrown. Take a long rest near where the trail cuts into a cliff and
the Broussasia and other natives are pushing out from the cliff edge.
2:30 There is a fork in the trail with a little grass growing. This is
where Dave Waller and I had to guess which way to turn to find water on a
through hike a few years ago. We guessed correctly and went right.
This fork fairly close to the summit of Castle Trail could be the
junction with Papali Uka/Hau'ula Loa described by Dayle Turner in his
OHE post 16 AUG 2002. However, it may be too high up on Castle. Anyone
know this place?? A "Castle Trail" arrow and "Dangerous Trail Leads to
Uncleared Ridges" arrow might be helpful here. If it is the Hau'ula Loa
Trail then it should have a warning sign, since there is no real contour
trail and it is following narrow uncleared ridges.

2:40 On Castle Trail cuts through on the left of a hill, and come to the
small water source. There is a water-eroded channel with small pool in
the concave side of the hill, and the pool is full. Covered by native
vegetation and a few Clidemia. Push aside the surface debris and fill up
again. Futilely rip up a few Clidemia.

3:02 Another trail junction. Take a rest. The right fork is marked with
a small green painted sign that says "TRAIL" and above in black marking
pen in half inch letters is written "Castle". Been told by Pat Rorie
that access to Castle from the trailhead has been cut off, some landowner
not wanting to let folks in, and so it is getting really overgrown. I
decide that it would be nice to take the Castle Trail since have only
been on it once before, and with luck will be able to push through on the
trail cut. Start down Castle Trail.

4:02 Luck runs out. The trail dead ends, with several clumps of flagging
and a Loulu grove directly ahead. Push ahead below and through the Loulu
grove and along the mountainside on the grove's other side, pushing up
and along to find the trail. No trail. Push up, and clinging to clumps
of the native lily Uki-Uki, Dianella sandwicensis, and digging in along
the hillside work back to the trail. What a pain. Walk back to the
junction with green "Trail" sign looking for the trail and not seeing it.
It turns out that Castle does indeed go this way, and if had taken
some time would have found the correct trail, which goes down and crosses
Kaluanui Stream which feeds Sacred Falls.

4:30 Down other trail. Keep looking for the junction to Nipple/
Waiahilahila Ridge and miss it. No marker? Off of Castle instead of
this trail? Lots and lots of native plants. Someone has tied a ribbon
to three or four of the more interesting endemics, there is a Lobelia
with multiple heads, like the T. macrostachys at Poamoho but with more
than one leaf top. Never a good amateur botanist around to clear these
questions up when you need one. Pass three or so inviting openings in
the trail that look like campsites, perhaps left by amateur botanists
exploring the area, or trail clearers camping out for the night. The
campsites begin to beckon. Lots and lots of small birds, introduced
Japanese White Eyes having a convention. Have not seen a single native
bird the whole trip. No Apapanes even.

5:30 Decide to camp instead of trying to push through, perhaps by
flashlight, and brave the bus system after a long day. Set up camp on
an opening on the trail of bivy sack and pink blanket. Eat the last
third of the box of Triscuits have had for dinner last night and lunch
today, and last of the cheese. No need to light an alcohol stove since
do not want to make coffee. Just a few drops of rain at night.

Saturday June 29th.

5:30 AM Up and pack.

6:00 On trail. Misty overcast. Clouds above and in front, some opening
towards the ocean below. The sun comes up, first detectable by the red
tops of the waves off Punaluu.

7:30 Stop and take a photo looking down into Makua Gulch on the left.
Through binoculars can see runners of vines on the other face of Makua
Gulch, which though too far away to identify, look like Smilax
melastomifolia, Hoi kuahiwi. That valley is closed to hikers due to
landslide danger, and I wonder where in the hike I am above. Can see
sheer canyon sides but not the stream.

