Sunday, October 4, 2009

Confusion and the Crystal Canyon

From Hawaiian BU

The original plans we had mapped out for today was to tackle Koloa Falls, mostly because Chinese BU was looking forward to some water after his trip from LA. Honestly, I flaked on doing enough research on this hike, but we ended up finding the location to not only Koloa Falls trailhead, but to the secret PCC falls that we had read about from several websites. I also think we were hesitant from the excessive rain that had come down the previous night in Laie, and of course, Kaipapau was fresh in our minds. This led us to come up with an alternative to spend our Sunday. With the upcoming Teen Camp that we are both attending at Camp Erdman, we decided to investigate Crystal Canyon, especially since we were both put in charge of leading it due to our "hiking guys" status.

Before we continue, some clarifications are needed. I consider myself to be a hiker, not a mountain climber. Chinese BU is down to do whatever I think, yet has no real experience climbing mountains. We are both pretty capable of finding paths up mountains when it's a designated trail, even if it's steep. If you are unfamiliar with Crystal Canyon, it requires a short hike to the base of the Waianae Mountain Range from Camp Erdman. When you get there, that's when the challenge begins. The path is an old dried up waterfall that needs to be climbed with the aid of ropes anchored to trees at the top of each flat level. There are many levels that need to be climbed, some not that steep with many footholds, and some that are sheer rock faces, with minimal to no footholds to speak of. And we decided to explore this thing and see how far we could get, thus having an idea of what we would encounter this coming Saturday with the teens

I think we made a good choice climbing this thing, because we learned a lot from this task. The first rope climb is no problem. The second rope climb is about 2 stories high and fairly flat on the way up. There is this maze of banyan roots that makes its way down the wall. With the roots and the added rope, you should make it up no problem. However, I kept praying that the roots and the rope would support me that whole way up. I'm a bigger guy and always wonder about this whenever we do a climb. I'm not really that afraid of the height: it's whether or not the support system will stand up and give me what I need to get up. And I really didn't trust the rope. It was one of those lines that mountain climbers use to scale mountains. I know it can support my weight, but I didn't like the fact that it had no knots to help a brother out. We're bringing our own rope this Saturday.

There was a small section to be climbed with the aid of a rope (not that difficult) which led to the next challenge. The fourth one is fairly manageable when you have a partner tell you where the footholds are. I'm so happy Chinese BU got good eyes and told me where each one was. He's a great hiking partner. The main thing we've developed during our hiking time together is a trust in the judgement of each other to make the right call. This was another rope I didn't like because it had no knots.

If I remember correctly, the next series of ropes requires you to cross over a thin ledge holding on to the rope while being accomplished. You must then gradually ascend the right side wall of the mountain with the aid of ropes that have been anchored to the rock wall with rock climbing pins. You need to remain absolutely focused during this portion because the footholds are not that wide, and you must use a swinging maneuver to get to a ledge to your left. I was okay with these ropes, yet I didn't feel like falling either. After safely navigating this test, the next big workout starts right out.

You are presented with two ropes: one the mountain climbers use, and one that is used to moor tug boats to a dock. Needless to say, we both used the big guy. And, you need to climb up nearly 4 stories with this guy. There are some decent footholds along the way, but there are some other parts that it's just you, and that big rope, and flat rock. Truthfully though, I had more confidence in this rope: It had nice big knots to help you out, and I knew this one had no problems supporting me. Even though this ascent is longer than the second, I liked it better and felt more secure. When I got to the top of this level, I saw how well anchored the rope was, and it made me even more confident.

Well, that's about all the joy we got for the day, because the next rock face to be climbed was an absolute monster. At least six to eight stories tall, by my estimate, considering what we had done previously and had been able to look back down upon. And there was no normal rope to help this time, just mountain climbing rope. Plus there was this family that was trekking up, loaded with carabiners and ascenders and rope and children! I was impressed, but we both knew that this was where the party would end for us today. There was this side trail Chinese BU explored for a bit, but that only led to another amazing set of mountain climbing ropes and mountain climbing guys.

Can we take the Teens up here? I think we need to seriously evaluate each of them and see what they can take. I think it's doable up to that point with the right equipment and the right minded individuals. I'll tell you, I'm tired right now, like we just did a 7 mile + hike or something, most likely because I used many more muscles today than normal. But I'm glad we did this beforehand.

This week, we're taking Chinese BU's middle schoolers to Hamama Falls. Should be fun. Also, we're camping this coming weekend, so we probably wont have any updates next weekend. Take care and happy hiking.

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