OHE KST Backpack 2000, Day 2

OHE KST Backpack 2000, Day 2

Tue, 30 May 2000 10:07:17 -1000
From:	"Dayle K. Turner" 
Subject: HTMC KST Backpack 2000 (Day 2)

We were up at 6 a.m. after a night camped in the clearing on the edge of
the Kawailoa marsh (this marsh is actually the headwater of Kamananui
Stream, which eventually empties into the ocean at Waimea
Bay).  Actually, a few of us arose earlier since the light of day made its
appearance at 5:30.  The skies around us were tinted reddish-pink, and
while looking heavenward at the orange sherbet clouds, I recalled a saying
my grandfather taught me when I was a young boy--"Red skies at night,
sailors' delight.  Red skies at morning, sailors take warning."  And while
the nine in our group weren't sailors, we easily could have been given the
strong gusts that made spinnakers out of our packs as we trodded along the
KST on this day.

As I mentioned in part 1, I slept in my hiking clothes, so all I had to do
to suit up for the day's march was to slip into my Montrail Vitesse shoes,
zip on my gaiters, slap on my gloves, hoist on my pack, grab my hiking
poles, and I was set.  For breakfast, I ate a protein bar and a can of
deviled ham.  Most of the other folks ate add-hot-water type meals.  John,
meanwhile, ate more of his gruel, Henry his MREs, and Ed his fresh fruits.

Because the leg from Kawailoa to Poamoho is the toughest of the three
segments, I was eager to get everyone going early enough to allow for
the maximum amount of daylight hiking time.  As it turned out, everyone
completed the leg with plenty of time to spare, but prudence for this
segment was nonetheless warranted because of its length and
ruggedness.  At just past 7 a.m., Henry, Ed, and I set off southeast on
the KST, accompanied by misty clouds and blustery wind gusts that would
stay with us all day. As we left, I looked over at the wood platform pu'u
to see if the trio of backpackers were stirring and getting ready to
go.  As it turned out, they weren't ready to go and we wouldn't see them
again until they appeared on last night's TV news being interviewed after
being rescued from somewhere along the Castle Trail yesterday (see the May
30 edition of the Honolulu Advertiser for details
or go to the Hon Adv website at


A few minutes after leaving Kawailoa, Tom and I conducted a radio
test--loud and clear.  At 7:30, Tom radioed to let me know that the rest
of our group had departed Kawailoa.  Tom acted as sweep, and in addition 
keeping an eye out on our group, he kept watch for the backpacking trio,
but never saw them at any point on the trail.

The first significant landmark beyond Kawailoa is the clearing where the
Kahuku Cabin once stood.  We'd heard reports that all debris from cabin
had been removed; while most of the trash at the site is gone, a
stack of boards and some cement foundation blocks remain.  Just before the
cabin, Ed noticed some spent bullet casings on the ground.  Hunters this
deep in the mountains?  I speculated that if hunters do frequent this
area, they did so via a spur from Kaipapau Gulch since approaches via the
Laie Trail or other known routes would be too lengthy.

After the cabin site, in a few minutes we passed through a narrow cut in
the ridge and emerged at a dramatic overlook of upper Kaipapau.  This
section, where the trail has been cut into the side of a sheer
mountain wall, is spectacular, almost surreal. It was here that I really
felt removed from civilization.   While hiking through this
section, we reached a point where a landslide has left a seven to eight
foot gap in the trail.  Fortunately, it's possible to hop down into the
gap and scale its far side to continue on.

After the Kaipapau overlook, the trail transitions to leeward and begins
to climb steadily.  Partway up this climb, a huge boulder is situated next
to the trail.  Last year, Mark Short and I took a break at this boulder
two hours out of Kawailoa.  This year, Ed, Henry, and I reached this same
boulder in half an hour less, undoubtedly due to the less copious mud we
had to muck through along the way. We took a break at the boulder, and I
radioed Tom to let him know that we were moving at a good clip due to
decent conditions, by KST standards.

Continuing to climb after the boulder break, we encountered some of the
worst conditions of the day and had to deal with thickets of clidemia,
eroded and slipped sections of trail, and increased muddiness
underfoot.  But using an expression of Pat's to characterize what we
needed to do, we gritted our teeth and plowed forward.  Once past that
gauntlet, I turned to Ed and Henry and said we'd probably gone through the
worst of what we'd encounter all day.  Well, I was incorrect, for we ran
into even thicker tangles a bit ahead. When the trail transitioned to
windward, we were blasted by the wind and in some instances by horizontal
rain.  My colleagues registered no complaints, and I
respect them for that. At times, views opened up to leeward, and in
the distance we could see the Waianae range and its crown, Mount Kaala.
Spread before us was the massive undeveloped valley where the headwaters
of Kawainui Stream lay.

Sensing that we could use a rest break, I had us plop down at a
nondescript leeward section out of the wind.  Just as I was about to sit
down, I looked ahead and noticed a landslide that appeared to have
obliterated the trail.  A closer inspection revealed that it indeed was a
landslide but it was an old one and it still could be hiked.  A relief.

