Monday, November 7, 2011

No one can resist my Schweddy Balls

From Hawaiian BU

Aloha to all! Hope you are doing well wherever you may be hiking these days. The Bu Brothers are still out there, hitting the trails and trying to find paths to our favorite waterways. The title for this piece comes from an old Saturday Night Live skit featuring Alec Baldwin. We wanted to try and come up with a different name instead of the place we visited, and Chinese Bu comes up with "Sweaty Balls." Now he may make me change this title later, but I had to get in a plug for one of the funniest skits from SNL during that timeframe.

So, some hints before we tell you the place (if you haven't already guessed where this is)- It's a waterfall that falls between two high mountain peaks. The water is very cold at this place, probably because it's higher up than your basic waterfall. Lastly, it's not marked with any ribbons at the most crucial junction. As usual, we went on instincts and stories we had heard from other well-informed hikers. Wait one more thing-this was the first time either of us had visited this place, meaning this is our first write-up about the place.

Originally, I was supposed to do Wa'ahila Ridge with my college students, but only a few of them showed up, and the ones that came wanted to see a waterfall, so we initially decide to go to Kalihi and check out what's happening over there. I get a call from Chinese Bu, saying he's going to hit this hike, completely not expecting me to join him. I make a quick decision with the students, and we decide to join Chinese Bu on this adventure. And I was excited, as well as unprepared, for what we were about to encounter

We parked our cars and pushed off from the Kalawahine trailhead. It was a pretty overcast day, and the recent rain had me hoping for some raging falls. Guavas were in full bloom, littering the ground and making the path more slippery. We pretty much just zoomed through that trail on our way to Pauoa Flats.

Now, before we continue, several things I would suggest you bring before you attempt this trail-
1. Microspikes- They saved my okole out there. We'll get to that later.
2. Cutting tool of some type, like a machete- We really could have used the one in my van!
3. Rope-climbing rope would have been very helpful on this hike.
4. Gloves- My hands got all tore up from getting out the gulch.
5. Aspirin or pain-killer- Wait, you don't really need that for this, but I sure wanted some.
Now that you're wondering what's up with this list, let's continue.

Pauoa Flats to the Nuuanu overlook was calm. Only one other person was seen during this time, which I think is strange for a Sunday. We briefed the students on the next part of the trail, then headed up towards Konahuanui. Konahuanui, or Large Fat innards, according to the Place Names of Hawaii book, are the twin peaks to the right of the Pali Lookout. As the story goes, a giant threw his testicles at a lady who had escaped him, thus creating these peaks. Konahuanui also happens to be the highest place on the Koolaus, with a commanding view of the Windward side on a clear day. As you probably have guessed, that wasn't today's target.

As we continued to contour the left side of the mountain, I started getting nervous, like I usually do when exploring unfamiliar terriotory. I hate going the wrong way on hikes, and I'm always double checking my surroundings 3 to 4 times when we do new hikes. We finally hit the ridgeline and started looking for the way down to the left to get to the waterfall. Mahalo to Jeremy Kreis, who I asked for clarification a couple months previously about where this junction was exactly. With those directions and instincts, we decided to rush the only path that sort of looked like the way down.

Now if you plan to do this, this is where things get down to business. The incline on this hill can be steep in several sections, and good luck trying to maintain balance when it's muddy (like it was today) All of us basically butt-slide down most of the way. Ropes would have been very helpful, but anchor points were very few. There are 2 points along this mountain wall that had ropes, but more would be good. Another thing was the ferns-lots of them. Needless to say, the going was slow.

When we finally got to Upper Lulumahu Falls, I was awestruck. This is such a beautiful place, located in this tiny gulch, I didn't want to leave. The water is clean, and yes, some of the coldest water you will feel at an Oahu waterfall. I know that people go to this place, but it doesn't feel like there are that many that do. It feels so natural, so untouched by human hands. The pool is pretty too, but you can't really bomb from the ledge located there, it's too shallow. But I don't think you should do that at this place. Yes, we made fun of it in this piece, but I think I paid the price for that trying to get out.

Let's just say I got injured, making the climb out very difficult. I'm alright now, but some pain killer would have been nice. Thank God for the Microspikes! They got me out, without a doubt, and I'm not really the most nimble horse in the stable. I need to thank my students that came along with me and made sure I didn't fall off the ridge on the way back.

