OHE Aug 3, 1999 (KST Backpack--Day 2)

Date: Tue, 3 Aug 1999 19:12:15 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: KST Backpack trip--Day 2

== Day 2, Saturday, July 31==

Saturday morning at the Kawailoa campsite translated into a 6 a.m. wake-up. I was pleased I'd had a decent night's rest since the coming day was to be no cupcake. One tip I've learned is to avoid the temptation to check the time in the middle of the night, for once I begin, what usually results is a repetitive cycle of watch-checking until the sun rises. That equates into morning grouchiness, not a good thing.

The helipad pu'u campers fared better than expected because the wind was gentle overnight. Rain fell in five-minute bursts twice during the night, but the clouds that bred them didn't linger and the brightening dawn showed signs the coming morning would be pleasant.

Wanting to keep things simple, I decided on non-cook breakfasts and lunches during the trip, and on this first morning I ate two Clif bars (carrot cake) with a couple of curls of glop spread atop them for added fuel. Not bad. I drank down the remaining liter of juice from my 2.5-liter platypus and a subsequent check revealed I had 2 liters for the day's trudge. "This will get me to the waterfall notch," I told Thomas, in reference to the H20 I lugged. "And if there's no water there, I'll gut it out to Poamoho."

Thomas reported he'd had no major problems in his tarp set-up. There was some condensation but nothing to fret about. The others were up and about and no one complained about a bad night. Most folks ate some hot cereal or soup for breakfast, and at varying paces began the task of shelter disassembly and packing.

By 7 a.m. I was packed, dressed in my muddy togs from the day before, and ready to depart. Before shoving off, I slogged across the ravine to where Pat, Ken, Carole, and June were camped to check on how their night went. They reported no problems. "I *will* see you at Poamoho this afternoon," I said to Carole and June, who seemed nervous about the rugged day to come.

After confirming the radio contact times with Pat (our first check would be at 10), I set off southeast on the KST with Mark and Steve. Roger, perhaps anxious about making it to Poamoho, had left 30 minutes prior, and since he was lugging such a heavy, bulky load, I figured we'd catch up to him at some point. Our departure time from Kawailoa was 7:20, with the others leaving at varying intervals over the next hour.

With a light, non-bulky pack and hiking poles, Mark moved fairly fluidly along the rugged, muddy trail. Steve and I managed to keep pace, and once in a while we rotated into the ramrod slot to spell Mark. But as I pointed out to Steve, the trail was no different whether one was first, second, or tenth--the uluhe and clidemia were still intact and the trail was just as muddy. Admittedly, one advantage trailing hikers had was that they could step in the bootprints of someone ahead to minimize the amount of ooze dealt with.

For about an hour from Kawailoa, we spotted blue ribbons periodically affixed to trees at points along the summit trail. We saw many signs of pigs (tracks and rootings) but the only encounter with na pua'a occurred later in the day by Mark and Roger. The plant experts in the group ( Ken, Kay, Brandon) later told me they'd spotted a myriad of interesting native flora. Kay even retrieved some stalks of a rare plant (the name I can't recall), probably broken off inadvertently by the pack of someone in the lead group, and said she'd give these to a friend for examination and possible grafting/germination.

For just about the entire duration of the summit trail from Kawailoa to Poamoho, there was little sense we were hiking on or near an actual crest of a ridge because the mountaintop was broad and rolling instead of narrow and precipitous ala the eastern Koolaus above Maunawili and Waimanalo. Care had to be taken in places, however, to avoid dropoffs into steep gulches. But the biggest danger of this segment of the summit trail is becoming disoriented and lost, a happening that likely was the undoing of Wade Johnson, the BYUH student who was never found in this general mountain vicinity despite a massive search and rescue campaign.

But our Higher Power was compassionate on Saturday, for the morning became progressively clearer and sunny and we'd have no clouds to inundate the summit and cause us to stray. A highlight was emerging through a narrow notch in the ridge to an overlook of the spectacular upper environs of Kaipapau Gulch. It was then I sensed the true wildness and beauty of where we were. At the time, Mark and Steve were just ahead, and watching them hike along a section carved into the sheer side of the mountain created a surreal contrast in this remote, lonely venue.

Not long after that, at an ascending leeward section, we stopped for our first break at a boulder alongside the trail (we had passed the remains of the Kahuku Cabin 20-30 minutes prior). I felt fine, invigorated as a matter of fact, and a check indicated I'd have enough water to get to the next source. A pack of Power Gel provided fuel as did a couple of fig bars from Mark. And after ten minutes of rest, we were on the move again.

