OHE November 25, 1997

Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 17:59:02 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@hekili.k12.hi.us>
Subject: The Manoa Traverse

Having read about Mike Uslan and Wing Ng's outstanding achievement (up Konahuanui, along the Ko'olau summit crest behind Manoa Valley and down Olympus) a couple of weeks ago and being green with envy it was only a matter of time before some others on the OHE-L attempted the trip. This past Friday (Nov. 21) northerly winds created one of the most beautiful days of the year on Oahu (the mountains were crystal clear). Art Neilson sent me an e-mail message that day suggesting a couple of hikes we could do for Saturday. He called me that night and we made plans to meet in Manoa Valley at 9:30 a.m.

After rendezvouing at the intersection of Alani and Woodlawn Drives near the Kolowalu Trailhead, Art parked his truck. Mike Adams and Jim ? drove up shortly thereafter. Art and I road in my car to what use to be Manoa Circle-K to meet Laredo Murray while Mike and Jim went to Safeway to get some food and water. Laredo pulled into the Circle-K/Texaco parking lot just before 10 a.m. Art and I put our hiking gear into the back of his truck and we proceeded to the Safeway parking lot. Art and Jim jumped into the flat bed while Mike got into the passenger compartment to direct Laredo.

The five of us arrived at the Manoa Cliff Trailhead on Tantalus Drive around 10:20 p.m. Mike, Art and Jim took off up the trail right away while Laredo and I made final preps. At 10:28 a.m. the two of us followed the others. Jim had his compact video camera and was filming just about EVERYTHING ! All enjoyed the gradual, mostly shady ascent to Nu'uanu Reservoir lookout along the Manoa Cliff and later Pauoa Flats trails. Laredo and I passed Jim and caught up with Art just before reaching the lookout. Mike became concerned while at the lookout because of rain that could clearly be seen to the north. It did not look like passing showers.

The group of 5 ascended somewhat steeply over two large humps in the ridge. When the trail leveled off I waited for Art while Mike and Laredo got far ahead. Jim was behind them continuing to film. As soon as I saw Art approaching I moved forward and caught up with Jim at a plateu. His video camera batteries were acting up so he could only film for short periods of time. Mike and Laredo were visible working their way up a steep section.

The 5 of us remained relatively close together and regrouped at the the benchmark atop Konahuanui's first peak at 1 p.m. While Jim, Art and I were on the final climb clouds moved in socking in the summit region. There was a lovely lapalapa forest further on and Mike went to check it out and to try and get a view of the second peak.

After changing into long pants (Mike put on some dark blue overalls and we joked with him about it asking him to "filler up and check the oil" !) our group headed for the start of the crossover. I lead the way and discovered one of Wing's Christmas ribbons tied to a lapalapa tree above a mossy tree that had been damaged when someone stepped over it.

At 1:25 p.m. we began the traverse of Manoa Valley. There was a 1 to 2 foot swath clearly visible as the 5 of us descended gradually over two minor humps in the summit ridge. We were still socked in and passing showers pelted us. We climbed up the third hump, turned sharp left and then sharp right thru native vegetation. I marked the turns with pink ribbon. Next our group descended somewhat steeply down the third hump. Laredo and I were in front with Art, Jim and Mike bringing up the rear.

The ridge leveled off nicely and we enjoyed a relatively open stretch. The clouds broke and Jim and I let out screams of joy as all of us took pleasure in the wonderful views of the windward side featuring Mount Olomana dead ahead with Kaiwa Ridge behind and the Mokulua Islands in the distance. Rabbit Island was on the far right as we faced windward. Jim pointed out a lobeliad plant and Laredo and I saw another one close by. He and I also noticed a large grove of short loulu trees along the windward side of the summit ridge lit up brightly by the sun.

During the descent of the fourth hump all of us sat down on a very nice, grassy windswept area taking in the excellent views that were ours. After the break we reached a very steep descent. I put my bolo knife away because I knew that I would need both hands to make it down. There was a lovely loulu tree nearby with a multitude of small yellow flowers coming from it. The trail descended very steeply on the leeward side of the summit ridge and went past a rock formation. Just before going around the large rock I found a rusty machete and began to use it ! The five of us struggled thru this leeward section. Upon emerging from it I immediately looked (and found) a much easier but more dangerous windward route and marked it with ribbon. Mike and Art took a short cut up to the windward trail when they saw me above them. Laredo and Mike moved ahead of me as I finished tying ribbon to trees.

