Monday, August 31, 2009

Kahana Valley

From Hawaiian BU

Sorry we haven't updated in a bit, it's been a busy time for both members of 2-BU Pa'ina. We actually tried the double loop a while ago, and we never posted anything about the hike at the time. I pretty sure I speak for both of us when I tell you that Kahana Valley and all the potential hikes that you could do within a couple mile radius of this place might just make it the Mecca of hiking on Oahu (giving the trail system connected to Tantalus a great run for the money). We both knew that we wanted to explore the main valley trail first, since we love any place that links to waterfalls or swimming holes.

To get there, you need to enter the park next to the Ahupuaa O Kahana sign on Kam Highway, and drive in past the Welcome Center. You end up coming to the portion where the Native Hawaiian Families have homes, and you need to find a suitable place to park. I would recommend taking your Hawaiian friends with you if possible, that way the local people there will be willing to let you park next to their homes without giving you too much drama. Since both Dawn and I were part of this hike with Chinese BU, the neighbors were very nice and we got to park pretty darn close to the locked gate. I got to talk story with some of them, and I could tell right away that we had their blessings. I also saw a couple of the kids giving "stink eye" to some tourists. Oh well.

We walked past the locked gate up the paved road till we got to the main hunting sign. This led us to our first encounter with the wasps. I don't know what it was about that, but it felt like throughout the hike, we encountered these dangerous fliers, nearly 3 or four times on the path.

After he buzzed away, we checked out the sign and made our way on the Nakoa trail. Early on in the hike, you discover these signs posted describing the various native plants and the different designations given to each. They have really done a wonderful job of trying to reestablish the native rain forest that is so rare in our islands nowadays.

Another thing you discover early on is the views of the valley and how expansive it is. One can explore this gem for days and still find amazing things, both on the valley floor and from the ridge lines. We're saving the ridge lines for another time. We also heard the power of the stream that flows below you as you hike Nakoa. Man, we couldn't wait to get to the bottom!

We ended up coming to a junction in the trail, with many options to take. We had read Ball's description, and knew that we were doing a double loop, we just weren't exactly sure which way to take. After picture taking at the abandoned bunkers, we decided to head down to the path on the right of the bunkers. This led us almost immediately to a y junction in the bamboo forest. I made the call, and we went right, which turned out to be the right way. From the side of the ridge, you could see the stream below, which looked almost like a river instead of a stream. The whole time,we wanted to get down, but it seemed like we were going to contour the ridge forever. Thankfully, we finally hit the valley floor and made our way to the stream.

The water that flows there could possibly be some of the cleanest and clearest water on this island. It's also refreshingly cold! We chilled a bit at the first pool, ate lunch, then headed down stream. We came upon this magnificent deep pool next to a Mango tree. A Hawaiian mother and her adult daughter were swimming there, and I decided it was a good time to jump in and make friends. They were cool and gave us a good description of the valley and things to look forward to. The pool was deep enough that you could jump from the rockface bordering the backside (about 30-40 feet up). After cooling out for a bit, we left their company and headed downstream.

We found the bottom of the Bamboo forest, headed up the path, then ended up at the original junction. We were pretty confident that we had figured out the double loop, and headed down the return trip of the Nakoa trail. After meeting up with the stream again, I was very confused. The trail headed right (away from the opening of the valley) after the stream crossing. Chinese BU was in the front, and said that the path led that way. With no discernible alternative, we went with the cleared path. It was a slow uphill climb. It wasn't hard, it was just going the wrong way, and if there is one thing I don't like on hikes, it's going the wrong way. Thankfully, we encountered another junction on the trail with a sign that told us we had hit point 3 of the Nakoa trail, and that the correct path led us in the right direction towards the mouth of the valley.

We took this path all the way back down towards the stream, which ended up being the famous Kahana Valley swim hole with the swinging rope and the dam crossing. This hole is deep, but you need to be aware of the tree branch sticking out when you swing from the rope, or you could end up getting impaled. I also decided to take the running leap on the opposite side of the dam, from the bluff overlooking the pond. That was fun. From there, all you need to do is hike up about 100 yards and you end up at the first hunting sign.

Kahana Valley is awesome. There are so many different hikes you can do. Read up on some of the stuff Kaleo has done, or Eric at Hike Hawaii, or get yourself the Ball Book. If you're like me and want to find the historical Hawaiian places on hikes, Sites of Oahu is the bible! Other than that, we're definitely heading back to Kahana. I've already taken another group on the double loop, purely by chance, but it was a good excuse to reexamine this lush tropical oasis.

Debating the next move

On the big tree

Bunker time

Pond next to the big Mango tree

Dam crossing

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