Mt. Ka'ala - Dupont

Massive Mt. Ka'ala
DATE: 3 July, 2010
TOTAL TIME: 7.5 hrs
DIFFICULTY: Medium-Hard (Hard, with constant rain)
PARTICIPANTS: "Loafer" Mike, "Reef Shoes" Jason, "The Optimist" Jeremy, "Hangover" Lynnale, Me

My goal was to recreate the journey early Hawaiians had to conduct in order to traverse Ka’ala from Waianae to Waialua, and at the end getting the modern version of ancient bloodletting and sacrificial offerings: shave ice in Haleiwa. Technically, we are combining two trails. Up the Mt. Ka'ala trail from Waianae and down the Dupont trail to North Shore.

Post-hike at Haleiwa Eats. Left to right: "Hangover" Lynnale, "The Optimist" Jeremy, "Loafer" Mike, "Reef Shoes" Jason, me

Pu'u Kanoeha and Pu'u Hapapa in the morning mist
My suck-meter was pretty maxed out on this one. Rain, rain, rain. Instead of taking the lead like I usually do initially, I let Jason do the honors. We totally missed a turn we were supposed to make and climbed up a rogue trail which ended beyond extremely thin eroded ledges at the side of a cliff, a spot we named “Jason’s Lookout.” It set us back an annoying two hours but it wasn’t his fault. I was too happy taking up the rear and was so not paying attention. Didn’t help that I never let him read the directions. My bad. Getting back to the trail was an adventure in itself as I myself took a wrong turn up a brand new trail used by the power line maintenance crew, so I did the Army ground-pounder thing and broke brush straight to the base of the correct spur.

Sweet! I'm sweeping today

View from "Jason's Lookout"
All of the past hikes beginning with a steep climb did absolutely squat to prepare me for this two mile “Mud Climb to Heaven” of Mt Ka’ala. Sweet mother of God! If you’re the type to struggle climbing something like Stairway to Heaven or up from Waimano pools, just curl up in the fetal position and cry for Oprah because you will be a freaking NO GO at this one, dry or wet. Oh by the way, the first mile and a half was only a warmup. Our reward? At around an elevation of 3,000 ft, the clouds thinned a little revealing an imposing 1000 ft climb up a retarded looking cliff face with even steeper mud climbs. The cliffs went up into the clouds and little waterfalls could be seen flowing from the heavens. Did I mention it was pouring rain? Yeah, let’s just turn up the difficulty level on this just a notch shall we? Damn!

Soaking wet, we press on

Powerlines disappear into the clouds
At the peak (4,025 ft), there was a no shit swamp. A muddy swamp! On top of a mountain?!! Seriously?! Walk out of the swamp, and you'll find an FAA installation that looks like something out of Silent Hill, especially with all the mist and fog. I regret not taking more pictures for record, even though a few megapixels would never be able to fully describe the experience.

The breeze at the peak was blowing hard on our wet clothes, reminding me of one of the reasons I got out of the Army in the first place. I've never been cold in Hawaii. I was cold on this day. Fortunately, we were treated to a great downhill hike on the Dupont side over narrow ridges, rock dikes, and rock climbs, all in all ending with me finally getting that shave ice. Yes, we were wet, cold, and miserable, but traversing the old Hawaiian Trail was one of the most insane and fantastic endeavors of my existence. I would have to say it was definitely the most satisfying to complete. Super, super hike.

Muddy swamp and thick vegetation on the peak of Ka'ala

Narrow ridges on the Dupont trail

Out of the clouds, hungry for shave ice

Taking in the view of North Shore

She didn't get the memo. Bad Lynnale!

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