Disclosure: I didn't go all the way, I turned around and made a dayhike out of it. The Kipapa Trail truly is a mother and knowing the summit was going to be evem more of a mother I turned back. I'm only bummed I missed the summit, but glad i'm alive. Here is my report..
I finally got to meet a bunch of OHE-list crazies this weekend. I met Dayle and Co. early 6:30 am Saturday morning for the "Mother of all Hikes".. 25 years since anyone been on the summit between Kipapa and Manana. I could harldy wait. I could hardly wait so bad even though I hit the sack at around 9:30 pm, I didn't sleep until 2:30 am. Mistake #1. Waking up at 5:30 was only 3 hrs and that was going to HAUNT me later.
I met the crew at the Manana Summit and as they slowly arrived I was pleased at how crazy some of them obviously were. Really, from Pat's laugh (nyuk nyuk nyuk) to Laredos hair I felt right at home!
We got on the trail about 8:00 am, and the first hour was a blast. Dayle told me "contour trail" so I expected it to go pretty quickly. So far it was a freeway. He also told me he made it last time (in the rain) in about 4.5 hours. How bad could it be? We did Aiea ridge in 4 hours, and thats ungraded. All up & down, on the hottest day of the summer in 95. This trail I expected to be a breeze. Well, he warned me about the landslide being dangerous. OK, otherwise I was ready to go. Around the second hour, if you hike at a quick pace, you get into what I have officially named "suicide ridge". I was holding pace at about #6 person in our group of 10. I called this section suicide because the trail is about as wide as a hiking boot. The first 4 or 5 guys were doing OK, but whenever I stepped on it it was giving way. Just collapsing. I was starting to get really pissed. I was watching the guys in front of me and they wered doing OK so I just kept going. And kept slipping. Right about the time I was losing the group in front of me and holding up the guys in back of me I let the three behind me pass. I was now in the rear except for Wing who we hadn't seen in over an hour.
I tried to keep pace and within two or three minutes I again slipped, this time into oblivion. A vertical cliff had swallowed me whole. The only thing holdng me was a strand of Uluhe wrapped tight around my thigh. My head was right below trail level. I tried to get my pack off or turn around and slipped more. I couldn't tell how far the drop was but it was a ways for sure. I had to yell for Dayle who was about 2 humps in front of me now. It took him about a minute to reach me, but it felt like 10 because all the while I was slipping with nothing to hold me. He got me out OK. The group must have gotten about 15 minutes in front of us. I was wearing Tevas up to this point, but here switched to a more supportive Boot, I didn't want to break an ankle in the middle of nowhere. I thought maybe the Tevas were slipping so the switch to hiking boot here seemed smart.
We finally started to trudge on. I went on for about 15 more minutes. The boots only gave me a little more support, but not any more grip. Nothing changed, the boots didn't help. I had better grip with the tevas. I could tell at this point I was holding up Dayle who was very cool to pace with me. He could have easily blown doors back to the front and left me to fend for myself. During these minutes after the fall, I started to see a chain of events. #1, not getting enough sleep the night before, was making me dizzy too fast #2, my trucks battery was DEAD in the morning (wierd) and I had to switch cars #3, I lost the clip to hold my backpack around my waist and steady it before we even got started #4 I fell off the cliff.
I wasn't going to wait for #5.. I turned around. And good thing I realized later. #5 would have been a bitch. Thanks to Dayle again for calling the wife and leaving a message. I made it back to the trailhead exactly on time, and no wife. Hmmm. There were a few people painting the top cabin at the ranch and they waved so I walked over and asked to use the phone. Here I got a hold of the wife who had not gotten Dayle's message but was happy because where we live in Aiea it was raining like Hell, even though Kipapa was still just overcast. I told her i'd meet her on the road. I walked about as far as the H2 bridge and thats where she finally arrived. Total mileage for the day I estimated about 6 or 7 miles round trip. Not a bad day hike nonetheless, and I got to see Kipapa Trail, and the beautiful area along the lower ridge.
When I got home I found that my military pants had been torn on both side pockets. And I lost my athsma medicine somewhere alongst the trail. I'd have been screwed if I was still up there because I just woke up with a pretty bad attack. #5 had been averted. Wow. I trip out on this kind of stuff. I could have kept going, just absoulutely didn't want to, "something told me" whatever you want to say. I could hardly breathe this morning and I was at home. I need to get refills today and bad. Never in all my hikes have I torn military pants.
Final thoughts, the trail might contour the hills but think twice before you go. Kipapa is the hardest trail I been on. And I been on quite a few. I'm glad I had gloves and long pants. My arms look like I was hiking through razor blades. It is badly worn and the only way to safely make it is to go right through the thick ferns and berry. This slows you down a lot. I have never torn military fatigues before and I been through some pretty thick stuff. Only the first 2 hours of this trail tore both sides of my pants. Lastly, thanks Dayle for rescuing my hide out of that crap. And I'm real sorry I didn't get to spend the night with the rest of you psychos on the summit. Maybe the Manana-Aiea trip will be more my speed.
I just came back from Manana trailhead to see if they made it out OK. At 9:00 pm Sunday. Dayle is still in there. I think he decided to spend another night! The guys who all made it out are for the most part small agile and light. Us big boys get killed on these hikes. I called Pat Rorie and they made it out right about dark. Thats 2 entire days of dawn to dusk hiking non stop, through Oahus most rugged and remote. I give these guys credit. I thought --*I*-- was pretty gonzo. These guys define psycho. They are all full on wacko. US Army Green Berets better watch out!
I'm so totally impressed by you all, including the ones who didn't make it the whole way. Sick, sick men you all! :-) The uluhe plant will someday be found to have this toxin in it that temporarily paralyzes all good sense. Mike, your account was wonderful! Builds up some good suspense for the full report to come.
Bracing myself for it, (in my armchair),
he heh heh heh.. Thanks. This would have been my 3rd summit hike. The other two being Aiea and Poamoho. I shouldn't have set my sights so far. Now that my tail is no longer between my legs and my finger seems to have returned to its normal domain I think Kipapa to Manana needs three days. It would make it much more sane for the likes of anyone who is not a triathlete.
But one thing this hike has wet my lips unlike any other, I keep reading the reports of those who made it and now want to start (even late) hiking up every summit section on Oahu too. Dayle guys got a good head start on me, but I got many years to complete it. Next time I have off I'm going up Waimalu and down Aiea, or maybe up Manana and down Waimalu. I know what Aiea and Waimalu look like so I wont miss the way out.