Saturday, October 4, 2008

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Koko Crater

Koko Crater is becoming a popular training spot for me. I hiked it with Ed at around 1:30pm when the sun was high above and the scorching heat was nearly unbearable. The heat got the best of me and I had my worst time climbing up. I started feeling dizzy right before the bridge. When I took my first rest, I was lazy to keep my heart rate up. I tried to relax too soon and too abruptly, and consequently, I started feeling nauseated and dizzy. After hiking this trail many times before, I was surprised that I was losing my composure and began to entertain my doubts. I was reminded of Na Pali.

Oh yeah, I saw a bare-footed guy climbing up. Bear in mind, it was hot and the trail is mostly dirt with wood planks from the rail track. So bizarre!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Koko Crater

Slowly making progress.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


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Lanipo was suppose to be a warm-up for the upcoming Pu'u Kalena hike. But, the unexpected heavy rains and a late start impeded us from reaching the summit.

A group of 14 hikers turned into 5 when Laarnie, her 60-year old friend, Bryan, Jerome and I met at Valley View Drive. We arrived at the trailhead in Maunalani Hts. at around 1pm. The trail starts at a slight and comfortable incline; then, it drops steeply and goes up again. It repeats itself a second time showing no mercy to our respiratory-challenged friend.

The climb was like any other climb we've done elsewhere, but no one can deny the scorching heat accompanied by the soft winds and humidity. It consumed our water supply as we drank more and more and our sweat began to soak our shirts. Moments later, the day turned dark after heavy clouds creeped over the sky. It was then that I began to show some concerns. We passed the mid-point mark towards the summit when it finally hit us hard. The rain was not going to stop and our sweat-soaked shirts were now soaked with rain. We thought since we were already wet, we can continue on with the hike. But the condition of the trail ahead brought doubts in our minds, so we decided to turn back. It didn't make sense to risk it when were certain of no view at the summit. On our way back, we were stepping on miniature waterfalls that followed the trail. It was much cooler going back. Perhaps, somebody prayed to take the heat away. That prayer was certainly answered. On the way back, we could hear a man from a distance calling out to something. We believe that it was a boar hunter calling out to his lost dog. Although we didn't conquer Lanipo, this hike was worthy of an exciting and adventurous experience.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Koko Crater (via natural arc)

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I remember the first time hiking on this side of Koko Crater, I was a nervous wreck! And surprisingly, it didn't scare me this time around. I guess all the hiking I've done since then has mentally nurtured me and gave me a lot more confidence. I anticipated my past traumatic experience would trigger the fear within. But everything was fine and comfortable, no sweaty palms, no rapid heartbeats. I looked around and thought 'this is not it! It was a lot steeper the last time.' I guess fear can alter one's perception of steepness.

After we crossed the arc, there were more rigorous climbing to do. Just when we thought we left danger behind us, the trail got more exciting and dangerous at the rim. There were some rocky narrow sections with no vegetation to break our fall. It's funny how Laarnie, James, and I would would stop at the most vulnerable spots just to take a picture. The other two hikers probably thought we were crazy. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the highest point of the rim. We ate our snacks and James cunningly offered his Gatorade to lighten his load for the trip back down.

James' confidence dramatically improved since his first Oahu hike. He ripped through danger as if he was spiderman. But on our way down, just when he was having fun with his confidence, gravity decided to take him on a ride down the steep path just passed the natural arc. His momentum almost had him crash into Laarnie, and worst, nearly led him off the edge of the cliff. All I can do was watch in agony as his survival reflexes controlled his every action. Luckily, friction brought him to a halt and we all laughed in great relief.

In Stuart Ball Jr.'s book, it stated that this trail is suitable for intermediate hikers. I absolutely disagree! Although it's about 3-miles long, there are areas along the trail that can surely traumatize a beginner/intermediate hiker or someone who has fear of heights. The trail is mostly dry and rocky and its surface is relatively rough giving a good grip even on the steep inclines. However, take note that some areas do have loose gravel and there are no ropes to hold on to.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Mokolii Island (Chinaman's Hat)

It has always been my wish to step afoot on that island, an island that many locals know about but only a few can say they've been there. One day, I was inspired by a girl who has done it at least a dozen times. She reassured me that there are no sharks and the distance between is absolutely swimmable. In my mind, I said, "if she can do it, so can I!" I called my friend that afternoon and in a few hours, we arrived at Kualoa Beach Park. Luckily, there were no signs indicating high levels of bacteria. Those signs were posted everywhere years ago and swimming in the beach was strictly prohibited. The sanitary conditions were the least of our worries; it was late in the afternoon, and we were concerned about sharks.

We wasted no time getting in the water. We swam while carrying our slippers for the hike up to the summit. The water was shallow most of the way but there was a portion that got deep, deep enough for large animals, like sharks, to pass through. Fortunately, there were no encounters, not even a hammerheard! After twenty minutes of swimming, we finally arrived at our destination. The island is full of ants! But as I turned back to see the misty windward coast, I was in awe to finally see what I used to see only in photos.