Upper Lulumahu Falls is worth the effort to get there. I'm now thinking that maybe it shouldn't be easier to get there. Everyone should be willing to pay the price to visit this place. It's beautiful and serene, and I hope if and when you decide to venture there, you come ready to open your heart to this small slice of heaven. Aloha and see you folks soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Seven Bridges: my thoughts behind the myth

From Hawaiian Bu

If you were a local kid growing up here on Oahu, you were exposed to many different tales or urban legends about places that were haunted and gave you chicken skin. Places like Morgan's Corner, the Faceless Lady at Old Waialae Drive-In, and Seven Bridges of Manoa. When you hear the stories the first time, you're usually with some other kids who are also hearing it for the first time, and you're all like "Nah, I not scared! We go!".

But as time goes on, and the story is allowed to fester in your brain, you start wondering if what they said was true. In the future, you run into someone who went to the place, said it was scary, and now you really not sure if it's true or not. And every time someone brings it up again, the cycle renews and the place starts getting a heavy rep in your mind, even though you may have never been there yourself.

When you finally go, you're so worked up, that the slightest noise, or a croak from a frog, or a rustling of a tree branch, scares the crap out of you and your friends, and now, in your mind, the story must be true. You may not even do what the legend says you gotta do, but you and your crew had enough, and that's all there is to it. I guess this is how it goes for all urban legends you hear from other people.

Have you ever wondered- why was the story started in the first place? Did someone really hear a banshee when they went into the back of Manoa Valley? Does one of the bridges really disappear when you walk back out? Could it be that the story of the Seven Bridges of Manoa was made up so that you don't go up the road, and you never discover what's truly back there? And do you really know the correct path for the road?

I will confirm one thing for all of you: Seven Bridges of Manoa IS a hike, but it is not as long as some of the various websites have made it sound like. In fact, it is an old road that is overgrown with Hau and Bamboo, making it challenging to really discern the proper path. On my way up there, I went off the road many times, listening to the stream flowing and trying to see what I could find. I crossed the stream several times, trying to find old ribbons on either side. I finally realized that the easiest way up was to keep to the road, and fight through the overgrowth.

As usual, I finally found some old ribbons marking the way. However, there were stretches of the path where these ribbons had fallen down with the bamboo or trees they were connected to. I had to rely on instincts during that time, especially since I didn't see any new footprints on the trail I was on. This path hasn't been used in a long time.

The path finally led me back to the stream, and I kept pushing up towards the valley. After about 50 yards of climbing on terraces formed by ancient hands, the stream ended. I kept on walking up the valley for about 100 to 200 yards more, but I couldn't find the stream anymore. Strange. So I decided to go back to where the stream ended, and figure out what was going on. If you have been following our blog regularly, you might know what I discovered.

Waaloa Spring is amazing! The water is fresh, and it comes right out of the mountain. As I sat next to it, I began to envision my Hawaiian Ancestors, sitting at that very spot, filling their gourds, thanking their 'Aumakua for protecting them and this valuable resource. I'm guessing that there might not be many people interested in this, especially since there is no waterfall connected to it, but I find this place to be serene, calm, and full of mana.

Now take a step back with me for just a moment, and remember how I started this post. In fact, think about all the scary stories you may have heard about Manoa Valley. The nightmarcher tree at the beginning of Manoa Falls trail. Manoa Chinese Cemetary. Seven Bridges of Manoa. Take all of those and find a street map, and place a pin where you would logically pin the beginning point for each, or the actual spot. Now look towards the mountains from each pin. Figure out what I'm trying to get at? I remember being told as a child that the Menehune at one time controlled upper Manoa Valley, and that they should be respected.

Ghost stories and urban legends are awesome, and I love hearing about them. But I have a feeling that there just may be an alternative purpose to why I heard it as a kid. And I do love Manoa Valley and the beautiful secrets it has locked within. This particular secret I will keep with me for now, until I figure out how to link it with the other waterways located in Manoa. If you are trying to find it, good luck, and take some cutting shears with you, as well as some hiking instincts.

I guess I'll end this one with this- Yep, Seven Bridges of Manoa is Haunted! BEWARE!!!!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wahiawa Hills

From Hawaiian BU

I went nuts at Sports Authority last night. Bought me a brand new pair of shoes, new Camalback bag, and the most important of necessities, thick hiking socks! All my stuff was breaking down, and I needed to be ready for the next hike with the college students, Wahiawa Hills. Several students had previously mentioned that they wanted to see a river, so the closest thing in my head on Oahu was Kaukonahua Stream. I figured 5 miles, up and down some hills, and a cool swim spot, that would be perfect.

