Monday, September 28, 2009

Malaekahana Falls

From Hawaiian Bu

Well, I was out my Favorite Chinese Buddy for the weekend, so I needed to get my Hiking fix in somehow. I figured why not get some of the college students to, ummm, plan an event. Oh you want to do a hike? Well, what type of a hike? A waterfall one you say? I have a few suggestions.

You can see how that went. Suffice to say they "picked" a hike that, lo and behold, I've never done before. And I must admit that it turned out to be a good choice for the group that I was trucking up the mountain. I know they had a good time.

There's not too much to report here for this hike, basically it's like a carbon copy of Laie Falls. You park at the same baseball field, walk the same road, until you get to the Laie Falls sign. Then you stay on the road some more until you get to a big blue Private Property sign, then go through the gate on your left. The hike reminds me of the same thing we did for Laie Falls: up the mountain towards the the main junction, encounter big stretches of dirt patches, go through the ironwoods, past Uluhe ferns, and choke Strawberry Guavas. Even the view is almost the same, just one ridge over.

The biggest difference is the path down to the falls. It's waaay longer and more treacherous than Laie. You need to be vigilant going down the mountain and maintain focus. But the reward at the bottom is pretty damn awesome. A multi-tiered waterfall to the right, and a big beauty to the left. The water was cold and a little murky, but a welcome reprieve nonetheless.

I was very happy for the students because they got the chance to get to a waterfall that was working! (Read Kalauao to find out what I'm talking about) They really like the hikes we've picked for them. Not that strenuous, but still a challenge, with a great reward at the end. I might need to change the scheduled hike out to Kaena Point with them and take them on another adventure like the previous two. Or I might not, I'm not sure yet, because I really like Kaena.

Malaekahana Falls? It was alright, it made you work hard to get to it, but not unattainable. I don't know if I would do this one again, maybe if I was on that side of the island, and I got sick of Laie Falls. I think both hikes are very similar, but at least I get to say that I did both of those waterfall hikes. Put another feather in the cap!

Oh, you guys probably figured out that I'm not a picture taking type of guy, but I will try to get some of the students pics that they have. I'll say something like we need them to file a report on the activity, or something like that. Honestly, I love this group of students I'm working with. They are hella cool!

The Hike up to Malaekahana Falls

The Coastline View

Brother Dan about to jump from the upper falls

Monday, September 21, 2009


From Hawaiian Bu

It's been almost 7 hours since we attacked Olomana, and I'm still feeling the effects. I must admit that this one hike made me do probably the most research I've done since we started the blog. I read the Ball book 4 times last night, dissected countless web pages, poured over my Bryan's sectional map, and focused in on the Site of Oahu Book. It was important to get it right, so that my mind was in the right state. In fact, I woke up at around 1:30 AM (after crashing at 9:30) and couldn't get back to sleep for another hour and a half.

The Matterhorn of Oahu. 3 distinct peaks solitarily located just past Luana Hills Country Club. Waiting to be climbed and share its secrets. I knew going in that the first hill to climb was the one that was going to really be the one that mattered. We parked our car at Maunawili Park and made our way towards the access road towards the Country Club. Only later did we realize that you could park much closer (Next Time). The guard at the front gate was very polite and gave us some positive reinforcement. After about a half mile walk on the road, we got to the sign that marked the beginning of the trail.

As I suspected, the first hill was the hardest hill to conquer because you need to gain 1600 feet just to reach the first peak, called Olomana. Not necessarily a lot of ropes to deal with (a few here and there on the way up) but just having to truck up all that way is really lung-busting and calf-burning. Reaching the peak of Olomana is already a victory in itself. And the reward at the top is unparalleled anywhere else on the island.

Imagine being able to have a 360 degree view of everything that makes Windward Oahu special: Makapu'u Lighthouse, Waimanalo, Lanikai, Kailua, Keolu Hills, Enchanted Lake, Mokapu, Kaneohe Bay, Chinaman's Hat, Mauanawili, Konahuanui, The AG land in the back of Waimanalo. You can see all of that from there, no problem. And if you're lucky to have a clear enough sky like we did, Molokai and Lanai come into view as well. I'm so happy I invested in some binoculars!

