Date: Wed, 7 Oct 1998 17:06:30 -1000 From: Dick Beaton (DBeaton@aloha.net> Subject: Olympus to Hawaii Loa
This past Sunday, a group of us hiking enthusiasts set out to explore the Olympus to Hawaii Loa route via the Koolau crest. We met at the trail head of Kulepeamoa at 8:00 AM and left a couple of vehicles there and went on to Waahila State Park where we began our trek. Accompanying me were fellow HTMC club members Mike Algiers, John McCarron and Naomi Nasu. The conditions were ideal, cool breezy trade winds and high clouds. With the exception of Konahuanui, all the summits were clear and only occasionally were some of the higher peaks enveloped with clouds. We left the state park at 8:45 and our first objective was to get to the summit of Olympus by 10:30. We arrived at the summit at 10:20, took a short break and proceeded with our plan to hike Koolau crest to Hawaii Loa.
Prior to the hike I asked Dayle to give me some estimates of how long this should take and he provided the following:
Ascent of Olympus--1.5 hours Olympus to Lanipo--1.5 hours Lanipo to Hawaii Loa--1.5 hours Hawaii Loa to Kuliouou Ahi (state trail) 1.5 hours
Actually, my original plan was to go to Puu O'kona but decided Hawaii Loa would be long enough (as it turned out, I was right). We left Olympus for Kaau Crater summit trail at 10:30 and got there in about 40 minutes. The trail across this portion of Koolau Crest was overgrown but easily navigated and did not hinder our progress to any extent. Due to recent trail clearing by HTMC, the Kaau summit trail was a freeway until you descended the portion that goes to the base of Lanipo. This portion was still not tremendously overgrown and we made good time getting to the base of Lanipo. We scrambled very steeply up the side of Lanipo and reached the summit at 11:55. When we got there, we were greeted by a group of wahines whom we could see at the summit when we were crossing over from Kaau Crater. After a short chat they bid us farewell and we sat down to rest, eat lunch, enjoy the views and of course talk story. As we began to get chilly due to our inactivity, we decided to move onward to the true Lanipo and points beyond and began this leg at 12:30 PM.
The next stretch (Lanipo to Wiliwilinui) was again easily navigated however the clouds rolled in and caused some confusion at one particular spot along this section of the ridge. We came across a ribbon which Mike interpreted as going one way and I another. I felt quite confident that I was right and seeing as though I was in the ram rod position, we trudge on with my original route. Within another 15 minutes or so the clouds lifted and sure enough we were on course. We stopped and looked at the path Mike thought we should have taken and saw a spine going to windward and then dropped very steeply some two thousand feet. This made me realize how easy it is for hikers to become disoriented when the clouds roll in and obscure your vision of the landmarks around you. This could have possibly put us in a bad situation had we proceeded in that direction. In any event we made pretty good time getting to Wiliwilinui summit and arrived there at about 1:15.
It looked as though we were right on Dayle's estimates and would get to Hawaii Loa in another 45 minutes or around 2:00 PM. We took another short break, snapped a few pictures using the famed white lawn chair as a prop and then proceeded onward. This portion of the trail was also in good shape because the HTMC trail maintenance had cleared it for the Wailupe Gulch hike which Stuart lead earlier this year. Naomi mentioned that she happened to be on that trail clearing excursion and had the misfortune of slicing her knee with her machete and ended up in the emergency room. Anyhow we made it to the next peak where the Wailupe Gulch hike actually gets to Koolau summit (not sure of the ridge name). We had been making good time and I was thinking I would be able to watch the second half of Sunday Night Football when all of the sudden it was vegetation gridlock (well, not really but almost). From that point on the going was very difficult and our forward progress went rather slowly. It wasn't until we hit the peak just before Hawaii Loa that we regained an open trail. Actually, somebody has done a great job in maintaining that portion of the trail and once again we were on a freeway to Hawaii Loa where we arrived at 2:45 PM.
By the time we reached Hawaii Loa, I think everyone in the group had aching knees from the pounding they had taken during the crossover. So after another short break to re-lace the shoes and chug some water, we descended quite slowly making sure not abuse our knees any more than necessary. Reached the junction of the trail that heads down into the valley and continued with a tree grabbing descent to the valley floor. After short stroll through the valley (ah, flat land), we made it out to the vehicles at 4:10 PM.
All in all another great day hiking the Koolau crest and the 7.5 hour duration of this one should put it in the super hike classification. What do you think Professor and Paka, add it to the list? Guess you two would probably want to add the Kuliouou Ahi leg to it (hmmm, another 2 plus hours!).
Aloha and happy hiking!