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Oahu Peakbagging Adventures – December 2013 , featuring Ka’ala (CoHP/P2k) and Konahuanu i (P2k)

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  • James Barlow
    Oahu Peakbagging Adventures – December 2013, featuring Ka’ala (CoHP/P2k) and Konahuanui (P2k) Ka’ala (CoHP/P2k) - Dec 3rd, 2013 Dan and I raced off the
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 6, 2013
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      Oahu Peakbagging Adventures – December 2013, featuring Ka’ala (CoHP/P2k) and Konahuanui (P2k)

      Ka’ala (CoHP/P2k) - Dec 3rd, 2013
      Dan and I raced off the ship as soon as liberty call sounded and had to temporarily part ways so I could retrieve our rental car. The ship always seems to take forever to get moored to the pier and we had a sunset to beat so we wouldn't be stuck on the peak too late. There was limited seating in our ride to car rental row at the airport, so we all agreed to send the drivers only, as we had a large number of groups of 2-4 waiting to get to rental cars from our department, all itching for freedom. We still managed to stuff 9 people into a 7 passenger van. I made my way to the car rental at the Honolulu airport, procuring our transportation and making a beeline for the Bowfin, where Dan was waiting for me. The drive out to the west side was pretty good until we hit Nanakuli, where traffic was at a standstill. After wasting 20 minutes going a mile and a half, we were on our way to Waianae Valley Rd, where we turned up towards Ka'ala. There is a split in the road at the 2.5 mile mark (using Waianae Valley Rd, not Plantation Rd). Stay left at this split, and you will arrive at the trailhead after 3.6 miles.

      We quickly set out around 1:15pm or so, hoping to return to the pavement (or at least below the steep boulders) before the 6pm sunset. We had no trouble finding the trail from the road's end. Shortly after the road ends and trail begins, there is a split. Follow the trail down to the stream crossing instead of continuing straight - wherever that goes. After crossing the stream (dry), we began gaining elevation at an increasingly steep angle. There is a right turn upon arrival at a fence line, where you follow the fence for a while until it suddenly drops away to the left and you continue up the ridge. The are a lot of ropes and cables for steeper sections, which I would normally be opposed to using out of principle, but the rain started around the 1,500 ft level, so the mud was all wet and slippery. We encountered the lower rock pile with cables and found it quite easy to ascend, hardly touching the ropes, even on the wet rock. When we arrived at the second crux rock, we and the rock were thoroughly soaked, so I sucked up my pride and used the rope and cable to pull on with my left hand while climbing up the rock. We didn't have any problems with this class 3 section and would not have needed the ropes if it was dry. The nice thing about it was the fact that we were in a cloud, so the exposure seemed minimal. The downside is that there were no views the entire hike... We reached the summit plateau, hiked the boardwalk, passing a rainwater catch drum under a roof, and continuing to the ugly summit. Such a shame that a wonderful hike was ended with fences and radar junk. We found the BM and wandered around a little to ensure we checked the high point. Our summit photos are just the 2 of us on the BM with clouds all around. Too bad the ship did not arrive earlier, we saw Ka'ala as we were pulling in and it was clear in the morning...

      The hike down was uneventful, making more use of the ropes/cable on descent to prevent slipping on the slick trail. The upper rock section was a little easier to descend than ascend, where I just reversed the moves I used on the ascent. The hike down was uneventful and the rain let up as we dropped below 1,500 ft or so. The rain was light the whole time, and we were soaked in sweat, so it didn't really make much of a difference other than trail conditions. Where the trail allowed, we ran in a few sections, hoping to get to the beach before dark for a quick rinse. We also jogged (or in steeper sections, sprinted) down the paved section. We were also quite proud of our arrival at the car in 4 hrs 14 min from when we started. A buddy of mine who lives here said that this hike takes 8 hours. We almost halved that time!  The other bonus of such a quick ascent was the fact that the sun was getting ready to set and we still had to hit the beach for a quick dip.

