OHE January 2, 1999 (Konahuanui--Olympus)

Date: Sat, 2 Jan 1999 20:27:11 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: A Romp Around Manoa

Having consumed way more calories than I've burned this holiday season, I decided to try and tip the scales a bit by getting in a fairly tough hike today. And with the Koolaus sparkling clear from one end to the other, the mountains were calling to me akin to how J. Alfred Prufrock heard mermaids beckoning him in the famous T.S. Eliot poem (sorry, I'm an English major).

After puttering about at home for most of the morning, off to Manoa I motored to attempt the vaunted "Aunty of All Hikes"--Konahuanui to Olympus. I parked my car along Manoa Road before the entrance to the former Paradise Park and did a quick inventory of my gear. I had most of my usual stuff but realized I had no watch and no flashlight. If I had launched earlier in the day, I wouldn't be concerned about not having the latter, but it was approaching 11:30 a.m. and the possibility of coming out after sundown was likely if I tried to complete the whole deal. And I wasn't overly concerned about not having a watch since I could ask people I saw along the trail for the time, and failing that, call 983-3211 on my cell phone to get the time.

Better judgment said that going up to Konahuanui and coming back the same way could be accomplished before darkness hit. Trying to tack on the crossover to Olympus and then the descent of the Waahila and Kolowalu trails seem far-fetched. But I told myself if I reached Konahuanui by 1:45 and I felt okay, I'd go across to Olympus. Otherwise, I'd top out and come back the same way.

That decided, off I went at 11:35, heading up the beginning portion of the Manoa Falls trail and then the Aihualama switchbacks. The air was cool but still and during the climb up Aihualama, I was sweating heavily, a fact pointed out to me by a couple guys who were heading down the trail. Normally, I'm not concerned about sweating during hikes, but today I was only carrying four liters of water (not much for me based on how much I usually drink), and if I was overheating early in the game, I might not make it to the end.

So I slowed down a bit and savored the segments that were shaded and cool. I reached the Nuuanu Lookout a few minutes under an hour (I asked a guy at the lookout for the time), and without pause, I continued on to the pu'u Mike Uslan has dubbed Riff-Raff Hill (go ask him why he calls it such). Within 50 yards up Riff-Raff Hill (RRH), I was on the tail of a couple in their early 20s. He was hiking without a shirt and she was donning tabis for footwear. Sensing I was in a hurry, they stepped aside, let me pass, and tried to keep pace. When I reached the top of RRH--a short, tough climb--I turned back to see how they were doing but they had dropped back out of sight.

After Riff Raff Hill, there's a second pu'u; it's shorter but still tough. About halfway up pu'u 2, I smelled the unmistakable smoke from a pipe. Could it be the legendary Dick Davis, a well-known puffer of pipe? As it turned out, the pipe smoker wasn't Davis but a gent who appeared to be from India. He was hefting a big internal frame pack as was his female companion. Camping? I didn't ask. Instead, we exchanged pleasantries and off I zoomed.

A couple minutes after leaving the Indian dude and his wahine friend, I came upon a lone male, also hefting a large internal frame pack. "You going camping?" I inquired. Yup, said he. Just like the 20ish haole couple, he let me pass and then pressed hard to keep up. However, a big pack has a way of slowing one's pace (without it, he'd certainly pass me on the fly) and after about 15 minutes, he also fell back and eventually stopped to rest.

Relatively speaking, today the trail to Konahuanui was like H-1 during rush hour because in addition to the five I'd already passed, I also encountered a group of four resting along the trail on the long, fairly level segment of the route. I greeted them, asked the time (it was just past 1 p.m.), and continued on at a quick tempo. No time for chitchat.

I reached the Koolau summit at Konahuanui 2 at 1:35 and spent ten minutes eating a couple of sweet roll buns, drinking water, and putting on gaiters. I felt okay and had reached the summit before my 1:45 deadline, so the crossover to Olympus it would be.

As I set out along the crest trail for Olympus, a couple of haole guys appeared out of the brush and called out to me. Apparently they had gone over to Konahuanui 1 and had just arrived back at K2. Seeing me heading off on the ridge trail, one of the guys said, "Hey, that's the wrong way."

"Don't worry," I replied. "I know where I'm going."

They both had looks on their faces that said "Well, it's your funeral," and as I romped off, I hoped their expressions weren't foreshadows of coming doom.

But all went well on the crossover. I can report that the summit route has been getting some traffic, evidenced by some fresh-looking bootprints I saw (less than a week old) and the decent shape of the ridgetop swath. And although Konahuanui was clouded over for most of the day, sections of the crest below 2,700 feet were clear. The views to windward and leeward were superb as a result. Still intact are the cables & ropes that were in place on my last hike of this route. And I made it by the infamous ironwood rige and sedan rock without incident.

The crossover took two hours, and I arrived at the junction with the Olympus trail at 3:45. From there, I needed 75 minutes to descend Olympus/Waahila then Kolowalu to Alani Drive in the Woodlawn area of Manoa Valley. On the descent of Kolowalu, a local guy with ski poles and two dogs (Beagles) went blazing by me at high speed. I'd heard that ski poles help lessen the impact on the legs by passing some of the jarring effect to the arms, and the local guy's rapid pace seemed to bear this out.

Hmmm...a new piece of equipment to purchase?

I reached civilization at Alani Drive at 5 p.m. and the walk back to my car took 30 minutes. Muddy and dishelved after a day in mountains, I turned heads as I walked through the conservative urbandom of upper Manoa. I overheard one lady, out for a late afternoon stroll with her hubby, say, "Uulll, he's dirty."

Indeed I was.

As famished as I was filthy, I drove over to a nearby Texaco Foodmart where I purchased and then devoured two hotdogs with all the fixins and washed this down with a 60-oz "Big Rig," Texaco's equivalent to 7-11's Double Gulp.

So much for the attempt at attaining equilibrium between calories consumed and burned. Well, I'll give it another go tomorrow.

Safe hiking to all,


Return to OHE top | Return to Oahu Hike Tales | Email Dayle