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Saturday, February 17, 2018

January 6, 2018

What a way to start 2018!!  Any hike with the "Red Baron" is usually epic and this one was no different.  The plan today was to hike up the ridge to Pohakea Pass, cross over the Waianae Summit Trail (WST) to Palehua and bail down the HTMC route to the Honouliuli Contour Trail (HCT) back to our cars.  Sound long?  Sure was.  But with an awesome crew of Baron, Marilou, Kellie, and OAGs Darren, Bernice, Aprille, Troy, and his wife, Michelle, this turned out to be one awesome hike!

With a long day ahead, we hit the trailhead early (7 am) and began the trek up a STEEP dirt road to the HCT, where we HAD to take a short breather!  What a way to start the day!

We followed the HCT for about 20 minutes before heading up Pohakea Ridge.  We climbed steeply through a paperbark grove, then through thick guinea grass.  About half an hour up the ridge, Troy spotted what looked like the remains of an airplane on the side of the ridge.  We all peeked to the side and realized it certainly was an airplane wreckage.  We found out it was Beech 19A aircraft that crashed last summer, killing all 4 aboard.  You can read the article here:

We climbed down to check out the wreckage.

Once our fascination wore off, we returned to the ridgeline and resumed our trek up to Pohakea.  It didn't take long before the ridge got real STEEP!

We finally arrived at the summit line a little around 9:15.  We took a s short break, then a bunch of us left our packs & went to visit the top of Pohakea Pass.  The views from here are simply amazing!

We snapped a bunch of pictures and soaked in the views for a bit before returning to the rest of our crew, who waited back at the Pohakea ridge summit.  After regrouping, we geared up and began our trek across the WST towards Palehua.   The initial part of the crossover was mostly canopy (about 20 min) until we hit a fence line.

We climbed over the fence and the crossover started to rollercoaster.

We stopped frequently to reinflate our lungs.  Fortunately, the views alleviated the burning in our lungs.

This crossover afforded us lots of views

Troy even found some Ko'oko'olau.  He stopped to examine the native plant to see if it would be good for making tea.

Eventually, the fence line ended and we trekked across open ridge again for a while.

We stopped at a nice flat section to rest.  It was a good thing too, since the clouds began to blow in and a thick, overgrown section of uluhe awaited us just ahead.  Troy and Baron led the way through the overgrowth while the rest of the crew enjoyed the swath.

After pushing through thick overgrowth, crawling under uluhe tunnels, and ascending and descending steep inclines, the ridge finally leveled off and the overgrowth thinned, presenting us with gorgeous views.

A little before 1 pm, we found a nice open area to take a break before making our last push towards palikea.  It also provided a good spot for a group photo.

As we neared Palikea, I could see from a distance, the snail enclosure.  To my dismay, it looked like all the trees and everything else in the enclosure had died or been removed.

Shortly, we picked up the fence line again.  We climbed over the fence and proceeded towards Palikea summit.  With the sun at its peak, our energy waning, and a long way to go, we pushed pass the Palikea summit, looking forward to finding some snails and happy face spiders in the enclosure near palehua.  Eagle-Eye Michelle was the only one to find these native tree snails.

We were also able to find a couple Happy Face Spiders.  Unfortunately, I don't have a macro lens so this pic is the best I got.  :P

After getting our fill of the native fauna, we continued on to Palehua.  We paused briefly at a rocky section to enjoy the last of the views.

We then made our way to the HTMC junction to the HCT, with some help of a GPS track I had.  The descent down the ridge was rather uneventful and hard to follow in some parts, but with Baron's intuition, we made it safely back to the HCT.

We followed the HCT for a LOOOOOONG way (4.5 boring miles to be exact) back to our cars.

After about 2 hours, we finally made it back to our cars.  We ended our hike at Thai Village for our Post Hike Meal.  A fitting ending to another epic hike!  Welcome 2018!!

