OHE January 2, 2000 (Waahila Campout)

Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2000 17:40:08 -1000
From: JFEL873@aol.com (Jay Feldman)
Subject: New Year's on Wa'ahila Trail

I'm not particularly fond of doing write-ups and typically need much coaxing to perform that rite, however, I started writing this one in my head almost from the moment John Hall and I started down Kolowalu Trail at first light on the first day of the new year. We two, and eight other hardy souls had just spent New Year's Eve on a slope of Mt. Olympus along the Wa'ahila trail. Though lacking a complete night's sleep and hurrying in the dim light to be early for the traditional HTM club hike at Koko Crater, my mind was fresh with the events of the previous night.

Converging from a number of directions at equally diverse times, Kay Lynch, Inger Lidman, Dayle Turner, Henry Davis, John Hall, Brenda and Dick Cowan, Nancy and Mike Rawlins (accompanied by their three well behaved Chalupas, of the canine persuasion), and I, arrived at our desired camping spot. Several weeks before, Charlotte Yamane, Inger, and I, based on advice from Dayle, had decided that this flat, open, grassy mesa would be perfect for observing fireworks from Waikiki, Manoa Valley, and Aloha Tower. Since it was surrounded by a number of excellent camping spots we instantly and intuitively knew this was to be our headquarters central.

You can imagine our disappointment finding a huge green six person tent planted dead center in our spot. The occupants had arrived almost at first light to save the area for a group of adventure bound runners who had obviously not cleared their plans with us. While graceful in our external demeanor, we felt like fools; as experienced, technically profound, trail hardened hikers, we had been beat out by a pack of amateurs.

What the hell, we backed down trail a bit noticing that the best of the lower camp spots lay unclaimed and quickly set up our tents and after a short search found a perfect slope affording almost an identical view with the added advantage of stadium style seating cushioned naturally with an abundance of Dicranopteris linearis, aka uluhe. We ignored the partial loss of view due to a large overhanging Koa branch which added dignity and a feeling of sitting in the middle of a Japanese painting.

Our location was littered with lovely Koa, Ohia, and Guava, so John and I both set up hammock/tarp campsites; a decided advantage in rocky terrain. Henry won the most basic campsite award, very elegant in its simplicity -- a camo poncho strung between two guava, and a sleeping bag beneath. Dayle, in minimalist mode set up a Walrus Micro Swift which looked like a pregnant bivy sack but weighed under three pounds, Inger had a larger Eureka Zephyr tent, ala Nathan Yuen^^s demo at Kahana Valley some months ago, and everyone else tented at increasing levels of sophistication.

Having completed our set ups, we gathered at our new view spot as the sun was reaching its year end declination. We had decided not to do a community meal, and so everyone ate what they brought from freeze dried to day old lasagna. One interesting observation: every woman graciously brought extra food or treats for the group, while none of the men had so obviously done so.

I'm not sure who called it first, but it soon became very apparent that we were to have an exquisite sunset. A low bank of dense clouds provided us with an early and high in the sky sunset, which seemed to last for an hour, with a multitude of colorful tints arrayed across the heavens. It was in a sense a preview of the night ahead though naturally tasteful rather than the coming garishly striking.

As the city lights grew brighter, and the sky darker, skyrockets began to pepper the sky. These folks obviously had acquired huge inventories and felt no qualms in letting some go in less than optimum light conditions. Clearly at the urging of their kids, inward or otherwise. The sounds of firecrackers reached our ears, and unless of the bazooka variety, they were not too disturbing. We could see and hear everything and yet were removed. We sat, talked, searched for lost objects, shared snacks, told jokes and occasionally walked off our sitting cramps. The aerial display varied in intensity all through the evening as did our dismay at the amount of money people seemed determined to blast into the air. Something none of us were guilty of this night. Slowly, and I emphasize that word, the evening passed; after a while, the majority of the fireworks became boring and commonplace. While the sunset had grace and power they were stayed by speed, these man-made demonstrations wound endlessly on. Would midnight never arrive?

Almost imperceptibly a layer of soft white cotton descended over the city as the windless conditions allowed the smoke to layer heavily on the city. The thickness of vision seemed to infuse our brains as we became sleepy and obtuse. Suddenly our dulled senses perceived the tempo of the evening was changing. Midnight was almost upon us and the crescendo of light displays and noise heightened. Suddenly, at exactly midnight, to the left Waikiki, and to the right Aloha Tower began a nonstop competition for an end of the world diorama. Competing, for over fifteen minutes, the two blasted back and forth, competing mightily, all the time supported from below by the enduring efforts of Team Manoa. Our heads pivoted back and forth as if following some majestic tennis match. Huge dandelions of rainbow colors, highlighted by even larger explosions of electric stark brilliance; balls of blasted light witching, over, under and behind even more skyrockets. The entire horizon was insane with a blend of pyrotechnics that must mimic the entry ports of the netherworld. Just above Round Top Drive one could easily imagine the reappearance of the caldera of a long ago Oahu volcano.

Our earlier ennui blasted away, we were dazzled by the unending display. Above our heads, the clear bright stars seemed staggered, dumbfounded; likewise, we stared, mouths agape, hardly a comment was heard as the onslaught continued. Finally, in a lengthy blast of dramatic fire, both sides, almost simultaneously, ceased their efforts. Gasping for air I felt that I'd been holding my breath. Clearly we had been mid-wifed into the new year and new millennium at great expense, and yet nothing had really changed. Back again among friends, sleepy, ready for bed, we broke our concentration and returned to our ritual needs. Trooping off to our nests, we bid each other a good night and best wishes for the new year. We were exhausted and relieved. To bed at last.

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