OHE March 12, 1998 (b)

Date: Thu, 12 Mar 1998 17:23:07 -1000
From: ALEX H OKIHARA (OKIHARA@prodigy.net>
Subject: Hawaii Loa Ridge

Date:  Saturday, March 7, 1998
Hike:  Hawaii Loa Ridge
Party: Devin Nakayama, Wayne Shibata, Alex Okihara
Weather:  Sunny with some clouds in the morning.  Cloudy and drizzling
          in the afternoon.
Time Started:  9:51 AM
Time Finished:  3:10 PM
Round trip duration: 5 hours, 19 minutes
Time to Peak:  1 hour, 45 minutes

The Story:

After meeting Devin and Wayne at my girlfriend's house, the three of us proceeded to drive to Hawaii Loa Ridge. When we got to the guard shack, I showed the guard my i.d., and everyone had to sign a waiver form. The guard then gave us a yellow pass to place on the dashboard. We were lucky! They only allow ten cars up at a time (the size of the parking lot for hikers), and we were number ten!

After a steep drive up the road, and much drooling over the luxurious homes on the ridge, we reached a stop sign. It was then that I realized my goal in life. I plan to buy a vacant lot in Hawaii Loa Ridge and build the crappiest looking house that Hawaii Loa Ridge has ever seen! Just kidding.

Anyway, we parked in the lot and started up the trail at 9:51 AM. The sun was shining and it was really hot.

After about an hour or so, we met a man with a gun. His name was Jadean. I don't know how to spell it. He was hunting for wild pigs. There was a hunting tournament going on, and he was the winner for the last contest. We talked story for a while, and I even got a funny picture with him. After a while, we wished him luck and proceeded up the trail. Later, we met his kids, who were also participating in the tournament. They had TEN dogs with them. It was so cool.

The trail got steeper, and the weather was hot, hot, hot! We reached our first rope section and climbed up. After some fairly steep climbing, the air started to get cooler. The clouds were also coming in, and it was getting a little darker.

After a while, we reached the top of the trail. It was 11:36 AM, about an hour and 45 minutes later. There was a slight cool breeze up there that came from the South. Definitely Kona wind. The trade winds were nowhere to be felt. I remembered my experiences on the Kuli'ou'ou ridge hike, where the winds were blasting us hard. Today was a totally different experience.

There was a big group of people up there and some people that we had passed earlier would soon be at the top too, so I thought we should head down a trail leading to the right just to have a spot for us to grind our zip pacs. So after admiring the view for about 15 minutes or so, we headed on a trail to the right.

The trail was very overgrown, and it was hard to see the ground at times. The vegetation was very scratchy on the legs. Luckily, I was wearing my near knee-high socks. I pulled them up, looking very dorky, but not feeling the effects of the overgrown plants. The only parts that were exposed were my knees.

As we continued on, the trail improved. We even saw several markers. We hiked our way to the 4th peak. We were two peaks away from Pu'u o Kona. There was a nice grassy section over there, and we decided it was time to grind. It was 12:42 PM.

As we ate our lunch, we watched the clouds rush in over us. It was an eery experience. Clouds from the Waimanalo side were rising to meet clouds advancing from the Hawaii Kai side. It was as if the clouds were converging right above us to spell out certain disaster. A drop of rain fell on my shoulder. I started feeling cold.

We finished our lunch, took a group shot, and decided to head back. It was about 1:20 PM. More drops started falling.

Twenty minutes later, we reached the lookout point for the HLR trail. The drops of rain, along with the people that had been there earlier, were gone, and we had the whole place all to ourselves. We took a break to admire the view once more before heading back down. At 2:04, we started to head back.

The steep eroded sections that we had climbed earlier made great sliding sections. You can catch a lot of speed, and the rides are pretty long. The trip back was much faster, and we reached the parking lot at 310 PM, 5 hours and 19 minutes later.

Notes: I was very satisfied with this hike. The views were really good, and so was the trail.

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