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


  1. hey i think i saw u guys comming back from the falls while we were going up...i had a pretty big group with me...if you were wearing a clear poncho then yep that was u guys.

  2. Hi there,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blog posts about Laie to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, drop me a line at Jane (at) Dwellable (.com)
    Hope to hear from you :)