Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Kamaile'unu Ridge (KH6/OH-002) SOTA Activation

Hawaiian Goat Berries.

Kamaile'unu Ridge, in Waianae, is a great, goat-filled hike. I chose this hike (KH6/OH-002) for my Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation primarily because I did not want to get soaking wet as often happens when hiking the Ko'olau Range trails. The Waianae area is generally drier being on the leeward side of the island and it has some great views of the valleys and ocean thanks to the ridges that start near the beach and head all the way up to Kaala (KH6/OH-001). However, I still ended up soaking wet from the rainfall the night before and the heavily dew laden grass and trees along the route. I had a great time and saw all sorts of wildlife. The most abundant were the many herds of feral goats who mocked me by the ease at which they moved along the steep slopes.

The Hike

I was on the road this morning by 4:30 a.m., westbound on H-1, to Waianae. I parked my truck at a strip mall at the corner of Farrington Highway and Makaha Valley Road. I then walked east, then left on Mauui Road towards the base of the ridge. It was pitch black as I walked down the road. Luckily the sound of the waking chickens kept the dogs from hearing my approach and none barked at my passing. Even though I was up, I did not want to wake the locals. At the trail head I turned on my headlamp to start my ascent. The first part of this hike will get your pulse going as it is pretty steep. The half-mile walk from my truck was a good warm-up. The trail plateaus after a few hundred feet elevation gain, then stair-steps up but not as severe as the first part. Then comes the next challenge.
The summit in sight

At about 1,400 feet the trail gets steep again for another 1,000 feet or so. Nearing the upper ridge line the clouds started to enshroud the summit (at 3,220 feet). The moisture from the clouds caused water droplets to cover one particularly packed stand of trees and the slightest touch made the droplets fall (on me). I was soaked after that even though it did not rain during the duration of my hike. After four hours with a few breaks I made it to the top.
KH6/OH-002 Summit

On The Summit

Once on the summit I had to verify which of the peaks along the ridge was truly the highest point. There are several false peaks along the way. I had neglected to load the summit data into my radio's GPS, so I had to rely on the Lat/Long data displayed to the summit information in the Association Reference Manual that I had luckily brought along. Trying to identify the higher of two points in the fog is an act of futility. Once I found the actual summit I quickly set up my Buddistick and tuned it for 12 meters. Band conditions were not the best today but the following Chasers helped me activate this summit for it's first time:

Time Call              
19:52z NS7P      
19:53z N4EX      
19:53z W7USA      
19:53z WA2USA
19:54z W0MNA      
19:57z W0ERI      
19:58z W7RV    


I had no idea we had such a feral goat population on O'ahu until I researched this hike and then saw and heard the tribes for myself. I was surprised by the first bleat as I snuck up on a family of five goats. They quickly scampered of, but the presence of goats was with me for the rest of the hike. Fresh goat berries were abundant all along the trail. I also came across several pheasants (exact species I am not sure of) who tried to startle me each time they took flight and made a loud warning call. On the way down I spooked what looked like an owl nesting along the hillside in the grass. As I came closer down the hillside to where it flew off I could see three eggs nestled in the grass. On a break further down the slope, I was resting with my back against a rock and a flock of pigeons flew past my head and around the slope at what seemed about mach 1; good thing I was not standing up.

A note of caution 

The first plateau
For this hike I would like to warn about the many dangers along the way. There are several locations with perilous drop-offs. As always, take your time hiking. Be especially careful of your hand holds and foot placements. Many of the rocks along the way are pretty loose so do not put all your weight on anything before testing it first. I nearly had a 150 pound boulder come down on me. It rocketed down the hillside and was followed by the sound of crushing vegetation as it plummeted into a steep ravine. Several sections of the trail had slippery rocks too. Lastly, pack enough water. I brought three liters of water and think that was just about right; but I was under cloud cover for the majority of the hike.

73 and safe hiking!
Fresh Hawaiian Goat Berries

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