Now usually we don't hike far from the Koolaus, but the capability to see the Waianae Mountain Range from the trail really got me thinking that I should get my okole up earlier than usual and get out to the Westside. It was right around 9 AM that myself, Chinese BU, and the college gang pushed off from the end of California Ave, and adventured into Kaleo Lancaster's backyard.

I was very thrilled to have Chinese BU along for this one, because he had done this about a year ago with Kaleo. I'm thinking that he would be able to handle all the complicated junctions one encounters as they progress throughout the hike. On the safe side, I had my copy of the Ball book with me, and a printout of Kaleo's directions from his site. The crazy thing about this was that the book and Kaleo's directions didn't match, and Chinese wasn't exactly reassuring when we came to questionable junctions. I guess I'll have to forgive him, since it has been a year plus since he last did it.

With those challenges in front of us, let me share this with you- this is a testing 5 mile hike. Going the route described in Kaleo's directions leads you to this punishing climb up a ridge that is choke-filled with Uluhe. Each of us got scratched up all over our arms and legs as we ascended this portion of the hike. Footing was tough because you couldn't see the ground, and it was wet from the light drizzle coming down on us. Getting to the top of that ridge led us to another junction, which turned out to be the alternative way to come up to that point. We figured that out because two ladies and their dog, which we had passed previously before the first stream crossing, had beaten us up the ridge.

We kept on walking through the trees until we got to this epic view of the Koolaus and took a break there. We turned right and down the ridge, eventually hitting the swim spot at the bottom. That water was as cold as some waterfalls I've encountered! After spending nearly an hour playing around in the stream, we geared up and returned to the trail. We were instantly greeted by another heart-pounding climb up a ridge with Uluhe on both sides. At least this portion was more clear than the last one.

With the knowledge that we were going to grind some Dot's sizzling Hamburger Steak afterwards, we pushed through and methodically made our way back to the critical junction of the whole trail. If you decide to do this hike, please take someone with you that knows the way. It's so much easier. I know I gave Chinese BU a hard time here, but once we got past the first climb, he knew where he was going, and everyone felt better (except for his occasional jokes about going the wrong way!).

One more thing I should tell you before I sign off on this one- That long hill you had to descend in the very beginning that reminds you of the "Heartattack Hill" from Waimano Pool? You gotta climb that thing to get out! And I will say, its my opinion that that hill is just as challenging, if not harder than the one you face at Waimano Pool.

I know it's not a waterfall (besides the hidden one you find at the bottom of the first hill), but I like the swim spot at Wahiawa Hills. I'm very thankful for the new equipment I got, especially the socks. All of us kanacked out at Dot's, and there were alot of happy faces at the end of this one. Hopefully you get a chance to go visit this workout sometime soon. But make sure to bring a guide!

Catch you all on the trails. Aloha!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Love for Manoa

From Hawaiian BU

Taken from the book "Place Names of Hawaii"

Manoa. Lit. vast.

Manoa has been a part of my life since I was a young boy. I learned baseball on it's fields. I got in trouble with neighborhood kids, doing stupid things like marking off "our turf", and acting like we ran the place. I made out for the first time with a girl there. My family shopped all the time at Longs. And, my family would take me into Manoa and show me it's natural beauty through the various hikes located within. At the time, I didn't really care about those details. But now, well, things have changed, as have I.

I really believe that it is part of my process that I had to go through, to get to the point I'm at now. The secrets that escape us do so for very specific purposes, and when the time comes for you to uncover them, it feels like you have earned the right to discover these treasures. It's with these thoughts that I present this writing for those willing to read it.

If you have read our blog before, you know that both Chinese BU and myself are enamored with finding waterfalls on this island, and we spend large amounts of time trying to find them and enjoy them. We started out as most hikers do, travelling the most common trails that can be found in tourists magazines and websites. We then graduated to Stuart Ball's incredible hiking book, and the various online resources from people that had come before. It was during this phase that I began asking my family for help, and a whole new avenue for information became available.

My family is FILLED with hikers. Grandma has countless photos of herself in front of all types of Hawaiian historical places, some I have come to discover were VERY difficult to get to. My Aunty was the main trailblazer, continuously finding places all around Oahu and sharing her adventures with us. My Mom and Stepfather had all the Robert Smith hiking books from each island, and you can still see some of the notations they used in the books. Our Family home has literary resources, including maps, stories, personal collections, many of them not in publication anymore. When I finally decided to really make hiking a big priority in my life, and my ohana knew it, that was when I began getting access, and past memories began to become more visible and clear.