Pressing on the 5 of us went up and over two more minor humps (numbers 5 and 6). Laredo and Mike put a considerable distance between Art, Jim and myself but we still had visual contact with them. When I reached the top of hump #7 I noticed a very delightful bowl shaped area on the right side of it as one faces windward. After descending along the rim of the bowl Jim and I entered thick vegetation including more loulu trees. I was surprised at how many times the trail went leeward, away from the steep pali. Whoever created the trail paid a heavy price as he/she pounded their way thru the foliage. Perhaps they were afraid of heights or something because it is usually easier to hike along the edge of the summit ridge which is windswept and the location of low level vegetation.

Mike and Laredo continued to lead our group as Jim and I made our way over the next minor hump (#8). While going to the leeward side of hump #9 a large bed of uluhe fern was encountered. The trail went over it which slowed progress. I couldn't help but notice the concentration which continued as we descended the hump. A tall tree could be seen just below the trail to the leeward side of minor humps 10 and 11.

As I descended the 12th hump I recognized two ironwood trees ahead and saw Laredo and Mike negotiating a narrow dike as the summit ridge curved to the left. During my approach of the first ironwood, Laredo and Mike yelled over to me to use caution. The footing became almost non-existent as I grabbed onto the tree. "Whoa !" I exclaimed as I carefully went from the first ironwood to the second maintaining what little footing I could manage. The fall to windward over the sheer cliff was a death drop but the leeward drop off was not. However, serious injuries would be incurred. After getting past the second ironwood I climbed to the top of the summit ridge and tied a ribbon to the tree. When Jim reached the ironwoods I told him to be careful.

Moving on I ascended the 13th hump over bolders. When I reached the top of the hump I took photos of Mike on a pinnacle of the dike between humps 13 and 14. Next I sat down on a large bolder and enjoyed the views. Directly ahead was Olomana. I could see the top of the larger Mokulua Island thru the low point between peaks 2 and 3. Behind me was Manoa Valley. Descending the 13 hump was tricky. A short, greyish black cable was provided for assistance. I carefully lowered myself down the bolder using the cable and kept my weight in the leeward direction. A death drop existed directly in front so I exercised extreme caution. I breathed a sigh of relief after getting beyond the bolders descending toward the narrow dike. It was at this point that I noticed a pair of loppers hanging from the branch of a tree. Mike found them on the trail. I decided to carry the machete and loppers together in one hand.

Made my way over the trail as it went along the leeward side of the dike. Mike had climbed up the dike and crawled on top of it to the 14th hump. Daredevil stuff indeed ! Reunited with Laredo and Mike at the top of the 14th hump, the three of us watched Jim and Art work their way past the ironwoods and short cable section.

I took the lead carrying (and occasionally using) the machete and loppers I had scored on the trip. Humps 15 and 16 were barely distinguishable but we had to ascend somewhat steeply and with difficulty up the 17th over mud and thru lots of clidemia. On the way up I could clearly see the larger Mokulua Island thru the low point of Olomana between her second and third peaks.

I got on my knees and crawled for a short distance to reach the top of hump 18 but number 19 was minor. Descended hump 20 and took one of the few remaining sections of the old Olympus-Castle contour trail until it intersected with the Olympus Trail. Mike, Laredo and I reached the base of Mount Olympus at 4:40 p.m.

While Jim and Art made their way up and over the final few humps in the summit ridge, Mike, Laredo and I climbed to the summit of Mount Olympus. I grabbed the plastic container Dayle Turner had left earier in the day and added an entry. The three of us enjoyed the spectacular views of Ka'au Crater, Koko Head, Manoa Valley, and the windward side. Mike headed back down to greet Jim and Art. Just before Laredo and I departed the top of Olympus to rejoin the others we slowly scanned the Ko'olau summit ridge from Konahuanui to the 20th hump. At 5:14 p.m. he and I started down. Jim passed us heading for the summit.

With Mike and Art in front of us, Laredo and I moved down the Mount Olympus Trail at approx. 5:20 p.m. Jim followed a few minutes later. Laredo and I caught up to Art and Mike and the four of us methodically made our way down to the Kolowalu junction with Jim visible behind. Mike was slowed by a sore knee as we turned right and headed down Kolowalu at 6:05 p.m. I gave him a couple of tylenols to help with the pain and got out my flashlight. On our way down darkness began to set in. The Honolulu city lights were beautiful and Venus stood out prominently in the late afternoon sky. Laredo and Jim began using their flashlights where the trail descends steeply at times on a side ridge. Art put on his headlamp beyond the switchback along the side of the valley.

It became very dark due to the thick canopy in the forest as the 5 of us approached the bottom of Manoa Valley. At one point we lost the trail and ended up in a stream bed. I went hard right and rediscovered the Kolowalu Trail. 30 yards further our group turned right and descended a side trail to an old jeep road. We passed a wooden structure used for gatherings located on a hill to the left of the road. Finally emerged from the forest on a stone driveway and reached the intersection of Alani and Woodlawn Drives. Got to Art's truck at 7:10 p.m.

== Patrick

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