We also found the cache located at Olomana Peak and added some flavor of our own. If you want to find out what it is, I guess you're going to have to haul yourself up there like we did. Of course the next order of business for Chinese BU and myself was to make the next peak, Pakui. I called my Mom to tell her where I was, and of course she had questions. I did the best I could to answer all of them as well as Dad's questions since Mom put him on speakerphone. I love sharing with my parents about the adventures we go on. I feel like I do them proud and maintain the hiking heritage they instilled in me.

Now the second peak was about all I wanted to get to, but I didn't really know why. Call it a feeling more than anything else. The background info I read all say that the most difficult portion of the hike is the descent from the second peak (Pakui) to the saddle so you can reach the third peak (Ahiki). Chinese BU couldn't wait to tackle the rope section, and I was down to track him from Pakui. I was trying to overcome what I thought was fear and will myself to the third peak, but there was a strong voice in me that said that the time was not right for me yet. I don't know if you believe in that stuff, but I've always trusted that little voice we all have. It's never steered me wrong.

We made the second peak and I knew I needed to call my Mom for more info. I sat down under the tree overlooking the descent to the third peak and followed Chinese BU with my Binos. While I did that I called my Mom. I told her where I was and the name of the peak I was on, Pakui. Almost immediately, she reshared a story she had told me before but now made so much sense to me. Mom and all my Aunties had made a pilgrimage to a very sacred Heiau on Molokai. In fact, they had to truck up this huge hill, make some offerings, and ask permission to enter. What they experienced there I will not share here. Let's just say it was intense. Oh and the name of this Heiau- Pakui. I looked back towards Molokai, then realized that most likely, Hawaiians somehow had linked that sacred luakini Heiau, to this amazing peak. Mom also shared with me that there is another Heiau by the name of Ahiki (the name of the third peak) but she wasn't sure where it was. It was at that point that I realized that I need to journey to Molokai and see what I need to see at this heiau, get whatever it is I need to accomplish, then I can continue to the next peak. It was a big revelation for me.

By the way, Chinese BU is part Billy Goat! That guy absolutely flew up the third peak like nothing. I was watching him while talking to Mom, and I couldn't believe his progress. That guy got no fear! I'm thinking he'll be joining Kaleo and his crew before too long for some of their unreal hikes. I was keeping everyone updated on Twitter and Facebook (good job Blackberry!). He's the man!

After he returned, we made our way back to the first peak, relaxed for a bit, then started the long trek down the hill. I had some regrets not joining him, but now I know that I have a purpose, and I need to accomplish something before I can complete this hike. I think the best thing about this hike is the first peak. The view is spectacular, and you deserve applause for getting to it. However, I know that I need to complete this hike all the way to the third peak, after visiting that Heiau on Molokai. Anybody wanna go sometime soon?

By the way, I hope Chinese BU shares his thoughts on the hike, since he made the third peak. He claims to have some good video to share with all of us. I'll be waiting.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nature's Intersections and the Ninja Pig

From Hawaiian BU

I really have no idea what to title this thing, because technically, we were on five (5) hikes today that combined together allowed us to re-familiarize ourselves with some well-known trails as well as prep for future adventures. After yesterday's hike to Kalauao, I stayed up late hanging out with the Atherton students and went to bed at about 2:30. Got up at 6:45 and met my friend Alton for some football (my old Sunday tradition). Then made my way back to Atherton to meet up with Chinese BU. We were not sure what to do for today, so I figured why not hit up Tantalus and all the great trails there. I knew Chinese BU was in a serious hiking mood, and that he wanted to hit a waterfall or swimming hole. So I came up with a proposal to do Pu'u Ohia, connect to Pauoa Flats, spend some time at the Nuuanu Overlook, retrace back to Nuuanu Trail, connect to Judd Trail, then finish off at Jackass Ginger. Of course he was down.

We set up his car at the Jackass Ginger pool, then headed up in my car to Tantalus and the Pu'u Ohia trailhead. (One small tidbit before we continue: as I was driving down old Pali Road, right before the church on the right, to get to Tantalus, I saw this older man in his sixties or seventies walking on the street with a bamboo pole. More on him later) The hikes that extend around this area are some of the finest trails on the island, and my family used to spend AMAZING amounts of time investigating all the trails in the area. You could say it was where I was taught about hiking and the seeds of this urge were planted. I was very excited to visit the old stomping grounds. Chinese BU had never been on any of the trails, so he was eager to explore.

