OHE December 30, 1998 (Poamoho to Schofield)

Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 17:19:22 -1000
From: MARK SHORT (MARKESHORT@worldnet.att.net>
Subject: Poamoho/kst/schofield-waikane

When we got off the plane for our Kalalau trip last July, our cab driver greeted us with the words "Are you ready for your wet & wild adventure?!!". Someone should have asked us that question for this overnight.

All weekend the Koolaus looked glorious, with clear peaks and high puffy non-threatening clouds. I couldn't go on the weekend and looking at the mountains was almost more than I could bear. Driving to work over the Pali Monday morning I finally snapped. I was going to work get someone to cover my 1:00 appt. then go home, pack, & have my wife drive me to Poamoho. I called my wife on my cell. & made arrangements.

Work took a little longer than I'd hoped but I was home by 10:30. I packed but my wife wasn't home! My son told me she was at the beach but she brought her phone so I could call her. I told my son to hurry & pack I want to get to the summit before the clouds rolled in. I called my wife & she said she would still drive me but she would not cut her beach trip short. I could expect to leave by 12:30. I went to Safeway for food then did some work on the phone waiting for my wife. She got home then wanted to shower before driving us.

Soon we were heading along the dirt road to the Poamoho trail. The road was dry & in excellent condition. Our Dodge Caravan had no trouble to 4.6 mile parking area mentioned in Stuart Ball's Hiker's Guide to Oahu. We could have driven further but my wife did not like the idea, viewing this as the official drop off point since it was in the book. I didn't want to press my luck so off we went. Before leaving we spoke to a man with a small pick up and a bunch of boys. He said they were going to try driving further up the road. As we walked we could hear them driving & laughing. He must have been driving slow with the boys on the tailgate.

Two Jeeps were parked at the trail head. I think we were here at about 2pm. This trail was in excellent condition with nice views down to the swift running stream on the right. Here we passed 3 men who were not dressed like hikers, more like scientists, but they didn't have any gear.

When the trail switched to the left side of the ridge it became increasingly muddy. My son had fallen back some distance behind me. I called out to him & he answered. I continued, calling out every so often. Finally he didn't answer so I slowed down until I saw him appear around one of the curves of this snakelike trail. He was probably trying to keep his shoes clean.

Soon I was at the camp site which was very attractive. A grassy terrace next to a very pleasant stream with a small pool which was just perfect for washing off mud. We continued up to the summit, however as I had already seen it was socked in. (The sun was shining along the entire trail, but even at the start I could see black clouds coming in from the north. I was hoping for at least a glimpse of view but knew in my heart it probably would not be there. As we were driving to the trailhead my wife said I should have checked the weather report. My reply was that the weather report always says sunny with showers which may be true for the rest of the island, but may not be accurate in the mountains. I think the real reason I didn't check is, that there was no way I was going to call of this trip now that I had started.)

At the summit we saw the Cline Memorial which someone had used as a fireplace:(. I remembered reading on OHE of better potential campsites further along the KST. It was now about 4:10 so we decide to continue until 4:30 if we didn't find a good site we'd go back to Poamoho. We were now very wet & my son had been walking through mud over his ankles on a regular basis. We pushed our way though the vegetation an the trail changed direction and headed North. Why was the trail going North? Was I disoriented in the clouds? I didn't think this was possible but I am definitely going to invest in a compass. We hit the 4:30 mark so headed back to Poamoho & set up camp. As I washed my legs & feet the sun came out for a minute & I thought of running up to the summit again. The sun left before I could act.

It was now raining heavily again, My Son was building a shelter made of ferns for our dog. I got into the tent & unpacked & changed into dry clothes and ate dinner. I also unpacked my sons pack. He came in & change into dry clothes & ate. We were trying to keep our small tent dry without too much success, I was sitting on the gulp valve of my water bag and about a quart was on the tent floor before we noticed. We mopped it up wit an already wet shirt and got into our sleeping bags. ( I had a new lite-loft bag that weighs less than 2 lbs. is rated to 41 degrees and cost $60 from http://www.ewalker.com/adgear/camping.htm the fact that it insulates when wet came in handy.)

It rained very heavily for at least 7 hours. The small stream next to us was now a loud roar. At about 1am the rain became light and I went out to relieve myself. Our little gulch felt eerie and somewhat secure at the same time.

My alarm was set for 6am. My plan was to eat & pack in the dark then start hiking with light. I ate looked at my topo & packed a little. My son didn't get up & it was cold so I lied back down in my bag for a while. Soon my son woke up when I told him it was light out. He didn't believe me, but I told him that because of black clouds, this was as light as it was going to get. We took some pictures & packed & were up to the summit again by 7:50.

Soon we were at the newly constructed cabin. I went up the stairs & tried the door, it was open! Inside were four built in bunk beds. We could have slept here! It looked like a dead bolt would soon be installed so I wouldn't count on the door being open next time. The clothes line on the front porch might come in handy though.

Soon we were on the incredible windward section, with no mud, no vegetation blockage and no view. Even without the view I marveled at the trail, a perfect ledge for walking comfortably along the cliff. This section with out mud & vegetation was very short. Back to mud & wet & over growth we were still enjoying out trek. After all it was only a light rain and the wind was also light by KST standards. Heavy wind & rain would be very uncomfortable up here.

There were a few new landslides. The first one was spooky. It was only about five feet across, but if you jumped the ledge did not look like it would hold. The slide dropped very steeply to the left down about 20 feet the off into space. I chose to climb up thorough the vegetation over the slide hoping the roots would continue to hold everything together. My son wanted to step across saying it was to had to push through the overgrowth. My answer was that I was not giving him a choice of routes, one wrong step and he would be gone. Our dog also listened to me, when he went near the edge I told him if he fell there would be no rescue attempt. My mind now considered the fact that it would be impossible for a helicopter to make a rescue in this fog even if a person was alive after landing. My guess is this person could not be seen or heard from the trail above either. I immediately put these thoughts out of my mind so I could enjoy the rest of the hike.

We explored a couple of side trails up to some peaks for the view that did not exist this day. At about 10:30 we reached the schofield/waikane junction. This recently maintained trail was a welcome change from the constant wet whipping we received on the KST. Soon we were down far enough for the rain to slow down so we stopped for something to eat. My son had only brought the one pair of short he was wearing yesterday. Since they were soaked this morning he was hiking in his long under pants. The sun came out now and he took off his fleece jacket. As I was eating I looked up at him, standing there in the middle of nowhere wearing only his long underclothes. For some reason I began to laugh uncontrollably. He remind me of those charactures in the western movies that end up only in long underwear. Soon he changed back into his wet shorts, he said this had nothing to do with the fact that I was laughing at him.

At one point the trail became extra wide and looked recently lawnmowed (probably state weedwackers). This section of trail was very pleasant and my son commented how much fun this part would be on mountain bikes. About 1pm we reached the road and went right. At the first building we turned right into the woods and followed the trail to the end of California Avenue where we were picked up by my wife.

Our adventure was wet & wild, and very enjoyable. I can only imagine how much better it would have been if we had experienced the fabled views.

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