Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Olomana in the day and Kuliʻouʻou at Night

Last night, I went with Kevin and his friend, Aaron, on a hike up Kuliʻouʻou. We started around 6 in the evening and were on a quest to find a quick and easy way to get up the mountain. We didn't take the normal route but took a different route that was marked with ribbons instead. This was after I went with my friend Aaron T., a different Aaron, to Olomana and to the Pillboxes, so I had an adventurous day.

I woke up in the morning and heard some heavy rain, but we had planned the hike in advance, so we were up early anyway. If we couldn't hike, we could do something else because we didn't wanna waste the day. I picked up Aaron T. around 9 and we headed towards Kaneohe, hoping that the rain would clear up by the time we got there. During the drive over, our chances of hiking Olomana seemed slim, but when we parked, the rain seemed to be passing over the mountains and towards town.

We went for it and walked in on the Luana Hills Club road. By the time we reached the entrance to the trail, the sun was beginning to come out and was already drying parts of the trail. It only lightly rained on us once for 5 minutes then cleared back up. We were able to reach the summit of the first peak in under an hour. We had planned to hike all three peaks and go down the third to find a trail back out, but seeing as the rain from that day in addition to rain from days before would have made the trail soggy and slippery, we decided that the first peak was good enough for now and headed back down, saving the round trip Olomana hike for later.

When we returned to the road, it had been about 2 hours since we started. We wanted to eat and had both packed food, so we decided to head over to the pillboxes to have our lunch. We headed over to the second box and spent 20 minutes enjoying the view and our food, then headed back.

Aaron T. didn't join us for the Kuliʻouʻou hike, so there were three of us on the mountain that night. The trail we took was basically like the Kulepeamoa hike-a steep constant uphill climb that'll tire you out, except that it became overgrown with pokey, dried out plants after about halfway up, and Aaron and I wished we wore long pants. I showed up wearing my usual hiking outfit-a tshirt and board shorts, and Aaron was wearing the same. We had to reach the ridge before the sun went down or we'd have a really difficult time finding our way, but once we got to the ridge, it'd be smooth from there.

We scrambled up the mountain, racing the sun and reached the ridge in about 45 minutes. At the ridge where we ended up, there was a tread-in path that we followed for about half a mile until we hooked up with the Kuliʻouʻou trail people normally hike. We had bypassed all the zig zagging parts of the trail and reached the small hut in about 45 minutes from reaching the ridge. The trip to the summit went as usual, except that we were in the dark and were using flashlights to light the path.

The summit was quite windy, and we were soon freezing our asses off. Kevin, always prepared, had brought a jacket along and was the most comfortable out of the three of us-no scratches on his legs, since he had long pants, and not freezing from the wind chill up at the top. We trekked on a little more until we arrived at the summit of the bear claw trail, which is a pretty dangerous trail. An experienced hiker and a good friend of Kevin's, Leslie Merrell, had fallen to his death when a rock he grabbed came loose. A news article about Les can be read here.

After spending some time up at the top, we made our way down and away from the coldness at the top. On the hike down, we checked out a trail that we had seen earlier and followed it until the end, discovering that it hooks up with the regular Kuliʻouʻou trail really early on.

In all, the Kuliʻouʻou hike took us about 2 and a half hours with an hour and a half of cruising and checking out the scenery. It's a relaxing hike, but it can get cold at the top.