Both of us work for the YMCA, so naturally we talk about work when we hike. Chinese BU works with Middle Schoolers, while I work with College Students. We were sharing experiences hiking with our groups, and future places we could possibly take them. I told him that Tantalus is a great place for his kids, and that we can investigate more another time. I already took his kids up Pu'u Ohia before, and showed him the various side trails and where they lead.

We got past the Telephone Relay Tower and had our first glimpse of Nuuanu, and naturally we focused on Konahuanui. Yep, that's on the radar, and hopefully we can get to it sometime in the near future. We headed down towards the junction of Pauoa Flats and noticed massive amounts of the vegetation chopped off for no apparent reason. Anybody know why they do this? We passed the Manoa Cliffs Trail, and got to the sign with all the trails. This is like the meeting spot for all the hikers. Consider it Nature's Intersection.

Everyone that hikes these trails intersect at these various points all along this section of the trails in Tantalus. The trails are connected from various areas and lead to this central location, Pauoa Flats Trail. We met people that came from Manoa Cliffs Trail, Aihualama Trail (from Manoa Falls) Kalawahine Trail, Nuuanu Trail (our exit point), and from Konahuanui. Each them were parked in different places, but all met up here, just like a traffic intersection. It's pretty cool. I think Chinese BU was impressed with all the different options, and I know he wants to try each one.

The plan was to get to the Nuuanu Overlook, take a break, then head back down Nuuanu trail. Guess who we see at the Nuuanu Trail Junction- that same old guy I saw on Old Pali! And I was impressed! We got to the Overlook and took some pics there, and here came Chinese BU's "rush'em" mentality. He wanted to take pictures of the top of Lulumahu Falls, but that meant going up Konahuanui part of the way. I agreed, and we made our way up. We finally got to the spot from above the Falls, and took the pics, and headed back to the Overlook.

When we got back, we took a break and I looked at my phone. There was full bars of reception, something that doesn't normally happen when we hike. I made a comment about if we ever got in trouble somehow, we needed to get to the Overlook. Chinese BU said "from the Ninjas?" I said "yeah, the ninja pigs!" We laughed and headed back to get to Nuuanu Trail and the descent to the pool. Nuuanu Trail is probably the only trail connected to Tantalus that I have never done, I think because Mom and Dad's car were not at the bottom.

As we did this leg, I became more impressed with the old man. How in God's name did he do this so quickly? I'm not saying that he's not capable, but going up Nuuanu Trail ain't no walk in the park. I would say it's a good test for guys our age, but that old man made it up this thing in pretty quick order. The other thing that we came across was an actual pig! Chinese BU heard him first, and saw a black form in the bushes above us. I saw it's tail and it's okole. I think it heard us, but didn't see us. I told Chinese BU to run down the mountain past him. The pig made more noise , but it didn't follow us. Damn Ninja Pigs!

After connecting with Judd Trail, I was all spent and ready to get to Jackass Ginger. The pool was packed, but I didn't care. We were going for a swim, we deserved it. As I write this, I'm absolutely tired from this weekend of Hiking, and will probably sleep at least 10 hours, maybe more. If I don't answer the phone, sorry, it probably is not working anyway with all the moisture in it the past two days. A good day of hiking. If I remember correctly, I believe we are going to Olomana this coming Sunday. Oh boy, hope it don't got Ninja Pigs!

Where we started

The Relay Station on top, continue to the left

The main sign listing all the trails

Pauoa Flats sign

The Nuuanu Overlook


Upper Lulumahu Falls

Nuuanu Trail Sign

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kalauao Falls

From Hawaiian BU

We actually did this hike a while back, and I'm going to write about that trip first so you can get a small idea of what I did today with the Atherton students I work with. Kalauao is located off of the Aiea Loop trail (yes, that Aiea Loop trail) and most people don't go to this falls, either because they don't know it exists, or they have no idea of the exact turns that they need to make to get to the bottom of the valley. And to preserve this gem, I won't go into detail here about how to get there. You'll just have to try and interpret the best you can from my description.

