Crouching Lion

Sat, Dec 24, 2016

With: Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile
previously climbed Fri, Jun 13, 2014
later climbed Fri, Jan 6, 2017

Continued...

I can't remember the last time I was so stressed. My 17yr-old daughter, flying solo for the first time, had spent 12hrs at the San Jose airport the previous day, her first flight canceled, the next one delayed to the point of missing her connecting flight in LAX. She had not been able to travel with the rest of the family due to her finals and was as eager to join us as we were to have her. I'd made multiple calls to American Airlines during the day, eventually rescheduling both flights for the following day and sending her home with a friend. Her flight today would leave in the afternoon and give her two hours in LAX, plenty of time to get between terminals 6 and 4 to catch the flight to Honolulu. Out hiking with the wife, several more phone calls to AA were needed to correct an error in the ticketing that wouldn't let her check in online. Almost as soon as that was squared away her flight suddenly popped up showing an hour delay. This would slowly get worse and by the time her flight took off she was down to 40min in LAX to get between terminals. I called Tom Becht in LA to arrange a backup plan in case she missed her flight. Tom had graciously offered his services when he'd read the previous day's TR and it was looking like I was going to be taking him up on it. Between texts to Jackie and Tom, it was all I could do to keep from jumping out of my skin as the minutes ticked by. Upon landing in LA her plane sat outside the gate waiting for the previous plan to leave, burning through a precious 15 minutes. Another call to AA that I knew would be fruitless got the sympathy of the operator but all she could do was tell me that delaying a connecting flight was up to the airport operations and she could do nothing. More frantic texts as I learn she's waiting for a bus, waiting for more passengers to board, waiting for someone to get off. The clock shows she's got only five minutes to make her plane and I text Tom that it looks like his services are going to be needed. Tom meanwhile is at dinner with his wife somewhere between his home and LAX. Another ten minutes go by, it's now past the time her flight is scheduled to depart but they haven't yet posted it as such online. I then get a text that starts out "WAHOOOOOOO" and I suddenly feel the strain releasing from my body, the first time I can relax in a day and a half. Seems there were more than a few passengers from Charlotte, NC that were also missing and they decided to delay the plane 30min, enough for Jackie to catch the plane and draw a round of applause from the other passengers.

I picked her up at HNL around midnight, got her to Kaaawa, dinner and a shower. She and Mom were still up another few hours when I went to bed around 1a. We all slept in and had an easy day on Christmas eve. We snorkeled with her brother in the middle of the day, ate burgers for lunch with Mom, then a little peppering with the volleyball at Swanzy Park across the highway. I had settled in for the day without expectation of a hike when Jackie came up to me around 4:15p looking a little bored. "Want to go for a hike?" I asked. She smiled as she nodded her head and five minutes later we were out the door. Mom already had dinner in the oven and we only had about an hour before sunset. The TH for Crouching Lion is only a mile and a half away so it didn't take long to drive there and start up the unmarked dirt path heading into the forest from the highway. It hadn't rained much, so the trail wasn't too muddy, though we found plenty of it to christen her clean shoes and pants. The rocky feature is only 500ft in elevation, a low point on the Manamana Ridge which itself is a much more arduous 4mi loop trail featured in Stuart Ball's Oahu hiking guide. I had done the longer hike two years earlier and recalled that Crouching Lion is pretty easy by comparison. Two weeks earlier a 22yr-old local had died on the Manamana Ridge, falling 200ft to her death on one of the knife-edge sections with severe dropoffs. We would be keeping well below any of those sections. There are several possible trails one can start from, ours was next to the guardrail to the west. This took us up a mildly slippery trail through the forest before breaking out onto a more open ridge with views to Kahana Valley and Bay. We climbed higher until we were slightly above Crouching Lion to the south. A traversing trail forks off the Manamana Ridge Trail and took us to the pointy summit of Crouching Lion with a short, easy class 3 scramble at the end. We also visited the lower summit which is actually a bit more prominent. Between the two we found a small memorial with flowers, a stuffed animal and a photograph of Kaisha Chu, the young lady who'd tragically died near here. It was both touching and poignant, a moment for reflection and caution. After visiting the lower summit and taking a few photos, we returned to the memorial to take an alternate trail down from there, a more direct route off the mountain. This trail showed signs of far more use and had handlines in a number of the steeper, muddier sections. We finished up in a little under an hour, returning to the highway where there are several pairs of signs warning of dangerous cliffs and marked as Closed Area. It was not clear if these signs had been here long, possibly erected following the recent death. In any case, I suspect they will be regularly ignored but hopefully they will give pause for folks to be a little more careful...

Continued...


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