Within half an hour, we caught up with Roger, who reported he'd gone off course at least once (probably a pig trail). Eyeing the hiking poles, gloves, and cleated shoes Mark and I used, Roger observed, "You guys got your act together up here, huh?"

"Let's say, we've logged some time up in the mountains," said I.

Gloveless, Roger's hands were being beaten up by the brush. Plus his heavy pack slowed him down. But the man is strong, no doubt. And despite the abuse he suffered and the debilitating load he lugged, he managed to stay with us for the rest of the day to Poamoho. Hats off to him.

At the 10 a.m. radio test, Pat, continuing in his classic sweep mode, reported the others were moving along steadily, taking periodic rest breaks and keeping their spirits up. Earlier, I asked him to keep tabs on the progress of the group and to do all he could to make sure all reached Poamoho.

Around 11:15, Mark, Steve, Roger, and I reached the Castle Trail junction. Even though it was still early, we decided to eat lunch and rest there, thinking Poamoho was only two hours away (it was actually closer to three). Mark took off his shoes and socks to air out while the rest of us lounged about in the clearing at the junction, eating lunch, resting, and talking story as we did. A couple of power bars and some glop served as my midday meal, and I would have accepted some of Roger's dried ahi chunks if the stuff wasn't so salty and hence make me want to drink more water.

During the 45-minute break, a helicopter zoomed overhead, then circled back to check us out. Someone, maybe Steve, said, "Don't wave. They might think we're in trouble." So we just sat there and stared at the chopper as it paused momentarily then rocketed off.

After lunch, I had less than a liter of water remaining, but I still felt fine and was hopeful I'd be able to obtain some at a forthcoming waterfall notch Stuart Ball mentioned as a potential H20 source. As it turned out, the water there, though available, was unappealing, so I just had to wait until reaching the reliable small pool next to the traditional tent campsite by the Poamoho Trail.

But that was still a ways away, and beyond the Castle Junction the mud became an increasing challenge to deal with. I suppose the mudholes might not have been any worse than the ones we'd traversed earlier, but given a long day of hiking and the resulting tiredness it brings, the mud seemed especially vile.

Landmarks from Castle to Poamoho included a fenced-off area (Kay called this an "exclosure") where some supposedly rare plants are situated (Brandon later told me he didn't spot any significant flora in the area); a large grassy bowl marked by a solar-paneled weather-gage; the waterfall notch I mentioned previously; another grassy bowl with metal grating on the ground; and the junction with the Peahinaia Trail (some white PVC pipes in the ground mark the initial segment of Peahinaia).

One prize of the day was the superb windward segment of the KST cut into the side of the mountain right before the Poamoho terminus. Gazing down into Kahana, I had to stop and marvel at the sight. Even though I've taken in the view before, this time seemed different, special. Glowing in the afternoon sun, all my familiar friends were there-- Piei, Pu'u Koiele, Pu'u o Kila, Ohulehule, Manamana, Kanehoalani. Back in '94, I knew none of them, but I can now recognize each with ease, without question or hesitation and with a special fondness that is difficult to explain.

Mark and I arrived at Poamoho a little past three, with Roger not far behind. Steve had slowed down a bit but would make it okay around 4. Meanwhile, because of intervening hills and ridges, radio tests the past couple hours proved spotty. The last word I had, via a relayed message from Dusty, was that the group was beyond the Castle junction by 2:00. That was good news and if all went well would put the last folks in at Poamoho before 6:00.

Needing water, Mark and I headed quickly down the Poamoho trail to get some from the stream by the campsite. A couple minutes later, good news--the water source was ample and clear. Over the course of the next hour, I filtered eight liters of water, drinking two after treating it with iodine and adding crystal light, and saving six more for dinner, for evening fluid consumption, and for the final hike leg the next day. Mark obtained the water he needed, using a combination of a 2.5 gallon water bag, a Gregory hydration system, iodine, and a SafeWater inline filter. While we did this, Steve arrived at the stream, and he too filtered water for his needs.

Mark also cleaned up, walking several meters downstream of the waterhole so as not to muddy the source the others would be using when they arrived. "Folks might be pretty moody when they roll in here (because of the hard day on the trail)," I reasoned, "and they'll be pissed off if they find out we took a bath in the waterhole."

Hydrated and with a good supply of water on hand, I returned to the summit around 4 p.m. to await the arrival of the others. In the interim, Mark and Steve hiked twenty minutes over to the Poamoho cabin where we'd spend the night. That is, unless someone else had snagged it first (no one was there and the cabin was ours to use).