My sister and her boyfriend took my parents to this waterfall and of course I had to get to it, being the waterfall lover that I am. On the hike was myself, Chinese BU, and our friend Robin (Grandma!). My sister had given me pretty solid directions and we had made our way down the side ridge, but couldn't figure out which way we needed to go right, down to the valley floor. After waiting for her to call her boyfriend and get the details, we found the mango tree and headed down.

My Mom had said that it was pretty steep..and she was right about that! This descent to the valley floor was some of the most dangerous yet enjoyable hiking outing I had ever encountered. There are many different trees that line both sides of the path, sturdy enough to hold onto and make your way down the ridge. Just take your time so you don't fall head first 1000 feet to the ground. After about 25 minutes of careful zigging and zagging, we had reached the valley floor and the stream trickling by. This was where we made a big mistake by not memorizing this spot. More on that later.

We ended up going up the valley, crossing the stream several times for about a mile + more and got to this extremely impressive waterfall with a nice big swimming hole. It wasn't raging, but it had a steady flow, and you could see the potential for some massive amounts of falling water. The hole was nice and deep, and it felt like you were in an arena, with all the rock walls surrounding you and the falls right in front of you. At that point, I knew that I liked this falls and would return to visit it again.

On the return trip back downstream, we couldn't find the way up. There were several ribbons in places that looked very similar, but we couldn't decide which way was up. This is the first time I learned that Chinese BU had the "just rush'em" mentality. Him and Grandma rushed headlong up the mountain into something that kinda looked like the way up, but as you probably figured out, wasn't even close. We ended up taking almost an hour and a half just to regain the side ridge. We ran into sheer rock faces with no visible way to climb, so we had to go around. We ran into all types of tree tangle. We also came upon a patch of Strawberry guava trees. Good thing right? Wrong! This part of the mountain had loose gravel and dirt, and we kept slipping back down, lurching for branches. I tried placing my foot at the bottom of a guava tree and the thing went tumbling down the mountain. I basically pulled my groin trying to maintain balance and not join the tree on it's plummet down. And that slowed us down even more.

Eventually, we found this old Boy Scout trail that thankfully led us to the side ridge, but I was hobbling the whole way, and a pain to be with because I was so slow. I told Robin and Chinese BU that I was going down the side ridge towards the small subdivision and would meet them on the road. My leg was in no condition to keep going uphill, and it was easier going down instead of up. Both of them trucked it back towards the start of the trail, and left me to limp down to the road.

None of those problems came into play today. I had a big student group that really wants to see the "real Hawaii", and I decided to bring them here. I made absolutely sure that we found the tree, and that we all marked the bottom of the valley. The only thing that didn't go right was the falls. It was bone dry, so badly that you could see the bottom of the swimming hole. That thing is about 20-30 feet deep, depending on the water volume. The students were obviously disappointed, but they loved the hike. By the way, the proper way up only takes about 30-45 minutes with a large group like the one I had.

I still do like this falls and the hike to it. Someone from Central Oahu pray for some rain so that it gets flowing again.

PS this was before Chinese BU got into picture taking our trips, so we don't have photos from the first adventure. I'll try and get some from the students later. Peace.

The path to Kalauao

The bottom of the valley

The Empty Waterfall

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Laie Falls

From Hawaiian BU

So as some of you know, we had originally planned to do Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe today, using the Middle Ridge to ascend to the top of Haiku Stairs, then make our way down the stairs. However, if you saw the clouds we saw when we were in Moanalua Valley, you would realize pretty quickly why we changed course. The cloud cover stretched halfway down the valley, and we were both unwilling to risk a socked in ridge hike for all of the most dangerous parts of the hike. So it was an easy decision to try a waterfall hike, especially with the potential for added precipitation.

One of the first things that a successful group of hikers will do is research the hike they are planning to do before attempting it. Chinese BU and I were very prepared for Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe, but when that didn't occur, we started reading up in the Ball book for background info on Laie on the way there. We also utilized my Blackberry to pull up a website we were familiar with but wanted to revisit before starting the hike: Merlin and Friends. These guys started an old site that has pictures of them doing some sick hikes of waterfalls on the North Shore, including Laie Falls. They were BYUH students that were down for some serious adventures, and have the pics to prove it. I guess Merlin got married and that ended their trips, but the site is still up, so we were able to brush up on the background info.