February 10, 2018

After 5 previous attempts to make it to this elusive peak, number 6 was the charm.  With clear skies and a cold front bringing air conditioned type weather, Baron put together another trek to Ohikilolo.  This time, with promising conditions, hoping to get me to the pyramid shaped peak along the ridge splitting Makua and Makaha Valleys.

Today's crew consisted of Baron (leader), Kellie, Jena, Jhenelyn, Markus, and OAG's: Daniel, Bernice, and Darren.  We started at 7:15 am and hit the trailhead.  We followed the valley floor for about and hour before heading up a spur ridge.  About 1.5 hours later, we found ourselves along a narrow, rocky dike section with beautiful views towards Mt. Ka'ala, the highest peak on Oahu (4,025 ft).

We methodically made our way up the ridge as it steepened considerably, forcing us to scramble and even climb a few short inclines.

We topped out atop Kea'au Ridge in 3.5 hours and took some time for some goofing around and lots of photo ops.

and for Kellie, even a nap.

After a lot of shenanigans, we geared up and continued on towards Ohikilolo Peak.  About 15 minutes later, we arrived at a NARROW fin of a ridge that had to be negotiated.

After safely negotiating the "fin", resumed our ascent up the steep side to the Ohikilolo Ridgeline.

Upon reaching the Ohikilolo Ridgeline, we made a left at the fence line to a nice open, grassy plateau for our break.  Since Daniel & I had never set foot atop Ohikilolo Peak, the 2 of us and Bernice backtracked to the Pyramid shaped peak.

The view atop Ohikilolo did not disappoint!!  After 5 failed attempts, it was definitely worth the wait!

On top of that, along the fenceline, I spotted a rare type of Halapepe, Chrysodracon Forbesii (Thanks to Ryan Chang for the ID).

Once we got our fill of Ohikilolo, we made our way back to the junction, to return the way we came.
We took a quick group photo before descending the ridge back into the valley (Markus, Jena, and Kellie not pictured as they had to leave early).

A little over 10 hours later, we were back at our cars and headed to our Post Hike Meal!   Thanks to Baron, my awesome OAG fam, and the rest of the crew for finally getting me to Ohikilolo!

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Saturday, November 26, 2017

Some of the OAGs and I wanted to hike this weekend and we came up with two options:
  1. If rainy, we'll do East HNL falls scramble
  2. If clear, we'll do a summit hike near Hawaii Kai
Rain poured the whole night till the morning of so we ended up doing option 1.  Darren was sick so the crew was Erik, Bernice, Troy, Ryan, Matt, and me.  The last time I've done this hike was more than 2 or 3 years ago and I slipped on one of the waterfalls while climbing.  I made sure I was mentally prepared and ready to conquer this hike without any mistakes this time.

Heading in was slow going as we planned to wait for a friend who is running late at the first falls.  The deeper we were in the valley, the louder the stream came.  The first falls was flowing more than average which indicated that the set of falls we will be climbing will be flowing definitely.

When we reached the second falls, the stream was a little brown but flowing well.  After taking some group shots, we proceeded to the third falls and thus begun our climbing venture.  At the fourth waterfall, Ryan asked the group who will count the number of waterfalls on this hike.  Troy blurted, "Aprille will", just as I was about to offer my name up to the challenge.  However, my number seem to be different with Ryan's count every time he asked.  There were so many stream waterfalls, collective step up waterfalls, below 5 feet waterfalls, to above 5 feet waterfalls.  All I know is there was at least 20 falls.  As we traveled further up the waterfalls, we all questioned to what exactly is a waterfall.

Second falls

The OAGs!!

I researched, and most waterfall definitions were classified as "a river or other body of water's steep fall over a rocky ledge into a plunge pool below" (Nat Geo).  From this I learned that the many short step up waterfall tiers aren't waterfalls due to the absence of a plunge pool.  Ehh, there are still at least 20 waterfalls though on this hike.  In the beginning there was one section where we call it the twin falls since it was a double tier.  At the first tier Troy had to free climb it up and drop down some rope for us.  We were thankful for Ryan because he taught the crew how to easily put away rope making daisy chains as well as making useful knots.

