OHE December 7, 1998 (Pu'u Ma'i)

Date: Mon, 7 Dec 1998 09:43:34 -1000
From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Puu Mai (Koko Crater), 06DEC98

On Sunday, December 6th, my friend and I returned to one of our favorite trails for a special outing. I won't bore by describing the short hike as I usually do since there have been countless write-ups about it. I will, however, mention a few details that made this particular trek different.

It was between 5:30 AM and 5:45 AM when we reached the "west-entry" trailhead - the Job Corps building fronting the partially buried railroad tracks. Gathering our gear together, we put flashlights in hand and I snapped on a 6-inch cylumine (sp!) glow-stick. I originally planned to use the light-stick to follow the trail but found the moonlit path easy to see.

Once my eyes had become adapted to the darkness surrounding the lamp-less mountain (after I had been driving for about 45 minutes through Honolulu's city lights), I realized it was bathed in an extreme moonlight glow. One could actually see the sinister-looking shadows cast by the silent clouds racing overhead. The cooling breezes were frigid to my sweat-beaded skin, but helped my friend and I keep plodding at a steady pace. I eventually hooked the green-glowing lightstick to my Platypus pack so that my friend could spot my progress ahead on the tracks. I kept my flashlight pocketed for most of the climb, with the exception of an occasional flash to thwart my overactive imagination (aka hallucinations).

The glowing clouds spotted from between the trees at the top of the tracks developed an eerie apparition standing at the head of the tracks, its pale dress seemingly swaying in the wind. I began thinking of the faraway (I hoped!) "Pupukea Lady", but realized that my annoying imagination often conjures up bizzare sightings (i.e. the man with the rifle on Kamaileunu Ridge (see write-up dated 29NOV98)). When I got to the top and banked to the right to follow an easier clearing through the brush to the heli-pad, an owl suddenly bolted from a branch within 10 feet of my face and into the darkness.

We reached the top shortly after 6 AM, contouring around to sit at the north side of the heli-pad. With Kohelepelepe below, Kalama Valley to the left, and Makapuu ahead, we watched silently. The sunrise wasn't as spectacular as from Mokolii Island (see "Morning Drama, Mokolii Island" dated 11OCT98) because of the heavily overcast conditions, but a breath-taker nonetheless. Like a prism, the low clouds shattered the sun's yellow thrust skyward into a dazzle of rays breaking above, below, and to the sides of the cloud layer. It was heavenly...

On the jog down, we passed two couples: one at the bridge and another at the "parking lot" requesting directions to the trailhead. Unfortunately, our stay up there was a bit longer than I had planned and by the time we reached the trailhead, it was 08:07. (I had planned to be there by 07:00 to meet the TC carpool at Schofield-Waikane by 08:00!) Hey, it gave us a good excuse to swing by Hawaii Kai Zippy's for a hardy meal.

Looking forward to Dayle's write-up about the rather wet, S-W Trail Clearing...

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