Hike 2: Konahuanui 2 to Mt. Olympus (Awa'awaloa) via the Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST). Dec 31 - Jan 1, 2010/11 (overnight).

Konahuanui consists of the two highest peaks on the Ko'olau range. This hike starts on the Kalawahine trail, meanders through the rooty bamboo forest in Pauoa Flats to Nu'uanu lookout, then gains steep elevation to the summit at about 3100ft. It was muddy and slick all the way up. The summit was socked in clouds with no views of the Windward coast, nor of Maunawili Valley down the sheer fluted "Pali" (cliff) below ... which is not unusual here at any time of the year.

My plan was to hike up to K2, proceed left to the slightly higher K1 peak, then back past K2 to traverse 1.6 mi. along the spine on the Ko'olau Summit Trail (KST). I would overnight atop Mt. Olympus before proceeding 5 mi. further along the KST to Pu'u o Kona on New Years Day.

All did not go as planned however ... given the prior weeks rainfall, as well as conditions prevalent during my hike. What follows is a testament to the brutal ordeal I went through, yet video footage doesn't do justice. It was both physically and mentally exhausting ... and I can honestly say that I cheated death at least once.

Having reached the summit of K2 I decided that it wasn't worth the side-trek up to K1 since the summit was socked and time was a factor (daylight diminishes quickly after 6pm here ... esp. when socked in clouds). Amidst shitty weather and other variables I nevertheless decided to forge ahead in hopes of some clear skies ... lol !

As for the summit crossover .. had it been ideal weather then I'm sure this section would have been much less arduous. There were sections where I chose to negotiate along the contour of the crumbly rock dikes instead of ontop, as my shoes were too packed with mud between cleats ... and I made a choice to maneouver along the leeward slope (on my right) at times where the drop-off was less pronounced, yet still sizeable. I was lucky to break a fall thanks to vegetation on the leeward side (cam was on). Slipping off the boulder section down the sheer wall of the windward face (on my left) however would have meant certain death. On certain sections I had no choice but to skirt along the slope of the windward wall and hold on to the vegetation ... and not only was the "trail" slick here ... it was inclined along the face. It did not help either given that I had a backpack.

Spending New Years Eve atop the summit of Mt. Olympus was a treat though ... amidst the scattered showers and cool trades I could see and hear the distant rumbling of fireworks all around me lighting up the clouds and adjacent peaks. As I peeked out of my tent at 5am I was awestruck by the celestial display above me ... or was it the Jagermeister ?

The next morning as I proceeded further along the KST toward Pu'u o Kona the weather degraded rapidly. I terminated the hike due to nuking wind gusts that hindered my balance, and headed back up to Mt. Olympus to bail out down Wa'ahila Ridge. I did successfully continue the hike 7 months later ... vimeo.com/86412571.
Note: hiking along the Ko'olau spine is not recommended for inexperienced / novice hikers ... weather can change drastically, it's usually very muddy, slick, very windy, and you can lose your balance and go over the side if you don't know what you're doing. Read more in Section 1 (Ko'olau Summit Trail) of the following article ... examiner.com/article/oahu-s-gnarliest-trails.

Video footage taken with my head-mounted GoPro Hero HD cam.

Edited with Final Cut Pro X.

Music from "Sacred Dub" podcast # 43.

***DISCLAIMER***
If you're a non-resident / first time visitor or novice hiker, start with the easy - intermediate (maintained) trails and graduate yourself on subsequent visits. Do yourself a favour and purchase Stewart Ball's "Hiker's Guide to Oahu" ... it's your best and most valuable resource. Do your homework and study topo maps, weather forecasts / radar / sunset times. There are numerous blogs and media posted frequently by local experienced Oahu hikers (these folks are super-friendly and will give you directions and advice). Wear proper gear and don't forget lot's of water and a fully charged cell. If hiking alone or with others, tell someone where you're hiking and keep in touch. Above all there's no shame in turning back if you don't like what you see ... better to stay alive and continue on a subsequent visit. You are solely responsible for your own safety and the risks you take . Hikers, including locals have gotten lost, suffered serious injury and even died while hiking these trails, so be careful. Mind your insurance coverage limitations as well.

Last but not least ... RESPECT THE LAND! Stay on the trails, don't litter (in fact if you come across any and are able ... take it out with you). Do not unneccessarily disturb the flora, understand and respect historical / cultural ethics.

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