Koloa Ridge - March 3, 2009

I started my thirty days of paid vacation yesterday. Although I would've rather been hiking yesterday, I decided to wrap up everything I needed to do for school and my upcoming Maui visit this weekend. Thirty days vacation! How nuts is that?! It's pretty exciting actually, considering how much hiking I'll be able to do this month. I'm aiming for three hikes a week; that should give me ample time to lose some of the weight I gained from the holiday season.

Being on vacation, I got off to a late start. I drove to the land of trails, the northeastern side of Oahu, in hopes of finding my way to the crest of Kaipapa'u Ridge. The hike starts off at the same place that the Koloa Gulch/Ridge trail begins, so I stopped by Hawaii Reserves in Laie to get a day pass just in case someone was looking to bust me for going on private property.

The weather turned crappy just yesterday, and I was a little apprehensive about hiking when I heard the sound of rain pattering against my rooftop last night. To hell with it. I'm on vacation, and everyone's working. A solo hike was just what I needed until I got down to Laie and saw dark rain clouds looming in the distance -- not a good sign.

I parked my car at the end of the residential dirt road and headed mauka (mountain) for the trail. My intent was to follow a fence line to eventually meet up with the Kaipapa'u Ridge trail, but where the hell is this trail? I did research before the hike; I found that the trail is to the left of the boy scout memorial. I seen the ribbons, but there was no trail to follow. By the looks of it, I assume the trail hasn't been done or cleared for quite some time, so I decided to head up Koloa Ridge instead.

As soon as I backtracked to the boy scout memorial, rain started fall, and I immediately had second thoughts about even attempting the hike. First off, I didn't know what to expect past the junction to Koloa Gulch. (I did the gulch hike last year.) Second, I had no rain jacket. Third, I was wearing only board shorts and a North Face moisture-wicking shirt that is made for drying sweat, not rain. And fourth, I was by myself. Add that up and what do you get: a recipe for getting lost with hypothermia. But I came to hike, so I pushed on anyway.

The rain didn't seem to stop once I started the hike. I pushed through wet grass and immediately got my shoes and clothes soaked. I kept going, hearing the squish of wetness in my shoes and socks. There were some brief moments when the rain would give itself a rest, but when the rain did come, it came hard. I eventually reached the Koloa Gulch junction. From here I maintained my gradual ascent upridge.

The trail past the junction was in extremely good shape: well-groomed, well-defined, and obviously used a lot. I had high hopes of reaching the apex of Koloa Ridge until I hit a dead end. About forty minutes in, the trail just disappeared. Not entirely, but it continued on in heavy brush. I pushed through for a bit, trying to advance on, but the brush was scraping my legs pretty bad, and the rain started to fall even heavier. It was at this point that I turned around.

At some point along Koloa Ridge, there is a link with Kaipapa'u Ridge, making the hike a loop. That was my goal, but it will have to wait until next time. Plus, I didn't get any pictures because the rain pelted me pretty much the whole time I was on the trail. After about an hour-and-a-half, I reached my car. My backpack was soaked, but everything inside was dry. I hope my pack dries for tomorrow's hike. I'd hate to have a soggy backpack while hiking. Damn the weather. I drove to Pounders Beach, took a shower, dried off, donned some dry clothes, and headed home. Maybe tomorrow's hike will have something better in store.

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