Friday, September 14, 2012

3 Peaks Hike

So, while I was away for work training, Jas, and one of our buddies, Ben, went on this hike that I had been wanting to go on.  It's generally called Olomana Trail, although only the first peak is actually called Olomana.  Jas and Ben went to the top of Olomana, but didn't continue on to peaks 2 and 3.  After I got back Ben and I had spoken several times about doing all three peaks.  One weekend it was semi-planned with another of our co-workers, and plans changed.  So, last Saturday, after having dinner together at the guys house, Ben was dropping Jas and I off at home, and we were just talking, ya know, a regular Saturday.  He asked what we were doing the following day and I responded that I had no plans.  He said he was thinking about going for a hike, the 3 peaks, if we were interested.  Jas had been saying since I got home that she wouldn't go back for the other two peaks, so she said no.  Ben has the tendency of going on hikes by himself, so after I yelled at him for almost going alone again, I immediately said yes, and over the course of the next 10 minutes or so, we had planned what time we would be meeting, that I would cook us breakfast, and he would pick up some lunch meats so we could pack a lunch to eat at the top of Olomana.  And just like that, a potentially ordinary Sunday turned into anything but!

I made us a good breakfast Sunday Morning (pancakes and bacon), so we'd have enough fuel to get us through for a while, and we were off.  After about a half hour we were parking.  From where we have to park, to the entrance of the hike, is about a 1/4 mile walk.  The entrance to the hike is actually located on the property of this golf course, but luckily they allow the public in.  So we passed the gate attendant, who said, "you've been up there before right?" to Ben, and we were on our way.  In the beginning, this is what I looked like:

bright eyed and bushy tailed

The beginning of the hike wasn't bad.  Ben and I talked as we went along, saying hello to people we passed along the way.  One of the awesome things about hiking here, is that everyone says hi as they pass.  Many stop along the way and share some insights on the hike, or ask you for some if your on the way out.  It's just a very friendly atmosphere which I greatly appreciate.  Right after we parked, another truck pulled up behind us with a group of 3 in it...two guys and one girl, and they were pretty much close behind us most of the way up to the top of Olomana, or peak 1.  As we went along, some places got much more narrow, and we stopped from time to time to let people through who were on their way down, or out of the trail.  There were portions towards the end of peak 1, where you're putting out much more effort.  Some rock climbing, and a couple parts where there is rope attached to help you climb.  I must say, I knew about the ropes beforehand (as I mentioned in the previous post, I always read up on where I'm going), and I knew that the rope was put there by hiking clubs to help people out, and I probably will never know those people...but I thank them!  I thank them so much!  The last bit of peak 1 was pretty much a vertical rock climb.  I made friends with the ropes early, so I used the rope here, and I didn't think it was too bad.  As funny as it sounds, I've always been a climber, since I was little...ropes, trees, monkey bars...I guess I was preparing myself for my adult climbs!  Anyhoot, I would test out the ropes before I started climbing, to make sure they felt sturdy under my weight.  I know Ben didn't use the ropes as much as me.  He didn't always trust them.  Of course Ben is over twice my size.  I understand why some people don't trust the ropes's a personal preference.  But I will say, after completing all 3 peaks, I have the utmost respect for anyone who completed all 3 without using the ropes at all!  I couldn't have done it.  Rock climbing up is a bit better...but would have been very difficult for me to finish without the ropes.  But I digress....where was I?

Oh, so after the last vertical climb, we were at the top of Olomana, and the views were out of this world.  Just breathtaking.  We stayed up there a while, and ate a bit, and talked with a bunch of people, including the group of 3 that had been behind us most the way.  No one there seemed to be planning to go onto peaks 2 and 3 but Ben and I.  I was hoping someone would, because we had no idea where we were going!  I looked at Ben and told him stopping was not an option, that we had set out to do 3 and that's what we were doing.  Ben agreed, and said the only way he wouldn't is if he completely froze somewhere.  "psht" I said, "the only way I'm stopping is if I physically can't go anymore, and you'd have to call a chopper for me!"  Ben was quick to say, "I do not want to call mama and papa and tell them I let their baby girl get hurt!"  So we agreed...we would finish, and no one would get hurt.  Done!  A group of 3 guys got up to the top not long after us and they looked like they might be going on, so we asked.  They weren't sure, but kind of wanted to complete all 3 peaks.  Then, lucky for us, a group came from the other side, from peaks 2 and 3.  They told us a little about what to expect.  They asked if we had gloves.  'Gloves!' I thought, as I mentally smacked myself on the forehead.  Of course we should've bought gloves.  The one woman said we'd be ok without them, but that we might end up with a bunch of blisters if we were holding on to the ropes for dear life..."not like I was holding onto the ropes for dear life or anything" she said.  "No, I was definitely holding on for dear life!" she laughed, and we laughed, and I thought, this is going to be interesting.  


