OHE September 8, 1998

Date: Tue, 8 Sep 1998 08:33:12 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Kahana--Pu'u Pauao--Poamoho

Completed a tough hike yesterday, quite fitting for Labor Day. Here's the anatomy of the outing:

8:30 Sunday night (9/6):

I call Pat Rorie to discuss hike possibilities. We narrow our choices to a hike from Kahana Valley to Pu'u Pauao on the Koolau summit OR a cliff hike in Waimanalo. We opt for the former, and begin making calls to organize meeting times, places, and post-hike transport. Joining us will be Wing Ng and Steve Poor. My buddy Bill Melemai agrees to meet us at the Poamoho trailhead to ferry us back to civilization after we're done.

7:00 a.m. Labor Day (9/7):

Pat and Steve rendezvous at the Dole Pavilion out past Wahiawa. They leave Steve's vehicle there for post-hike transport and head to Kahana in the new Pat-mobile. I leave my home in Kaneohe at the same time, stopping at a convenience store to pick up some All-Sport drink for pre-hike hydration before heading to Kahana.

7:30 a.m.:

I arrive at Kahana State Park. Wing is supposed to meet me there so we can get a head start on Steve and Pat, who surprisingly pull in to the park at 7:35. Wing arrives at 7:40. After some chit chat, we drive up the valley road and park just before the new homes.

8:00 a.m.:

After final preps, we depart our vehicles and begin a 30-minute road walk to the paved road's end by a large water tank. Wing and I are carrying cell phones, just in case.

8:30 a.m.:

We reach the end of the paved road and begin climbing a steep trail next to the water tank that will take us to the crest of the north ridge of Kahana Valley. Pat tops out first, I second, Steve third. Wing is still ascending at 9 when Pat, Steve, and I decide to mush on up the ridge toward the Koolau summit crest. As it turns out, we will not see Wing for the rest of the day.

11:00 a.m.:

Steve, Pat, and I are making nice progress and have arrived at the spot where Jason Sunada and I had stopped last Sunday. We have climbed a first then a second big hump in the ridge. Today, we're about 1.5 hours ahead of last week. Good deal. From our current point to the Koolau summit, no trail/swath exists. To make our way up the ridge, we must hack open a swath since attempting to just push through head-high uluhe is futile. Fortunately, the weather is excellent, with light breezes and high clouds the norm.

12:15 p.m.:

Steve and I find a nice shaded spot on soft moss-carpeted tree roots to eat lunch. Our elevation is about 1,600 feet with big drops left and right. I pop three aspirins as I usually do at lunch time while hiking. I also refill water in my 100 oz. camelback, which I'd emptied during the first four hours of hiking. Fortunately, I have 5 liters in reserve. By the end of the day, I'll have downed every drop. Pat doesn't stop for lunch, choosing to keep hacking away upridge instead (he ends up not eating lunch at all). By 12:35, Steve and I have finished lunch and resume hiking. In a few minutes, we catch up to Pat, whose upslope progress is slowed by overhead thickets of uluhe and ie'ie and maile tangles. We have a long, hard haul ahead.

1:30 p.m.:

We hack our way to the base of the main summit bulk of the Koolaus, elevation approximately 1,800 feet. A tough 800-foot climb in a third of a mile span is ahead. The ridge narrows a bit as we begin to climb steeply but broadens the higher we ascend. Plenty of vegetation is available for handholds and security. Unfortunately, the uluhe doesn't relent and the going remains snail-like. Large trees occasionally occupy the entire width of the ridge and we must either execute gymnastics moves to swing around these or climb right over the top. In many instances, I crawl on hands and knees to get over or under obstacles. Pat and Steve put up ribbons occasionally as a "we were here" gesture. At the same token, we see no old ribbons nor any cuttings to indicate the presence of anyone recently. I'm surprised I'm not cramping out. The abundance of water I'm toting and consuming seems to help.

2:00 p.m.:

During a rest break, I think I spot Wing resting on a pu'u at the 1200-foot level. I whoop out several times, listen, but hear no response. Steve begins to get anxious and wonders when we'll reach the KST. I predict 3:00 and when that hour arrives and we still haven't topped out, Steve seems slightly perturbed. Pat has assumed the bulk of the ramrod duties, with Steve and I jumping to the front periodically to spell him. The lead man in our formation pays a huge price in fatigue and pounding from the vegetation, with Pat paying more than his share since he ramrods for much longer stretches than Steve and I. One price Paka-lolo pays is via a tattered t-shirt and nasty scratches on forearms and legs. Ouch. We're all wielding machetes to hack back uluhe in our way. Luckily, I'm wearing long pants today; otherwise, my legs would have been scratched to hell ala Pat and Steve, who are in shorts.

