Monday, January 28, 2013

Mt. Major - Solo Winter Hiking

Mt. Major (1,780ft)
Trails: Mt. Major Main
Elevation Gain: 1,100 ft
Distance: 3.4 miles roundtrip
Duration: 1 hr, 55 minutes (includes stops along the trail and at the summit)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

This hike was an awesome easy workout! I wanted to make the summit in one hour and I did so! The only time I really stopped along the trail on my ascent was when I had gone off trail. I had to stop and search for a bit for those blue blazes. I had brought my snowshoes just in case, but didn’t need them as the trail was nicely packed. 

I took the Mt. Major Main trail all the way to the summit. It provides a short and direct route to the summit but near the top it has some really sketchy and steep pitches. I opted to take the alternate route to the left to avoid the ledges. I may be a crazy hiker girl, but I’m not stupid, the ledges were full of ice.
 Those ledges
There were great 360 degree views at the top but man, was it windy cold! I could only stand to stay at the summit for 10 minutes and while there, managed to use a new iPhone app I installed, the 360 Panorama. I really need practice at holding my iPhone as still as I can while photographing....tough to do when its windy out. But it's a fun app!
I didn’t take my backpack off to get to my big camera so I just took a couple of photos using my iPhone, so pardon the blurry iPhone photos. (insert whining) I usually like to stay a bit on the summits, but it was so cold here. I sat in the stone shelter at the summit and still couldn’t get away from the wind. I couldn’t wait to get down below treeline. (end whining)


Speaking of backpacks, I bought this Columbia Titanium backpack at Marshall’s for $40. I thought the design is rather interesting and decided to give it a try. The backpack opens like a clamshell so that you don’t have to unpack everything or dig down to the bottom like you would a top-loading backpack. I’m sure the concept works great, but I wouldn’t know as I didn’t bother getting my camera out of it once I got to the summit. But I do think that it’s very light and it didn’t feel like it until I put it on and tightened the straps. It was actually very comfortable and I’m looking forward to using it more on my winter hikes.
Back at the trailhead I didn’t bother to take my winter boots and Microspikes off. I quickly unloaded my gear and set off for Alton Bay and the docks at Shibley’s At The Pier. I was hoping the airplanes were still parked on the frozen lake. They were so I quickly got my winter coat on, grabbed my camera and headed out onto the ice. 
The ice fishing huts are fascinating! Each one is distinct!

Afterwards I had lunch at  Shibley’s At The Pier. I was seated at a corner table with great views of the lake. I had a delicious meal of Ahi Tuna wrap with Wasabi sauce.  I just love having winter lunches there. It was a treat to have a great view and watch everyone on the frozen Lake Winnepesaukee. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Haiku Stairs & Pu’u Keahi a Kahoe – O’ahu, Hawaii

Haiku Stairs (2,800ft)
aka Stairway To Heaven
Elevation Gain: 2,560ft

Pu’u Keahi a Kahoe (2,820ft)
Elevation Gain: (2,580ft)

Trails: Kamananui Valley Rd, Kulana’ahane Trail
Distance: 8.5 miles
Duration: 6.5 hours (includes stops for breaks along the trail and at summits)
Difficulty: Easy to Very Strenuous
Danger: High (exposed/narrow ridges with steep drop-offs, steep staircase, high winds)

The beauty of lush, tropical ridges and the Haiku Stairs summit in clouds coupled with high winds made this hike both beautiful and amazing! Not only did this hike peak my curiosity, it commanded my respect. A truly unforgettable hike! Shoots, an unforgettable walk from Honolulu to Kaneohe!

My cousin and I joined up with 3 others to hike! Our original plans were to hike all 3 peaks of Olomana but the night before I checked weather reports for rain and it looked like it would be way too slippery for Olomana. We were invited to hike to Haiku Stairs via the Moanalua Middle Ridge from the Moanalua Valley Park. So my cousin and I decided to go for it! 

The Kamananui Valley Road trail is a classic stream hike that took us over several Moanalua Stream crossings. This portion of the hike was easy to navigate as it winds through the lush valley. Shortly before taking the Kulana’ahane trail, we met up with the Hiking Oahu Trailblazers (H.O.T.). My Kahtoola Microspikes got a lot of attention. I didn't realize that I was the only one wearing spikes. Several of the hikers in the HOT group asked me about them. 

From the get-go the Kulana’ahane Trail gains elevation quickly and doesn’t let up. The trail along the lower ridge is overgrown in some spots. Some sections of the trail were board and other sections were narrow with very little or no foliage to offer the hiker a sense of security or grip. As we continued our traverse upwards, there were many long, steep climbs where ropes had been installed. I was so glad for the ropes as the trail got slicker as we gained elevation. I was also glad that I wore my Microspikes!

The higher we hiked the wetter it got and we continued to
slop our way up muddy trails that were just a foot or two wide!
More butt sliding, this time downward (video)
We finally summited Pu’u Keahi a Kahoe (Kahoe’s fire)! There is a small wooden sign as well as 3 benchmarks to distinguish the summit. We continued on and the winds grew stronger and we were in the clouds more often! :)

Video of the views from the last ascent before reaching the top.
The winds here had to be 25-30 mph!
(Still shots really couldn't capture the magnitude of the winds like a video can!) 
After 5.5 hours, we reached the CCL (Communications Control Link) building.
Now for the fun part, descending Haiku Stairs.....all 3,922 steps!

Haiku Stairs descent (video)
Warning: Haiku Stairs is officially closed and it is illegal to access the stairs.
If you attempt this hike, you do so at your own risk. 

YouTube Channel - Hawaii Girl Adventures

Check out my YouTube channel at:  Hawaii Girl Adventures I will eventually be phasing out blog posts and be posting videos of my climbing, h...