Friday, July 16, 2010

Haiku Stairs Camp

As I was loading up pictures to Facebook I came across this:
Stairway at night...catch the city lights, get some sleep, watch the sunrise. Sounds fr!ken awesome! But before committing myself I texted Vance a buco-billion questions: Camp or hike? Party Hardy all nighter? Tent? Beers or Hards? If I was going to be stuck on the top of the Koolau Mountains overnight I wanted to know what that entailed. Luckily Vance wasn’t trying to pull an all nighter with tons of booze. I don’t think it’s a good idea to get nuts on top of that mountain, he texted. I agreed! Shas said she was in and what a relief it was to know that my bestie would be joining me. Beimes was going too so that made me feel better. The more definitely the merrier.

The next day Shas and I went shopping to prepare for our mission. We walked around Walmart picking up the necessities, and as we debated long and hard about carrying a bulky sleeping bag to the top of the mountain Shas had the greatest idea, “Let’s take an inflatable raft and blanket.” Perfect! It’s not bulky, and it’s way more comfortable than sleeping on the hard ground. With that settled we finished up our shopping still unsure if everything would fit in a backpack. Shas went to Sports Authority to find a real hiking pack but I went home to squeeze in a nap. I got about an hour of rest, and although short, it was much needed for our midnight trek up thousands of stairs.
10:00 pm
The weather looked good so I started to pack my bag. Heavy jacket, jeans, blanket, poncho, headlamp, flashlight, bandaids, camera, tripod, water, booze, floaty, blanket, toothbrush and toothpaste, cell phone, snacks...I hope I’m not missing anything I told myself. 

12:00 am
Shas was running late, and to top it off got pulled over for speeding. I was beginning to have second thoughts about the overnighter but we made it to Vance’s, and not a surprise, Beimes was running late as well.

1:00 am
Vance, Beimes, Vince, Naomi, Shasta and I left for Haiku Stairs. As we parked, another car pulled up. I guess we weren’t the only ones with this great idea. What a mood killer it was to have two strangers intrude on our adventure, but that didn't stop us.

1:30 am
I took my first actual step, just one of many to come. The hike to the first platform is always killer but tonight with a twenty pound backpack, it was insane! I don’t even know how many times I took a break, but I do know there were several times I wanted to hurl my pack over the rails.

2:15 am
Platform one accomplished in the clouds.

2:45 am
Platform two completed in more clouds.

3:15 am
Satellite reached still in the clouds!

We were finally there, sitting in the bunker, trying to keep warm from the wind and blowing up our inflatables. Beimes even set up Vince’s hammock. With our sleeping situation set, we busted out the food or should I say candy. From chocolate to Sour Patch Kids to beef jerky to Won Ton Chips, we had it all! Everyone must’ve been on a sugar rush with all that junk. The sweets did come in handy though, especially to chase the hards or cranberry juice and vodka that tasted more like cough syrup..SPK (Sour Patch Kids) back! Fortunately, Vince had this cool gadget which boiled water in two minutes so there was even some cup-o-noodle going around.
4:45 am
Before we knew it the sun would be coming up. With less than an hour left of darkness we turned off the headlamps and tried to get some sleep. The inflatables were comfortable especially since Beimes was such a gentleman and let me use his sleeping bag. He even pumped up my floaty. I guess that makes up for leaving me to walk around with ferns in my hair on Puu Manamana
But it wasn’t long before visitors woke us up. They must have been surprised to see our ridiculous set up. I peeked out from the sleeping bag not wanting to miss the sunrise but all I could see was white. Still in the clouds! No view meant no rise and definitely no reason to get up. It was 6:15 am! I rolled over and tried to get more rest, but it was freezing. The wind and rain whipped through the doorway. Additional hikers came and left, and in our unsuccessful attempts to get some zzz's we finally began to pack up. Luckily there wasn't a line of twenty other hikers in front of us so the descent was quick. 

