I started 5:45 am when it was just first light. The rest started 6:30.
I was surprised that I was sweating already in the pre-dawn darkness. Today must be one of those record hot days. There was some breeze, and it didn't feel that hot, but I was drinking plenty water already before I even get to the Middle Ridge itself, while hiking leisurely in Waimalu Valley.
The rest of them caught up near the bottom of the Middle Ridge. There are two separate sections of extremely steep climbing. I try to go slow to conserve energy, but it didn't work in the heat. By the time I reach 1600 feet, I was tired already, and I already hiked 5 hours. An hour or so later, as I was climbing another steep section, I said to Dayle: I am tired today, I probably won't make it.
The rest of them went ahead of me. Several times I just sat down, closed my eyes, and tried to rest and get back some energy. I did manage to make the top. Near the top, I yelled out to Dayle: I'll probably return the same way. I was cramping already, and can't take any more climbing _up_. I know that there are at least 6-7 uphills to negotiate on the cross-over to Waimano, and I don't think I can make that. Returning the same way is probably even longer, but at least it's all downhill, or the uphills are gentle.
I reached the top at 1:05 pm, and was surprised that all of them are still there at the top. This location is the most wonderful place in all of the Koolaus. I mentioned as a joke that I may wish to have my ashes scattered there, and they all laughed, saying that no one would do such a super-strenuous hike to fulfill my wish!
Right there at the top, another ridge extends to the Windward side. It seems to be quite gentle at the top, but the topo map says that there are fearsome cliffs further down. The Middle Ridge is totally pristine, but near the top it looks like an ancient trail. Moreover, there are well-defined trails going down various side ridges into the valleys on both sides. Those valleys were probably inhabited, and the ancient Hawaiians presumably used the Middle Ridge a lot; maybe they actually used the ridge down Windward side as a commuting route!
I was also really surprised that once one goes beyond the uluhe section, the trail remains well-defined and clear, even though no one uses this trail for at least two years. It is clear like Lanihuli and Konahuanui are clear, being classical ancient Hawaiian routes, without any recent efforts at clearing.
Two years ago, when I did this ridge at an overnight campout, my machete fell out near the top. I was in a hurry to reach base camp way down, and did not go back to get it. Gene recovered my machete couple months ago, and left it at the 1600 feet point. I did not even see it on the way up, but since I am returning the same way, I can pick it up on the way back.
The others tried to persuade me to go with them to do the cross-over, but I am worried about cramps. Dayle also developed cramps; he said he brought 2 gallons of water, and already drank 1.5 gall. at the top. I brought 1 gallon and drank maybe 3 quarts already, and so we were in similar situation. Dayle is of course more brave and macho than me.
So they turned left and I went back down. Two hours later, I managed to hear voices from them during the crossing.
At 1600 feet, I did find my machete, lost two years ago. I was somewhat rusty, but still sharp!
I was really tired and dehydrated, and was very slow even going down Middle Ridge. It was 5:50 pm already when I got to the bottom. There is plenty of water in the stream, but I did not bring iodide, and I wouldn't dare drink the leptospirosis laden water.
I did bring flashlight and even bivouac gear, and so I wasn't concerned about the late hour. At the nice viewpoint, I lay down to take a nap. It was 7 pm already when I left the viewpoint, and I rapidly got dark. By 7:30 I took out my powerful flashlight, and resumed the trudge. Finally, it was 9:15 when I got out.