Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 22:39:54 -1000 From: Carmen C. (firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Olomana
The last time I tried to hike Olomana I stopped before the roped sections leading to the first peak, took off my pack, and took a nap. This morning was my second attempt:
This fine Kailua Saturday morning a group of us decided to meet Dayle and a few mainland visitors to conquer Olomana. There was a total of 14 people including myself, Dayle Turner, Jay Feldman, Nathan Yuen, Wing Ng, Greg Kingsley, Blossom, Clayton Kong (a friend of Patrick's), Larry Smith and his children, Brian (25), Amy (22), Kari (19), and Katie (15). We ran into Mark Short later on in the day. After double checking our locks and windows, we left the cars at 9:15 and headed up the golf course road to the public trail head.
Dayle gave a short speech pointing out that he was going to go at a "leisurely pace". Once determining what a leisurely pace was, our group headed up the mountain. I assumed my normal position of "sweep" and got a chance to talk to Larry about their current home in Burnsville, MN and his history in Hawaii. This hike was a reunion of sorts in that he had not hiked Olomana since he moved from Hawaii in 1968. He did comment that he remembered there being more open areas back then than there are now. After about 30 minutes we passed Wing who stated he was going to assume sweep position. This was the last time we saw him and we speculated that it was his disappointment that Mooncat didn't show up that sent him back to his car.
The top of the first peak was reached at about 10:50. We all plopped down to rest and enjoy the spectacular views. The younger members of our group were curious about the various neighborhoods and Dayle was kind enough to give a geography lesson. At around 11:00 Amy and Kari were anxious to resume the hike and charge on toward the third peak. I had initially said "No way, no how, no can do," but my curiosity and desire to reach the third peak on my second Olomana hike forced me forward. This smaller group was composed of myself, Dayle, Jay, Nathan, Amy, and Keri. On the way down the first peak Dayle kept assuring us first-timers that the return up would be easier though more tiring (I agree). We shortly reached the second peak and again plopped down for a short rest. We noted Greg and Blossom following a ways back, then moved on to attempt the third peak.
This was an experience. Dayle took the extremely energetic girls ahead while Jay, Nathan, and I followed a bit behind. Cudos to everyone who put up the ropes and cables. We used them as little as possible to lengthen their life, but there were some parts where we would have had a lot of trouble without them. At a couple of points the trail was narrow, precarious and very scary. I was too pooped to notice the time when we got to the third peak but Nathan commented later that we were eating at noon. Our quick lunch was spent talking about the various peaks of the Koolau Summit and a variety of other topics. We found out that Kari will be doing a 5-mile trail running race at Aiea tomorrow (good luck :-). Jay was telling the girls about how many people never get to the third peak and that they are part of an elite group. As we began our descent we noted about 8-10 hikers heading toward the third peak. Jay, Nathan, and myself pondered about the number and types of people now hiking this trail. On the return trip we ran into Mark Short and his ski poles. He continued on to the third peak.
There were fewer breaks on the return trip and we were surprised to reach the first peak at 1:07pm. The rest of the group left a few minutes before us and after a 5 minute break we headed back to the cars at a fairly quick pace, meeting up with Dayle and Larry after about 30 minutes. Passion fruit was in season and we took time to pick the ripe sweet fruit. With the cars in view we finally made the final charge and reached the cars a little after 2:00, all of us agreeing that it was an awesome day of hiking. Thank you Jay for bring post-hike juice. At about 2:30 we disbanded from the parking area while Greg, Blossom, and Mark were still enjoying Olomana.
I agree with everything I've heard about Olomana. It's a great hike. It's a full-body workout. It's beautiful.
Thanks, Carmen, for the write-up.
As she mentioned, the outing went well, with all seeming to have an enjoyable time, especially Minnesota visitors Larry Smith and his four children. Larry is an HTMC member, having joined in the late 60s/early 70s.
