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Ka`au Crater/Summit

March 10th 2002


  Pauoa seems like such a long way from Wai`anae that I told Linda we better leave at 6:30 am.  Since it takes me one hour to get ready my alarm was set for 5:30.  It’s a challenge to turn the alarm off fast enough not to wake up my wife who is smart enough to not get up so early on a Sunday morning.


   While my double packed of Oatmeal cooled in the fridge after coming out of the microwave I got dressed.  I’ve been having trouble with my little toes banging in to the sides of my boots for the past few hikes.  I found the answer.   Its made by Johnson and Johnson and called First Aid Hurt Free Tape.  It sticks to itself and not skin.  I wrapped up my toes with about two wraps around being sure to cover my entire little toe.   Then I put on my socks and “Wai`anae Gaiters” better know as Duct Tape.  You know us Wai`anae people are not to wealthy.


   Linda showed right on time and we took off for 7-11, Linda gets her wake up coffee and me my soda and lunch.  Tuna what else? The sky in Wai`anae was a beautiful lite blue nothing like yesterday afternoon when I clouded over and rained all nite off and on.  We wondered what it would be like over the Koolaus.  Rounding Barbar’s Point we saw almost the entire Ko`olau Mountain range socked in clouds.  We looked at each other and saw raincoats and mud in our near future.


   As we approached Pearl City it even began to rain.  But we noticed that looking south the clouds were melting away.  Perhaps it would not be too bad today.  The closer we got to Pauoa the fewer clouds we saw.  Driving up 10th Ave we were surprised at how nice it had gotten.  Well it turns out that Pauoa is not so far away and we arrived below the Korean Temple on Waioma`o Street at 7:30.  It only took one hour.  There we found about ½ dozen people getting ready.


   Because parking is not safe at the trailhead everyone, but me in my old truck, parked below the temple and walked to the trailhead.  Me, I think what the heck, drove up with Linda inside and Dayle and Carole took me up on my offer of a ride and climbed in the back.  To steal a line from Dayle they looked like “beauty queens in the Aloha Week Parade”, well Carole did anyway, as they waved to the rest of the TM crew.  Prior to leaving Wai`anae I took everything of value out of the truck and left the doors unlocked so the “Palolo Bandits” could look around without breaking anything.


   We began the hike at about 8:20 am under beautiful blue skies.  Up the private road past the “Kapu” sign going left around the chain link gate that says “No Trespassing”.

Gee are we blind or just lawbreakers?  J   Past the gate we turn left and follow the pipeline to the stream.  Along the way we kind of fall into two teams.  Team 1 will go up the stream, climb around the two waterfalls and then scramble up the cascades with the help of many ropes.  Team 2 will follow the stream for five crossings then turn left and climb the middle ridge of the valley.  I went with Team 1, and Linda with Team 2.


   Team 1 consisted of (and I may have missed a few of you or just did not know your names, sorry) Dayle, Dusty and I cant think of his name, duh, having a blonde moment or is it just my age?  That was the “advanced crew” who blasted way a head of the others.  The rest of the team consisted of Dick and Brenda, Art and Helena and Ina, a young haole boy (man, but at 58 I can call him a boy) I didn’t know, two more guys in white shirts I didn’t know, Phil aka Bad Coconut, Laura, and sorry I just can’t remember who else.  Duh, another 58 moment.


   Team 2 consisted of Peter, Linda, Tom, Gordon and Connie, Ken, Justin, Mabel, John and June.  Did I miss anyone???? Sorry.


   Team 1 (advanced) was long gone and kept in touch by radio as the rest of the team worked our way up the pipeline trail, which was in pretty good shape.  We whacked there and there but not much work was needed.  At 9:15 we reached the first of the two falls.  Some went down to the falls for a look and pictures, I continued scrambling up the two rock faces with the aid of the ropes that have been there for at least 10 months as they were there in May of 2001 when I first did this hike.  Ten minutes later I arrived at the base of the second of the falls.  This is the big one, about 80’ high according to my altimeter.  The rest of the team followed right behind me.  Lots of pictures were taken here.  I left my camera home as I took lots of pictures last May which you can see at:


  At 9:30 I was at the top of the falls and took a GPS reading, altitude was 1000 feet above sea level.  Although there was lots of water going over the falls the crossing at the top was pretty safe and the rope Dayle mentioned stayed in my pack.  After loosing the trail for about a minute, Art figured out the right way and off we went again reaching the bottom of the cascades at 9:50.  Close enough to 10 am for me to take a Power Bar break.  While I was eating the entire time except 3 passed me by.  The elevation at the bottom of the cascades was 1020 and another GPS reading was taken to later be added on my computer-generated map. 