9:44 Come out at a road with sign saying "Ma'akua Ridge Trail/ Na Ala
Hele/ Ma'akua Gulch Trail Closed due to Hazardous Conditions Violators
Will Be Prosecuted." Walk to Farrington Highway, walk to convenience
store and purchase 16 oz ice tea, twelve oz orange juice, a plastic pack
with two blueberry pop tarts in it, and a bean manapua. Walk over
bridge on Kamehameha Highway, and a couple who look like serious
bicyclists spin by. The lady smiles and waves, at another outdoor
enthusiast no doubt. I refrain from responding for some reason. Cross
bridge to the bus stop and chow down on recent food purchase. Start to
take off gaiters when...

10:40 The bus #55 arrives, Ala Moana. Pay my $1.50 and get a transfer.
Walk on with one gaiter off and the other hanging off my boot. Sit
down, remove gaiter, pack it, and stow my backpack under the seat. Feel
a little embarrassed by the odor of three days of sweat in my shirt and
shorts, but no one takes visible offense. A couple of guys are talking
about how bus fares have gone up.

11:56 Arrive Ala Moana shopping center. Walk to Country Express "C" stop
and wait. Middle aged man who wants to know if he can take the #40 bus
to Waianae and back before 4:00 PM. I recommend the Country Express and
ask if he is on vacation. An attractive middle-aged lady in a swimsuit
looking a little down and out comes along asking people if they have a
match. I offer her a light, digging camping matches out of my pack's top
cover compartment and lighting up her inch long unfiltered cigarette
butt. Despite being a gentleman my conscience forces me to remind her
that smoking is bad for her, saying "You know, that will stunt your
growth." She sucks up her nicotine hit and backs two or three steps,
thanks me and leaves. Good to know I still have that charm.

12:20 "C" bus arrives. Get on, give transfer to driver. Put pack under
a seat. The Waianae sightseer gets on too.

1:50 Get off the bus at the Ho'okele and Farrington Highway stop. Spent
another $1.50 to get from Hau'ula to Ma'ili. Few minutes later...home to
shower, sleep, and go to work in the evening.

REFERENCES

Kawela, Kapua. Environmental Assessment for Opaeula Watershed Protection
Project Oahu, Hawaii. November, 1999. Pub Unknown.

Merlin, Mark. Hawaiian Forest Plants 4th ed. 1995. Pacific Guide
Books.

Polhemus, Dan A. and Asquith, Adam. 1996. Hawaiian Damselflies A Field
Identification Guide. Bishop Museum Press.

Turner, Dayle K. Hau'ula Loa. Fri, 16Aug2002 09:26:30-1000 OHE-L.5079

NOTE

Directions in degrees are crude, using an inexpensive compass, and do not correct for local magnetic declination.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lanihuli East -- August Smith

Lanihuli and reaching it from the Pali Lookout has captivated my imagination and only that for a long time. It was off limits and as far as I was concerned way too dangerous to attempt. I had heard the stories of Kalanikupule and his wife escaping Kamehameha's forces using this route, the 1915 article in the Mid-Pacific Magazine, Lost on Lanihuli By R.H. Lambert , the scouting trip of Al Miller and more recently stories of a "father and son team" that was working on this very route around 2000 - 2001 and they made it! And then Pete Clines did it in April of 2010 ! There are plenty of accounts of people who have not made it and even for those who have, it usually takes multiple attempts.


Before continuing on I would like too say thank you to everyone (especially Pete and Stanley) who has put in work and put up ropes, cables etc. to make this a more "manageable route." Without your help this would have been a lot more time consuming and difficult!

After changing my hiking/clearing plans 3 or 4 times on Sat. April 30th, I got the call from Duc @ 12 am (who was partying along w/ Laredo and Matt) that the plan had changed once again ... I was informed that "there was energy" and Lanihuli East was the plan. I told Duc nervously I needed to sleep on it, and weather would decide it (for me at least ).

And so .... on Sunday May 1st of 2011 Duc and I met Matt and Chase at the Na Pueo mini park to stage a car, then headed for the Pali Lookout, to meet Laredo. Sometime after 9:00 am we pushed off for the Puka under a light rain w/ moderate winds (light by Pali standards). We soon encountered another group headed for the Puka, they graciously let us pass. We reached the Puka after what seemed like 10 -15 mins of huffing and puffing and took a short breather. somehow I got into the lead position ( I guess it was unknown territory for everyone ) we contoured leeward around the gigantic cliff face @ the Puka and within a few minutes came across the fabled tree that has the phrase "the f@$k me climb" carved into it. I figured we were on the right path. next to the tree was a small, old, and spongy rope to assist in getting up a wet and slippery rock. it soon lead to a steep, loose and broad ridge that would allow us to gain the Ko'olau Summit once again.


