Saturday, July 11, 2009

7-11-2009: Moanalua Middle to Ha'iku Stairs

Since I've made my last entry regarding the completion of the Ko'olau mountains, I got inspired to make the best effort to take this blog backwards and take a blast from the past!  In fact, this very trek would mark my inspiration to start my long journey on my personal goal to complete the Ko`olau Mountain Range, or at least during that time, complete as much of it as possible.  This tale and the following tales to come are solely based on recall so events may not be accurate at all.  Time to take these hiking time shoes and set the chronometers backwards!  Here we go!

The year was 2009, and I was thrilled to organize my very first hike along the Ko`olau summit from point A, to point B.  Not having any summit walking experience under my belt, I was a bit nervous, but eager to do some exploration in the high reaches of the Ko'olaus.  I've done the Ha'iku Stairs numerous times but never went from the Moanalua side.  I've heard great treks about it before my time and really wanted to experience it for myself.

Joining me would be Frank, Chad, Laarni, and two other people whom I forget their names.  These individuals would be my first group to hike since I started hiking as a passion.  They would later introduce me to my very first hiking group, the O`ahu Hikers & Adventurers on Meetup.  There, I would meet my soon to be beloved friend, Leslie Charles Merrell.  Thus, DGC's Hawai'i Hiking Tales was born.

We set off on Moanalua Valley Rd, hiking it's 3 miles to the junction.  Since we were all first timers here, we had to be careful of not getting mixed up with the Kulana'ahane Trail.  All went to plan and found the junction to the Moanalua Middle Ridge with no problems.  Up we went and it was a huge workout for all of us.  Later, we came upon the protruding rock, posed by it, and traversed the somewhat narrow dike.  I was taking in all the views around.  I've never seen anything like what was before me!  I was stoked!

Unfortunately, we reached the clouds, which was with us for much of the entire morning.  The views quickly vanished and we were hiking with near zero visibility.  The winds picked up as we inched our way closer to the summit.  After a few rolling hills, we came to the final steep climb with a rope.  This was a lung buster, but we all made it without trouble.  Soon, we were at the Keahi a Kahoe benchmark, marking the terminus of the Middle Ridge.  No views were present though.

After resting up, we turned left and made our way through muddy chutes, mud holes, and native mountain forest.  It was eerie with the clouds socking the views.  I've never seen anything like it!  It wasn't long before we made it to the CCL building and the terminus of the Ha'iku Stairs.  Still no view though.  We waited for some time to see if a view would happen, but to no avail.  We had lunch and prepared to head down 3,922 steps of the Stairway to Heaven.  It was wet, cold, and slippery.  We got far enough downward to see the views of Ha'iku Valley and Kane'ohe around us, along with the H-3.  We reached the bottom and was greeted by an Asian local, who was the guard on duty this day.  He asked us where we came from, since he noticed we were covered in mud from waist down.  He then proceeded to show us the way out.

We noticed the green Omega Station as we were coming down the stairs and so we decided to get a closer look at it.  We made our way to the center of the valley and there she stood.  It happened this was the DHARMA Hydra Station on the show "Lost".  The DHARMA symbol clearly stood out above the main entrance.  We poked around inside for a bit and was a bit spooky.  A lot of the original equipment had it's copper removed, probably by vandals.  There was a mattress on the upper level, indicating that someone was probably living here.  Not wanting to stay long, we made our exit and headed back down the road to our cars.  It was one of my most memorable hikes.  It marked my very first Ko'olau summit traverse and thus, the start of an epic journey for the next three and half years!