view from the top of peak 1, & view of the coming peak 2 & 3

The group of 3 behind us said they were thinking about doing all 3 but weren't sure.  So, Ben and I set off.  It didn't seem so bad at first.  We got to the top of peak 2, or Paku'i, pretty fast.  We were happy to see that the group of 3 decided to keep going, and we stopped on the top of Paku'i to chat with them a bit, and then we were off again.  2 down, 1 to go.  

left: where we came from, right: where we're going

Getting down peak 2 was much more difficult then getting up it.  It's when I really started to realize what we had gotten ourselves into.  There was a portion on the way down that was just gravel.  You couldn't really get your bearings and we were constantly slipping.  We couldn't walk it, and there was pretty much nothing around to hold on to.  Trees and roots in this area were scarce.  I pretty much spent that entire portion sitting back and walking on my feet and hands.  I think Ben spent a lot of this time on his butt, which was evident at the end of the hike when his butt was just covered in dirt!  Eventually, we finally made it down 2, but we still had to climb up 3, which looked like it was simply not going to be anything close to easy.  Somewhere between peaks 2 and 3 we ran across two guys that were on their way out, coming from 3.  They talked to us for a bit... and here's the wisdom they imparted on us in a nutshell "there's this part you have to climb around this rock, and there's literally nothing to your side, and the whole time I was thinking, this is the stupidest thing I've ever done!"  Just what we needed to hear!  We told the guys to learn how to lie to people!  And moved on.   

I'm not sure I can even put into words what it was like going from peak 2 to peak 3.  I should mention since I've failed to thus far...that I had only completed two hikes before this one.  And both those hikes were beginners, so I was in no way preparing myself for this hike.  I was pretty much a beginner, attempting what I've read described as a "high danger/advanced level" hike.  As difficult as it was at times, both Ben and I were doing pretty well, I thought.  We were taking each challenge one by one..taking our time...being smart.  There were many times that we simply weren't in each others field of view, and I made sure that I would call out to Ben every few minutes to let him know I was ok, and to make sure he was.  Our buddies, the group of 3, helped us out with this.  From time to time we would be close enough to each other, that they could see Ben when I couldn't (I was leading), and they would let me know he was ok.  The female even called out to us that she was glad we were going first!  haha  It was at this point that I realized something.  One of the guys kept calling out my name.  I thought, 'maybe he heard Ben calling my name'.  But then I realized he wasn't looking at me.  So I called out and asked what the girls name was...and lo and behold, it was Jackie also.  What are the odds that this group we somehow became hiking buddies with for the day, would have a female by the same name as me.  God has a funny sense of humor, and an awesome way of throwing in little surprises to your life.  But again, I digress.  Where was I?

So, we're moving right along.  And then, it happened.  We got to the point where there was this odd shaped rock that you had to sort of climb down and around to continue climbing up.  There was a rope there to assist you, but this was just such an odd angle.  Oh, and the catch was, there was nothing to your right, but a very long fall.  As I mentioned, I was leading, so I was about to attempt it first.  There was just nothing comforting about this, and I asked Ben to just not talk for a minute.  I got down to the initial ledge, held on to the rope, and tried to find my next footing.  But there was just no easy way to go about it, and I had my first real moment where I realized, 'one false move and I could actually die here'.  I nearly froze.  It felt like I was on that ledge forever.  But, in my head I kept telling myself, 'Jak, there is no way your quitting.  It is not an option...besides, you told Ben he couldn't!'.  So, I got myself together, figured it out, and finally, made it around.  The rest of the way up to the top of peak 3, or Ahiki, was far from easy.  But after that, I didn't have another moment that jarring least not on the way up.