At this point I received a call from "Base Camp Sherpa" Clines who was at the Pali Lookout wondering if we were the group at the Puka, I responded he must have just missed us. Realizing he wouldnt be able too see us, he carried on w/ his tour guide duties for the day, and we continued to climb up as more rocks came down. After the call, I had fallen into the sweep position which was scary! A rock barely missed "the boys" by what felt like 1/16 of an inch. After a few tense minutes it was my turn on the rope and on to the KST once again (see pic above).

I have no idea why I was surprised at the narrowness of this ridge but I was! Continuing on very cautiously, the first tour helicopter of the day came by and was soon gone. I was now on my butt scooting along a ridge that is not only really narrow, but also crumbly and decently exposed on both sides.

Moving along we soon encountered the first of the "teeth" or "pinnacles" (see Duc on one of them above) and went around it as we were planning on using Pete's contour trail especially since we started so late. I once again found myself in the lead and on a pretty mellow contour until all progress stopped due to a toppled lantana tree. Borrowing Duc's hand saw progess was soon back in the vocabulary. Following a year old trail and faded pink ribbons we were soon back on the ridge line until we encountered the next series of "teeth." These are much more fear inducing than the last. Having seen photos of this spot from different decades I sided w/ Pete and decided life was better than chancing that.


Duc was ahead scouting at the top of the pinnacle (and I guess he didnt want to come back down) and so we left Duc to his "lone male hiking" hoping to see him on the other side. Everyone else decided Pete's contour was the way, so we looped Chase's 75' strong rope while being buzzed by helo # 2 and continued vertically downward for 50 or so feet until there was some kind of footing.

After everyone was down we pulled down Chase's rope and did our best to follow the contour which consisted of losing a lot of elevation then rambling until meeting a steep up ridge. The going was slower than expected due to a tree that had new leaves which looked a lot like Pete's faded pink ribbons + my spikes broke again! Matt was kind enough to lend me his leatherman tool to fix the spikes. W/ the spikes fixed, eventually we topped out onto the KST near a eroded spot (while trying to call Duc, Chase caught a glimpse of him ahead). I also called Pete to let him know the progress by leaving a message.

Back on the KST this section was still narrow but vegetation here was more prevalent. Looking over the side I could see a Lobelia (not in bloom). Moving on, this section was a lot of fun w/ some scrambling and wild ridge walking. The winds were still mellow. Aside from a couple of fast moving light rain squalls the weather had worked out so far. We could see Duc in the distance and headed for the "W". The "W" is a real marvel of creation. Reaching the "false Pu'u" we finally caught up to Duc and yelled back and forth for the game plan.

Chase had contoured leeward as I went to the false Pu'u where I met none other than Chase! He apparently missed the lower leeward contour Duc had used ... We had heard something about a red rope part way down and I remembered Pete saying he used vegetation only to get down. A slip here would have ended it for sure ! So we once again looped Chase's strong rope around a Uki (sedge plant) and intertwined it between 3 or 4 Ie'ie. It was only later I learned that Chase, Matt and Laredo were also assisting in anchoring the rope w/ human weight ( thanks guys ! ). Using the rope for security I held on to different Uki plants on the way down ... I also encountered the red rope Duc had pulled out from the vegetation and added it to the other rope I was holding on to ( apparently the red rope is no longer attached to anything and should not be used). At the bottom of the first notch it was very slippery and the Human/ Uki / Ie anchored rope was greatly appreciated.