Over the past couple of years, we have been taking this knowledge, and finding our own place, and creating our own resource to point back to, this blog. We've had a lot of fun along the way, made many new friends, and found more trails than we ever anticipated. We've even hiked on other islands, and discovered that we have barely scratched the surface of what is possible for us. Just like Manoa, the world of hiking is vast!

One more thing before I finish this off- We have always talked about how the people you hike with is the most important part of the whole experience. Why only have this experience by yourself? That's why we take the kids, teenagers, and college students we work with on these hikes. We debate all the time about which hikes certain age levels can handle, in fact, its probably the most recurrent topic for us when we hike. Not only do we want to show the next generation these places, but hopefully instill in them the passion to care for these places as much as we do.

I've been spending a lot of time in Manoa Valley the past couple of months, finding trails that have never been written about, but have somehow been there for previous hikers. The goal is to connect all the major waterways that exist in the back of the valley. So far, I've been able to get to Aihualama, Wahi, Lua'alaea, Naniu'apo, and Waiakeakua. I think I'm very close to finding Waaloa Spring, which I think is off a side trail from Naniu'apo. I have been able to connect Wahi, Lua'alaea, and Naniu'apo without trespassing on private lands. With some help of the greater hiking community, we hope to make all of them interconnected a complete reality in short order. When that time comes, I promise to share that with all of you, that way, we all can care for these treasures that were once hidden, but deserve to be seen.

I'm excited about this! I'll be back with more soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


From Hawaiian Bu

What's up everyone, hope summer has been kind and allowed you to hike the trails of Oahu. As usual, both of us at 2-BU are busy with the YMCA, but we always seem to make sure we plan hiking into the programs we run. But we were finally able to find a day that both of us could hike and we chose to attempt Kaliuwa'a (again!)

We have both tried on many occasions to get to the falls, but each time we have been met with either a guard or some maintenance guys, and have been forced to find alternatives. I have discovered that others have been able to get there without interference, but that wasn't our luck previously. If you have never been to Kaliuwa'a before, it's probably been for a good reason. Located behind a closed state park on the road to the North Shore, you are not supposed to go and hike to this place, due to a very big tragedy that occurred there on Mother's Day in 1999. I leave you to find out more on your own if you must know the details.

Since that time, I guess they have a guard that watches over the place that gives out trespassing tickets if you are found there. It must be cheaper paying this guy's salary than what it costs for, other expenses. So each previous time we have gone, we have encountered this person, blocking our way. We figured that you had to go early in the morning, on a weekday, when no other person would hike the trail. We also ensured that we didn't park right in front of the park (big tip!) so that the guard did not think that someone was there. We decided to park at the stretch of beach, right before the Greater Mt Zion Church, and walk towards the park entrance.

Kaliuwa'a is not a long hike, but you do spend a good 15 to 20 minutes on the dirt road past the yellow gate until you reach the first dry stream crossing, and discover the actual trail. Several things you should keep in mind if you decide to do this hike-
1. You will be trespassing on private property, and if you encounter the guard, you most likely will have to take the hit, so hike this at your own risk. Not only were we concerned going into the trail about meeting the guard, but coming out of the valley as well. Kaliuwa'a is a gulch hike, and there are really no alternative paths you can take safely to escape the guard's notice as you exit. We encountered the guard twice right at the beginning of the actual trail, smart buggah!

2. Because it is a closed hike, it hasn't been maintained in years, and there is alot of overgrowth in some areas. The problem is compounded by the fact that there are no ribbons to mark the path, since they probably don't want you going deep into the gulch. But if you got good instincts, use some common sense, and keep communication good with your hiking crew, you should be ok. For the most part, you can see which way you should go, just remember to keep following the stream up the valley. When you see the signs saying "Park Closed" along the way, you know you must be getting closer.

3. Beware of Falling Rocks! This is a gulch hike you are doing, very similar to Ma'akua (read our blog about that adventure). Even a rock the size of a quarter falling from that height can do major damage to you. We were very fortunate on this day that nothing fell on us, and I pray for you if you decide to try this hike. Take this warning under serious consideration.

The valley is very fertile! I was amazed at the amount of Mountain Apples bursting from every tree we passed. We also found Kukui Nut, Guava, Torch Ginger, and Avocado in abundance as we progressed towards the falls. I also have a feeling that there is a healthy pig population back there, just because there are probably no control mechanisms in place. I'm fairly certain you could survive there for a long time if the situation warranted it.

