OHE March 11, 2000 (The Adventures of Doug)

Date: Sat, 11 Mar 2000 11:50:46 -1000
From: Doug Walker (kaularock@reno.rmci.net)
Subject: Island hiking: buns of steel

Aloha Gang--

Don't want to brag, but during a month of arduous hiking in the Hawaiian Islands, my navy buddy Ed and I developed "buns of steel." (My girl friend, Annmarie, who has always had them morphed her buns to titanium).

For example, the day after Ed arrived in Lihue, I had him on the hike to Hanakapiai Falls. Awakening to a cloudless day, I quickly explained to Ed that Kauai is named the garden island because of it's lushness...and potential for endless rain. We drove from the Smith's beach house where we were staying in Haena to the end of the road at 8 am to begin our hike. The trail was mostly dry, Hanakapiai beach sandless, and the water at the falls very chilly (of course I swam to the falls). The 12 foot surf was pounding the Napali shore line. The five hour and fifty-five minute hike was simply splendid and Ed declared that it might have been the toughest hike he had ever been on! (On the critical side I must admit that I found the endless helicopter flights to be highly irritating...they simple make too much noise. Without a doubt they should be halted or their flight paths restricted to keep them well off the coast.)

Our next hike was Awa Awa Puhi in Kokee several days later. We drove to the Kokee museum to ask for the location of the new Kokee Learning Center and it's director, David Boynton. Dave, an old family friend from my childhood days in Kailua was at the Kalalau lookout we were informed. We past out targeted trailhead on the way to the lookout. After surprising Dave and a short conversation, Ed and I drove back to the trailhead and began the Awa Awa Puhi hike. The 3.2 mile down hill trail led us through a native forest to an awesome (ya, your right Stuart) view of several Kokee / Napali coast valleys (Nololo ?). The 2,500 foot, shear cliffs leave your jaw at about ground level. A group of fellow hikers arrived as Ed and I ended our viewing. We also passed another group on the demanding 3.2 mile up hill hike out. (We're developing those buns of steel now!!) As we flew back to Honolulu several days later, I reminded Ed that we were leaving my favorite island and that the two hikes we made displayed the best of Kauai.

Arriving in Honolulu at 4:30 PM, I had plenty of time to hustle over to the international airport to greet Annmarie's flight from New York City (while Ed waited for us in the inter-island terminal bar). Annmarie and I walked back to the inter-island terminal, greeted Ed, toasted our vacation and soon boarded a flight to Kona. Flying past Molokai, Lanai and Maui, we landed in Kona just after dark and were soon at our B&B. Peter Boynton (David's brother) and his wife Tracy were to be our hosts for the next five days.

Our first hike, Hualalai, was made several days after our arrival. After receiving precise directions from Peter, who had summited previously, I immediately took a wrong turn and led Ed and Annmarie on a four hour "thrashabout" on the sides of Hualalalai. Starting out in a comfortable pasture we soon found ourselves climbing a heavily forested mountainside. Knowing not where I was going, I confidently led Ed and Annmarie onward and upward until I heard those infamous words..."Doug, where the hell are we headed?" I think I answered, "I'm almost at the summit." (this being the first of many lies I would tell Ed and Annmarie about our hikes.) After a few exhausting hours we ended up lost in the heavy fog / mist; until we finally came across a fence which we followed down hill...ending up right at our car. Cool! The next day we toured to Hawi and hiked down to Pololu valley where Ed body surfed, Annmarie sun bathed and I fly fished in the "nervous water." A most relaxing time was had.