   After eating my Power Bar I headed up the cascades.  The climb was uneventful but nonetheless breathe taking.  Not because of fear, but of the natural beauty of the water as it cascaded down the 200 odd feet to the stream bed.  Thanks to many ropes the climb is quite easy and not dangerous.  The cascades have to be crossed once about ½ way up and again at the very top.  About 10:15 I caught up with most of Team 1b that were about to follow Team 1a, probably on the summit already, up the east rim of the crater to summit at Palikea.


   Jason and I chose to climb to the west rim and take a different route to the summit.  At 10:30 I reached the junction with the Ridge Trail.  Team 2a had already reached the rim and were ahead of me on the west rim.  Team 2b was still working their way up the ridge doing a fantastic job of clearing the trail, as I was to find out later in the afternoon.  I hiked along the west rim in a clockwise direction alone most of the time.  Every once in a while Jason would catch up with me and then fall behind when he decided to cut a little deeper in to the over growth.


   Somewhere around 11 am I caught up with Team 2a, Linda, Peter, Bill, and Mel.  Jason came up right behind me.  Ok, are Jason and I still Team 1b west, or did we suddenly become part of Team 2a?  Together we headed up the west rim toward the summit.  Looking across the crater to the east rim we could watch the progress of Team 1b east.  At about 11:30 we ran into Dayle and Dusty(?) coming down from the summit already.  Dayle said we could put our machetes away as the trail was clear thanks to their work and to Paka who had been up here yesterday with his gas powered hedge trimmer.


   That we did and headed up the rim.  This section has three ropes to help you climb the steep sections.  I placed the third and highest rope last May when I climbed the trail for the first time. Just before I summated at about 11:55 I ran into Team 1b east, who were now on their way down.  I arrived at the summit 5 minutes later at 12 noon.  Linda and Bill were just settling down for lunch.  I joined them and a few minutes later up came Jason.  Mel turned back about 11:30 as he had something important to do later in the afternoon.


   I cut back some uluhi and ducked under some low growing shrubs to eat my lunch in the shade.  After about ½ hour Linda and Bill headed back down the west rim while Peter would go down the east rim alone.  Jason and I stayed at the summit until 1:00 when we split up.  Jason would go down the east rim and I would go down the west.  Standing up and looking at Palikea we noticed what seemed to be a contour trail or what was once a contour trail just below the peak.  Someone needs to look into that.  Was it part of the legendary Castle-Olympus trail, or a short cut someone made to bypass the summit of Palikea, or perhaps just an optical illusion?   While studying the contour we noticed someone coming down from Palikea.  We waited and it turned out to be Roger.  After talking a bit Roger took off down the west rim with me right behind.  Jason following in Peter’s path headed for Palikea and the east rim.


   Roger and I stayed together until we reached the low saddle on the west rim.  Then going up hill Roger left me in the dust.  I reached the Ridge Trail junction at 1:30 and thru radio contact with Linda found that she had stopped to talk to 2 Wai`anae boys (hunters) who had lost a dog while hunting yesterday.  Linda said she would wait for me to catch up, as she was not sure where the down trail was.  About 15 minutes later I caught up and we found the down trail with little trouble.  It was well marked with ribbons.


   The trip down was uneventful and near the bottom we caught up with Gordon who was still doing some touch up on the trail.  We three climbed down the rest of the way to the stream where we meet up with Dayle who should have been back at the cars hours ago.  He told us he had been relaxing in the pools below one of the waterfalls.  He also had this tale of a surprising a bunch of “co-eds” sunning themselves in BIKINI’s on the rocks by one of the pools.   Now why did I go down the ridge and not back the way I came up?    At about 2:45 we arrived at the trailhead meeting others coming out about the same time.  Linda and I piled into the truck and Dayle and some others joined him for a ride to the parking area along the road below the Korean temple.  There we feasted and talked story of today as well as past and future hikes.  As usual a great time was had.  Linda and I left for Wai`anae about 4 pm.


Photos by Phil aka  Bad Coconut