A time check indicated we were 2.5 hours out of Kawailoa.  Based on the
four hours we needed last year to reach the next significant
junction--Castle--we were still 1.5 hours from that point.  However, I
knew our pace was quicker this time, and lo and behold, we reached Castle
at 10:15, which equated to a 3 hour, 10 min. hike time from Kawailoa,
nearly an hour faster than last summer.  Again, I attribute this
to less mud but also to the strength of Ed and Henry, a couple of
strong guys.  The KST, it seems, was not its usual troublesome, 
terroristic self this time around.  No complaints from us.

We took a 20 minute break at Castle during which we wondered about Roger,
who had plans to come up Castle on this day and then head over with us to
Poamoho.  White-out, wind-whipped conditions continued, and after our
break, I asked Henry and Ed to be especially observant as we hiked since
the upcoming sections of the KST were where me might go off course because
of the low clouds, the jumbled, rolling nature of the terrain and the
sudden turns the trail takes.  They nodded in agreement.

As we moved forward, I periodically called out stuff like "Here we
come.  Get out of the way" to alert pigs that we were in the area.  The
last thing I wanted was to be attacked by a porker that we surprised, so I
hoped a verbal ruckus would help to indicate our presence.  As far as pigs
went, we didn't see any during the trip.  In fact, I didn't notice any
fresh signs (diggings, tracks, scat) until the final mile before
Poamoho.  Perhaps the recent drought on Oahu has forced na pua'a to head
to lower ground to seek water.

We left Castle around 10:40 and hoped to reach the junction with
the Peahinaia trail by noon.  A few minutes past Castle, we passed a
clearing on the right that appeared to be the site of an old cabin.  Very
little remains except some boards on the ground.  Stuart later told me
that there was a cabin along the summit in the area of the Castle junction
and perhaps this was it.

Windy, near white-out conditions continued as we hiked.  Since we couldn't
see very far in any direction, we didn't notice the exclosure fence
near Castle except at one point when we spotted a fenceline corner
through the misty white about 20 meters to the right of the trail.  Beyond
that, two places stick out in my memory: a small hollow where we crossed
over from one segment of ridge to another and a grassy, wind-blasted bowl
where there is a waterfall notch (and potential water source) to the
left. Just past noon, we reached another large grassy bowl with metal
landing mats on the ground.  I recognized this right off and knew that the
junction with Peahinaia was on the far side of the bowl.  Low clouds and
mist rocketed through the bowl, propelled by 25-35 mph trades, and we did
not linger in the area. Pat wrote about camping in this bowl area with an
Army environmental team; his write-up is at


Henry, Ed, and I hunkered down behind some bushes at the Peahinaia
junction for lunch.  During that time, I radioed Tom to let him know where
we were.  He reported that the others in our group were stopped at Castle
for lunch.  He also reported that they'd met Roger at Castle, and he was
fine.  Good news.  Tom also told me that John wasn't his usually energetic
go-get-em self, had stopped earlier to eat, and had fallen back a
bit.  Knowing that John has a tendency to go off track on the trail, Tom
put up ribbons at potentially confusing points to assist John, who
eventually caught up and made it to Poamoho okay.

In fact, our group of nine, plus a new addition (Roger),  all made it okay
to Poamoho, the first group rolling in at 1:30.  While Ed and Henry went
down to the stream to get water, I dropped my pack by the Cline
Memorial and headed over to the Poamoho cabin to check if anyone was
there.  As I rounded the bend in the trail where I could look down at the
cabin, I whooped out.  A whoop in reply was fired back.  But the whoop
came from the little lake/marsh area in the gully to the lee of the
cabin.  I was surprised that someone was down there and disappointed,
thinking that these folks were staying in the cabin.  

Continuing on, I arrived at the cabin a few minutes later and found it
unlocked (as usual) with no signs of occupancy.  I radioed Henry and then
Thomas, but had no contact, likely because of the topographical
obstructions (hills).  I hiked quickly back to the Cline Memorial and on
the way was able to raise Henry on the radio to let him know that he and
Ed could head over to the cabin since no one was there.  Soon afterward, I
passed Ed and Henry along the trail on the way to the cabin.

I spent the next couple hours relaxing at the summit pu'u above the
memorial.  While doing so, the clouds lifted to reveal the spread of
Punaluu, Kahana, Waikane, and a whole bunch of the windward coast. Our
club was hiking in Kahana on this day (Pu'u o Kila), but I'd have needed
binoculars to hope to see anyone.  Alas, I was binocular-less.

I tried radioing Thomas and initially had no success.  To my surprise, I
received a radio reply from Mike Algiers, hiking with Helene
Sroat and friends at the summit of the Koolaus above Kuliouou.  That's
about 20 miles as the apapane bird flies, pretty impressive for radios
with an advertised two-mile range.  Not long afterward, I made contact
with Dusty Klein at his home in Kaneohe.  He was only a mere 12-miles
away.  :-) I also was able to eventually raise Thomas, and even though he
was much nearer in distance to me than Mike or Dusty, he was blocked off
by intervening ridges and hills along the summit.