Double tier falls,

Throughout the whole hike, it was surely cold!  The water was freezing as well, which made us not stay in one place in order to keep our bodies warm.  To not a surprise, Erik brought hot chocolate with him in a thermo flask for the hike.  The crew and I were able to take a sip of that warm steamy sweet beverage.  Ah!!

Looking back,

A little before reaching the summit, we were approached by a big grove of Loulu palms.  The palms were huge!! After the loulu palms, was a marsh like meadow in front of the red dirt v shaped summit crest.  It was so windy!! I kept being pushed to the side as I was making my way to the summit.  It was a good thing that the crew and I decided to have our lunch break underneath the Loulu palms.  Our food would have flown out of our hands and mouths!

The somewhat marsh meadow just after the Loulu Palm Grove

We then hurried towards the next point of destination since the wind was roaring and howling.  As we headed down, I noticed that a part of this trail will erode maybe in the next couple of years as it is just was a super narrow pack of wet mud.  I hope not to be on it when it crumbles. 

We then took a contour route down back to the trail head and in no time we were done.  We then went to Pioneer Saloon for PHM.  Most of us enjoyed some warm beef stew/curry.  Yum!!  It was a fun day with the crew.  Thanks Ryan and Matt for joining and leading us!


Friday, November 17, 2017

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wow, I haven't updated the blog in a while but I still have been hiking!  I usually try to hike Thursdays with my buddy, Sheryl.  Since it rained the past few days, we decided to venture in Kalihi.  It has been more than 3 years since I've been to this waterfall. 

Knowing there are only so many parking spots that can fit near the trailhead, my prediction didn't fail.  I arrived at the end of the street and there was a HECO van with workers.  I turned around and tried to find a spot somewhere down the road.  I was about to text Sheryl however being deep in the valley has lost cell signal.  It was a few minutes later I saw Sheryl driving by and told her the news.  She went to check it out and turns out those workers have left.  So I followed Sheryl back to the end of the road and we were able to claim parking spots.

It was windy and cool.  Winter season is sure arriving with this awesome weather! As we walked up the road, I didn't remember the road being so uphill.  My calves were surely getting pumped.  About half an hour or so later, we arrived at the falls.  There was a local guy doing a tour of the falls with a group of mainland tourists.  Once they saw us, the tour guide decided it was time to head out.  This is not my first time seeing "tour guides" here in Oahu.  I always question if what they're doing is legal or not.

Anyways, I unpacked my bag to grab Erik's Canon camera, his LEE filters, and my tripod.  I had to borrow Erik's equipment because I forgot to bring mine.  I recently started getting into slow shutter photography starting the ending of March this year from the Big Island trip.  After seeing my night shots came out successful, I attempted to do long exposure photography with the waterfalls in Maui a few months after.  There are something about the silky effect that makes the waterfall look so heavenly.  So I wanted to try it out with Na Ohia this time.  The pictures didn't fail to amaze me! The flow was flowing just perfect, and the water was ice cold just like the last time I came.

Sheryl told me that the last time her and our friend Karen went here, Karen's toe was nibbled by what it seem to be a big fish.  I wonder if that fish was there the last time I was here and it just grew or if someone purposely put it there...But haha, so I didn't want to chance it swimming in the first pool.  There was a family that arrived a little after us so we let them have the fun hehe.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

November 10-November 11, 2017

Since my birthday is on Monday, Aprille asked me what hike I wanted to do.  Of course, Poamoho (my favorite hike) would have to be part of it.  So I said, let's do a backpacking trek from Poamoho to Schofield.  Joining us this weekend were Kellie and OAG's Troy & Darren.  The forecast called for rain on Friday and T-Storms on Saturday through Sunday, we took a chance anyway.  Here's how it unfolded:

Since Aprille picked up the permit earlier in the week and my brother agreed to drop us off, we all met at my house at 6 am to carpool to the trail.  However, since my brother had to be somewhere by 7:30 am and we weren't making good time up the dirt road, we agreed to stop and walk the remainder of the way to the trailhead.

