Date: Fri, 24 Jul 1998 14:06:17 -1000 From: Patrick Rorie (firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: East Ko'olau Extravaganza (EKE) Part 1
Let the annals of Oahu hiking history show that speed hikers Gene Robinson, Laredo "Rainbowman" Murray and I were successful in our attempt at a day hike from Wa'ahila Ridge State Recreation Area to Makapu'u Lookout.
On Saturday, July 11, 1998, I met Rainbowman (blue hair on this occasion) at 7:05 a.m. in the Makapu'u Lookout parking lot. From there we drove in the pat-mobile to the Kuliouou trailhead where we rendezvoused with Dr. Gene Robinson around 7:30 a.m. The three of us then proceeded to St. Louis Heights. After entering Wa'ahila, I dropped Gene and Laredo off at the Wa'ahila Ridge trailhead. Although the recreation area closes at 7:45 p.m., I exited the reserve and parked on Ruth Place just in case we didn't return in time. Jogged back to the start of the footpath and rejoined my comrads as they made final preps.
At 8:09 a.m. Gene led our threesome up the trail setting a brisk pace. We encountered three Korean women at the first somewhat steep descent, one of whom required assistance from the good doctor to make it over a boulder. She was fairly attractive but had garlic breath! Passed four more Korean women going the opposite way (they must have gotten an early start!) beyond the initial downward section and scored a bag of trail mix hanging from a tree shortly thereafter (a huge acquisition since the only food I had available for the remainder of the trek was an apple!).
To keep our spirits high, Gene cracked several jokes. The weather was perfect for our journey, partly overcast skies with cool gusty trades and no rain. In the distance there was separation between the clouds and the Ko'olau summit.
Further ahead, Gene, Laredo and I paused to converse with three older Korean gentlemen who looked like hardy hikers. When we mentioned our goal of reaching Makapu'u later that day, they were impressed and thought about doing the same sometime in the future. Took a short break at a flat grassy clearing which featured excellent views of Manoa Valley, Waikiki, Diamond Head and Palolo Valley. Gene took several photos and asked if we would be able to look down into Ka'au Crater at some point. Not far from the top, two more ladies passed us on their way down, one haole and the other a very attractive oriental female.
During the final climb to the summit of Mount Olympus, the effort to reopen the Olympus-Castle Trail became very apparent, work of the notorious (to Reese Liggett and the Sierra Club, that is) Dr. Ng, no doubt. Also, views of the sheer fluted cliffs below Konahuanui were ours, as well as the Ko'olau summit ridge as it curves north. The clouds clinging to the summit crest in that direction made the ridge appear as if it were on fire! Otherwise, we were fogged in. Topped out on the semi-circular peak named in honor of the Greek god Olympus at 9:36 a.m.
The three of us made a few adjustments, then I took the ram-rod at 9:42 a.m. and led our group as we completed the traverse of the prominent peak in route to our next goal, Palikea (the highest point on the Ka'au Crater loop trail). While accomplishing the steep descent over the eastern side of Olympus, Gene, Laredo and I carefully negotiated Ziggy's rock, a steep slick rocky area that Art Neilson's dog Ziggy climbed during a hike from Waialae Nui to Olympus late last year. A level stretch ensued featuring a nice but brief vista of the windward side including Mount Olomana (elev. 1,643 ft) and the Mokulua Islands. Although a swath was present, the trail was mostly overgrown. The presence of numerous 'ie'ie plants made progress especially cumbersome.
Ascended progressively to the apex of the ridge which forms the western boundary of Ka'au Crater. I brought to Gene's attention the fact that uluhe ferns completely occupied the trail descending along the crater rim. "It will make for a tough clearing when the time comes" I told him. The summit trail opened up soon after and we walked around the first powerline tower. Spectacular views down into the crater are the norm for this area but clouds completely encompassed Gene, Laredo and I concealing the vistas.
We three amigos passed another powerline tower and gained the top of Palikea at 10:24 a.m. following a serious climb. I changed into long pants while Gene and Laredo sat down to rest, then, at 10:31 a.m., the three of us continued to hike. The trail worsened a bit through a short, level section of the summit ridge. Next, we descended gradually and admired a beautiful windswept low grass ravine on the leeward side of the crest. The long, steep climb to the peak called Kainawa'aunui (elev. 2,520 ft and the normal termination point of the Lanipo Trail) was the toughest of the day. At 10:52 a.m. we completed the ascent and took another short break.
Five minutes later we three amigos started heading for the Waialae Nui summit. Two noteworthy climbs came about then two Lanipo benchmarks were observed to the right of the trail as it leveled off along the summit crest. Made a very distinquishable right turn subsequent to the prominent Lanipo "shoulder" and reached the apex of Waialae Nui at 11:15 a.m. which is covered with a grove of six foot tall trees.
At 11:19 a.m. we departed Waialae Nui for the Wiliwilinui topping out point, descending steeply. Passed five wooden power line poles on the way down before dropping to a saddle in the ridge which forced us to gain elevation in route to Wiliwilinui. The foggy conditions persisted. In spite of this, Gene, Laredo and I recognized new powerline poles supporting electric lines on the leeward side of the crest, much to our chagrin.
Arrived at the summit of Wiliwilinui, a level, grassy clearing with a white lawn chair set up in the middle of it, at 11:37 a.m. Gene took photos of Laredo as Rainbowman relaxed in the seat.
Leaving Wiliwilinui behind, the three of us were bound for the pinnacle of the Hawaii Loa Ridge Trail and a lunch date with the incomparable Wing Ng at 11:49 a.m. Enjoyed some of the best trail conditions of the day (a virtual freeway) as we traveled east enduring atleast one memorable climb and using a thin rope to descend before the Wailupe Gulch summit. The end of the improved section of the summit footpath came shortly after Wailupe but a faint swath was still visible.
Worked our way through thick vegetation and upon achieving a respectable ascent, nearly collided with a westbound Wingo at a peak which had been cleared recently of all flora down to the nub. Gene, Laredo and I exchanged greetings with Dr. Ng and together the four of us tramped through a recently cleared stretch of three foot wide trail up another peak and then down to the Hawaii Loa Ridge apex (elev. 2,520 ft) arriving there at 12:28 p.m. Wing was his normal cheerful/joking self and we took pleasure in his company as various food stuffs were consumed.
At 12:49 p.m. we said our goodbyes and went in different directions, Wing down Hawaii Loa while Gene, Laredo and I continued along the summit ridge toward Kulepeamoa through a thicket of clidemia. Fifteen minutes later, after some minor roller coaster action, our threesome climbed to the Kulepeamoa topping out point, a stand of guava trees occupying part of the area. Without pausing, we descended steeply with the aid of a cable and methodically plowed through overgrowth.
Prior to ascending the peak which comes before the pinnacle of the west ridge of Kuliouou Valley, the clouds lifted allowing Gene, Laredo and I to experience spectacular views of both the windward and leeward sides of east Oahu including Olomana, Mokapu Peninsula, the Moks, Waimanalo Bay and much of 'Nalo country to windward and Koko Head with bowl shaped Kuliouou Valley spread out before us to lee. We also recognized Kulepeamoa Ridge and the steep descent from its summit along the Ko'olau crest that we had accomplished just minutes earlier.
Reached the summit of Kuliouou West at 1:41 p.m. and stopped for a breather. Gene, having never previously been at the location, gave his camera a workout.
(to be continued)