One other thing- you could feel the "mana" in this place. It is very strong, and rightfully so. I really don't want to elaborate about it, but if you are familiar with the Hawaiian history of the place, as well as the recent catastrophe that happened there, you probably understand what I'm referring to. We both decided not to swim at the falls, which is a big thing for us, since we swim at every falls we go to. It just didn't feel right, for either of us. Maybe next time.

The falls is beautiful, and exactly as I remember it from the last time I went there (around 1996). Personally, it was an experience I was ready for, and I look forward to completing it again sometime in the future. Gotta thank Chinese Bu for taking videos of the trek, and I hope he attaches his completed version here in the near future. Hope everyone out there stays safe, and we'll see you out on the trails. Aloha!

Sacred Fall video

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chinese Bu
I'll speak instead of write... check out my latest with Kaleo and his crew!

Sunday, June 12, 2011


From Hawaiian BU

Sometimes I wonder if there are things in this world you are deliberately not told about. I'm not talking about the secret of Santa Claus or things you learn after time. I mean, are things that exist in this world that someone has discovered, yet will not share with the rest of world. I'm thinking it may be to protect it, either from what you may do to it, or what other s you tell may do to it. I sincerely hope its not to hoard it for yourself. That leads us to today's waterfall, Naniuapo.

What is Naniuapo, you may be asking? Well, during my many excursions into the Manoa forests, I would run into other hikers, and me being the welcoming type, I usually ask how they're doing. It was during one of those conversations that another hike mentioned to me had been to the other waterfall to the left of the one I was going to. Assuming that he was referring to another waterfall, I told him yes. That somehow stayed in my mind.

The next thing I also noticed during these hikes was a tour company that always brought tourists into the same hiking area I was going into. However, they never went to the waterfalls I was going to. I remember once seeing their group, and some of the tourists were wet, like they had gone swimming. Now, I know you can't swim at the waterfall I thought they were going to, so it piqued my interest.

I was bumming around the internet, and I found their website. It lead me to a youtube video that gave me many clues. After that, it was on like Donkey Kong, I had to find out what this was. I read geocaching websites. I looked over terrain maps. I scoured my Hawaiiana books. The only mention I found was in my place name book. It mentioned Naniuapo as a stream in Manoa. In fact, it is only mentioned as a stream in all those references, never as a waterfall.

Well, I found it. It's not that hard of a hike, but there are absolutely no ribbons to speak of leading up to it. You have to trust your instincts when you do this hike-follow the stream, and never let it out of your site. There are several stream crossings that you must do, but there are ropes at each one, a big sign that the trail is maintained, and they don't want you to get lost.

About 150 yards down from the waterfall, there is this super beautiful pool that you can access via a side trail leading down into the stream. The pool is surrounded by bamboo. It's a shallow pool, but big enough to dunk your body in. And the water is VERY clean. From the pool, you can see the waterfall in the distance.

This waterfall is absolutely spectacular. I would estimate that it's about 200 feet tall, starting with one beautiful ribbon of water falling over the top ledge. It then hits another short ledge, which it then breaks up into two streams of falling water. After this, it hits another, bigger ledge, and breaks up into four streams. It is inspiring!

There is no pool at the bottom of the waterfall, so get your swim in at the lower pool. I spent my time up there being thankful that I had found it, and wondering why I had never ever read anything about something so naturally beautiful. I'm positive that the Hawaiians must have surely known about the falls, yet I can't find any narrative about it. If you have one, can you please share it with me?

I know that the lands that front the waterfall are private property, or they used to be. According to the tour group website, they have permission to be up there. I will agree with this- There are reasons why you never learn about such things.

From what I know, here are the waterfalls one can find in the back of Manoa, from Ewa to Diamond Head: Aihualama, Waihi or better known as Manoa Falls, Lua'alea, Naniuapo, and Waiakeakua. Does anyone know of any others?

If you want to know how to get to Naniuapo, I better trust you with my life, or a supremely hot local lady may work on me as well. Know that you have to deal with going on private property, and timing is an issue as well, since you don't want to run into the tour group. Other than that, another waterfall in the bag!

BTW, Chinese BU ended up going to Kalauao today with a whole bunch of people. He claims to have some pretty cool videos of the waterfall. I'm very excited that he reports that the waterfall is raging right now. I'll be going there later this week with the teens!

Aloha and have a blessed week!