Friday, 20th March 2015: Olomana Three Peak Trail
This was our last full day in Hawaii so I decided it was gonna be more rewarding and more productive use of my time ending a very active holiday with a big hike. I googled and yelped Olomana Three Peak hike and read many different reviews. Some said it was alright but tough, some said the gravels and ropes were deadly.. Olomana Three Peak trail, one way, was 2.5 miles or 4 kms with an elevation of 1, 643 feet. After much contemplation, I realised this was probably the only chance for me to tick off ‘doing a big hike’ on my Hawaiian bucket list. We packed our backpacks with a lot of iced water, lunch, protein bars and muesli bars and started our drive towards Olomana Three Peak trail. We drove in circles for 20 minutes until GPS regain signal and finally got us on Auloa Road. Straight through Auloa Road was the beginning of the trail. Oh boy, this was it! I was excited yet nervous!
We begun our hike through a slightly muddy forest. As we went deeper into the forest, it got darker. About 5 minutes into the walk, we past a really scary abandoned house and at this point, I knew there was no turning back. I was gonna do whatever I could to pull myself through this. 15 minutes into the hike, the incline began. The first peak, Olomana, was the least steep one out of the three but it was also the longest. So for me, this was actually the toughest because endurance really isn’t my forte. Only about 3/4 into the first peak, then did I have to use ropes and more strength to climb. Thankfully, the roots of the trees were big enough for me to grab onto for additional support.
Before we could get to the top, it begun to drizzle. We were torn between continuing the hike or ending it as we were advised not to hike when it is slippery. More people were giving up at that point but we weren’t satisfied yet, and were highly determined to get to the first peak. We decided to rest and wait for the drizzle to end. I wasn’t sure how to feel at this point. Part of me was happy it rained because it meant turning back but the other part of me was curious to see if I was able to at least complete the first peak. The rain decided to stop so that was the sign to keep going. The last 1/4 was steeper and definitely needed a bit of climbing with the ropes. We kept singing songs, talking rubbish, making fun of each other the whole way and really just had a good bonding time. Although, it wasn’t so funny when Tandez, a mate of ours nearly slipped into the forest. Pheeww! It was a close call that one. Thank god for the branch that saved him.
Eventually, we made it to the first peak. This was the view from the first peak. Just pure fog! We were in the midst of a souffle of clouds. It was amazing 🙂 The view was truly spectacular as you get a 360 view of Oahu. I felt like I was at the top of the world! We stopped at Peak 1 for lunch to catch a breath and enjoy the view. I brought a piece of steak.. Hmmm.. and had bars along the way.
And then came the descend. Uh oh… I forgot about the downhill part. I’m really not a climber or big time hiker so this was super steep. In other circumstances, I probably would have passed but I obviously couldn’t for this one.My friends were amazingly patient and supportive too. They would always have me in the middle so I’m never left behind. They would take turns to guide me by telling me which rock to grab onto if they thought I was struggling. They were very encouraging throughout the hike. Step by step, I made it to the bottom of the first peak. Here is what the second peak looked like where I was standing. From the reviews, the second peak, Paku’i is the easiest of the three peaks – shortest, not that steep and didn’t require much ropes. By this time, i was pretty tired but still able to continue with a few breaks in between. Slowly but surely, we reached the top of the second peak. This time it wasn’t so foggy anymore so we got a clear view of the rainforests and the magically blue ocean. We were considering turning back but after weighing up the pros and cons, we decided we had come too far to stop at Peak 2 and not complete our hike up to Peak 3.
I needed to really mentally psych myself for the hike up to the third peak, Ahiki. It was the toughest, the steepest, most dangerous (relatively) AND there was this keyhole structure we had to walk past. There was only a narrow strip to walk on as we climbed around the keyhole. Thankfully, I somehow didn’t notice the keyhole. I only noticed after climbing around it hahaha It did require me to use every muscle I had in my body to climb up the mountain and maintain balance throughout the hike. I was definitely pushing myself out of my comfort zone! Halfway up Peak 3, I really felt like turning back. My pangs of hunger went out the door. There was absolutely no time for feeling hungry or scared. It was just up and up and up until we reached the peak.
Antonio led the group so he went to check if there was another way down from the third peak. We agreed that climbing 3 peaks was enough and wanted to get out of the trail as soon as possible. So we climbed down onto a very imbalanced ladder that swayed along with the breeze. This landed us some gravel and rocks. We spent 30 minutes climbing down before realising there was pretty much no way down. There were ropes but we weren’t sure if there was gonna be ropes after so we climbed back up to the peak. There, we met two local ladies who had done this hike before and recommended to go back the way we came. In my mind, all I could think of was “climb all 3 peaks again?! Are you crazy?!”. I was knackered, nervous, scared and very anxious. To top it off, the lady told us that most locals would have stopped at Peak 1 or 2 because Peak 3 is perceived as a “suicidal” hike. It wasn’t that bad that I would describe it as “suicidal” but many deaths have occurred here and if you’re tired, anything can happen. It wasn’t the right time for such negative reinforcements so before I burst into tears, I begun the hike backwards. We sang Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” to boost up our confidence, motivation and mood.
“Don’t worry about a thing, worry about a thing, oh!
Every little thing gonna be all right. Don’t worry! “
“Don’t worry about a thing” – I won’t worry!
“‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.”
Believe it or not, it really helped. We, especially me, became happier and got into a better mood 🙂 Mentally I was so focused. All I wanted was to get out of this trail. It was about 6pm, we had 1.5 hours to climb the three peaks again before it got dark. This time round, I wasn’t so afraid of climbing. I was moving a lot faster and much more comfortable with the ropes too. Before we knew it, we were at the top of the first peak already.
The way down from the first peak to the entrance was a lot longer than I had remembered. It felt like a never-ending walk. It got darker and darker by the minute. I was slipping more too because I couldn’t clearly see where I was going. Michael said it was because I was tired but i beg to differ hahaha By that time, it was all downhill and I forgot how to feel tired. The goal was to get out of the forest fast but safe. As soon as it got quite dark, we pulled out our phones for the flashlight to guide our way back down. On the way down, I nearly slipped and fell. If it wasn’t for the branch, I’m not sure if I’d be sitting down here writing this blog right now haha. Michael nearly died from a heart attack because of it. Oops. All good, let’s keep going! After about 15-20 minutes, we made it to the grove of pine trees where we initially started. Gosh, this was a long walk! At 8.30pm, we were still in the forest but very close to the finishing line.
30 minutes later, we got out of Olomana Three Peak Trail. We walked out together, so proud of ourselves and extremely relieved to be back on concrete ground! By the end, we could definitely sense the growth in camaraderie amongst us 4 🙂 I couldn’t shake the feeling of being at the top of the peaks, on such unstable ground; trying to balance myself in the clouds and wind. Traumatised is too strong of a word but I was definitely in a strange state of mind I still don’t know how to describe till today. It was a mixture of gratitude, happiness, anxiousness and disbelief that we made it in and out of the famous and most challenging hikes in Oahu. Unanimously, we agreed hiking Olomana Three Peak Trail was by far the highlight of our Hawaiian spring break. It was an experience we will never forget!
Will I go back again? Hmm.. let me get back to you about this one 😛 Hats off to those who manage to do this hike in 3 hours round trip, because we took 7 hours!! We definitely ended the holiday on a high Get the pun?? 😉