On Sunday, August 3, 1997 at 10:34 p.m. Dayle K. Turner wrote "Perhaps Paka-lolo will oblige us with his perspective on the hike from hell. What say you, Patrick?"
Now that things are back to normal for me when it comes to hiking and psychological and physical healing have taken place since the afternoon of August 3rd I thought I'd submit a report.
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Every once in a while your passion for hiking is diminished. My passion for hiking was put to the ultimate test during the afternoon of Sunday, August 3, 1997 along the Ko'olau Summit Trail between the summits of Laie and Pupukea.
Met Dayle K. Turner at the boy scout camp in Pupukea at 7:10 a.m. and we headed for Laie shortly thereafter to join forces with other members of the HTMC trail maintenace crew. With the exception of Kost Panjowski the others had already departed to clear the trail. After final preparations Dayle and I began the walk down the dirt road which leads to the trailhead at 7:41. Eventually we caught up with Mable Kekina, the trail clearing coordinator, and told her of our intention to hike to Pupukea. She just smiled and laughed a little. Reached the grove of Norfolk Island pines at approx. 8:40 and spoke briefly with the rest of the crew who were taking a break from the gradual ascent of Laie. When Dayle mentioned our plan to travel to Pupukea the others just looked at us like we were lolo or something. I pleaded for others to join us but to no avail. Did they know something we didn't ?! Dayle and I cleared the trail as it became overgrown with guava branches and uluhe fern. We wanted to do our part so we didn't just push thru to the summit. At approx. 10:10 Dayle and I reached the crossover point and rested briefly. As we continued on up the trail it became much more overgrown but passable. Finally reached the Laie summit at approx. 10:50. Dayle arrived first and after passing the Laie sign headed for the bunker. The views were excellent of the Waianae Range to the west and the Laie coast to the east. There was a nice breeze and the clouds were high overhead. Perfect conditions for our trek to Pupukea. The other trail clearers reached the bunker soon after Dayle and I and sat down to rest and enjoy the vistas.
Shortly after 11 a.m. Dayle and I put on long pants and departed our friends at 11:16. The first part of the KST was slightly overgrown but easily recognizable. On a couple of occasions Grant Oka and some other members of the crew saw us making our way toward Pupukea and waved and shouted encouragement.
About half way between Laie and Maelekahana Dayle who was behind me said that his machete had fallen off of his pack and that he wanted to go back a short distance to find it. I waited and then started backtracking in order to help Dayle search for his tool. Just before I reached his position at the start of a leeward section of the KST he appeared and told me that it was no use trying to find it. I thought of Wing Ng and how he lost his machete once while hiking on a trail in Pearl City. I also realized that Dayle would not be able to joke with Wing about it again.
Pressing on I continued to lead us in the direction of Pupukea along the KST. We observed many small groves of lolu trees.
At approx. 12 noon we passed the summit of Maelekahana and shortly thereafter encountered our first trouble of the day - badly overgrown leeward sections. While on the first one Dayle took the lead and bulldozed a path thru very thick uluhe to get us back on track. I jumped back in front and after another difficult leeward stretch we decided to stay on the windward side of the mountain and go up and over the peaks instead of staying on the trail as it went leeward. The peaks weren't very steep and the vegetation was only waist high on the windward side. The plan worked and our progress continued.
The next obsticle that caused frustration was the encounter with guava trees. They were short at first but passing them meant getting scraped by their strong branches. Dayle's legs began to cramp up so I continued in the ram-rod position.
At approx. 3 p.m. the trail began contouring for a long stretch thru 8 foot tall guava trees. Almost without end Dayle and I were scraped and hit by the guava branches. Sometimes uluhe combined with the branches to make a very nasty gauntlet. At times it was best to get down on all fours and crawl along the "trail". As hard as I tried to protect myself I got hit in the face numerous times including in the eye on several occasions. A hockey mask or hockey helmet with a plexy glass front is a definite must for anyone thinking about traversing this area. Shoulder pads and a thick tear resistant long sleeve shirt would also make things easier. You might sweat more but it is better to sweat than to bleed ! Some thoughts that went thru my mind were "Where is that Gene Robinson to help me ram-rod this expedition ?! He should be here taking the abuse and sharing in my suffering !" "I will NEVER do this trail again !" "I will NEVER be the ram-rod again !". For much of the two hours that it took for us to struggle thru this section there was little if any conversation between Dayle and I.
As we began to close in on the Pupukea Summit the trail improved slightly. At one point I couldn't figure out where the trail continued however. Dayle took the lead and found the way. I tried what I thought was a short cut. It didn't go up to where Dayle was so I doubled back and followed him. He kept to the original trail route while I discovered a newly created trail marked with ribbons and followed it. After going a short distance I stopped and yelled for Dayle. He yelled back and we were reunited shortly thereafter. The two of us continued on the new trail and eventually reached the Pupukea Summit at 5:15p.m.
After a brief rest including the devouring of Naomi Nasu's chocolate chip cookies, Dayle and I began heading down the Pupukea Summit Trail which was cleared on June 22. It was wide open. I had never been so grateful to see a well manicured trail in my life ! The rest of the trip was rather uneventful. We reached Dayle's jeep at the end of Pupukea Road at 7 p.m.
Nice write-up, Patrick.
While reading it, I was reminded of something I said (can't remember to whom) prior to setting out that day: "This part of the KST can't be as nearly as bad as the one between Kipapa and Waikane."
Well, as you all know by now, those were words of doom.
On a positive note, the views to windward and leeward that day were quite nice. Unfortunately, we were so tired and getting so battered that enjoying the sights wasn't at the forefront of our thoughts.
It was more like, "Get me the hell out of here and soon."
A lesson learned and another trail hiked to completion.