Since I was leading, I got up to the top of Ahiki first, and I have to say, I've never been so happy to see a little box.  At the top of Ahiki, waiting for us, was a geocache.  I didn't really know much about these things before, but I learned that geocaching is basically a outdoor treasure hunt.  Players search for geocaches, or these containers, hidden at locations all around the world, using gps devices.  In the geocaches are log books, and people sign their name and then write about their experience on the game website.  That's a very basic explanation...there is more to it, but you get the idea.  Anyhoot, at the top of Ahiki was basically a tupperware container, and written on it were the words "Congrats you made it!"  and in that moment, I felt like nothing in the world would've made me happier than that little box did.  Inside was the log book, along with a bunch of other things, including pens of course, pictures, business cards...even a condom.  Ben and I signed the log book...though I think we forgot to put the date, and didn't take a pic of our page.  Ah well, not going back just for that!  Not long after we got to the top, the group of 3 got up there.  We chatted a while, and took pics for each other, and just sat there and enjoyed the view.  We learned that each of us had had at least one moment like mine.  For Jackie and I it was the same part I mentioned.  For Ben and one of the guys, Frog, it was another part.  The part almost just before the top of Ahiki.  A pretty serious rock climb, where you can't see the end from where you're starting.  You really can't plan out what you're going to do because you can't see, you just have to go for it.

my moment.  it's hard to tell from the pic how nerve-racking this part actually was

whoever wrote these words...thank you!  "hike on!"

my day was made

After a while, the fact that we had to climb down, up, down, up, and down again...back the same way we had come in, to get back to the car, was weighing heavily on our shoulders.  Ben and I decided it was as good a time as any to get going.  We bid adieu to these awesome people who had made our day even better, and started to make our way...figuring we'd eventually see them again on the way.  We saw them pretty quickly.  The way down was just as difficult as we remembered the way up was, so we all took the beginning very slow.  We got to the part where Ben and Frog had had their moment, and Ben went first.  I remembered this part wasn't so bad for me going up...but down was a completely different story.  I was taking it slow, holding on to the rope and looking for my next footing, not being able to see where the rope ended.  I reached my foot for the next footing, and quickly realized I couldn't reach it.  I slipped, and was literally holding on just by the rope.  As I slipped by body slammed against the rock.  Luckily I had already been pretty pressed against it, so the slam wasn't to bad, though it did cut my hand a bit...I had been so close to finishing with no blood loss!  Again, I was humbled by how little control I had, and how quickly things could go bad.  I slipped once more, but held onto that rope for dear life.  I heard Ben make a sound at the bottom, and Jackie at the top telling me "you got it".  I finally made it to the bottom of the portion, but there was no time to appreciate the moment...there was way too much to be done.  We met up with our buddies again a little further up in a clearing where Ben and I had stopped off for a drink of water.  Jackie kept going, telling us she had to keep going or it would be more difficult for her, which I found ironic, because that's exactly how I was, though I tried to modify that in myself since I know not everyone is like that, and I wasn't hiking alone.  As the guys were on their way to catch up with Jackie they mentioned that Jackie had recently one a title, Ms. Fitness Hawaii or something like that, and that's why they let her go first.  Ben and I had no idea, and we thought that was pretty awesome.  We made sure to congratulate her the next time we met up with them.

The remainder of the way out was grueling.  Our bodies were exhausted.  By the time we had gotten up to the top of Ahiki we were all physically shaking, including Jackie and the guys, who were all in very good shape.  Our bodies were just so tired that we couldn't control the shaking.  On one part of the climb up peak 2, or maybe 1 (it all runs together now) Ben commented on how much my legs were shaking.  I could feel it, but I couldn't stop it.  It's hard to say though, whether finishing the hike was more physically, or more mentally grueling.  Our bodies can do some pretty amazing things, but you have to will it too.  Mentally, I had to keep telling myself to keep going, that we were almost there...even when I knew we weren't.  It was like it wouldn't end!!

We saw a good amount of people on our way out.  We stopped and talked to a few guys who were planning to go to peak 3, which we thought was crazy because it was getting later in the day.  Oh, and I made sure to yell at Ben several times during the day about him almost doing this hike alone.  And he made sure to tell me several times during the day, that he was glad I had come with him.

At the top of Olomana we stopped, I drank my last bit of water, and we talked about our first stop once we got in the car.  A store...for water!  And then I had the best idea I've probably ever had in my life...gatorade!!!  I could taste it.  And just the thought of it revived Ben.  Finally I could see the pavement of the golf course road!  I knew we still had a 1/4 of a mile walk to the car, but I was so happy to see that pavement.  My legs though, didn't really know how to react to the flat surface.  Ben and I had both been walking like we were 2, and just learning how to walk, for quite some time.  My legs buckled several times, and when we finally got to the car it hurt like hell to get in it.  At the gas station I bought water, gatorade, and a neapolitan ice cream sandwich...and I swear nothing in my life has ever tasted better!  We were filthy, exhausted, and beat up...but it was the best kind of pain...and it was all...every minute of it...was worth it.  

And the adventure continues...

Stay tuned...

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