      We stopped along the side of the road on the west coast somewhere near Nanakuli to jump in the ocean for a few minutes. We were already soaked in rain and sweat, and driving a rental car in our filthy, we clothes, so in we went. After 5 minutes rinsing off, we dried off and changed right there in the parking lot, using our towels to protect our now-dry clothes from the seats we soaked with hiking clothes. I was staying at my buddy Ken's house in Laie, and made arrangements to meet him in Kane'ohe Bay for dinner at Lulu's, a local favorite.

      Day 1 in Hawaii was a success. Day 2 would be spent rock climbing on the north shore, west of Waialua Bay, near the road's end with my buddy Dave. He used to live in Hawaii and was familiar with the crags there, so we were guaranteed a less stressful climbing experience than our misadventures at Punta Campanella, Italy a month ago. Naturally, following our morning of climbing at Mokuleia Crag, I dropped my climbing gear in the trunk and walked 50 ft to the ocean and jumped in for a swim for a little bit before a late shrimp lunch at the famous shrimp trucks in Haleiwa and meeting Ken near his place for some late afternoon snorkeling before another fabulous dinner at another favorite local eatery in Kahuku.

      Ka’ala stats:
      Hiking time: 4h 14m
      Mileage: 6.83 mi
      Max speed: 15.5 mph
      Avg moving speed: 2.3 mph
      GPS track: http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=372032
      Konahuanui (P2k) - Dec 5th, 2013
      Since I had nearly 3 full days on the island of Oahu, courtesy of the Navy, I figured I would make the most of it and bag both of the P2k peaks.  I did Ka'ala on the day we arrived, went rock climbing the second day, and saved Konahuanui for the final day.  I picked up my hiking partners at the ship in Pearl Harbor and a hotel in Waikiki and we made our way up Round Top Drive to the highest point where the Puu Ohia trail begins as it heads past Mt Tantalus.  We followed this trail until it met pavement below Tantalus and then followed the pavement a short distance to a building and tower.  The trail begins again around the left side of the fence around the building and we were back in the forest.  we followed this trail for a while until the intersection with the Manoa Cliff Trail, continuing to the left (down) to a gate and the intersection with the Pauoa Flats Trail.  There are 2 gates before the Pauoa Flats trail.  Both are for pig control I think.  Access is perfectly legal. 
      At the end of the Pauoa Flats Trail, the real hike begins, just past the signs that warn hikers not to proceed further.  There is a bench at this overlook.  Continue into the brush where there is a metal pole and after 10 ft or so of pushing through the bushes, the trail opens up.  A junction is reached shortly after this point.  We ascended the left fork, which stays below the ridge (and out of the morning sun/heat) to the left/north of the ridge, joining the other fork after a while.  The trail is steep in places, but never exposed as it makes its way up to the official benchmark point.  The BM is not located on the highest of these twin peaks, so we needed to continue following the obvious trail north as it steeply descends the false summit and steeply ascends the actual summit.  There is some exposure to the right (east) side, but nothing too nerve-rattling.  Most flat spots on the trail are full of mud, but nothing more than ankle-deep on the day that we did this hike, as we found out trying to avoid the mud, but inevitably sliding right into it.  Upon arrival at the summit, we had amazing views to the north along the Koolau Range.  We also spotted Chinaman's Hat in the ocean below, our relaxation objective for later that afternoon.  The views down to the east were blocked by clouds that the mountains were holding at bay to the east, failing to overtop the ridges and descend west into Honolulu.  After a fresh fruit lunch on the summit, which I had procured alongside the road near Turtle Bay the day before, we were on our way down.  The hike down was mostly in the sun until we got into the trees.  We took the main ridge down at the split just to see different scenery.  There are a few sections that you need to scramble up on the descent, but nothing exposed or challenging.  I would recommend that future hikers go up one way and down the other to enjoy both options, though I liked the direct ridge a little better.  We only saw 1 trail runner and 1 hiker from car to car.  After changing out of our incredibly muddy clothes at the trailhead, we were off to Mike's Kiawe Broiled Huli Huli Chicken in Kahaluu for a late lunch.  This place has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, and succeeded in delivering some great roadside food before our relaxing snorkel at Kualoa, where we headed for Chinaman's Hat.  The weather was a mix of sunny and cloudy the whole hike - not a drop of rain.
      Of note, during this hike, I convinced one of my hiking companions, Bryan, to join peakbagger and begin working peak lists.  Another one hooked and addicted!!

