Thursday, June 17, 2010

Konahuahui via Kalawahine

Konahuanui is a hike to the two highest peaks in the Koolau Mountain Range. K2, the second highest peak reaches an elevation of about 3,105 ft., while K1, the highest peak reaches a height of about 3, 150 ft. Although the first half of the hike via Kalawahine is not difficult, the second half is often overgrown and extremely muddy, requires the use of ropes, and contains portions of massive drops. However, the strenuous climb is definitely outweighed by its priceless views unlike any other.

Today Justin, Laura and I trekked to the two peaks praying that with some good planning and a little bit of luck we would get to see what so few have been able to: Konahuanui’s summit view in its entirety. At about 8:45 we meandered along Kalawahine through a well maintained and rather leveled path. The shade and cool breeze made it a nice stroll. We continued on, turning left at the Pauoa Flats junction, and then through a beautiful bamboo grove. We watched the rooty ground careful not to trip, and contoured through more forests until reaching the Nuuanu Lookout marked by a bench. We took a quick break as we enjoyed the views of Nuuanu Valley, Pali Puka, and Pali Notches. 
A faint trail past the bench marked the beginning of Konahuanui. The path was overgrown like many sites advised to keep inexperienced hikers from venturing into. However, after several yards the path returned to a well graded trail. We were fortunate, especially Laura who had on running shorts, that HTMC recently cleaned it because there were no uluhe choking the path to scratch our legs. After much more meandering, we finally came across Lulumahu Waterfall. At first we weren’t sure if it was the falls because only rocks were exposed, but as we neared, it was clear that today we would not get to see the “secret” waterfall for it was dried out. We trekked on quite disappointed about missing the much anticipated falls but our thoughts quickly shifted for that is when the real hiking began. We looked ahead to the ridge we were about to climb, and could tell that it was going to be muddy, slippery, and taxing. We took on one incline after another. Some portions of the ascent, two in particular, made me exhausted just by its appearance, and the once clear path now became overgrown and dense. 
Slowly but surely we finally made it to the cloud covered K2. Justin ventured on and as I followed wanting desperately to be atop of K1 he came back saying the mud wasn’t worth it unless there was a view. So we returned to K2 to take a few victory shots and a much needed rest. As I sat in the clouds trying to visualize the view, I asked if that way (pointing) was Kaneohe. Justin and Laura laughed as it was town side. I’ll be the first to admit I have a horrible sense of direction, and go figure because even now I can’t grasp what we should have seen. In the midst of the teasing the whites cleared and we could see the windward side. I don’t think we were ever more excited and that was it. We were headed to K1!
With K1 in sight we pushed through the mud, and the harder we tried to avoid it, the more we got covered by it. In my desperate attempt to stay clean I grabbed onto leaves and branches but it was useless. At one point my foot slipped and I couldn’t see my shoe, not even my ankle! But that didn’t stop us, and we ventured on through the insane mud and on-and-off again showers. On our way up we could see Kailua and the Mokulua Islands, and Waimanalo, Olomana, and Rabbit Island. The three peaks never looked so small. Directly below was a deadly drop and a distinct path part of the Maunawili Demonstration Trail. We could just imagine what the view from up top entailed, and about 30 minutes later finally made it to K1!!!
The clouds were in full effect and we couldn’t see anything. I called my mom at home to look at the summit and predict weather or not the clouds would clear, and immediately she could not believe we were anywhere near clouds because it was such a beautiful day. She figured they would blow over as they were moving rather quickly. So we prayed and hoped for some kind of view, and explored the peak as we waited. A trail to the right veered off into the whiteness as well one to the left but that one was ribboned off. I am not sure where the trails lead to and I have no desire to find out. Even a frog statue sits atop K1 signed by many hikers who have reached the summit. I wondered who would carry such a peculiar object all the way in. 
After more waiting and wishing, a white, rectangular shaped object far below came into view. As the clouds dissipated I recognized Pali Lookout’s parking lot and...a white tour bus. I could not believe how high we were! In addition, every so often the sun shown so brightly it was hard to believe we were in the clouds. I have been in the clouds many times before but never has the sun felt like it was right there. 
Unfortunately the clouds remained and we left without a view. Although the descent was much faster than the climb it was just as crazy. I have no idea how many times I fell and everything was covered in mud! To be back on Kalawahine was a relief, and we ran out majority of the way so that Justin and Laura could make it to the NBA finals on time. In a little over two hours we were back at our car. 
A total of 5 hours and we successfully scaled the highest peak in the Koolau Mountain Range. Although I dread the mud, and believe me, there was a lot of mud, more than I have seen on any other trail, I know I will climb Konahuanui again because I have to see the view from the summit. I just have to!

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