Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gonna get my ice climb on!

Yea, you heard me.....gonna get my ice climb on at the 2013 Mount Washington Valley Ice Festival! This will be my first time attending the ice festival as well as taking an ice climbing clinic. The fest is hosted by IME (International Mountain Equipment) and takes place Feb 1-3, 2013 in North Conway, NH. I'm really looking forward to this event, actually I'm totally psyched! I'll be taking a climbing clinic from two guest guides; Art Mooney and Emilie Drinkwater and also have the op to meet other ice climbers. There will be videos, shows, free food and oh-la-la, lots of gear demos!! Bringing my camera and hope to get lots of photos! Ice-ice baby!

Sunday, January 27, 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. 

Sunday, January 6, 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 curiousity, it commanded my respect. A truly unforgettable hike! Shoots, an unforgettable walk from Honolulu to Kaneohe!

My cousin Darrell and I joined up with Lita and Marty to hike! Our originally plans were to hike all 3 peaks of Olomana but the night before Darrell and I checked weather reports for rain and it looked like it would be way too slippery for Olomana. Lita had invited us to hike to Haiku Stairs via the Moanalua Middle Ridge from the Moanalua Valley Park. So Darrell and I decided to go for it! Since this was a one-way hike, we needed to “spot cars”. The four of us jumped into Lita’s car, leaving Marty and Darrell’s car at the trails-end. And we drove to the Moanalua Valley Park where we started off.

The Kamananui Valley Road trail is a classic stream hike which 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. We started off together but at the junction of the Kulana’ahane Trail the HOT group blazed ahead with the exception of Anthony, who finished the hike with us.

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!

At this narrow section Lita started off on her butt. I’m not a fan of butt sliding, so I just hurriedly walked across while stooped as low as I could get. 
 We continued up and I kept looking back to check the view
 Another narrow ridge. Hard to hold my camera still in this wind!
The higher we hiked the wetter it got and we continued to
slop our way up muddy trails that was 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! :)

Darrell making his way up through the clouds!
Here I am taking a video of our last ascent to the top!
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, the CCL (Communications Control Link) building at the top of Haiku Stairs!
We rested a bit, "checking-in" to Facebook and took a few photos of the inside of the building.
(Hiking the ungraded ridge of Moanalua was breath-taking
even if there were hardly any views of the windward below us.) 
Now for the fun part, descending Haiku Stairs.....all 3,922 steps!

Haiku Stairs descent (video)
Before and after!
 And my camera

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. 

I rated this hike as "High Danger". As you can see from my videos and photos, exposed and ungraded ridge hiking can be dangerous, especially in very high winds. And the stairs are also very steep.  

My Kahtoola Microspikes