Have you ever done some stupid stuff while hiking? I know that I have and thankfully I tend to learn from my mistakes so I can make new ones the next time. However, yesterday I hiked Olomana trail on Oahu and I got to see some really stupid stuff.
First off, Olomana trail is one of the most difficult hikes on Oahu. It’s also known as the 3 peaks hike as you climb up and over 3 different summits in 2 miles. The distance isn’t bad, but since you’re going pretty much straight up and down the entire time, it’s a difficult hike. There are ropes that have been put in over the years to help out, but you’re getting a good workout. The other thing to think about, Hawaii is humid! I was quite literally soaked from head to toe before I even started the major climbing sections.
Let me start with guy number 1. Just after I arrived on the top of the first summit I saw 2 guys approaching me. I asked how they were doing and one of them looked at me and said, “Terrible! Do you have any water?” I looked at him in disbelief.
You didn’t bring any water!?
Sure enough, he was quite literally wearing just a cutoff shirt, shorts and some tennis shoes. No backpack and not even a small bottle of water. After giving him some of mine, he commented, “this isn’t like hiking in Seattle”. No it’s not. 4 miles of hiking in a hot, humid environment is not the same as hiking in Seattle. He was having a rough go of it because he was doing some really stupid stuff.
The other guy that was with him had met him on the trail. He didn’t have any water left as his 500ml bottle fit nicely in his bum bag. At least he started with some. I admit there are times I don’t hike with water. But that’s only if I know the trail well and there are specific places I know I can get some. In those cases, I do carry a water filter with me so I can pick some up on the way.
There was this one time that Qale went hiking up on a glacier. The temperature was hovering around 10° F (-12° C) so it was quite cold. He brought a 3 liter collapsible bottle for water that froze solid due to the temperature. Since he really needed some water, he put the bottle in his sleeping bag with him overnight to try and get it to thaw. After 4 hours he had enough for a couple mouthfuls. Due to his sleeping bag not being warm enough to start with, he decided that putting a freezing bottle inside his sleeping bag wasn’t the smartest move on earth. He left it out for the rest of the night and had a solid block of ice to carry for the remainder of the hike. Use an insulated bottle in the cold.
Then I met 2 French guys doing some more stupid stuff
After finishing up the third peak, I realized that I was starting to push it if I wanted to be down by sunset. It took much longer to get here than I had anticipated. During the steep climb back up toward the second summit, I heard a couple guys speaking in French (I studied French for 5 years so I at least know what it sounds like).
They asked if I had actually reached the third peak (since it is the hardest) and I said, “Yes. Are you guys going up there?” Of course! I then asked if they had any flashlights. No. Do we need them? Yes, unless you want to hike back down in the dark without them. They said they were a bit behind schedule since they got lost in the jungle for over 30 minutes on the way up.
Turn Around NOW!
I didn’t mince any words with them. There is some stupid stuff you can get away with while hiking. Going down a dangerous trail after sunset without any lights isn’t one of them. If you already got lost in the jungle (which is easy to do as I found out on the way back down myself), it’s not any easier in the dark. Of course they kept going and I really hope they got back down safely. I finished the hike with only 20 minutes left until dark and they were an hour behind me if they actually did the third peak.
On my way down from the first summit I came across another trio that had no water and no lights. Just because a trail isn’t long, doesn’t mean it’s safe. I’ve certainly made my fair share of mistakes, but I’ve never had to beg a stranger for a drink of water.
Flip-flops aren’t good for hiking
One other thing I saw a couple days ago had to do with footwear. My wife and I met up with her cousin and we hiked up toward Mount Olympus to try and capture some sunset pictures. About 1/2 mile into the hike we came up behind a group of 6 that were all wearing flip-flops. I am known for walking in the snow and ice in flip-flops (and I just did a 6 mile walk through Vegas in some last month) so I’m not knocking this out of spite.
The trail we were on had rocks that needed to be scaled. Mud. Tree roots and other such hazards. This is not the kind of trail to wear flip-flops. If you don’t have the right footwear, turn around if you find that it’s a bit too sketchy. My wife started the Olomana trail with me. After 1/4 mile she realized that her running shoes were no good for the mud. She turned around and that was a smart decision.
Have you ever done some stupid stuff while hiking? Did you learn from your mistakes? I certainly have…though Qale will frequently get the blame 😉