OHE May 29, 1998 (HOAH-Pat)

Date: Fri, 29 May 1998 10:04:41 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@hekili.k12.hi.us>
Subject: The Hike Of All Hikes - Laie to Waimano - Day 2

Laie to Waimano - Day 2 - Heaven and Hell

During the night and early morning hours Gene and I grabbed as much sleep as we could but with occasional gusts of wind pounding our tents, a couple of passing showers and the cool nightime temperature it was tough to come by. I woke up around 10:15 p.m., again at 2 a.m. and from that time on was in a semi-conscious state. The two of us arose a few minutes after 6 a.m. and commenced preparations for the second day of our pilgrimage including the eating of breakfast, filling up of water containers, breaking down of tents, and restuffing of backpacks.

At 8:05 a.m. we departed our humble campsite, crossed the small stream (whoa! one of the most hazardous spots of the day because of the slick rock underfoot made worse by the heavy packs) and ascended toward the Cline Memorial. Upon reaching it we went right and up to "a windy overlook with one of the best views on the island"*. Unlike the second half of day 1 the view was magnificent! High clouds cast a shadow on the surrounding valleys and mountains but the scene was breathtaking, nevertheless, of Punalu'u and Kahana Valleys below with sharp peaked Mount Ohulehule dominating the landscape. The early morning sunshine reflecting off the ocean in Kahana and Kaneohe Bays was also a delight to the eyes.

Inspired by the beauty before us, Gene and I started tramping along the KST at 8:13 a.m. We traversed a set of low hills from side to side through a somewhat overgrown, muddy mainly leeward section taking our time with Gene snapping photos. The first highlight was an interesting flat area down below on the leeward side of the Ko'olau Range where three ponds were situated. A pua'a resort, no doubt. Next we passed through the former locale of the Poamoho Cabin (only the concrete supports remain).

Pressing on, the two of us completed the leeward segment and crossed over, emerging onto a long scenic windward stretch. The beginning of it was a wonderful shelf-like low grass sidewalk cut magnificently into the sheer pali bordered by a steep cliff on the right. I took two pictures of Gene as he made his way over the footpath. We passed through a narrow defile which was more like a wind tunnel because of the strong trade winds, endured a short leeward part of the trail, and enjoyed studying a pleasant ravine. As the KST continued on the windward side of the Ko'olau summit crest it became slightly overgrown.

Gene and I progressed toward massive Pu'u Pauao gazing at the ridge which contains Pu'u Piei and separates Punalu'u and Kahana Valleys, the true Manamana, and Ohulehule. Chinaman's Hat was visible above the saddle between Kanehoalani and Ohulehule as well. We also encountered many patches of tall loulu palms several of which had an abundance of seeds underneath their fan shaped leaves.

Just before making the turn along the shoulder below Pauao I reminded Gene to watch his step and maintain his balance since we would be traveling over a series of small landslides. "You're gonna love this next view!" were my final words before the two of us completed the turn and beheld the awesome vista of the KST cut brilliantly into the top of the summit crest with the Ko'olau Range extending to the south all the way to another prominent shoulder coming up from the very back of Kahana Valley in the distance. "Wow!" was Gene's response.

The two of us carefully and successfully negotiated the slides below Pauao and eventually the trail improved to the point where we didn't have to concentrate on every step we took. Expansive Kahana Valley was spread out before us as Gene and I paused, looked back and traced the trail as it went almost diagonally below Pu'u Pauao.

Further on we stopped and took inventory of the prominent topography of the region from north to south including the steep west wall of Punalu'u Valley, Pu'u Piei, the ridge containing Turnover and the true Manamana, Kanehoalani, and Ohulehule. Later, Kaaawa Valley came into view.

Gene asked me if this section of the KST was similar to the Kalalau Trail on Kauai. Because I had never hiked that trail before I couldn't give him an answer but I did say that HTMC hike coordinator and flora expert Ken Suzuki had proclaimed the windward KST between Poamoho and Schofield-Waikane (S-W) "the Kalalau of Oahu".

Shortly before contouring windward around a large hill in the summit ridge the two of us halted one final time to look back at how far we'd come. When we completed the turn, Pu'u Ka'aumakua and the Waikane contour trail got our attention as well as the albezia trees deep inside Kahana Valley directly below. Waikane Valley was also visible.

At this point I noticed something moving along the Waikane Trail and shouted back to Gene,"Look! Someone's over there!". He confirmed my discovery and counted two more small dots of color against the deep green mountain side. We both yelled toward the group and picked up the pace reaching the S-W summit (elev. 2,360 ft) within minutes at 10:57 a.m. Gene pulled out his binoculars to have a closer look. We came to the conclusion that it was Peter Caldwell and Don Fox coming up from Waikane Valley to eat lunch with us atop Ka'aumakua.

Gene and I departed S-W in route to the Waikane/KST junction continuing on the windward side of the relatively flat summit ridge. Next we switched to the leeward side to bypass two humps. Descending gradually and leaving the ridge line behind, the two of us arrived at the junction marked by a rusty metal stake where Peter, Don and their friend Kristen were waiting at 11:30 a.m.

We exchanged greetings and handshakes with the threesome and Peter took a few photos. After some small talk all of us turned right and up along the KST, switchbacked once while ascending the flank of the ridge eventually attaining the summit ridge line. From there we crossed over to the leeward side where the KST remained all the way to Kipapa and made our way to the base of Ka'aumakua.

