Hike date: August 2003
I've thought about doing Bear Claw again lately, but wanted to descend via a different route. Since I usually hike alone, traverse options can be difficult to arrange as far as transportation. Dayle and Scott's adventure on Mauna o Ahi Windward gave me a good solution.
Since I climbed the right claw last year I decided to try the left one this time. It turned out to be less exciting, fairly dense in places, but a good workout due to the angle of ascent. I rested on the mushroom rock to have a snack and ponder which car I will buy this week since my Civic has seen better days. (Anyone want a steal on a '90 wagon?) Reached Puu O Kona in the clouds, with some light rain and stiff wind. Continued along the KST, reaching MOAW summit in less time than expected.
Coming down, I took time to clear the ridge some more in places where I could safely swing a machete. Good job to Scott and Dayle who marked the trail very well. There was a lot of butt-sliding on the way down due to the steepness and slick nature of the soil underneath me. This plowing through opened up the trail even further. No scary sections, and I never had to employ the rope that I had brought along. I was able to follow the ribbons all the way to the valley floor before losing them among a number of old trails/swaths. Got back to my car by heading towards the left claw, over it, and down to the watertank.
Dayle, I never saw your ring, but it might comfort you to know that it now has company. As I was heading out the valley, I realized that my machete was gone. I believe the cheap sheath tore from my belt as I was sliding down one of the fern covered slopes at the base of the ridge. I had ignored a few of the switchbacks, opting instead for a controlled "fall" down the slick slope. (This is as close to surfing as you can get in the woods!) That's three machetes lost this year - two stolen, one abandoned. Was not worth the effort to go back uphill and search for it.
A good hike to be sure, but I paid the price in cuts, scratches, and ruined clothes. Had to toss out the shirt - well ventilated with holes from all the branches it snagged.....and the dirt-covered pants will probably not be salvaged either. At least my car was unmolested upon my return.
Thanks Dayle for a good description of this trail.