A Hike of FirstsThis hike up Heleakala (Pu'u Heleakala, KH6/OH-018) marked a few firsts for me. First; and least impressive, it was my first Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation in the Waianae Range of west O'ahu. Second, it was the first time making a power supply repair on a summit; my positive lead came loose from a crimp connector and luckily I had a multi-tool and electrical tape. Third, and oddest, it was the first time I set up my antenna using the support of a cactus.
Heleakala was a fun hike, partly due to the camaraderie of taking along a couple non-hams with me up to experience SOTA. All three in our expedition were active duty Air Force, so this Veteran's Day hike was appropriately manned. The route we took started in the town of Nanakuli. We parked at the Sac-n-Save grocery and walked .3 mile up Lualualei Naval Rd, and took a right on a trail across the street from the refuse collection station. It was another .3 mile to the base of the ridge. There is an old military pillbox as a reference point to the start of the trail. You can also walk through the neighborhood, but we chose to bypass this as it was about the same distance. The route is straightforward: follow the ridge up to the summit. My only caution is to warn that the grass on the trail in some spots makes it difficult to see if there is good footing or if there might be a rock to trip you up. (**Hikers can also ascend from another ridge to the northwest of the summit, further up Lualualei Naval Rd.)
The mountains on the day we hiked were in a sea of green. Fresh grass was growing throughout the hills and valleys in this area from the recent rains. This area (leeward side of O'ahu) is often in need of rain and has a tan hue from the dry grass. The winds on the backside of passing weather front made it quite blustery as we hiked up on this day. We left the truck at 0700 and made my first CQ call at 0900 (local time). This was a moderate hike with a 576 meter ascent. I would definitely recommend this hike to anyone visiting O'ahu and plans to bring their radio. It is a refreshing change from the busy peaks of Diamond Head and Koko Crater. We did not see any other hikers on the trail during the four-hour round trip. The funniest part of the hike occurred as we left the trail on our way back to the truck. We came down the ridge which terminates in at the back of an apartment complex. On our way through the neighborhood, a barefoot little boy, about 7 years old, who was curious as to what we were up to, approached us on the street and asked, "Hey, what are you guys doing?" To which we replied, "Oh, we just climbed that mountain," and pointed over our shoulders to this great peak in his backyard. To which he replied, "Why?" I responded, "Why not."
Thanks to the nine SOTA followers who helped me activate this summit for its first time. The west coast SOTA followers and stretching from Alberta, Arkansas, and to Australia. Until next time, 73 & safe hiking!