We arrived at the trailhead a little after 7 am and didn't waste any time hitting the trail.  Thankfully, the weather seemed like it was holding up and we just might have a nice day ahead.  The Poamoho trail is one of the most beautiful of the state trails.

We arrived at the bench (halfway point) in about an hour, making pretty good time with these heavy packs.  We took a short break and continued on.  As we neared the snail habitat, a beautiful little waterfall popped out on our right.

Another 10 minutes or so, we reached an opening before the trail began to contour along the back wall of the Ko'olaus.  We stopped for a short break to enjoy what might be the last of the views as dark clouds began rolling over the Ko'olaus.  However, this trail has more than just views.  As we meandered along the contour towards the summit, we were greeted by tons of beautiful native plants like Loulu, towering Ohia, and just before the summit, a budding Koli'i.

Arriving at the summit in just about 2.5 hours, we were greeted by a big white curtain.  :(  We rested a bit at the summit till rain prompted us to seek shelter.  We geared up, slogged through some serious mud, and made our way to the cabin.

At the cabin, we quickly unloaded our heavy packs and began setting up camp.

Once set up was done, we talked story and relaxed for a couple hours.  Since everyone was getting tired, we all took a short nap.  At around 5:30 pm, we started dinner.  We prepped some Pasta Primavera and Chili Mac with Beef MRE's and some saimin and ate like kings.  For some reason, food seems to taste so much better on the mountains.  Since it was my birthday hike, Aprille got me a chocolate donut with a candle on it and Troy got party hats for everyone.  They sang "Happy Birthday" to me and we all enjoyed some chocolate donut and astronaut ice cream.

With the weather getting worse and the temperature dropping, everyone decided to hit the sack early (around 8 pm).  We all woke up around 5 am the next morning.  With the weather still terrible, we packed up our things and decided on an early start, leaving the cabin at 7:10 am.  The rain was relentless as we trekked along the KST towards Schofield.  However, even without the views, the hike was still amazing!

We reached Pauao in about 30 minutes and about 10 minutes later, we met up with a fenceline along the summit.  The fenceline made progress really easy.  However, it seems those who put the fence up also brought with them some invasive plants as tons of ginger began to spread along area.

The fenceline continued for quite a while, ending near a little meadow, where we were treated to multiple waterfalls cascading down the side of the ridge.

Once the fenceline ended, the trail became overgrown, slowing our progress.

A little under 2 hours since leaving the Poamoho cabin, we found ourselves at the summit of Schofield trail.

With 7 miles left of our hike, we kept our break short.  The upper portions of the Schofield trail were starting to overgrow, even though the HTMC just cleared it back on August 27.

However, as the contour trail moved to the ridge crest, we ran into another fenceline.

Again, the fenceline made progress nice and easy.  The constant downpour opened up more waterfalls along the adjacent ridges.

Once the fenceline ended, we just followed the contour on and on and on as we sloggily trudged our way along this endless trail.  About 2.5 hours from the summit, we finally arrived at the HTMC's Kaukonahua Stream junction.  We sat and took a much needed rest as exhaustion began taking its toll.

With only about 20 minutes left of trail, we made the final push to the Schofield trailhead.

We took a much needed break at the trailhead before making the looooong road walk back to the car.

Darren graciously drove us back to my house where Darren and Kellie left for home.  Troy, Aprille, & I went to fill our tummies at Teddy's Burger.

Aside from the weather, we had a fun 2 days in the mountains.  Until the next adventure . . . aloha!
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