      Konahuanui stats:
      Mileage: 7.22
      Time: 5 hrs 50 min
      Max speed: 5.7 mph
      Moving Avg: 1.8 mph
      GPS Track: http://www.peakbagger.com/climber/ascent.aspx?aid=372060
      Chinaman’s Hat (Bonus Bump & Island HP) - Dec 5th, 2013
      After a late lunch at Mike's Kiawe Broiled Huli Huli Chicken in Kahaluu, we headed for Kualoa Park for some snorkeling and my sneaky attempt at another bonus bump for the day.  Kualo Park served as an airfield during World War II, stretching across the highway and necessitating closure of the road when planes landed.  Kind of interesting.  To head to Chinaman's Hat, park anywhere, but the closer to the end of the point, the better.  Another parking lot change into swimsuits followed our arrival and we hopped into the ocean, still covered in mud from our earlier ascent of Konahuanui.  The water was refreshing, especially where we had suffered minor scratches from the brush on Konahuanui.  Ahhh....  I was forced to hide the car keys for our swim across as it was one of those stupid clickers with a retractable key that cannot be separated from the electronic portion.  What kind of car rental place in Hawaii gives you keys to a car that can't be taken into the ocean?!  I made sure that nobody could see me when I found a good bush to bury them under.  There is a lot of petty theft in Oahu and I didn't want to be a typical haole victim.
      As we put our snorkels and fins on, I suggested to Bryan and Laura that we head to the nearby island, so that we could be kings and queen of our own Hawaiian island for a few minutes.  It is an incredibly shallow reef all the way out there, though I believe it was near low tide.  We slowly made our way out there, stopping often to check out the local marine life, spotting at least a dozen varieties of reef fish, sea urchins, and even an eel.  Upon arrival at the island, we removed our fins and masks, and I suggested heading to the top of the island.  I had already heard the beta for this island from Ken who has been out here a few times since he moved to Hawaii.  We walked up the trail, which heads right from the arrival point on the island.  The arrival point is the corner of the island closest to Kualoa point.  You can see the trail cutting up and right as you swim out there.  The trail gets rocky near the top and requires a few easy climbing moves to get up, especially with wet reef shoes on.  Not a big deal at all, tons of people have done this easy walk.  After enjoying the view from the top, we made our way back down to the refreshing waters of the ocean.  I had managed to talk my group into a bonus bump and they didn't even realize what I had schemed until we were on the top checking out the USGS benchmarker!  We let the incoming tide help us swim back to the mainland.  I had no trouble finding the keys buried in the sand, and I only spotted one other beach-goer the whole time we were swimming and hiking.  Naturally, they were full of sand, so the key wouldn't pop out - crap.  Luckily, Bryan is a dentist and used to operating on small things and was able to get the key out.  I kept it out until I turned it into Advantage at the airport later that night.  We made another parking lot change of clothes in order to meet Ken for our last dinner on the island, at a fancy (flip flops and t-shirt required) seafood place up at Turtle Bay, before we had one last relaxing after-dinner stroll on the beach 100 yards from his house in Laie. 
      Sadly, our Oahu trip was at an end, and we needed to have the rental car back by 10pm and be back on the ship by midnight.

      James Barlow
      CoHP # 115 / World P2k # 127
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