November 19, 2013 10:18 PM CST
My 5/5 with the B.I.G.
Geocaching in HawaiiAuthor: NL_Admin. 194 Reads
My 5/5 Adventure with the B.I.G.
So how did 2 girls from Wisconsin end up on a hike with a group of Hawaiian geocachers? It all started with a note on a cache page by me (beccaday). When our family began planning our vacation to Hawaii I did what any good geocacher would do, I started looking for interesting geocaches to find. I stumbled across a 5/5 that was calling out to me, Beyond Pololu (GC1005J). It sounded like rough terrain but amazing views and adventure! I have enjoyed many group caching experiences at home in Wisconsin so I decided to put a note on the cache page asking if there were any locals or tourists that wanted to team up to tackle this cache. Well this started a chain reaction. First I was contacted by someone telling me that they’d put my note out on their B.I.G. (Big Island Geocachers) facebook group page. After this I got a bunch of friend requests on both geocaching.com and facebook from different B.I.G. members and the planning began. We settled on a date during our visit and I started getting to know some of them via Facebook. They were all so friendly!
The day our plane landed on the Big Island we were greeted with leie’s by hulagal. What a warm welcome! During our trip we also got together with piilani7 and Kateriana who treated us to some island cuisine, snorkeling, and some excellent geocaching sites. Finally the day of hike arrived and we were frustrated to wake up to rain, but after all the planning we couldn’t give up! I brought my 12 year old daughter CachinKatie and my parents from Colorado Hikinwoman & Kwesterk along to meet up with 9 B.I.G.
We met the other members of our group in a parking lot at the top of a ridge that overlooked the valley. The view was spectacular! We exchanged names and took a few photos but it wasn’t long before we started our descent. What would normally have been a somewhat steep but fairly easy walk down to the valley was now a slippery slide with a few roots sticking out here and there for traction. We inched along and I believe one or two of us ended up on their backsides. We finally edged our way down to the valley floor and were treated to a beautiful, lush landscape that made the slipping and sliding totally worth it. We crossed the stream and then stopped and explored Pololu Valley, admiring the view of the ocean from the black sand beach. We also grabbed the geocache that was in the valley, Under the rainbow in Pololu Valley (GC4336). We lingered a bit in this beautiful valley, making our way over to the narrow trail that began our ascent up the next ridge, which is where the trail got much more difficult.
If this trail would have been nice and dry it would have simply been steep switchbacks which would have gotten the heart rate up but wouldn’t have been too much of a challenge. The rain had made the mud very slippery so it was like taking a step and then sliding back half of it. Fortunately there was a lot of vegetation surrounding the trail to grab hold of or to carpet the trail for traction. We stopped to rest for a few minutes to look out over the back of Pololu Valley, what a view! We kept winding up the switchbacks and farther up the ridge. The B.I.G. kept telling us all about the plants and animals that were unfamiliar to us from the mainland. We finally made it to the top of the ridge and were suddenly pummeled by biting rain and wind so strong we could hardly move. Most of the geocachers took cover under the protection of a small grove of trees but not me; there was a cache up there! I gripped my coat tightly and leaned into the wind as I searched for the cache: Zorro's Gift GC21XDB. I found it and struggled back to the trees so that the others could sign the log. As I was putting it back in place the wind and rain suddenly quit and we were treated to an amazing view as the sun shone down and began to dry my soaked clothing. We sat for a few minutes on the best bench in the world before beginning the most difficult part of the trail.
We crossed over the ridge and began our descent down towards Honokane Nui Valley. After just a few switchbacks we got to the part we all knew was coming but we were trying not to think about; the ropes. A few years back a major mud slide had washed away a good portion of the trail so someone had placed some ropes to aid hikers down to the valley. As we all dropped our packs to find our gloves the animal skull on the rock ledge gave us an ominous feeling. But then again, it was wearing sunglasses, which lightened the mood! We went down the ropes one by one and very slowly. Someone remarked that the rope was “slicker than snot” because of the rain. When it came to my turn I grabbed hold of the rope and started to head down and it didn’t take me long to figure out that this was not going to be easy. Gripping the rope was very difficult and just when I felt I was steady the person below me on the rope would falter, jerk the rope, and I would be wildly grasping for something to steady me. I happened to hit an especially slippery part of the rope just when the cacher below me on the rope gave it a good tug and I found myself rolling down the steep hill. I basically did a flip and a half but managed to keep hold of the rope. I only stopped myself because I got to a knot in the rope. When I finally made it down to flat ground my legs were shaking and I had to sit and calm down for a minute. A few of the geocachers decided the ropes were too difficult for them but everyone that attempted them made it down safely, including my daughter who barely got a speck of dirt on her. We followed the trail a little farther and then came a second set of ropes. I must admit, there were some expletives uttered by a few of us because we were not expecting this. The second set of ropes was shorter but the descent was even steeper, it felt like almost a straight drop down.
We were now nearly at the valley floor and started to follow the trail towards the cache. The trail was faint as this section of the trail doesn’t get much traffic. The trail seemed to lead to a bamboo forest, a first for me. We headed in and things really got tricky in there. The bamboo towered over us and grew so close together that it soon became very dark and we lost all sense of direction. We eventually made it out and back on track.
We exited the bamboo into a grove of Banyan trees. At this point we were getting close to the cache and I went into finding mode. For the most part our group had stuck together but I charged on ahead, determined to make the find. I stepped over rock walls made by ancient Hawaiian civilizations that used to live here and part of my mind registered how impressive that was, the rest of me was focused on hunting down the cache. The GZ was hard to pin down as the steep valley walls and tree cover made signal pretty jumpy but I found a large banyan tree that I was sure held the cache. My daughter will tell you that she made the find but only because I said to her “It’s got to be right there” and then hoisted her up so she could reach up into the crevice that I’d just pointed at. I’d never been so glad to see a 3 inch plastic container in my life!
The others soon caught up as we were signing the log. We sat around resting our weary legs, drinking water and laughing. The feeling of getting our first 5/5 was euphoric and we were all happy to have made this find. After resting and having lunch we wandered over to the ocean and marveled at the view of the rocky, remote beach. We all agreed that getting that spot on our statistics grid was great but the hike itself had been the very best part and completely worth the difficulty in getting there.
Our hike back was also amazing; we were so tired at the end of it! It was actually a little easier because by this time of day the ropes and the trail had dried out. I did smack my head on a low-hanging branch on one of the rope sections and got a bit of a bump but that was the worst injury of the group, which isn’t bad considering the terrain. Standing at the cache we were only .9 miles away from the parking lot but that was as the crow flies, our total hike covered about 6 miles. On our way back we again lingered in the beautiful Pololu Valley and I took coordinate markings and took some notes to create an EarthCache: Pololu Valley (GC3RNM5). When we finally made it back to the parking lot we collapsed to the ground with shaky legs. Of course then we had to take a bunch of pictures as we had survived our adventure!
This really was geocaching at its very finest and I’m so glad that I got to have this experience. The hike provided breathtaking views and the terrain really was an adventure. I also got to spend time with my daughter and my parents in such a fun and challenging way, which will make for some great family stories. I also got to meet some excellent geocachers from Hawaii and I’m so glad that I got to get to know them. And finally, I got a 5/5 geocache!
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Category: 2013 Winter Newsletter
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