The short trail to the summit began on a steep dirt hill narrowed by pokey plants that didn't make the hike any easier. There were occasional slips due to the loose dirt. We were forced on all fours with our wet hands mixing in with the dirt. We arrived at the rocky section where the trail became ambiguous. We tried to find the safest and less technical route as we climbed on near vertical walls. One misstep would be disastrous but fear did not slow us down, we proceeded carefully up the final stretch to the peak. When we got to the top, we could finally say that we conquered Mokolii. The panoramic view is one of the best on the island and well worth the risk.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Bowman, I conquered you! 'Bow' down to me!

For a long time, I always wanted to hike this mountain. It's the scenic view and prominent backdrop of Kalihi Valley residents. The Cook pine trees dominate the southern landscape while it gradually yields to the Hawaiian native plants deeper in the valley. The ridge climbs steadily upwards with an elevation gain of about 2,400 feet and stretches 6 miles to connect to the Ko'olau summit. I always wondered, since hanabata days, 'what's behind that mountain or how does the valley look like from up there?'. Curiosity and an appetite for adventure have brought together four guys and a girl (Josh, Justin, James, Laarnie, and I) for a full day of hiking in muddy terrain.

We initially met up at Valley View Drive and arrived at the trailhead in back of Kalihi Elementary School an hour late of our scheduled time. It was partially cloudy with a few morning showers. As anticipated, the hike started with a steep and merciless climb up the ridge. It didn't take too long for us to realize the seriousness of this trail. With Justin leading the pack, I found myself trailing but I kept my steady pace. When we arrived at the dirt road, Justin finally realized that he was going too fast. The initial climb almost knocked him out. Luckily, he was able to regain his strength for the next 11 miles. After the first hour or so, we finally arrived at a clearing and could see an overall view of Kalihi Valley below us. But what was more visually striking was the highway cutting through the green valley in a straight line.

The real fun started near the highest peak of the ridge. The trail got more narrow and slippery with the overgrown vegetation scratching our legs at every step. The switchback was really steep and it involved some rope climbing and some nerves of steel. After overcoming the most difficult obstacle, there was still more hiking to do. At that point, my fellow comrades were having second thoughts, especially with their legs cramping. Despite the odds, we continued forward with hopes of reaching the end. After wading in ankle-deep mud puddles, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the windward side. It was here that we finally ate our MREs (thanks to Justin).

The return trip was less rigorous but it was more technical. I became very irritated with all the mud and slippery descent down the slopes. It seemed never ending and slipping was the last thing I wanted. I just hated the idea of not having complete control due to the slippery terrain. Not only does slipping leaves you with a muddy behind, but it can cause serious injuries and even lead you off the trail. I've seen it happen several times that day, but luckily no one got hurt.

It was getting late in the afternoon and we still couldn't see any sign of civilization. I was a bit concerned that we would have to finish it in the dark. Sunset was at around 7:20pm and we got back at around 7:10pm. We laid our bodies down on the basketball court near the trailhead thinking of what just happened that day, realizing what we have accomplished, and grateful to make it back alive.

The first half of the trail reminded me of Kamanaiki while the second half shared some features of the Waianae-Kaala trail. It was indeed the most strenuous hike to the Ko'olau summit and I enjoyed every minute of it.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stairway to Heaven

This hike was for our fellow hikers, Adam and Ruben, who left the islands weeks after. Stairway to Heaven has got to be on top of my list for most favorite trails in Oahu! You are literally climbing on the spine of Ko'olau's razor sharp ridges. You'll get a workout along with world-class views of Oahu's prime landscape.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Diamond Head Crater

What? I hiked Diamond Head after doing Kalalau Trail? What a shame! Nah, I was just being a tour guide for some visiting friends from Jacksonville.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Kalalau Trail, Na Pali Coast, Kauai, HI

To my surprise, the best part of the trip was the planning process that occurred weeks before. This hike was unlike any other, it was a two-day hike that required a bigger backpack and sufficient supply of food and water to last for the time being spent away from civilization. It was our first and longest hike and there was much preparation and knowledge to gain for our survival. Prior to the hike, I became a frequent visitor of eBay trying to find the best deal for a suitable backpack, trekking poles, water purifiers, head lamps, etc. One of my biggest concerns was 'what am I going to eat? How can I survive the two days without rice?'

Although I did my research, I'd have to say that knowledge is best gained through experience. And through this experience, I learned the importance of packing light. Being first-timers, it was our tendency to be overly excited and packing more than what was necessary. Keep the canned foods at home! It's heavy and who wants to have a cold dinner? You can't go wrong with MREs, it's packed with all the calories and nutrients needed, and above all, you'll get a hot meal without packing a portable stove. But if you demand extra lightness, trail mix, beef jerky, and water purifying tablets are all that you need for sustenance. Do you need a sleeping bag and pad? On that day, it was so warm, none of them were necessary. But the weather can be unpredictable, so it's probably best to be safe and pack, at the least, a light sleeping blanket.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Kuliouou Ridge (revisited)

First time hiking with Laarni