Following a great time in Kona, we found ourselves in Hilo for the Tahitian Dance Festival...watch those hips swivel!!!. We were in Hilo to see the area and spend a day at Volcano National Park also. An early start the next day had us at the rim of Kilauea Iki by mid-morning. (My grandmother had treated my brother Allan, and myself to a sight seeing tour here at the height [pun, 1900 ft] of the 1959 eruption.) We had a very nice hike down to the floor of the crater and walked out to the collapsed cone. This 4.2 mile hike was followed by a tour of the nearby Thurston lava tube. Following Pat Rorie's suggestion, we drove down the Chain of Crater's road in the late the afternoon. As we drove, we could see the steam being created by the hot lava spewing into the ocean miles ahead of us. I was excited. I wanted Annmarie and Ed to see volcanic activity...close up. At about 5 P.M. we started the mile and a half hike over uneven, rough lava to the active flow. The hike seemed endless, but the steam plume was a visible goal. The park rangers had semi-coned off an area about 100 yards from the flow, but even at this distance one could clearly observe the hot lava gushing into the Pacific Ocean. Throwing caution to the wind, I climbed and walked down to within 20 feet of the flow and took several pictures before retreating. (Speaking of retreats, our's later that evening was long and arduous as Annmarie and I shared a weakening flashlight in rough terrain.) We, however, could look up at the volcanic mountainside and see fingers of lava cascade several miles towards the ocean like bright streams of gold. What a sight! What an experience!

The next day we drove the Saddle road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa back to Kona. I had to pick up some clothes I left at Boynton's B&B and Ed, Annmarie and I just wanted to spend our last afternoon on the Big Island near the thermal power experimental plant. (We had several great cookouts in that area with the Boynton's.) As fate would have it, Annmarie soon made friends with a group of local guys who were partying at the park after a day of fire fighting training. They were from the airport fire station and offered us all kinds of local delicacies including poke, "bambie," sushi and terriyaki steak. Grind and rehydrate. We partied until our flight. What a friendly farewell to Kona. Annmarie got a good look at Lanai and Molokai on the Hawaiian airlines flight to Honolulu.

Both Annmarie and Ed agreed that the HTMC clubhouse in Waimanalo was great...but I didn't give them much time to enjoy it initially. The good weather was holding (and after the obligatory hikes, Diamond Head and Old Pali road) I had two hikes that were immediately necessary; Haiku, "the stairway to heaven," and Olomana, "the Matterhorn of Oahu."

Rob Greer of HTMC agreed to be the hike leader for Haiku and called Mabel and Stuart for directions to the trailhead in Kaneohe that evening (both gave different directions). However, by early afternoon the next day, Rob, Annmarie, Ed and I were putting on our backpacks near the trailhead. The stairs, which were built by the Coast Guard during WWII, climb a razor sharp ridge to the Koolau summit at about 2,000. The hike is closed to the public and one has to sneak through a hole in the security fence to reach the actual trailhead.

The hike was tough. All 3,942 steps. At times it was so steep (ladder would be a more accurate description) that I was a bit nervous looking down. Rob quickly disappeared and it took Annmarie, Ed and I an hour and a half or so to summit. (You gym rats try this...put the stair master at 10 and keep it at the highest level for that length of time.) But the view from the top was worth every step and drop of sweat. Thanx Rob.

With a nice fresh fish cook out and a great deal of rehydration behind us, Annmarie, Ed and I found ourselves at the Olomana trailhead the next day. The weather was still perfect as we began the hike. Like the Haiku stairs, I assured Annmarie and Ed that Olomana would be a "piece of cake." The hour climb to the first peak was a solid workout and the 360 degree view of the windward side unforgettable. Using the cables to climb down from the summit was a real challenge for the Manhatten gal. As Annmarie descended down the cliff, she looked up to me and said, "Doug, I'm scared." I replied, "Hold that look," as I took a picture of her expression (a great shot). Needless to say Annmarie put her fear behind her, and repelled down like a real trooper! As we rehydrated that evening around the barbecue, Ed quoted Stuart's book about Olomana. Danger level: High. Suitable for: Intermediate, Expert. Well, I guess it wasn't really a "piece of cake" after all...but it sure was a great hike.

The list of hikes just goes on and on. Lanipo, Makapuu, Hawailoa, Maunawili demo, Tom Tom (2x) and Mariner's ridge. With each hike Ed would say "that might be the hardest hike I've ever done" and said he will do much more hiking in the future. Annmarie returned to New York City with a new pride and confidence. She informed me she has already a contacted a hiking club in the city.

I know I have never hiked so much in my life...or enjoyed it so much. I salute our hosts on each island. I know I can speak for both Ed and Annmarie when I say mahalo to each one of you for your hospitality and friendliness. Hawaii no ka oe!

Aloha, Doug (Buns of steel) Walker

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