What I didn't realize was that Roger, not knowing Mark and I had gone down to the stream, continued along the summit trail, past the Poamoho cabin, and on to who knows where. The next day, past the junction with Pauao Ridge (this is about 30 minutes beyond the cabin), we did see a spot on the trail with stamped down grass, and we surmised this was where Roger camped on Saturday night. I hope he made it to Waikane and back to civilization okay.

As I waited on the pu'u marking the end of the Poamoho trail, I put on my orange-glo zephur windjacket to keep warm since ka makani whips at the spot. Plus, I figured I'd be visible a good ways off for approaching members of the group.

And one by one they rolled in: first Dusty and Rob, then Kay and Brandon, then Thomas, Ken, Carole, and June. Carole was especially jubilant about making it to Poamoho since difficult conditions kept her from completing the segment in a day back in 1994. And, of course, Pat, in the classic sweep mode since we left Kawailoa, rolled in last, his duty for the day finally done. At one point, I could see Pat perched on the spectacular final windward section of the KST before Poamoho, his arms outstretched toward Kahana. Seeing him like this, I smiled, picturing in my mind the many times I've seen him in this familiar pose over the years.

Although there was room in the cabin for the all twelve of us, Ken, Carole, June, Thomas, and Pat opted to tent-camp at the clearing by the stream. When I saw them the next morning, they reported a peaceful night.

From the Poamoho trail terminus, the hike to the cabin was about 15-20 minutes on a muddy, overgrown trail (what's new?). About midway there, we looked down to the right at a high mountain lake, that I will dub Lake Poamoho. Before arriving at the cabin, it is visible in the distance.

With five folks tent camping, that left seven of us in the cabin. Mark, Rob, Kay, and Steve slept in the abode's four bunks while Brandon, Dusty, and I camped out on the floor. Spartan describes the cabin appropriately, for there is nothing in it aside from the bunks. But it offered a respite from the elements and assured us of a dry, warm night.

For dinner, I boiled water for my Alpine Air Mountain Chili and a side dish of garlic mashed potatoes. Folks with extra food shared some, including Brandon (pita bread) and Dusty (bagels, cookies, chips). I took particular interest in Brandon's homemade alcohol stove--very compact, light, with a strong flame.

Clouds rolled in as darkness fell, so there'd be no stargazing in the evening. As an alternative, Kay suggested we tell stories. She began with a recollection of being the last one to finish lunch as a young girl, this occurring to her during the hike when she was the last to finishher midday meal. Keying off something Kay said, Mark also shared a story, as did I, mine being about the German shepherds my dad raised.

For me, sleep came easily in the night, the last one in the Koolaus for us on this trip.


Reply From: Kay Ellen Lynch (klynch@hawaii.edu>

kapua kawelo of the army environmental division provides this explanation of the exclosure fence we saw between castle and poamoho:

"the fence is protecting the only known true montane bog on 'oahu (ka'ala is considered immature). the fence is complete and encompasses about 1/2 of an acre. pig damage can be eliminated this way. the area was just fenced this year. an environmental assessment was not required because the area was less than one acre."

the "manual of flowering plants of hawai'i" offers this interesting explanation (summarized here) of how bogs get to be bogs and what kinds of plant life they support:

true bogs are found primarily on flat or gently sloping topography with impervious substrates. they may be fed by rainwater or both rainwater and groundwater. these bogs usually have a substantial accumulation of peat (up to 5 m thick), underlain by light gray, impervious basal clays.

bog formation is initiated with the weathering of basalt under cool, wet conditions. this permits the percolation of humic acids and results in the breakdown and conversion of the rock to clay. the clay layers impede drainage and bring about the accumulation of perched water, drowning the root systems of trees. over time, there is a successional progression from low forest to shrub bog and finally to very low sedge bog.

the vegetation of most hawai'i bogs consists of an irregular, hummocky cushion of sedges, grasses and mosses. ferns and herbs are present, as well as dwarfed shrub and tree species. some are dwarfed forms of the same plants that occur in the surrounding forests (e.g., 'ohi'a lehua and 'olapa); others are unique bog species. woody plants may form a continuous layer of short shrubs or may consist of scattered individuals emerging from the ground layer of sedges, grasses and water-saturated mosses.

re: tags and flags:

kapua said the flagging and tags we saw are marking an ungulate monitoring transect. "this line is walked twice a year to determine if our ungulate control efforts in the area are having an impact on the pig population. we would expect a decrease in the number of stations that have a presence of pig sign."

re: the rat bait stations (inverted white buckets) that some of us saw:

"rat bait stations are to kill rats in the vicinity of Achatinella (endangered tree snail) habitat. we restock them as frequently as we visit the areas."


Day 3
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