OHE March 25, 1998 (b)

Date: Sat, 25 Apr 1998 19:04:43 -1000
From: ALEX H OKIHARA (OKIHARA@prodigy.net>
Subject: 'Ohikilolo, the fence, and dead billy goats

Well, I finally got around to doing 'Ohikilolo, and just
now, I finally got around to writing up a short summary.
I didn't really have time to check out how steep the drop
was that is mentioned in the Hikers Guide.  Maybe next
time.

---------------------------------------

Date:  Sunday, April 19, 1998
Hike:  'Ohikilolo
Party:  Wayne Shibata, Alex Okihara
Weather:  Hot and sunny in the morning,
          Overcast and rainy during the afternoon
Time Started:  7:50 AM
Time Finished:  7:10 PM
Round trip duration:  about 11 hours
Time to Peak: about 7 hours

Summary:

'Ohikilolo was pretty grueling. It was hot in the morning until about 10, when the clouds rolled in and it started to drizzle. It was also very long. There were many times that I thought we were near the peak, only to discover that there was a higher peak ahead.

Along 99% of the trail, there is a wire fence (it looks more like chicken wire than the chain link fences that you see at parks). This is good and bad. The good thing is that there is something to hang on to on the really narrow dike sections. The bad thing is that it gets in the way, slows you down, and takes the thrill away from walking on the narrow sections. I also got pretty tired of seeing the fence for the whole day.

There were several cool things that happened to us. The first is that I got to see some billy goats. About 10 minutes after gaining the ridgeline, we could hear them bellowing. In the distance was a whole herd of them, and they watched us with caution. As we approached, they fled. For some reason, I wondered to myself how billy goats got their water, what they eat, and what happens to them when they die.

Proceeding further, we went through a number of saddles, first climbing, and then descending. Next we encountered the narrow dike section and much later, we encountered eroded sections. The worst eroded section was where the fence goes along a contour of the ridge instead of on it. It was a pain to walk sideways on sloping ground. The rocks were very crumbly there, and some of the posts of the fence were loose because of the poor foundation.

A little past the eroded section, the trail got better. There was much more vegetation again. As we approached the flat section near the top, we came across a dead billy goat. I almost stepped on him because I wasn't paying attention. I named him Billy. He got his head stuck in the fence and couldn't get it out because of his horns. All that was left of him was his head, still stuck in the fence, and a black carpet of fur that was his deflated body. Poor Billy, must have starved to death.

As we climbed further, we came to the flat section that I had thought was the peak. However, in the distance, I could see yet another peak, much higher than the one we were on. The Hikers Guide verified that the trail's peak lay further ahead of where we were. So we continued onward.

A little later, we saw another herd of billy goats on the ridge to the right of us. Wayne busted out his binoculars, and we were able to see them close up. There were 7 of them. One of the goats had really big horns. All of the goats were looking at another billy goat who appeared to be injured or sick. The fur seemed to be missing from the upper half of its body. When I saw it, it was standing. Then all of a sudden, it did this flip, and fell to the ground where it lay motionless. It was so motionless, that I wondered if I had really seen it flip, or if it was just my hands trying to stabilize the binoculars. I am pretty sure it did a flip though.

Anyway, back to the hike. The fence soon ended, and Wayne wanted to save his energy for the trip back down, so he decided to wait while I went up the peak alone. It was a great feeling to get away from the fence, but the climb looked extremely steep. In reality, it wasn't as bad as I thought it was, and it must have only taken about a minute to climb to the top.

From the top, the views were spectacular. I could see the magnificent Mt. Ka'ala and dominant Pu'u Kalena. Rain was approaching. I thought of the stories that I heard about Mt. Everest and storms. I quickly took some pictures, and decided to head back down because it was getting late. It was 2:45.

Our journey back down was slowed by the fence. In many parts, we crossed over the fence so we could walk on a wider path. It started to rain, lightly at first, and then a little more heavily. It was also getting cold. I decided to throw on my disposable plastic poncho. About 5 minutes later, it wasn't raining as heavily, so I took off the poncho.

Since it was getting late, we decided to wait for the sun to set. It's not too often that I get to see the sun set into the ocean, and we were hoping to see some spectacular colors fill the sky.

Further down, we came across more billy goats feeding on some grass. I managed to snap some pictures of them before they ran off.

As we got closer to where we had started off, the sun continued its disappearing act. The sky wasn't as spectacular as I had hoped, so after waiting for a while, we decided to head back to the car before it got too dark. Going down the initial rise, I missed a turning point, and instead continued to follow the fence. This was a mistake, because we ended up inside of Makua Valley. I came to this discovery when I noticed that the barbed wire on the top of the fence was facing outward. It was angled away from us instead of toward us, as it normally does when you are outside the fence. We quickly scurried around to the outside of the fence, hoping not to step on any unexploded mines.

We finally reached the car at 7:10 PM. What an adventure! Eleven hours! Wayne said that he would never do that hike again, but I think it would be fun...


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