3:45 p.m.:

Pat yells, "Yes!" with hands held high when he sets foot on the Koolau Summit Trail just below Pu'u Pauao. Steve and I top out a minute later. Our arrival there completes a grueling 2,600-foot climb in 7 hours, 45 minutes. We plop down to rest on the KST and admire the pristine views of massive Kahana Valley and the majestic windward facing sections of the KST south of us toward the Schofield Trail terminus. We talk about Wing and hope he's had sense enough to turn back. Panic sets in when I can't find my cell phone, car keys, and wallet in my pack. I'm beside myself, swearing at my idiocy for having lost these crucial items. Have these fallen out during the climb? As it turns out, they haven't. They are in my waist pack, which in my fatigued state I don't realize I am wearing. Cell phone now in hand, I call Bill's house to confirm pickup at the Poamoho trailhead. He's already left, according to his wife, Donna, who tells me she'll relay the message that we'll arrive at Poamoho later than anticipated.

4:05 p.m.:

We head north on the KST, bound for the Poamoho Trail. We cover ground quickly, after the just-completed slow, long battle with uluhe. The views from the windward sections of the KST are fantastic, with Pat and I yelling out with hands held high in recognition of the beauty before us. At one point, we can look back and see in profile the ridge we'd climbed from Kahana. It doesn't appear as steep from the angle we're at, but having just done it, we know better.

4:40 p.m.:

Wing arrives back at his car in Kahana Valley. He leaves a note on the windshield of my Cherokee to indicate that he'd turned back and gotten out okay.

5:00 p.m.:

We arrive at the wind-whipped Poamoho terminus. Someone has left four 1.5-liter bottles of water at the foot of the Cline Memorial. Meanwhile, Pat has collected some trash that someone left along the KST. I call Donna to finalize pick-up plans with Bill. She has trouble hearing me because of the wind whooshing in the phone's mouthpiece. She catches enough to know we're okay and heading down. We begin descending the Poamoho Trail at 5:15 at a quick tempo.

6:30 p.m.:

Steve, Pat, and I arrive at the Poamoho trailhead. Waiting there for us in his 4x4 Bronco is Bill, the patron saint of post-hike transport and refreshment. He's brought along some spam musubi and cold water, which we gobble and guzzle down without pause. We thank Bill over and over for his help and consideration. After resting and rehashing our day, we board Bill's vehicle and make the seven-mile drive on dirt roads to Kamehameha Hwy and the Dole Pavilion where Steve's car is. By 7:25, we have thanked Bill again, bid him farewell, and have boarded Steve's car for the drive back to Kahana.

8:15 p.m.:

A little more than twelve hours after we had set off on our Koolau odyssey, we arrive at our vehicles at Kahana State Park. Pat and I say our farewells and mahalo to Steve. We see that Wing's vehicle is gone so we know he has made it out safely. Wing's note on my windshield confirms this. As we are putting away our gear, Pat and I are approached by a Hawaiian man and his son who live in a nearby house. The man tells us he had just called HFD and HPD to cancel a search and rescue effort. Apparently, when he saw our vehicles still there when darkness hit, he had phoned the authorities to alert them of lost hikers in the valley. And when he saw us pull up at 8:15, he made a second call to cancel the impending search. We thank him for his concern, and chat with him about hikers in distress in the valley ("choke da kine," says the son). The man and son ask us if we know the woman and her husband who were rescued from Ohulehule recently. We say we do. In addition, the man tells us that years ago, he did the same hike we had done today, only in reverse--up Poamoho and down Kahana north ridge. We thank the man and son again. Pat and I then say our farewells and are homeward bound.

9:15 p.m.:

A few minutes after arriving home, I get a call from Wing, who asks for a blow-by-blow account of the day's events. We chat for about 15 minutes after which I take a long, warm shower and then devour some teri chicken and brown rice. I'm in moemoe mode by 11, ending an eventful, exciting, and laborious Labor Day '98.


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