Laie Falls can be very confusing to get to, but using both the website and the Ball book, we found the trailhead and proceed the trek up the mountain ridge. Being Sunday, no one was in Laie at 9:30 in the morning (probably at the Temple, which we will discover was instrumental at the end of the hike). We pretty much had the hike to ourselves most of the way up, except for one family that we encountered going down. They were unable to find the waterfall cutoff, and decided to head back down.

The trail itself can be very confusing at times. There are many opportunities to take side trails and alternate routes, but if you stay with the pink ribbons, you'll be alright and make your way there. One of the things we noticed about it was the excessive amounts of Strawberry guavas in bloom all along the trail. (the Olos) The trail also has many wide patches of dirt that needs to be traversed on the way up. We met the family on a flat part of the trail, with tall grass growing on either side of the path (Chinese BU's favorite portion of the hike). After they left us, we busted out the Ball book and refreshed our memory

Thank goodness for the book! I can't tell you how many times that thing has led us in the right direction. I keep telling my friends to buy their own copy, it's worth the money. With a quick peruse of the trail description we continued onward up the mountain, past the Pine Forest, and into a long stretch of Strawberry guava trees. After what seemed like a long time we finally reached the right turn to head towards the falls.

Now remember the reason we changed course today? Well, at the elevation we were at the cloud cover was starting to come in. But it gave us no trouble as we descended towards the falls. But it did lead us to a very pumped up waterfall! The falls was flowing at full capacity, and it made Chinese BU nervous. I convinced him that we didn't need to go in, that we could just take pics. So he did, and I chilled there, eating my orange. After we took pics, Chinese BU wanted to figure out how deep the pool was, and stupid me, I said I would go in and find out. This was the last thing I should have done. (Let the criticism begin!) Only when I jumped in was when I realized that I would be very cold, and I do mean very cold. The water was probably one of the most frigid things I ever experienced, it chilled me to the bones. After discovering the pool was about 8 feet deep, I came out and the cold cloud cover bit me in the butt. I was shivering!

I had left my change of clothes at the Y, and I had a damp shirt with no towel. Well, as I was shaking, I got on my shoes, put back on the wet shirt, and thought of the next move. During this time, Chinese BU was like "Hike to the Summit?" and I was chattering telling him "We need to get off this mountain!" Luckily, I had a poncho in the bag, and I threw it over myself to keep in the body heat that I generated from hiking. So we started the slow process of heading back down the mountain. And the cloud cover was not doing us any favors. You couldn't see any part of the valleys, but the trail was okay, and that was all we needed.

When we finally got away from the high elevation, I started feeling better. The poncho was working, and I was building up some heat from hiking. As thoughts of Hypothermia finally started to leave my brain, the view got better and we got a great panorama of Laie. Absolutely beautiful! I was silently praying for some blessings for my stupidity, and we ran into a whole bunch of people on the way down. There was this big group all energized to go to the falls. I told them to be careful. There was this guy riding a horse and escorting another one. Graceful creatures and they made me smile. There were these two local guys riding dirt bikes up the trail. One got his bike stuck, and we talked with them for a minute. We then ran into four people mountain biking. All of these were great signs to me that I was okay, and that it was worth the effort. The best sign waited at the bottom though.

As we were nearing the car, I saw a familiar face. It was my cousin's husband Marcus. They had just come from the Mormon Temple for the blessing of their newborn baby Sarah (I hope I spelled that right!) Anuenue greeted me with a big smile, even though I was a wet mop. Their children were running around in the lawn, and Lahela ran up and gave me a big hug. I was so thrilled to see them, and had no idea that this was where Marcus' family lived. They gave Chinese BU and I food that was delicious and water. And I got to meet Sarah for the first time. What a sweet little princess she was! Talk about blessings. It was more confirmation to me that the world is a great place indeed.

The Hike? I would do it again. Yes, I'll make sure to bring a shirt and a towel next time. It's a great hike on the North Shore. And I got some relatives at the bottom. Not bad at all I think. On the drive back, we took the Kaneohe route. As we passed Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe, we looked up and saw how socked in it was. We were both in agreement: we had made a good choice for today.

The Four Olos

The flat area (Chinese BU's favorite part)

Laie Town from the ridge

The Summit, all socked in

Chinese BU at the top of the first falls

Hawaiian BU measuring the depth of the pool