From that wind-whipped pu'u, I also called my girlfriend Jackie via cell
phone to let her know I was okay.  She recently underwent surgery to
remove damaged cartilage in her right knee and is recovering quickly and
well.  Just as I ended my conversation with Jackie, Roger rolled in along
the KST. We shook hands and he sat down on the hilltop to rest and talk
story a bit.  He's recovering quite well after suffering back and neck
injuries after being hit by a car while bicycling.  Hiking up Castle and
along the KST is part of his rehab.  What a man.

After talking story with me for a while, Roger headed down to the
stream to set up camp.  He'd come up Poamoho the weekend before to stage
water and his tent at the campsite next to the stream.  He said he'd make
camp by the stream.  Not long after Roger left, Stuart and Lynne
arrived.  They, too, headed down to the campsite by the stream.

Soon afterward, the three late-20-ish local folks (2 guys and a
gal) emerged on the KST from the direction of the cabin.  It turns out
they were the ones who'd returned my whoop when I'd gone over to check on
the cabin.  They were very friendly and inquisitive about our trek.  I
found out they'd spent Saturday night in the cabin and had bushwacked down
to the lake/marsh area near the cabin as a dayhike.  I also found out they
were carrying/using Stuart's book, a resource they'd lugged with them on
many other hikes on the island.  They were thrilled when they found out
Stuart was in our group, and on their way down Poamoho, they stopped at
the campsite by the stream to talk to him.

Just as the local threesome was preparing to head down Poamoho, a
husband/wife backpacking couple strode up to the summit hilltop.  Come to
find out they intended to camp at the very spot we were sitting and have
been doing so "for the past 20 years," according to the husband, a local
attorney who told me he had helped the HTMC with property issues related
to our Waimanalo clubhouse.  

Not long after the couple arrived, the rest of our group rolled into the
Poamoho, including Larry, Chris, Thomas, and John.  We bid the couple a
good campout, and our group headed down to the stream to get water.  The
hike from the summit to stream takes only a few minutes and when we got
there we saw two tents, one belonging to Stuart and Lynn and one to Roger,  
set up at the nearby clearing.  Water acquisition took 15-20 minutes.  I
used a SafeWater filter while the others used more traditional types made
by MSR or PUR.   

Having gotten the water we'd need for the night and the next day's final
leg, John and I commenced the 15-minute hike to the cabin, with Kris
and Larry following us not long later.  Thomas, more of a hiking/camping
purist than I, decided to pitch his tarp at the campsite with Stuart,
Lynn, and Roger.  The KST from the Cline Memorial to the cabin is in top
shape, thanks to the efforts of a crew from the HTMC (for details, see
Carmen's write-up at http://www2.hawaii.edu/~turner/ohe/Nov99/11-6.html).

The cabin brought some warm, dry relief from the cold, muddy conditions
we'd faced during the hike from Kawailoa that day. There are four unpadded 
bunks in the structure and these were occupied by Ed, John, Kris, and
Larry.  Henry and I slept on the floor, and I chose a spot near the door
to allow for easy access to the outdoors for middle-of-the-night potty
visits.  Actually, there is no potty to speak of at the cabin.  Instead,
one must do his/her business in the bushes, behind trees, or wherever,
hopefully with a small trowel or shovel in hand to bury said
business.  From what I've heard, the state intentionally did not put water
catchment and toilet facilities at the cabin to discourage folks from
multi-day occupancy.

One helpful feature of the cabin is a dustpan and broom, donated and
lugged up the mountain structure by HTMC members Fred Boll and Richard
McMahon.  The pan and broom have "HTMC" written on them.  Mahalo to Fred
and Richard and to who ever else assisted them.

For dinner, I feasted on a can of luncheon meat/spam, paniolo-style
i.e. sans fork or spoon or plate. Instead I cut chunks out with my pocket
knife and feasted as such.  Throw in some crunchy sunflower seeds and a
couple liters of Crystal Light strawberry drink made from filtered
and iodined Poamoho stream water and I was content. John, a hardcore
vegetarian, had more of his gruel, Henry his MRE, Ed his
rehydrated teriyaki chicken, and Larry and Kris their add-hot-water to
meal, and everyone else seemed equally content.

For entertainment, Kris busted out a deck of cards.  She and John talked
about playing rummy, but I was in dreamland before I found out if they
ever did. 

It rained briefly several times during the night.  And since the cabin is
in a protected gully, we were spared from major wind blasts, which wasn't
the case for our friends camped out by the stream, who reported being
buffeted a bit by ka makani overnight.  Thanks to John's thermometer, we
found out the temps dropped to the low-60s/upper 50s during the night, a
bit of a restless one for me.

Next:  Day 3--Along the windward pali and down into Waikane.

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