OHE KST Backpack 2000, Day 3
From: "Dayle K. Turner"
Subject: HTMC KST Backpack 2000 (Day 3) Just like the morning before, I was up early, around 5:30, saddled with the restlessness of a less-than-comfortable night on the hard floor of the Poamoho cabin. The tent campers (Stuart, Lynne, Tom, Roger) had agreed to be at the cabin at 8, so there was plenty of time for the cabin group to eat breakfast, change into yummy hiking togs, and pack up for the final day's march. I ate a can of vienna sausage for my morning meal and popped down some vitamin pills with a liter of crystal light drink. As I ate this fine fare, my mind drifted to an L&L Drive-Inn chicken katsu plate lunch, but then I remembered how being obsessed with kaukau during the final day of last year's KST trip led me to rush and then take a spill off one of the windward sections of the trail on the way to the Schofield terminus. Didn't want a repeat of that. So I switched my thoughts to other things, like jokes. That decided, I took to ribbing Big John about his uncharacteristic slowness the day before. John, a hardcore vegetarian and usually one of the frontrunners on every HTM hike he attends, was dead last into Poamoho on Sunday, and I joked that he would have fared much better if he ate some meat. John, in addition to having some rightfield opinions about things (he loves to drone on about Rush Limbaugh), has a good sense of humor and took my good-natured poke without offense. Since I've mentioned John, I should also talk a bit about the other folks on the trip. First, there's Ed Gilman, one of the most pleasant men I've ever hiked with. There's just a nice vibe that emanates from him. Plus, he's one heck of a tough hiker although a casual observer might not gather this by looking at his slender, willowy build. Henry Davis has been hiking with the club for a only a few months, but he's demonstrated that he's a sturdy, capable hiker and quite a photography buff (and single, too, girls). Larry Oswald, an engineer at Pearl Harbor, is well-known in the HTMC trail maintenance crew as Mr. Chainsaw after he toted a chainsaw to the summit of Pu'u Ka'aumakua via the Waikane Trail. Larry has a great sense of humor, a love of spearfishing, and is a maker of one potent margarita. His wife, Kris Corliss, a pharmacist at Kahuku Hospital, looks and hikes likes she's 20 years younger than her actual age (which I don't know and won't hazard a guess at here). A runner and Girl Scout leader, Kris has a fun, bubbly personality. Stuart Ball, as all of us know, is the famous hiking author of Hawaii. A gentle, unassuming man, Stuart is someone I respect greatly, not only for his boundless hiking knowledge but for his pleasant disposition and reliable advice and guidance. Lynne Masuyama, who unbachelorized Stuart at the summit of Koko Crater on New Year's Day 1997, is one of the stronger wahine hikers in HTM, having completed two club Super Hikes in good form. She works for the DLNR, so don't talk stink about dem buggahs when she's around. And then there's Tom Yoza, an avid bicycle enthusiast, a former Portlock Point paipo board king, and along with Ken Suzuki and Jim Pushaw, one of the heroes of Kahana during the rescue of the two Danish girls from Pu'u Ohulehule. When Tom expressed an interest in taking part in this year's backpack, I counted myself fortunate, for there are few more reliable people I know. If anyone ever runs into trouble in the mountains, he or she can count on Tom to leave no stone unturned and no pig trail unsearched. Such are the folks who joined me on the trip--a great group and a pleasure to hike and camp with. The tent camping group (Stuart, Lynne, Thomas, Roger) arrived at 8 a.m. at the cabin as planned. A few minutes later, Ed, Roger, and Henry set off. The rest of us wouldn't see them for the rest of the hike but we could keep in contact since Henry was carrying one of Tom's walkie-talkies. That lead group ended up reaching Kamehameha Hwy in Waikane a few minutes before 1 p.m., completing the final leg of the three-day trek in under five hours. Meanwhile, the rest of us moved along less quickly. John and I were the last to leave the cabin, and I made sure the place was swept out, thanks to the broom and pan left by Fred Boll and Richard McMahon. The summit trail from the cabin to the Schofield summit was muddy and severely windswept, with gusts over 40 mph ripping up the mountainside from Kahana Valley at times. John, as he usually does when hiking, was shirtless when we started out. But that didn't last more than ten minutes, when the KST transitioned from leeward to a long windward-facing stretch. In about half an hour, we passed the junction with the trail that descends to Kahana via Pauao Ridge. An old sign, its lettering no longer visible, is planted on the trail at the junction. I stopped for a minute to look down the trail, recalling how Pat Rorie, Steve Poor, and I suffered on Labor