Today (4 Aug 2001), accompanied by several hundred folks, including the J&J girls (Jackie and Jamie), I completed a 13.1-mile "hike" that began in Wahiawa and ended in Lualualei Valley on the Waianae side. I had never explored the back reaches of Lualualei, and today was a good opportunity to view the lay of the land. Beautiful! During the hours I was out and about, I ran into several acquaintances, including Mike Fujita & Jean Tsukamoto (HTMC), Bart Mathias (Solemates), and Lt. Colonel Lew Naumchek (a high school buddy). Good to see them all.
Some of us started early--6:00 a.m. to be precise--and doing that helped us avoid the worst of the heat, which can soar on Oahu's west side. Others looking for a shorter (6-mile) "hike" began at 7:30 at the top of Kolekole Pass. Actually, I was in favor of the shorter outing but was overruled by the J&J girls, resolute about tackling the long way even though they had done minimal physical prep in the preceding months/weeks. A despiser of whining, I insisted I hear none of that during the day. The solution: I proceed at my pace and they at theirs. Yup, that worked out just fine.
The route we 6:00 a.m.-ers followed took us on a tour of a large section of the Schofield Barracks base housing, some structures being quite new (and perhaps built by Ralph Valentino and colleagues?) and some not-so-new (circa WWII?). Military personnel manned key junctions along the way to help us through the labyrinth of roads on post. Additionally, volunteers from Hope Chapel handed out water at several points on our route. Much appreciation to all the volunteers for not only the H20 but also the positive greetings served up to weary, sweaty folks.
With the 4-mile tour of Schofield housing complete, we next faced a steady 3-mile climb to Kolekole Pass, which was something I'd never experienced on foot before. Though I was sweating heavily and huffing and puffing, I enjoyed the ascent. Hope Chapel volunteers greeted us at the Pass and handed out water, sports drinks, and good words. One wahine volunteer cheered, "It's all downhill from here!"
"Yup," I thought, " and this is where my pain begins." I say this because, at 6'4, 250 pounds, I'm not an agile nor efficient descender, especially compared to shorter, lighter folks. As confirmation, I found myself being blitzed by several dozen "hikers" on the way down to the floor of Lualualei Valley. In contrast, only a handful strode by me on the climb to Kolekole. So, while I can hold my own on climbs, I'm lacking on downward legs. Gotta work on that.
The descent, however, wasn't all that terrible. One highlight was being serenaded by a pair of bagpipe players at the first lookout just past the sentry post atop the pass (a nice touch). Their tunes rang out over the valley below, especially the long switchback below where they played. Also, the views of the rock sections along the makai-facing mass of Pu'u Kumakalii and Pu'u Kalena were impressive and awe inspiring. Ditto for the sight of the mountainside from Hapapa to Kanehoa to Kaua. I'd seen these before but never as close as today. Excellent.
The winding, hot descent to the Lualualei lowlands spanned about three miles. During this segment, I could feel the excruciating sensation of my body being wracked by the pounding. While many seemed to relish the downhill, I looked forward to its end and the subsequent low rolling sections leading to the finish. Speaking of the finish, there is a long straightaway leading to it that seemingly stretches to the horizon, with this stage framed by the mass of Pu'u Heleakala (an inspirational sight). With plenty of time to ruminate as I methodically made my way along, I wondered if anyone was climbing Heleakala today. Or do only fools (like Spinner, Rich, and Ching) and intrepid HTMers climb this mountain during the hot summer months? Dunno.
Our outing ended at the Lualualei military post, which seemed largely unoccupied by personnel. The post included a row of nice older homes (complete with chimneys), a ball field (almost devoid of grass), a (drained) swimming pool, and a vacant mini mart. J&J finished a bit after me, and while I waited for them, I partook of post-outing refreshments (fruits, bagels, and ice water) and talked story with some of the acquaintances I mentioned. Jackie and Jamie arrived at the end in good form (good job!). Bothered by sore feet, Jamie completed the last couple miles in just her socks. Wow. While that was worthy of note, an undertaking at least equal to it was accomplished by the dude who completed the long route barefooted and wearing just a malo (loincloth). Damn, that's hard core!
From Lualualei, we were bussed back to Wahiawa. I was bummed that we didn't drive back via Kolekole Pass Road, which I had expected. Instead, we returned via Farrington Hwy, H-1, and Kunia Road.
In all, it was an interesting day and a big-time calorie burn. From what I understand, this same "hike" will take place next August. Go try 'em. Good fun. Promise. --dkt