Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kaala (KH6/OH-001) SOTA Activation


I have dreamed about hiking Kaala for the past year while participating in Summits On The Air (SOTA) here on O'ahu. Most hiking enthusiasts think about summiting the top hill in their neighborhood. Being the highest peak on the island, Kaala (4060' / 1237m) is the summit to reach on this island. On July 27, 2014, four hiking club partners and I decided to attempt this great mountain. We arrived at the trailhead at 8 A.M. taking the last couple parking spots. The summit was shrouded in clouds and the partly cloudy sky kept us cool during the entire trip. The ascent took us about 3.5 hours. I was thankful for the KX-3 radio my friend Richard (KH7HNL) loaned me for this trip to lighten my typical load. This was the lightest radio pack I have hiked with in the past year; about 20#. I just wish I would have brought an additional liter of water, three would have been just right.

Getting There

The most popular route to reach Kaala is to start from the Waianae side. From Honolulu, head west on H-1. Once in Waianae, turn right on Waianae Valley Road and continue until you cannot drive any further. The last stretch of the road is a single lane and ends at a gate with a small parking area at around 650' elevation. 

The Hike

Pass the gate on foot, up the paved road, and past the three water towers; which is about a mile long. Passing the picnic table you will quickly find yourself in a grove of Macadamia trees from an old plantation. Not far past the picnic table, follow the purple markers down and to the left, through a dry creek bed. Remember: purple up, orange down for the trail markers. Up, up, up, relentlessly until you reach the ridge where there are three electrical towers. This is a great spot to rehydrate while taking in the spectacular views of the Waianae Range and out to the ocean.
Then the real work begins. The next stage of the hike is a series of steep segments. Some of the rock sections are somewhat technical. Past hikers have patched together a variety of ropes, cables, and even wire to help pull yourself up. Mud is a continual challenge to keep from slipping. As always, test the ropes before using them and don't put all your faith in them. Above all, take your time and use caution. Do not hike up what you will not be able to get down.
And then you reach the Kaala Natural Area Reserve. Prepare to step back into time. This plateau is simply amazing. Giant ferns, mosses, dragonflies. You can just feel that this area has been all but untouched for thousands of years. It is about a half mile across this area; stay on the wood planks, to the radar site. Although the FAA site is off limits you can circumnavigate the perimeter to view almost all of the island from this high point (weather dependent).

Kaala radar site in view.

View of the North Shore 
View towards Honolulu from the Kaala summit.

Bob on the decent.
View of Kamaile'unu Ridge (KH6/OH-002) from Kaala trail.
The antenna setup for the HF contacts on the KX-3, I used an EARC EFHW matchbox, 33' of Radio Shack speaker wire, and a Jackite 28' collapsible mast.

Special thanks to the following SOTA chasers for making this activation worth so much more:

Call             Time    Band
KH6KV      2137      2m
WH6DZF    2143       "
NS7P           2159      21m
W7RV         2159       "
W6JP           2201      "
N4EX          2206       "
W5ODS      2208        "
KH6XL       2214        "
WH6DZP    2234      2m   S2S on Kaua'i!
WH6DZQ    2235       "             "

73 and safe hiking,
Allen / KH7AL


Monday, July 7, 2014

Olomana Trail (KH6/OH-020) SOTA Activation

Olomana Trail...

From the top of Olomana looking SW
...is likely one of the most popular hikes on O'ahu. Popular partly because it is centrally located and easy to get to and partly because of the breathtaking views from the summit. I finally had the opportunity to hike this summit (twice) this past week. There is a lot of information about this hike on the internet so I am going to keep my post about this to the most important tips for you. Free free to watch my (1min 16 sec) video of the hike on YouTube.

**Disclaimer--This is a great, strenuous hike which involves sections of steep cliffs with ropes to assist your climb. Always test the ropes before using and never put all your weight and trust in them.

#1) As recommended in Stuart Ball Jr.'s The Hiker's Guide to O'ahu, I recommend not parking by the bridge on Loop Rd where most people park. Rather, park up Manuwili Rd at either the Maunawili Park or just past on the street in the neighbor hood. It does add a little to the roundtrip distance of your hike but may give you peace of mind after you see all the broken glass on the ground by the crowd of cars before the bridge.
#2) Check in with the guard at the entrance to the golf course to state your intentions. They are courteous and will be quick to ask if you have hiked the trail before and give you the canned safety brief. From the guard shack its about a 1/2 mile walk up the road to the actual trail head.
#3) Be patient if you have to wait for your turn along one of the several sections with ropes. As stated above, this is a busy trail, be a courteous hiker.
#4) Final safety tip, don't climb up what you won't be able to climb down. The last and largest obstacle to climb up is not for the faint of heart.

From my truck this hike took me 1.5 hours up and about 45 minutes to get down. For my Summits On The Air (SOTA) activation, I was only able to find four contacts on HF (three more than the week prior). 
Thanks to the following SOTA chasers for letting me properly activate this summit for the first time and allowing me to share some aloha with this two-point summit:
Time Call
18:36z AB7YL
18:38z WA9ST
18:39z NS7P
18:39z N6KZ

73 and safe hiking!
Allen / KH7AL