Gene and I dropped our packs as Don, Peter, and Kristen ascended the peak for some ono grinds. We joined our three companions at 12:05 p.m. More small talk ensued accompanied by wine drinking and a toast to Silver Piliwale. For the most part we were socked in but occasionally the clouds would dissipate revealing incredible views of Mount Ohulehule dead ahead and Waikane Valley directly below. Don, Peter and Kristen provided some much needed supplies to help us on the remainder of the trip and we thanked them.

At 12:47 p.m. Gene and I left the summit of Ka'aumakua (approx. elev. 2,700 ft) and dropped down to the KST where we had left our backpacks. Meanwhile, the threesome descended the other side of the peak. We rejoined them shortly thereafter and exchanged farewells at the first overlook of the windward side beyond the cross over. Peter snapped one final photo of the two of us as I hoisted my bolo knife high in the air.

At approx. 1:15 p.m. Gene and I disappeared from view contouring into a heavily vegetated gulch. I lead the way and it wasn't long until we encountered the trail from hell!!! More accurately, the lost section of the KST! A landslide covered by thick head high clidemia and uluhe with a few downed trees mixed in made for extremely slow going and high energy output. Gene removed his saw as I hacked away at the tangle with my bolo knife. I got a break as he cut off some branches. Our footing was very dicey due to the slide and what made things worse was that we couldn't see below the foliage to ensure proper leverage (we were carrying heavy backpacks). I suggested to Gene that we turn around and traverse the summit spine like we had done during the Kipapa to Schofield Trip but he was determined that we press on. He exclaimed,"We're not far from the turn" (where the trail bends back toward the crest and away from the gulch). I didn't argue and kept slashing, sweating profusely because I had my rain gear top on (not made of gortex).

Eventually, the two of us got past the landslide and found the trail but the overgrowth did not let up. The snails pace persisted and another washout blocked the way. As I struggled to cut a path around the second landslide, Gene pointed at the very faint trail ahead and instructed me where to go. As a result I had to climb almost straight up over the dislodged earth. My cleats were worth their weight in gold at that moment.

Finally, the two of us reached the second overlook at 2:32 p.m. It had taken us more than an hour and fifteen minutes to go an eighth of a mile! The trade winds revived us during a five minute rest but by now we were clouded in. I was beginning to worry about the time but I did not tell Gene.

Moving ahead, Gene and I made better progress and arrived at the third overlook. The fourth overlook followed soon after along with the fifth and sixth overlooks in an area of jumbled up gullies.

At 3:30 p.m. we lost the trail near a foxhole. Gene took out his topo map of the region and I refered to some instructions Stuart Ball had given me of the region. While we studied I just happened to look in a certain direction and noticed the trail. I removed some surveyor ribbon from my pocket and marked the turn in the footpath as Gene moved forward along the KST.

I caught up to him and we entered a grassy, windswept area where the trail was wide open. The seventh overlook came shortly thereafter in a "sea of clidemia"*.

Almost immediately following the ninth overlook at approx. 4:30 p.m. Gene and I lost the trail again. We knew that the KST by design did not descend steeply nor did it go along the top of the summit ridge. I thought I could see a shelf cut into a hill not far away in the leeward direction but the fog made it difficult to be sure. We searched around, I followed the ridge line while Gene dropped down into a gully. Then I remembered Ball's instructions mentioning a switchback. I returned to the last known location of the trail and looked for one. The switchback was found and at 4:52 p.m. the two of us continued our journey. While Gene advanced I marked the confusing section with ribbon. Later, I also tied ribbon periodically to tree limbs as we descended briefly on two switchbacks.

Less than an hour went by before Gene and I lost the trail for a third time. The ever present mist limited our vision of the area making the mostly overgrown trail difficult to follow. Once again the two of us explored possible routes in vain as the six o'clock hour came and went. I was getting anxious, thinking to myself that we might have to set up camp somewhere close by. Not an ideal scenario by any means.

Ultimately, the footpath was detected almost directly in front of us as it descended toward the summit crest and soon we passed a grove of junipers on the left. The strong winds and cloudy conditions gave the grassy area a very mysterious feel to it.

Proceeding through more mostly overgrown trail, the two of us recognized two baby paperbarks on the right. When we reached a large stand of junipers near the summit ridge, Gene and I realized that we were not far from the KST/Kipapa Ridge Trail junction; therefore, Gene called Dayle and gave him our status. I also spoke briefly with our comrad assuring him that we would make Waimano the next day by late afternoon. We terminated our conversation at 6:41 p.m.

Increasing our speed, the two of us kept to windward of the junipers (the tops of the trees were permanently bent at an angle in the direction of the windward side). Ten minutes later we walked over the collapsed remains of Uncle Tom's Cabin, formerly a "12x20 ft cabin built by CCC carpenters in 1 day from material dropped by Army fliers-had outside stove for cooking-at terminus of Summit Trail"*.

At 7:05 p.m. I arrived at the KST/Kipapa Ridge Trail junction marked by a rusty metal stake. When I saw Gene approaching I began heading down the Kipapa Ridge Trail toward the intermittent waterfall. Darkness set in as we descended the contour trail and I slipped on a small tract of the footpath consisting entirely of solid rock slamming the back of my lower right leg onto a stone protruding out of the ground. Ouch! After getting up I put on my headlamp and waited for Gene. After he got to my position he summed up the situation by saying, "This sucks!".

The two of us stumbled down the switchbacks without injury and commenced setting up our tents at a location close to the water source at 7:42 p.m. We could see the Mililani city lights but this did little to improve our spirits. Gene turned in early without eating dinner while I used his stove to heat up some water for instant lasagna and hot cocoa. Following the evening meal I climbed into my tent and bedded down for the night. It was almost a quarter past 10 p.m.

Next: Day 3 - Reaching One's Limitations


* Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO HAWAI'I. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1996.

== Paka

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