9:00 am
We were done!!! Exhausted but accomplished. Disappointed but happy. WE WERE DONE!
Although we left with no view of the city lights or sunrise, climbing Haiku Stairs at night is definitely something I've always wanted to experience and...
What an experience it was!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Puu Manamana II

I woke up to the sound of pitter-patter. Great...rain. As I looked out the kitchen window I could see nothing but white. I contemplated texting the crew but it was 6:30 am. As I debated whether or not waking them, to my surprise Beimes texted me, It’s raining at my house. Not a shocker, it’s always raining at “the second wettest place on earth.” Since Beimes was up I figured Justin was, too. The weather’s not bad in Lanikai, he responded. So I went to look out the balcony window and sure enough blue skies were headed towards Kaneohe. If the weather looks good at 8:00, were on, I texted the two of them.
Eight o’clock rolled around and the weather was pretty awesome. It was hard to believe that just an hour ago even the base of the Koolau Mountains was shrouded with clouds. We got ready, drove to Kahana Valley, parked along the highway, and began our adventure. At about 9:15 we turned at the trailhead marked by telephone post 79 and headed to the Crouching Lion. I don’t know why but today I was extremely tired. The hike from the base was exhausting. I dragged myself up, and couldn’t wait for the rock climbing to begin, quite the opposite from the last time. As we took pictures we could see rain coming. What a spectacle it was to watch the cloud approach and feel the wind shift. We waited patiently for it to past and as it lightened began the ascent on the infamous ridge. From what I remembered of Puu Manamana it was unbelievably terrifying. I waited for the hike to get steeper and crazier but as I climbed each rock face I realized it wasn’t nearly as scary. Puu Manamana got nothing on Anamolo.  It was, however, a lot of fun and definitely thrilling!
We reached the “Safer Bypass” and sheer ridge without much thought, and began the second phase of the hike navigating through the trees, mud, and fern. “Is this the mud you’re talking about?” Beimes asked. “You won’t have to ask when you see it,” I responded. Sure enough there was a lot of mud! The ferns were no joke too, and how irritating it was to have the head high uluhe scratching my arms and neck. A few ferns even got stuck in my hair, and Beimes was kind enough to let me walk around with them! 
After an hour of misery, we finally began the grueling descent. The path was slippery and felt exceptionally long. This time I found it to be rather annoying, and have no idea why I thought it was so much fun the first time around. I couldn't wait to get off the mountain. It would take another hour before we'd walk on flat ground, a total of five hours and fifteen minutes to complete Puu Manamana. 
I really doubt I’ll be doing the hike again. For sure, I'll be back to trek Puu O Mahie Ridge. The rock climbing and sheer drops are exhilarating and riveting like nothing else, but then I'm turning around. Forget the mud and ferns! The rest of the hike is just too taxing.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Koko Crater

Originally Beimes, Justin and I planned to do Puu Manamana but bad weather conditions forced us to choose another hike. I was pretty bummed as we all tried to think of an alternative because the entire Koolau Mountain Range was in the clouds. Just when everything seemed point less, Justin suggested hiking Koko Crater. My newfound sadness turned to excitement for I have seen many pictures of its backside and know it to be HTMC’s traditional New Year’s hike. I couldn’t wait to ascend the rocks and Koko Crater’s rim. 
Cara and Nate decided to join us as well, and we all met at Koko Head Tracks. We then drove to the Blow Hole Lookout. From there we crossed the street, and walked over the guardrail to head up one of the ridges. Although we weren’t sure which one to ascend we knew once on top we’d be able to see where the trail led. Sure enough a faded dirt path showed the way, and soon the famous natural arch came into view. I was stoked to climb the bridge but stayed behind to take pictures of the view. One by one everyone gunned the arch’s rock face. Only Cara was left as I neared, and it was then I noticed there was no rope to aid in the ascent. I tried to guide Cara up but she was not used to climbing rocks, let alone smooth rocks, nor trusted herself to run it. I soon realized I would need to find her an alternative route if we were going to complete this hike. I peered over the edge and noticed a path along the side. Although I really, really, really wanted to be on top of the arch we made our way down the left side and walked under it.  Cara and I headed upwards, and climbed up a white rock face meeting up with the rest of the crew. Needless to say I was super disappointed, but what a feat it was for Cara and I commend her for making it.
We walked through some shrub making the steep trek to Koko Crater’s rim. It was, indeed, a workout but the views of A.D’s, Hawaii Kai, and Hanauma Bay, and nice breeze made it all worth it. Plus with the bunker in view we knew we were almost done. Upward we continued maneuvering the rim’s rocks. Some we climbed, others we walked along side or under, and a few we jumped off of. It definitely broke up the monotony of the trail, and about thirty minutes later we were sitting nicely on top Koko Head's bunker enjoying the view. We took a lot of pictures and a much needed rest before heading down. It was nice to know that in another 10 minutes of all downhill we’d be done!
Koko Crater was a pretty fun hike. I'm sure on a clear day it's hot but luckily today it was cloudy. The beautiful natural arch, rim trek, gorgeous views and easy descent make it one I'll definitely do again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pali Puka II

Love Pali Puka BUT Love Her More