OHE August 16, 1998

Date: Sat, 19 Sep 1998 22:43:40 -1000 (HST)
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: HTMC Super Hike II

On Saturday, August 15, 1998, co-coordinator Pat Rorie and I joined a hardy group of club hikers in Manoa Valley for HTMC's Super Hike II (SH1 was Manana to Waimano). The day's route started at the Manoa Falls trailhead near the Lyon Arboretum. From there, we ascended a shortcut trail that bypassed the junction near Manoa Falls and connected with the Aihualama Trail in an area populated by a healthy stand of bamboo.

After climbing Aihualama's well-traversed switchbacks and tramping through the not-too-muddy Pauoa Flats area, we took our first rest break at the Nuuanu Lookout, where we enjoyed a nice view of the reservoir below and massive Pu'u Lanihuli high above the farside of Nuuanu Valley. Some of the faster, more energetic hikers rested only momentarily at the lookout and then continued on, bound for Konahuanui, at 3,105 ft., the alpha peak of the Koolau Range. One by one, the rest of us followed suit.

From the lookout, we endured a lung-expanding ascent to gain one sizable pu'u and soon afterward another. What followed was a pleasant level section on the open ridge with nice overlooks left to a hidden valley above Lulumahu Falls and right to a verdant gully that feeds Manoa Falls. The summit ahead was inundated with clouds, but we remained hopeful the ocean of white would be gone by the time we reached the top.

After the level segment, the trail resumed its steep climb to Konahuanui. From the lookout, the distance to Konahuanui is about 1.5 miles with an elevation gain of approximately 1,500 feet. Some of faster folks needed about an hour to cover the distance while the rest completed the ascent in an hour and a half. Breezes wafting over the top and a distinct lapalapa tree and its trademark light green, fluttering leaves were certain signs the summit of Konahuanui had been acquired.

Unfortunately, the clouds hadn't dissipated when we topped out, but we were hopeful we'd have views at some point during the two-mile crossover to Olympus. The hike along the summit crest, as one might expect, was exhilarating. Pat and I had hiked the route a week earlier to do some clearing and to put up some markers, so we knew the trail was passable. And since rain had been absent since, we didn't have to deal with muddy conditions.

About 20 minutes into the crossover, the clouds lifted and spread before us was the splendid sight of the Koolau summit spine to Olympus, Lanipo, Pu'u o Kona, and beyond. To our left lay expansive and verdant Maunawili Valley where we spotted some folks hiking hundreds of feet below on the demonstration trail. To our right was Manoa Valley, where we'd begun and where we'd end our trek. To sum up what we saw--fantastic.

During the crossover, the group was spread out a fairly sizable distance. Some of us stopped to eat lunch at a distinct grassy bowl where we watched some of our colleagues pressing on a mile beyond. I always look forward to lunch breaks, not just for the chance to switch into kaukau mode to replace burned calories. These breaks, in addition, are nice opportunities to rest up for the remainder of the hike as well as pleasant times to talk story with other hikers. Such was the case that day.

From Konahuanui, the crest drops steadily to about 2,000 feet before regaining elevation to Olympus (2,486). Just before the low point of the crossover is a razor-like section where we had to inch our way through a ironwood tangle with sizable dropoffs left and right. Actually, the ironwoods were welcome since we'd have to negotiate a crumbly, exposed razor-edge if they weren't there. Just past the ironwood ridge is another tricky spot we've dubbed the "sedan-sized rock"--a notched boulder, about the size of a Toyota Corolla, where care must be taken to avoid a long fall down the windward pali. A cable/rope is available for assistance at the rock, and we all made it past this obstacle without incident.

With these challenges behind, what remained was a 30 to 40 minute rollercoaster climb to Olympus followed by a descent of Waahila Ridge to the steep, well-tramped Kolowalu trail, which we went down to return to the Woodlawn area of Manoa. The last hiker emerged on Alani Drive at 5 p.m. ending another beautiful and thrilling day in the mountains of Oahu.

Super Hike III, from Waimanalo to Niu Valley, is scheduled for October '98, with Pat and I again co-coordinating. I look forward to reporting about that outing.


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