OHE May 3, 1999 (Lanipo)

Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 06:48:40 -1000
From: Kirby D. Young (kirbyd@teleport.com>
Subject: HTMC Lanipo hike, April 11

I've done Lanipo four times and, if memory serves me correctly, this was the first "classic" ridge hike I took to the summit of the Koolaus way back when. I was an impressionable youngster, and I clearly remember how the clouds lifted off Lanipo's foggy summit only _after_ we had begun our descent. History was to repeat itself for the HTMC club outing this past April 11.

After the usual HTMC preliminaries at Iolani Palace, the Lanipo hopefuls converged again at the trailhead branching off Maunalani Circle, Maunalani Heights. Brief uncertainty arose regarding the turn-around time, before it was finally decided that 12:00 PM was to be it. Hard-working hike leaders were Jay Feldman (often mentioned on OHE, but a new face to me) and Wil Kawano, whom I at least recognized from a club hike in 1995 or 1996.

The pack of perhaps 30 or more folks were soon on their way (about 8:45 AM) on what I guess is officially referred to as the Mauumae Trail (since it follows the top of Mauumae Ridge). I think the sign also gave a mileage to the nearest tenth, but Wil reminded everyone that no one really knows exactly how far it is. (Stuart Ball says 3 1/2 miles in his book).

In the initial descent of about 280' to the "big dip" I stepped aside a couple of times for camcorder shots so as to be out of the way of the closely-packed shuffling. The weather, which had looked unpromising earlier in the morning, at least now had visible Koolau summits and a receding leeward cloud line.

From the big dip, a sweaty climb of 740' ensued. More surprisingly, the leeward edges of the clouds continued to retreat, giving us a good dose of sun. Since my rather pale skin was not up to its own defense, I succumbed to dousing myself with some sunblock lotion near the top of this climb. This provided much amusement to several hikers who passed me by.

Roller-coaster-like ups and downs were the order of the next mile or so. During this time I tended to tag at varying distance behind a rather earnest young woman who seemed to have little desire to pause in contemplation of the views. Because I would stop for photography or a look at something, our separation slinkyed back and forth for a time. During one photo-op down Palolo Valley, a middle-aged oriental woman of slight stature roared by me, clearly with quick designs on the summit. Whoa, I thought.

Rain spatters ensued as our ridge-top trail began more earnest climbing somewhat opposite to Kaau Crater (across Palolo Valley). Without the chance for photos, I slinkyed up one more time behind my focused hiker-leader of momentary acquaintance. Pressing on past her dogged pace, bump to bump, I fairly quickly gained elevation in the last sprinkly mile. Short of the final assault on the Koolau summit, I managed to catch up with a talkative group of 4-5 hikers, behind whom I remained for the duration of the ascent. At times their climbing pace was a challenge for me and I wondered how it was that I caught up with them at all.

A bit short of the top, the gaggle of speed hikers that had been out front throughout began passing us as they headed down, their aerobic deeds in great measure accomplished for the day. The dimunitive oriental woman smiled slightly as I gave her a kind of "wow" look as she zipped by.

Several minutes later we reached the summit of the Koolaus at Kainawaaunui, Lanipo being two summit humps to the right. The time was about 10:45. The windward side was completely shrouded in fog. Leeward views were sporadic, often wispy, but nice. Quickly other hikers came to the summit and lunches emerged. Fig Newtons and dried fruit chunks eventually got passed around, even to strangers such as myself. Amongst one group of about four folks, a vote taken to press on to Lanipo's true summit was summarily defeated.

About 11:30 AM I arose to stretch my legs, still pondering whether the weather might clear. A bit bored, I told our fearless leader, Jay Feldman, I would hike over to Lanipo, sort of to "mark time" with the hope that the weather might clear before the 12-noon witching hour. This notion of clearing weather extracted loud guffaws from at least one person in the "peanut gallery".

So, I was off, and in the traverse down, then up, then down, then up once more, some nice views came and went of the leeward side. Passing a US Coast and Geodetic Survey monument marked "Lanipo" a little short of its apex, I walked the final few level yards to Lanipo's summit, marked by nothing in particular when enshrouded in fog. I gave the "grand vista" about a minute, then began retracing my steps. A shout came at me out of the fog ahead of me. I shouted back. Seconds later I saw Jay Feldman, looking somewhat relieved, waiting for me at the Lanipo monument. He was making sure I didn't continue walking to Makapuu. Oops. I Thanked him for his concern and apologized for his extra effort, assuring him I was familiar with Lanipo's summit geography.

We talked about hiking stuff on the way back to the lunch spot which, to my surprise, was still a gaggle of folks upon our arrival. Flopping down to the ground I decided to wait out the last 15 minutes until noon, still hoping for that elusive windward view. A brief tantalizing glimpse to the base of the pali appeared. That was it. The grand view never came. We headed down.

In the next hour and a half the weather improved at the summit, so much so it was blue sky over Lanipo for the afternoon. Heh. I did, however, enjoy a clear view of the waterfalls plunging from Kaau Crater, as well as the many other descending vistas. All really nice.

The Big Dip at the end was a literal hell. The mid-day "fiery sun" was stoked and, as a matter of survival, it was a take-it-easy kind of finish. Post-hike, wonderful trailhead treats were sodas-on-ice and popcorn, courtesy of one of the HTMC'ers (forget her name, unfortunately). Many thanks to her for sharing with an unknown face such as myself.

Lanipo views are like an NBA 3-pointer, I guess. I'm now 1-for-4. Three-balls to all...


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