FKT: Conrad Newfield - Ko'olau Mtn Range (HI) - 2023-06-26

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2d 7h 27m 14s
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4am start in Pupukea. About 7 hours total spent trying to sleep, only 3 of those successfully


Trip report: 

I started at Pūpūkea at 4:07am Saturday morning and got to Poamoho in 9 hours (Laie Summit in 4.5 hours). I got lost a few times along the way, as I did my first time doing that section, losing about 20 minutes or so. Poamoho to Hell took 16.5 hours. I had forgotten just how bad the trail was between Pauao and Kipapa and did not move much faster than I previously had. The sky turned dark as I moved through the Gap, and my progress slowed considerably at night which I failed to account for. At first I thought I was moving slower because the trail was worse than I had remembered. It took me until night two to realize that I simply moved slower at night due to the injury risk and lack of visibility through the brush. Though I had a good headlamp, to stay safe both from falls and injury (mainly from kicking branches near the ground) my maximum speed was limited to much lower than I would have predicted. Additionally, for some reason my HR would not go above 120 bpm that first night and the combination of heavy wind and moisture (occasionally sideways "rain") with a breathable jacket meant I got cold whenever I stopped so I essentially had to keep moving the whole night. I essentially only took one break from bushwhacking during the first 28 hours, just 20 minutes to filter water.

I chose to sleep at Hell for two reasons: my feet were incredibly wrinkled and I wanted to recover slightly before the saddles while warming up in the sun. Normally wrinkled feet are not an issue but after being wet for that long, I had pain anytime something pressed on my arch through the shoe and I could not tell if my skin was falling off or whether I had blisters or neither. I tried to sleep for about 2 hours getting just over an hour or so of sleep. Both nights I woke up due to a combination of cold and extremely sweaty feet. As I had been warned, mylar sleeping bags cause insane sweating. This, of course, did not help my foot issues. I tried to dry them out after waking up by laying in the sun for 30 minutes but it did not help. 

I got moving around 8am, starting the saddles around 8:45am. Moanalua saddle took 1h15, Kalihi 3h30, and Pali 2h30 (with an hour break in the middle during which I noticed my right big toenail was elevated from a blister, likely due to kicking things). Kalihi was by far the slowest compared to expected; my first time doing it took only 2 hours partly because I was essentially paced through it. I got to K1 around 6pm and thought there was a high chance I could make it to Makapuʻu in 10 hours to go under 48 hours total. Unfortunately, I once again started moving slower than expected once the sun set. Sections were also much more overgrown than I had remembered (even though I had done it just two weeks before..). The bushwhacking, with the exception of the Kaʻau section, got worse and worse until peaking as I approached the Puʻu before Puʻu o Kona. I also had to slow down to not injure my toe even more, since kicking any more things might have meant the end of my mission or extending it even longer in duration. I got to Kuliouou around 12:30am, where I realized I would no longer make it under 48 hours. With this goal out of sight, I went back to my original aim of simply finishing as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, I got lost and disoriented repeatedly near Pyramid Rock, a typical experience even during the daytime but made considerably worse by night, lack of sleep, mental and physical fatigue, and occasional hallucinations. I decided it would be best to sleep once again, this time until sunrise so that I could trailfind more easily and recover slightly. I slept starting around 1:45am, waking up just a couple hours later but staying "in bed" until just before sunrise since there was no reason to get moving before then. From here I essentially just walked it in to the lighthouse, going slow to protect my toe (along with other annoying foot and hand injuries), and progressing at about 1 mile an hour. Clouds stayed overhead most of the time, a critical element as I was running out of water since from my last refill I thought I had 8 hours to the finish whereas it actually took me 19 hours. Importantly, I had filled my water filter with an extra 2L than I would normally carry, giving me a total of 6L instead of the usual 4L.

I finished at the lighthouse at 11:34am with a wonderful crew there to celebrate and the clutchest, most delicious chili rice of all time. In the end, my splits were Pūpūkea to Poamoho (9 hours), Poamoho to Red Hill (16.5 hours), Red Hill to K1 (9.5 hours), K1 to Makapuʻu (17.5 hours, with 5 hours of rest included). For a grand total of 55.5 hours doing nearly 56 miles, I believe this to be one of the slowest/hardest trails in the world. The full trip report is on