OHE November 27, 1999 (KST Backpack)

Date: Sat, 27 Nov 1999 21:28:25 -1000
From: Gene Robinson (gene@lava.net>
Subject: "A Man's Gotta Know His Limitations"- Volume 2

I've been trying to think of some bizarre neuromuscular disorder that could explain my being the first man (again) to bail out on this year's Silver Trail attempt, but the only explanation I can give is fatigue, pure and simple. I guess I wasn't in as good shape this year as last. Aging? Or maybe the Pupukea Trail (as opposed to Laie last year) sucked all the energy out of me.

I'm sure Patrick or Roger will give more detail, but let me be the first to tell you,"It was MUDDY up there!" Big time, boot-sucking, foul-smelling, over-the-top deep mud. There was brown mud, black mud, red mud, green mud, putty-colored mud, mud with rotten strawberry guavas in it, mud with bugs on it, mud that went "slurp" when you stepped out of it, mud that preserved your footprint like stepping in a snowbank, mud that was white with black swirls in it like chocolate ripple ice cream. My favorite mud puddle was somewhere on the KST- there was a big, black, steep-walled bog with a big tree trunk overhanging it that forced you to get down on your hands and knees and slither like a reptile to get through.

I think we need to have a sub-group of OHE for KST backpackers: we could call it Mud Aficionados Society, Observing Climate Hostility In Soggy Terrain. We'll need to think up a catchy acronym, though.

Anyway, after spending a fairly comfortable but wind-battered night at Castle Junction, I was hoping that my legs would be stronger yesterday morning. They weren't. I was still fighting to stay upright in the gusty wind-swept areas, and taking two steps side-ways for every three steps forward through the mud. I must have looked like a punch-drunk fighter. Patrick was keeping a close eye on me as he and Roger powered ahead, but Pat was a gentleman and kept telling me, "Oh, I'm just checking out the scenery." I felt like a sea-anchor, slowing the crew down, and when we stopped for water at Poamoho, I told Patrick, that I didn't have it in me to go on.

So I checked in at the Ko'olau Summit Hilton. Luckily, they had a vacancy. In fact, the place was deserted. There was no phone or TV, and room service was non-existent. But the view over Kahana Valley to Crouching Lion from the balcony was excellent. Climbing up a little knoll, there's a sweeping view of the Leilehua plain. I made a cup of hot miso soup, had a late lunch/early dinner of Alpine Aire Wild Rice Pilaf (with almonds!) and as the wind gusted and rain pelted, I rested, warm and dry, and was intensely happy that I hadn't kept going with Pat and Roger. Of course, I felt a little guilty about it, and when I did, I'd strip off my clothes, fling myself in the mud, and flog myself with uluhe branches. Then I felt much better.

I took out the binoculars and bird-watched before sunset. I saw a very red native bird ('i'iwi? 'apapane?) atop an 'ohi'a, and there were lots of birds singing, none of which I could identify. Same thing this morning. The night was cool (63 degrees) but comfortable. I kept thinking about poor Pat and Roger shivering in the wind and rain at the wreck of Uncle Tom's cabin, probably the most bleak and desolate place on this island. Of course, now I know that they were probably home and soaking in a hot tub!

I left Poamoho about 8am this morning. The sun was shining off Kane'ohe Bay through the mists swirling around 'Ohulehule and up the pali. It was really beautiful, and I considered going down the KST to Schofield and then down to California Avenue, but the wind was already whipping up, so I decided to head down Poamoho. After a day's rest, I felt much better (and the downhill probably helped), and at 1pm I got on the bus (aka Wing's Big Yellow Taxi) at Helemano and headed home. The bus was full, but, curiously, the area around where I was standing, covered with mud and reeking, suddenly emptied of passengers, and I was able to sit all the way to Aiea.

For the next attempt on the Silver Trail: I will get in better shape, find knee-high completely water-proof boots, and go during a spell of Kona weather. Silver Piliwale's 100th birthday will be in 2001, right Patrick?

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