Day 1998 to reach this very spot after nearly eight hours of hiking, climbing, chopping, and crawling. Beyond the Pauao junction, the KST is at its spectacular best, with long sections cut high into the steep face of the windward-facing pali. I snapped some pictures of this section, along with pictures from days 1 and 2, and these are available at http://www.geocities.com/htmchiker/kst2000/ While knocked off balance by wind blasts a few times during the crossover, John and I reached the Schofield terminus a bit over two hours after leaving the cabin. Stuart, Lynne, Kris, Larry, and Tom were waiting for us there, and we all took a break, snacked, and snapped some photos. By this time, Henry, Ed, and Roger had descended the most dangerous segment of the Waikane trail and arrived at the Waikane saddle. Man, they were moving fast. While hiking along the short section of the KST over to Waikane, Stuart mentioned to me how lucky we were to have hiked this section from Poamoho without obscuring clouds. I agreed with him, even though I would have preferred a bit less wind. But the wind made for cool hiking, and I needed only a couple sips of water for the final leg as a result. When we reached the KST/Waikane junction, Stuart stopped to jot some info in a small notebook he carries while hiking. The info was for updates of his backpacking book, which can be viewed at http://www.hgea.org/~lmasu/ The Waikane trail has been graded and cleared by our club, and we reaped the benefits of that labor. Even in its improved state, the trail down to the saddle still requires careful hiking, for in many places a slip can lead to fatal consequences. But we were careful and all of us made it down to the saddle without a hitch. Since it was a nearly 12:30 when we arrived, we stopped at the Ohulehule-facing lookout at the saddle for lunch. During that time, we raised Henry on the walkie-talkie, and he reported that he, Ed, and Roger were well on their way out to the highway via the dirt road in the valley. I also phoned Dusty via cell to let him know that the lead group would emerge around 1 pm, and he drove over from his Kaneohe home to pick up Henry, Ed, and Roger to transport them over to Kay Lynch's house. Much thanks to Dusty for the assist. Also during lunch, I asked Stuart about the old route the club used when climbing Ohulehule, and he pointed out the approach and descent routes, the former being the SE ridge and the latter being the ridge facing us. Kris passed around a bag of chocolates for anyone who wanted some, and Lynne was a glad taker and mentioned how she'd been craving chocolate. At 1 pm, I bid a temporary farewell to the others at the saddle and headed at a quick pace down the rest of the Waikane trail to the ditch intake, then to the valley road. I knew that someone would be waiting to pick me up when I emerged on Kam Hwy, and I didn't want that someone to wait too long, so I hurried my pace. When I reached the lower (unlocked and open) gate by the houses, Henry and Ed and their vehicles were waiting there. I told them the others would be out 45-60 minutes later. Henry drove me over to Kay's house, less than five minutes away by car, and Kay was waiting there in the shade of a tree in a large open lot on the property she lives on. She had some cold drinks, fruit, and cake for us, and these were welcomed and appreciated. Kay then gave Ed, Henry, and I a tour of her plant nursery, and showed us an adjacent property that has a working taro patch fed by water from Hakipu'u Stream which is in her backyard. Wow. After the tour, I made a quick stop at Waikane store to purchase a liter bottle of Diet Coke, which I downed in a minute. I then drove back over to Waikane Valley Road and headed mauka in my Cherokee. A couple minutes up the road, I met Big John, who told me the others were not far behind. I continued up the road, and, sure enough, Stuart, Lynne, Larry, Kris, and Thomas were marching along. Kris and Larry jumped in, as did Big John, and I drove them to Kay's then returned to pick up Stuart, Lynne, and Thomas to transport them to Kay's as well. Thomas told me he'd met Laredo Murray on the way down the dirt road. Rainbowman, as we like to call Laredo, is someone we've hiked with in the past and has a fondness for coloring his hair in various shades like green, orange, red, or yellow. He'd been dirt biking in the valley. All of us at Kay's now, we spent time there enjoying the refreshments she provided and her kind hospitality. Much thanks to her for this as well as for allowing us to leave our vehicles there. This was a big help to us. There is talk of another KST backpack trip next summer, an all-wahine outing. And I'm certain there are an ample number of women in our club who could pull it off with no problem. Maybe they'd christen that adventure "2001, A KST Odyssey." As for me, I think I'll take a year off from this rugged trail. There's always 2002. --DKT