Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mt. Ka'ala attempt - O'ahu, Hawaii


Mt. Ka'ala (4,025 ft)
Hike elevation: 3,000ft
Elevation Gain: 2,920 ft
Trail: Wai'anae-Ka'ala
Distance: 6 miles roundtrip (approximation)
Duration: 5.5 hrs (includes stops for breaks along the trail and at the 3 poles)
Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Danger: Medium to High (steep sections with loose rock, rock scrambling along trail) 

Heart be still! There's a 4000+ footer on Oahu! Well then, it's only appropriate that I hike to this summit to add to my 4000+ feet list! Sure it's not part of the New Hampshire 48 list, but hey, I am a peakbagger! :) 

I did a lot of research on this hike, reading many blogs and reviews on this hike. And I went through many photos of this hike often comparing photos from different bloggers/reviewers and saw many of the same shots along the trail. This helped me to understand what to expect and encounter while on the trail. It was a way to familiarize myself with the trail even being 6000 miles and months away.

Initially I was going to solo hike to Mt. Ka'ala but my family in Hawaii was not too fond of my plans. So I ended up hiking with my cousin Darrell and his co-worker Neil.

6am came early and was it was still dark. But I had gone to bed early the night before so I was well rested when Darrell and Neil picked me up. We had no problems finding the trailhead using Stuart Ball's book "The Hiker's Guide To O'ahu". We arrived at the dirt trailhead just as it was starting to get light out.  We geared up and a truck pulled up with 6 hunting dogs and two boys in the back. My cousin spoke to the driver a bit….he told us to follow the paved road until we got to the covered picnic table. Then follow the dirt trail up, and up and up!

We started up the paved, one-lane road and there was a group of 3 coming down. They told us that they didn't quite make it to the covered picnic table. At the picnic table we took a break and then continued up the dirt trail. There were no hikers on the way up. 

 We followed the trail blazed with purple bottle caps
  
Our hike was without any incident but about half a mile to the "3 poles" it did start raining, just lightly. Then it dawned on me. I had honestly thought that it would not rain! And that I had left my feet traction and trekking poles in Darrell's truck! "Are you serious?!" I thought to myself! I traveled 6000 miles from the east coast and made sure to bring my trekking poles and Microspikes only to leave them in my cousins truck down at the trailhead! Gaaaaahhhhh! I sighed and it continued to rain.

At the top of the Kamaile'unu Ridge we took a brief break.  I had kept my big camera in my backpack as I usually take it out once I'm on a summit and use my iPhone to take photos while on the trail.
 

 
We continued just past the "3 poles" and it started to get slick right away. I've never had to turn back on any of my hikes so the decision to turn around and head back down without summiting was my first time. My cousin Darrell made his way up a bit while Neil and I started back down. 
Without my Microspikes I was nervous coming down the slick trail. Neil and I carefully hiked down to get under the treeline and waited for Darrell to return. It's a good thing we didn't continue. Darrell said that the trail became steeper and more slippery. The decision to turn back was a wise one for us. I would have to bag Mt. Ka'ala at another time!

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