Pali Puka - Lanihuli (Failed Attempt)

Dusk settles in over the Pali Highway
DATE: October 10, 2010
DIFFICULTY: Hard - Mental
PARTICIPANTS: “The Optimist” Jeremy, “MP3” Stefanie, Me

Okay, so after last week’s “scouting mission,” I was bound and determined to conquer what I initially considered as the “easiest” of my superhikes. Of course, if you read my blog from a week ago, “easy” wasn’t exactly … correct.

Just to recap our last attempt … er … (ahem) scouting mission. My thought process went something like this. “Looks easy … Pali Puka is cool … oooh, high winds and narrow ridge … we got time, we’ll finish it in no time … (snap) taking pictures (snap) … narrower ridge … impossible looking nub … crap, we ain’t got time … turn around … shortcut? … following trail tape … trail tape leads nowhere … oooh let’s follow a stream … oh (looking down a 300 ft waterfall), not this way … wish we didn’t take shortcut … where are we going … swing from tree to tree … trail tape again, should we follow? … we follow … get to road and walked to lookout … woohoo! Successful scouting mission! Freaking epic fail.

Not this time, said I. I would not be denied this day. Well, at least that’s what I told myself anyway.

Kaneohe and beyond
Take two
Not BS-ing around, we reached our original turnaround point in about an hour and took a break. Getting past the nub proved extremely easy, but for anyone attempting this hike, I left a ridiculous display of rope, reminiscent of a retard’s crayon designs. Not pretty, but effective.

The crumbly nature of the ridge made Bear Claw and Piliwale ridges feel like stable concrete sidewalks in comparison. Even “The Optimist” Jeremy noted that the route was more technically difficult and dangerous overall than True Manamana, which he conquered BY HIMSELF!!! Of course, being 173Hiking, we pride ourselves in conducting insane hikes with minimal equipment. Oh, and saving the chopper only for death and dismemberment. Heard it was more of a challenge…or something.

Ah yes... the fun begins
Walk in the park

Nature's tight-rope
We were blasting the trail, trucking uphill like there was a tsunami on our asses. No way were we turning around … until we discovered, what we’ve since dubbed, the REAL Pali Notches. I personally call it “Donkey Kong.”

You know the famous notches on the south side of the lookout supposedly used during the battle of Nu’uanu? Yeah, those were dents. It was 1100 hrs. What lay before us was a suicidal series of vertical, three foot wide notches ranging anywhere from 20 to 50 feet in height. Loose dirt, crumbly rock. Honestly, the Pali Notches is where you drop your kids off to play. Donkey Kong is for the big boys. Stefanie’s constant “This is !#@$%& crazy!” chant didn’t really help either. A hundred feet of rope was all we had. After much debate, we headed back the way we came. To add insult to injury, the gods pulled down their pants and started to piss on us. We were defeated once again…

City and out to sea
Obstacle course from hell
Live to fight another day
Again we tried another “shortcut” down the leeward side of the ridge in an effort to avoid the treacherous ridgeline and a dike Jeremy called “Pu’u Suicido.” It was a long, long, loooong descent. More like detour. Somehow we found the blue rope we came across during the scouting mission. At 5pm! Time was not on our side as the sun began to clock out and head towards happy hour. So, up the rope we went, back on the ridge, back towards the puka, and eventually back to the parking lot around 7pm.

I’m sure Jeremy would like me to mention that I was crying like a little bitch while climbing up the blue rope. Took me about 20 minutes to climb 30 feet. You happy now, Jeremy? He always wanted to get me back for the whole reverse Olomana incident. Double fail.

Assume the break posture

Climbing down Pu'u Suicido

Rain gods show no mercy as we trespassed over their domain
Navigating terrain as the fog rolls in

Pretty much sums up the hike

Serenity amidst chaos

Pali Puka (Extended)

Another day, another challenge
DATE: October 3, 2010
DIFFICULTY: Hard - Mental
PARTICIPANTS: “The Optimist” Jeremy, “MP3” Stephanie, Me

To be completely honest, my plan was to hike from the Pali Lookout up to Lanihuli and down into the Kalihi Valley. We wasted so much time on the hike that I realized we wouldn’t make it on time. So, it became a “scouting mission” and we bailed out a side ridge into the Nu’uanu Valley.

Monolith of a wall in the background

Stephanie and me at the puka
Getting to the puka was the usual affair. 20 minutes of hard, fast paced hiking in fun hurricane type winds. We took a few minutes admiring the Godek wall, wondering if Chuck really did scale and descend the rock face all those years ago. I thought about it… briefly, and followed it up with a big fat no thank you!

Gaining the ridge was less work than I had expected. There was a trail around the rock face which eventually led to a series of rope. So yes, I was disappointed I didn’t get to find my own route, but also glad because I’m a lazy bastard. We decided to make a right to the top of the Godek wall and that’s where everything turned to shit. Time was ticking, and Jeremy lost his brand spanking new camera. Since the ridge dropped straight down on both sides, attempting the search would have been … um … not smart.

Ridge walking ... sadistically addicting
On the border of windward and leeward
The mood was sour as we turned around and carried on with our quest for Lanihuli. I thought I had seen what thin and crumbly looked like, but the truly knife edge nature of the ridge plus the lovely high winds had my spidey sense jacked up pretty high. At about 10am, we reached a nub on the ridge …. a very intimidating nub on the ridge.

There was no going around it, unless you’re freaking Spiderman. Now, I was on a strict timeline on this day and was in no mood to conduct any kind of terrain negotiation. I seriously underestimated the difficulty of this hike and the time it would take. I took another look at my watch and called it. No Lanihuli today.

You win today, nub
Even superheroes get pissed when they lose their camera
So we turned around. Home free right? WRONG! We passed a rope leading down the leeward side of the ridge earlier and figured it was a quick bailout route back down into the valley. We were right… and wrong. Right, because it was. Wrong, because if you’re not paying attention and just following trail tape (guilty as charged), it would be the loooooongest shortcut you’ll ever take.

I’m not going to go into detail because being exposed as one of the biggest epic fails in hiking history isn’t exactly a title I’m proud of. Just know that we went the wrong way … a few times. I take full responsibility. We did end up back at the lookout, completing the “loop,” but without Jeremy’s camera, and a huge feeling of dissatisfaction. Maybe next week…

Blue rope leading down the leeward side
Are we lost yet?
A great indication that we're going the wrong way
This is how horror movies begin
Green at the end