[Postscript--Aug 99: Larry mailed me two pictures, and I scanned them and have provided links for them here. PIC 1 is of (L to R) Ryan, Katie, Kari, Larry, and Amy, and PIC 2 is of the three Smith sisters with me in the red shirt].
Wahines dominated the triple peaks today. In addition to the five females in our party, we encountered three Notre Dame co-eds (all Punahou grads) heading down Peak 1 on our way up, three other wahines heading for Peak 3 while we were on our way back from there, and a couple others resting at Peak 1 when we returned from 2 & 3. Not a bad looking woman on the mountain! :-)
Since I almost always hike with an older crowd, it was a kick to hike to Ahiki and Pakui with two of the Smith sisters, Amy (22) and Kari (19). During the final climb to peak 3, a typical conversation went like this:
Amy: "Uhhhlll, do we smell gross or what?" Kari: "Yup, my shirt is trashed." DKT: "Do you think your brother will be envious that you're going further than him?" Amy: "Nope. He thinks we're stupid."
And so on. It was fun.
I have to report that using a hiking pole on this outing helped a great deal. Usually, my lower back is sore at the upper end of the climb to 1 since I do a lot of bending forward/over while ascending. The pole, however, helped to keep my torso upright, facilitating breathing and creating less strain on my lower back. The result--an easier time climbing and a very pleasant ascent. On the way back down P1, the pole also helped to reduce the joint jarring that typically takes place. Mark Short used two poles and was moving well. Even Wing was carrying a hiking pole.
On another note, I also found out from Larry that the late Geraldine Cline (there is a memorial for her at the summit of the Poamoho Trail) was only about 30 when she died in a car accident. Larry even recalled a dinner date at Crouching Lion Inn with Geraldine. He was single and 23 at the time. She was 18. Larry said she'd be 49 or 50 if alive today.
Tomorrow, a crew of us will be heading into Waimalu Valley to clear part of the route of the upcoming HTMC super hike. I'll report on that outing tomorrow night or sometime on Monday.
Excelsior!, or, as the Hawaiians say, Kulia i ka nu'u.
Nice write-up of the day, Carmen. Just adding a few notes from our experience...
Blossom and I fell back from the group upon ascent of the first peak when Nathan and Jay pointed out the vines well-hung with luscious lilikoi's littering the "T"-junction intersecting the "official" route and the shortcut. Having hiked many trails over the past year, I had never spotted the fruit on any trail whether it be because of the season or lack of vines. Blossom's last sighting was in Waipio Valley (Big Island) while mine was along Kalalau (Kauai) - and both cases were of a different species - tangy, drier, rounder. These plump, orange, oblong half-palm-sized fruit were exquisitely sweet and bursting with juice. A couple practically exploded on first bite!
The 1,643-foot ascent to the first peak was definitely a heart-pounder. We appreciated the trail's "honesty" (AKA no-rollercoaster-action) and I later remarked that it was akin to the spur ascent to the top of Kamaileunu Ridge on the Waianae-Kaala Trail. After the junction was a brief ascent through a grove of ironwoods. Christmas berry trees abound, they stretched their scraggy limbs overhead as if to create a tunnel to the top. A tricky rock face waited beyond the corridor, but Dayle hung back to coach foot placement in conjunction with re-bar and rope.
From the top, we were amazed how far away the clutch of ironwoods seemed to be! The group split up and Blossom and I followed the breakaway handful heading for peak #3 (elev. 1,440 feet). However, climbing out of the 200-foot-drop saddle to the summit of peak #2 (elev. 1,520 feet), we hesitated... but not in fear. I had been preparing to be afraid of Olomana's third peak for a year so I knew what to expect. What I didn't expect was a bout of laziness at the sight of the tricky 320-foot drop - one I knew we'd have to negotiate on the return.
