First, the title of my post is probably wrong. I don't speak Hawaiian so while the words are right, the order may be incorrect. It should mean something about passing the night in the realm of the gods which is what the Hawaiians called the clouded peaks of the Ko'olaus. Anyone who's spent any time there will understand why. The tops of the Ko'olaus are a magical and mysterious place but all my time has been spent there during daylight hours and often with other people. While hiking alone is frowned upon, I enjoy being alone with my thoughts surrounded by the fantastic plant and animals that inhabit the summit and ridges of my favorite mountain range. I was hoping that something, although I wasn't sure what, would be gained from spending a night alone at the top of one of my favorite peaks, the second highest in the Ko'olaus, Lanihuli.
|Pu'u Lanihuli- Second highest peak in the Ko'olau and one of my favorite places to be.|
There are a couple sections that I climbed via the assistance of ropes, both old and new, to bypass larger waterfalls. I stopped for a longer break to soak in the view of one of my favorite spots on the island. There is a small population of Metrosideros macropus, a kind of ohia endemic to O'ahu, that I checked for blooms with no luck. I regrouped and headed up the valley towards the spur ridge I'd reopened months before. (I completely discourage anyone from taking this route as it's difficult, scratchy, and muddy.) The steep climb was much more challenging with the added weight but I managed to arrived at the ridge above just a little muddier and a whole lot sweatier than when I'd started. A short time latr, I passed my alternate campsite I planned to use if the summit looked bad but aside from cloudiness, it looked like I could continue to the top.
|Disappearing into the ohia|
|She's not happy...|
The final assault up to the summit is a good climb on a normal day but was brutal carrying all the extra weight. Finally I topped out to a cloudy summit and examined my two preplanned tent sites... one next to a ti plant and the other under some ohia. Both were shielded from the gusty winds but the ohia site meant additional protection from the elements so I opted for it. Right away I could see that it was going to be problematic because my tent would just fit in the small space meaning setting it up would be tough. First I had to clear the footprint of my tent and I made sure to check the plants I'd be disturbing. Thankfully it was just some thimbleberry and clidemia which is no loss. I laid out my military surplus poncho as tarp and began to set up the tent. My first problem was I had to climb around the ohia bush to get to the back side to install the pegs. That meant a couple trips on along the very edge of the 1000' plus drop into the valley below. Carefully the tasks were completed and the tent erected with no damage to the moss coated ohias.
|My tent is tucked just behind the pink ribbons and my shirt is laid out on the off chance it might dry.|
|Eating dinner staring into the clouds|
Here's a short video tour of camp...
|Arrival at the summit|
|Arrival at summit|
|Jack and Coke|
|Last shot of the night- 8:57pm. The clouds have rolled in.|
|Whoa, I look like $hit!|
|Gear stowed ready to leave.|
|Thieving kopiko tree!|
|The alternate camp site.|
The rest of my journey out was uneventful but again the climbing sections were tougher with a heavy pack. Once I cleared the forest and arrived at the road I was greeted by a crew patching potholes with asphalt. They barely shot me a second glance but the two police officers helping block traffic in their cars eyed me suspiciously. Thankfully they remained comfortably in their cruisers and only waved back when I shot them a big smile and a shaka. Arriving at the designated pickup point I only had to wait about 10 minutes before I was picked up by Mrs. XJ. My timing was almost perfect!
I was hoping for a hug and a kiss but she said I smelled horrible, like a moldy-mountain-dog. She promised once I took a shower I'd get one.
I have no doubt I'll never forget my night in the wao akua. Spending one night there did little to dent its mystery. Maybe it was my kindness to the chameleon or maybe just luck but thankfully the mo'o people didn't get me... this time!
Some of my favorite plants along the way:
|I love this miniature form of ohia! Metrosideros polymorpha|
|Kanawao- Broussaisia arguta|
|'Olapa- Cheirodendron trigynum|
|Salmon colored lehua|
Please, do not follow my poor example of hiking alone and spending a night alone in the Ko'olaus. It can be quite cold even in the summer months and there is a lot of potential for something bad to happen to you. Remain on official trails and obtain permission from land owners or permitting from State, Federal, or City and County agencies.
More pictures of this trail and others I've done are are availible on Flickr. Aloha and thanks for reading.