There was a long old tan cable that was better used as a guide or ribbon than a "good handhold." It started on the leeward side contoured windward around a small hump and then contoured to the lee around a big and nasty looking tooth. Next up was the "incisor." I had watched Duc go over the top and wondered why he had not contoured. Once at the base I could see why: no such contour seemed to exist, so up and over it was! There was a tiny metal cable that went over it, which I ditched in favor of vegetation whenever I could. Waiting for everyone else to catch up I dangled my feet off the leeward side of the incisor while trying to get in contact w/ Duc.

The clouds at this point had rolled in and I could only see 10 feet in front of me. Knowing the "worst" had yet to come I made my way down the front side of the incisor and subsequently took pictures of Matt and Laredo making their way down.

My camera battery that had been threatening to go all day finally did, and I stopped to change it here. Looking on I could see "Anvil Rock" and the massively washed out concave section (old Puka spot ) scanning the area I couldn't see Duc or the orange extension cord and feared the worst ... Getting closer, the cord was still intact along w/ the pile of sand .... uh I mean rock anchoring it. I straddled the vegetation devoid ridge here. Before moving on I wiggled the rock, yes it wiggled ! Before this point I would have been game for this again, after .. I can't say for sure but as of now there is no way I ever want to do that again ! I hugged the rock and slowly lowered myself down the leeward side to a dry waterfall shoot, aiming for a small tuff of grass that started the "non-tour." I could hear everyone asking if there was something down further but as far as I could tell this was it + I wanted off the cable asap ( a bad slip here could end up w/ one pulling the "anvil rock" down on top of ones head along w/ the cable (the only handhold).

I figured if I did slide from here maybe there was something down further that would catch me .... grasping on to small loosely anchored plants I did my best to find footing and the next handhold. There may have only been a few places in which to put your feet. At least 85% of the non-tour was unreliable. The non-tour and anvil rock I thought by far was the worst section. It was here on more than one occasion I could feel my footholds giving as I was contemplating my next move. Moving quickly and lunging for the next handhold proved to be the best option. I soon hit a junction of a dead Uluhe trail going up very steeply, I chose the non-tour and soon found a pink ribbon (at least I now knew that I was on "trail"). Suddenly ahead of me the bushes moved. I called out and Duc answered. Relieved I climbed out of the non-tour and on to steep ridge line.

It was here the weather really picked up and the sky unleashed heavy drops straight down. Nasty vegetation meant I caught up w/ Duc fast, so we pushed, pulled, and climbed over what ever was in our way ... Soon we were on top of the Glenn taking in the views of clouds.

The rain shifted from top down to sideways as the winds picked up and the thunder started rolling. Hoping it might blow over we pressed on for Lanihuli and the club trail terminus. Looking down into Lanihuli's windward hanging valleys we could see waterfalls forming as well as pools. It was wild! It took a lot longer than I had thought to reach Lanihuli. At 3:30pm we all breathed a sigh of relief had a quick break. I called Pete to let him know the outcome. We then headed down as fast as possible to increase body heat. Within 30 minutes we hit a break spot and the sun came out. We had lunch here and were soon urged to move on by the weather and low core temps. Near the saddle the sun popped out and presented us w/ a gorgeous rainbow over a seasonal waterfall ( I have never seen ) in Mo'ole. The rest of the way out was uneventful and we were soon back at the locked fence. A chair here provided a much appreciated boost over the fence. We wasted no time getting Matt back to his car at the Pali Lookout. Thankfully it was unharmed.

All in all a good day !

-August

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Descent into Milolii


In 2008, hike guide and Kauai extreme hiker, Eric Rohlffs, descended into Milolii Valley along the steep-cliffed Na Pali Coast on Kauai. The pic above is the mouth of Milolii taken from a vantage point on the ocean. Rohlffs descended the ridge on the righthand side of the valley mouth. He posted the pics below.



Others have likely descended this route, including volcantrek8, who issued the following warning:
The bushwhack descent into Milolii is hazardous with fatal drops aplenty. Noted Kauai photographer, author and Kauai Natural History Expert David Boynton was killed on the decent to Milolii in 2007. The descent is not recommended and these photos are only intended to show the variety of wilderness experiences and magnificent views off the established routes. There is no trail. Goats get weak kneed. Much KKKK (crumbly cliffs of Kauai clay). Bring your own handholds.