We watched the older Smith sisters and Dayle proceed in fine form as Carmen, Nathan, and Jay followed up. A pair of young ladies from UCLA passed through. Examining the course once more, we boggled, pondered, discussed, then changed our minds and began a slow descent. At that moment, we saw our compadres returning (perhaps to our unspoken relief!). Hopping back to the Peak 2 summit, we had a few moments to talk with a couple who had just recently moved to Oahu from San Diego. We would later learn (at the base of Peak 1) that he was a Navy Seal and she was an internet consultant. A double-skipole, Sam-less Mark Short made an appearance and was soon plowing his way toward Peak #3.
Blossom and I spent some time spotting peaks and courses we were familiar with along the Koolau crest. Of course, Konahuanui was socked in, but formidable as it was the largest peak in view. We gazed at the traverse we took from Mt. Olympus to Palolo Valley, finding the two powerline towers perched above Kaau Crater. Puu o Kona and Bearclaw Ridge stood a little further away - the former was part of a Kuliouou-Hawailoa Ridge traverse done last summer.
The descent was uneventful, though we probably got out almost an hour after everyone else. It was obvious that the ripe lilikoi were receiving no attention as many were scattered and about the ground. Nevertheless, we took in a tidy bounty from vines away from the path, just off the trail, sure to leave plenty behind. I snapped a few pictures of Blossom "floating" (and sinking!) in the sea of lilikoi vines and Christmas berry branches.
Taking the "shortcut", we had consumed quite a load of fruit, to the point we could detect differences between the lilikoi on the regular route and the lilikoi just past the "Olomana Ridge" triangulation post (elev. 400 feet). I think we decided on Lilikoi Cheesecake and Lilikoi Jam as our "Martha Stwart" project for the weekend.
Definitely a trail for those who desire a view, we hope to return one day to complete the third peak. Modest wants. In fact, the Navy SEAL wants to do the Olomana-3 Backside-to-trailhead traverse, after I told him of the few individuals daring enough to have done it. Perhaps Dayle will oblige this one as well!
Everyone wants a piece of the Olomana write-up action, perhaps because we all enjoyed the hike so much. First of all kudos to Larry Smith, clearly out of hiking shape, he held his own and did the first peak with sweat and dignity. He gave us a brief insight to HTM's past, concerning Geraldine Cline and especially Thelma Greig, who he hiked with and who's hiking abilities had held him in awe. Additionally, raising four kids in the wilds of Minnesota, and doing a good job of it calls for major compliments. As Dayle wrote, being with the Smith family provided an interesting insight for us single adults.
Now a word about Olomana, a modest peak that hides wonders and challenges not always found on your more common climbing foray. Just before the hike started I waned poetic trying to capture in a few words what I consider not just a lovely climb but really a challenging, demanding, and even a majestic one. I used an anchored three masted ship metaphor yesterday when I attempted to capture her personality and though I borrowed that image from someone else, I think it's a good one. She is a hardy craft heading NNW up the windward coast, perhaps blown inland millennia ago to be reefed on an even more ancient lava flow. Slowly acclimating to her surroundings she has made the transition from sea craft to land mass with grace.
Olomana reigns peacefully over Maunawili Valley. Her stern is flanked by towering worthies such as Mt. Olympus, Pu'u o Kona, and of course the masterful Konahuanui. But Olomana sits with quiet solemnity and considerable dignity as a refuge and a siren's song. Poised on the windward coast, her overview ranges from Makapu'u to Mokapu, Mokuoloe to Mokolii, includes the lovely Kawainui Marsh, white beaches and an expanse of ocean that mirrors her pacific calm. Included in her purview is a not so lovely scar of a quarry (barely visible, but you know it^Òs there), magnificent acreage dedicated to golfballs, tiny cramped backyards, abandoned landing strips, a convoluted collection of roads manned by uncountable cars, and a huge collection of expensive yet often tawdry homes.
