OHE January 10, 1998 (b)

Date: Sat, 10 Jan 1998 22:19:03 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: A Saturday Afternoon on Olomana

Well, today was another postcard day on Oahu--clear skies, not a cloud touching the Koolaus, a wisp of a breeze, a pleasant nip in the air. And here I am, semi-laid up with a bothersome pain in my lower back.

I give Pat Rorie a call at 7 a.m. to see what he's up to. According to Paka-lolo, he and Laredo "Rainbowman" Murray are bound for Aiea Heights to do the Aiea Ridge to Waimalu middle ridge hike. To say I was green with envy would be understating the truth. But Pat is kindly sympathetic, withholding his trademark laugh when I say I won't be joining them.

A few years ago, before the hiking bug bit, I'd think nothing of spending an entire Saturday kicking back watching the tube, nibbling on munchies, and taking long naps. That's out of the question now, especially when confronted with days like today.

I attempt to pass time by watching a basketball game on the tube and taking a nap, telling myself the rest will benefit my back. Ten o'clock rolls around. Pat and Laredo have probably topped out on Aiea Ridge by now, I think. And my back feels better, too (actually it doesn't but I try to convince myself otherwise).

I drift off to sleep, awakening at 11. Damn, can't let a such an awesome day go to waste, I think. Sore back notwithstanding, I'm going hiking. The exercise will help alleviate the pain, I reason, while I simultaneously attempt to deflect thoughts of permanently crippling myself. I am, as my grandmother likes to say, "being hard head."

By 11:45, I've stuffed my canteen, a length of rope, a cell phone, and a snack into my daypack and am motoring off to Olomana, a short drive from my house in Kaneohe. The plan--try to get up to peak 1 and if the pain is too much along the way I'll stop and head back.

I'm hiking by noon, noting the dozen or so cars parked in the hikers' area along the golf course access road. On the way up, no less than a ten folks hike by me heading back down. And the back pain is tolerable, even disappearing eventually [more likely I've gone completely numb, inflicting irreparable nerve damage]. :-)

In about an hour, I'm at the cabled rockface right before peak 1. A couple of wahines are seated at the base of the rock, talking story. "You folks been up already?" I ask, referring to peak 1. "Got halfway up that rock and chickened out," replies one of the wahines while eyeing the culprit with disdain. "Just about everybody I know turns back at this rock the first time, even me," I offer in solace. That comment seems to make her feel better.

I climb the rock without incident and in a couple minutes arrive at a hikers' convention on peak 1. I don't stop to count but there has to be a dozen folks seated or standing on the summit. Even if I want to hang out there, I can't. No room.

So onward to peak 2 I head. As I begin the initial descent, I hear someone say, "Hey, where's he going?" I don't stick around to listen for an answer.

In 15 minutes I'm sitting in the shade of a Christmas berry tree atop peak 2, contemplating if I'll turn around here or continue on to 3. At the very least I can enjoy some solitude, for no one is in sight ahead and none of the conventioneers has attempted to follow me.

I spend time resting and enjoying the clear view of the Koolau crest. Starting at Pu'u o Kona, I begin scanning from left to right, mentally naming the various peaks--Kuliouou west, Kulepeamoa, Hawaii Loa, Wailupe middle, Wiliwilinui, Waialae Nui, Lanipo, Palikea, Olympus, Konahuanui. Beautiful sights, one and all.

Ten minutes later, I decide since my back isn't troubling me and since I could use the additional exercise, it's onward to peak 3. With the aid of a long cable, I slowly make my way down the steep, crumbly face of peak 2. "It'd be a rush going down this thing without this cable," I tell myself. "And coming up would be an adventure, too." But the cable (actually it's mostly a webbed strap) is intact and I make it down okay.

I rest at a point right before the hole-in-the-rock bypass section. From my vantage point I can see a mass of conventioneers still gathered on peak 1. I'm sure they see me, particularly since I'm wearing my infamous orange mesh shirt.

I imagine the following conversation: "Hey, there's that big dude who went by without stopping," says one. "Where's he going?" asks another. "I dunno but he looked a bit deranged if you ask me," comments a third.

Chuckling to myself, I press on, tying the rope I have stashed in my pack to a Christmas berry tree to add a measure of safety to the segment where I have to inch around the hole-in-the-rock boulder. In about 20 minutes, I'm on peak 3 where I rest briefly and begin the return leg.

As I begin heading down 3, I notice a couple of hikers eyeballing the descent of the long cable on the facing side of peak 2. They appear hesitant but after five minutes at a standstill, they commit to heading down and descend without a problem.

I meet the duo, 20-ish military types by the look of them, at the hole-in-rock boulder, where I inform them I'll be taking my rope with me. A look of alarm appears on their faces. "Do you have to?" asks one. "Actually, I do," I reply. Fortunately, someone had left a length of sturdy rope hanging in a plastic bag on a nearby tree. I advise them to retrieve the rope, tie it to the tree where my rope is currently affixed, and they'll be set. They follow my suggestion and I'm on my way, rope ($9.95 at City Mill) in pack.

I puff and huff my way up the cable to the summit of 2, pausing to watch the duo top out on 3. I reach 1, which is now thankfully and miraculously free of conventioneers. To my disgust, a ziploc bag with banana peels and cracker crumbs lay on the summit, along with a plethora of cigarette butts and uneaten grapes. I police the area, stick the trash in my pack, vow that I'll never mar an area in such a way, and head down.

On the descent, I pass a couple of nice-looking 20-ish local girls heading for the summit. Engaged in an animated conversation, they don't appear winded or sweaty, which was the state I was in earlier when I was heading up at the identical spot. Ahh, to be young and fit again.

Alas, I can't lay claim to the former and can only marginally declare the latter. But at least I can still get out and about to enjoy a beautiful Hawaiian day, sore back and all.

I reach my car at 4:15 and spend a few minutes chatting with the military duo, who've double-timed down Olomana and nearly pass me. I then head home to a warm shower, a filling meal, and to my computer, where I've spent the last couple hours hacking this out.

Enough rambling for now. Tomorrow, as the saying goes, is another day.

Hope it's as nice as today.


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