Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Olomana - Down the third peak

I had been wanting to check the entirety of Olomana off my to-do list for quite some time, and not just the usual trail where you back track after reaching the third peak; I wanted to see how the trail looked going down the third peak and try to exit through the entrance of the Olomana trail.

I checked out a little of the hike down the third peak earlier but was on a time budget because our group didn't have time allotted for potentially getting lost in the dense forest that's sandwiched between the golf course and the mountains. This time, however, we made sure to start early in order to factor in any extra time required to find our way out of an otherwise un-trekked trail, as far as I know.

I've done the popular Olomana trail a bunch of times, and a writeup of each adventure can be seen at these links:

The first time I hiked Olomana
Another time
And yet again
A multi-hike day including Olomana

However, the back of Olomana's third peak has always been a mystery to me. I won't waste any time talking about the hike before the start of the descent down the back of the third peak, so let's get straight into it. Aaron and Maxx came along to check out the trail as well.

The rope ladder to get down the small drop on the third peak is still there and is still as unstable as before. The ladder does show signs of use, and the bottom rung of the ladder (all rungs are chopped up PVC pipes) has broken off. It seems reparable, but that last rung isn't really necessary anyway. After judging the distance down, I figured I could jump down, so I lowered myself as low as I could with my arms and then took a leap of faith. It's entirely possible to jump down, but just watch where you land since the ground is uneven. Aaron and Maxx opted to take the ladder, which may or may not be a good idea depending on your weight and how much you trust the ladder. The stake that holds the ladder wiggles a little but held the ladder in place when Aaron and Maxx went down (separately, of course).

Moving along down the third peak, you'll encounter a path with features similar to the path going up the third peak - thinner and steeper sections, and more challenging than going up the third. The trip down the third peak is more climbing oriented than hiking oriented, and there are two major rope sections. The third peak also features many drop offs to the sides, so watch your footing because some rocks may be loose. The first rope section takes you down a slight overhang and is a little tricky since getting down is almost impossible without the rope. The sections going down the back of the third will be challenging for people who have an intermediate experience level, even with rope. After a steep climb down the back of the third peak, you'll eventually trek into the forest that blankets the area below the peaks. There are a couple ribbons, but not many leading right, which is the way we wanted to go. I've heard that there is a more definite trail leading left to Waimanalo, but we didn't follow that path since we didn't have a car in Waimanalo.

At first, the trail to the right is somewhat tread-in, but it seems to actually be a pig trail. We followed what we thought to be a man-made trail that moved parallel to the mountain but figured we were on a pig trail and decided to start heading down to see what else was hidden in the forest. It's pretty clear that no one has been there in a while because there is pretty much no trail whatsoever, and the entire area is overgrown with plants and trees. We didn't run into any pigs while trying to navigate our way out but were always on the lookout.

We ended up essentially making our own trail and wandered in the forest for about 3 hours. We tried to follow the most logical path to get out but ran into some really overgrown areas. The worst was when we had to turn around because we ran into an area overgrown with thorny plants. Somehow we found our way onto one of the Maunawili trails and followed the trail to the entrance of Olomana and out to the golf course road. The next time we come back, we'll try to clear out a trail and mark it with ribbons for anyone else trying to get out through the Olomana entrance.

Update 8/25/13:

I just went back with Mitsuo, and we tried to mark a path that seemed to be the best way for getting back to the entrance of the Olomana trail. I brought a handheld outdoor GPS along to help us find our headings if necessary, and it turned out to be useful for some parts since more than one path appeared at times.

When we got down from the back of the third peak, we marked a "nalo" path and an "entrance" path on ribbons. I wouldn't recommend anyone except expert hikers try to descend the back of the third peak, but if you do, just follow the ribbons that mark the "entrance" path to get back to the entrance. I guess we can call it the Olomana loop trail since it does loop back around Olomana, but it doesn't have an official name, as far as I know. In addition to the more climbing-oriented trail, you should not be afraid of heights. At some point after following the loop trail, you should run into orange ribbons too. We found these orange ribbons by chance, downhill from where we were marking our trail, so we just made the paths meet up. We didn't feel like replacing any of the orange ribbons since they were holding up well. The orange ribbon path isn't the easiest to travel on or follow, but as long as you have a sense of where to go, you'll be able to follow the orange ribbons, find your way to the Maunawili trail and then exit out of Olomana's entrance. When we met up with the Maunawili trail, it was on our left. It seems that a crew came in between the last time we went and this time to clear a path that also connects with the orange ribbon path. I'm not sure where this or the orange ribbon path goes, and we didn't have the time or desire to check out the paths since we had already spent a good amount of time getting up to and down the third peak. In all, the hike took us about 5 hours (9:30-2:30), but you should allot about 6-8 hours for the entire Olomana loop hike. Bring enough water and possibly long pants for the trip back through the forest.

I have no experience on what we believed to be the "nalo" path and just marked the two paths so that people would know which path is the one we made - the one that takes you back to the start of Olomana. Kevin usually takes the Waimanalo path and says it's pretty defined. You should also leave a car in Waimanalo if you don't want to walk or catch a taxi back to Olomana.

Another Update 8/31/13:

Mits, Aaron, and I went back one more time to refine the trail we made in the forest. Since we just wanted to get out of the forest, we somewhat hastily marked the previous trail and may not have made it easy to follow. It was also fun to go back and see the trail again. We took around 5 hours again and should have a trail that's easy to follow. Mostly everything is the same, but we moved a couple ribbons and added more ribbons in some areas where it would be hard to see. That was some pretty consistent Olomana hiking, but it's always fun.