Yet, for all the ugliness we humans can allow into the world, how can anyone resist her beauty and resignation and not grab a quick glance as they drive by on the highway, or not look up while doing their shopping chores below in Waimanalo or Kailua. She sits there quietly, remaining munificent, patient, waiting, and in her silence she beckons.
I love to climb her because she is challenging enough so that afterwards I know that I again successfully crossed a particular line. A line that includes pleasure, exertion, and fear. I admit I get this feeling after other hikes, but Olomana was my first; she resides deep in my mind and heart and reminds me of it each time I ascend her flanks. I'm sure everyone has climbs that they can say that about; and though Olomana is THE one for me, others may find her relatively fast and even easy. For me she is never easy.
My greatest dread, is the year I climb her and turn back unfinished, repulsed or beaten; perhaps just too scared to complete. Is there someplace like that for all of us? Perhaps so. I sometimes think Thelma has visited that place. She's a wonderful person you know, but I think she faced that most heavy challenge and has had to back down. I know her and I'm sure it took her by surprise. My heart goes out to her; I am beginning to sense her dread.
But Olomana remains, with her difficult passages, friendly respites, and dominant presence. There are plenty of other hikes as challenging or more so, but to me, Olomana is where I first learned to respect and to honor, and to fear, a simple climb.
Climb her soon, and keep climbing her.
I wasn't really supposed to go hiking today, but explained to my wife that I needed to spend some time with a backpack if I was going to be successful on the KST trip at the end of this month. So I loaded my pack with my sleeping bag & jacket, a full two and a half gallon water bag, and the contents of my daypack (including another 110oz of water). If I remember right water is 8lbs per gallon so my load was close to 29lbs.
It must have been close to 10:45am when I left home and I promised to try & be home by noon (just the 1st peak). At the parking area a large group of teens started ahead of me. They took the std route & I took the shortcut hoping to get ahead of them. At the top of the short cut trail I ran into Wing. He asked "where's this new route supposed to be" . I said I don't know & pointed to the obvious ridge. He said it looks vertical & it does near the top but then so does the std route up Olomana. He asked if I was going to try it but I said not today & mentioned my promise to be home close to noon.
I could see the teenagers ahead of me & thought the shortcut must not be that much shorter. I passed them in the ironwoods as the stopped to rest & take pictures. "See you at the top", said one. As I continued my climb I considered how my upper body was really helping to propel me up the hill thanks to my poles. At the top I passed several people enjoying the views. "Beautiful spot" I remarked. In unison every one on the hill agreed!
I continued on knowing I was supposed stop. This has happened everytime I've set out to do just the first peak, I don't know why I even try. At the 2nd peak I met Greg & Blossom as they climbed back up then conversed with the San Diego couple. Using my poles downhill I was conscience of the dangers, my pole could split the rotten rock and dislodge my foothold or the three section pole could collapse suddenly and send me plummeting to severe injury. These thoughts served me well, keeping me alert.
At the bottom of the third peak I met Dayle & the Smith sisters. I mentioned that their climb back up was the easy part & Dayle corrected me by saying the rest was tiring but the did not feel as dangerous. Further along I passed Jay & the rest of the group that had gone to the third peak. I noticed Jay was wearing a pair of new Adidas football cleats. He showed me a modification of metal screws, screwed into the cleats, he had made making for better traction on wet rocks. Jay asked if the two girls ahead of me were mine. I said no & he was amazed they were up here with no one to show them the way. On top of the third peak they had sat down for a snack at a narrow point and they apologized as I stepped around them. They seemed concerned I would fall off but I had confidence thanks to my cleats. At the far end I took off my pack and consumed part of a peanutbutter/cheese cracker snack. I also thought about all the messages on OHE-L lately about the best energy food and decided to buy some fig bars next time I'm at Costco. Passed Greg & Blossom loading up on fruit on the shortcut and was home by 2:45. Almost 3hrs late! This is not a good thing. Next time I'll have to stay away or be more realistic about the power of Olomana.