Monday, October 26, 2009

Kulana'ahane (Kamananui)

From Hawaiian BU

Tu Bu Pa'ina is making the move to join Oahu's oldest and most established hiking club, the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club, better known as HTMC. Their membership include the most knowledgeable people you'll find in regards to those secret, unheard of trails that exist on Oahu, as well as the Neighbor Islands. It really becomes a no-brainer to join their organization if you are enthusiastic about hiking as we are here at Tu Bu.

In order to join their club, you need to do three (3) hikes as a guest with them during a twelve (12) month span before you can apply for membership. So, I made the call to Mr. Wil Kawano, the hike coordinator for Kulana'ahane, a ten (10) mile hike in Moanalua Valley to a nice overlook of Haiku. Titled Kamana Nui on the HTMC website, Wil gave us the lowdown on the hike and what we needed to do, and looked forward to meeting us.

The first thing I noticed was the amount of people coming on this hike: LOTS of them. And the amazing thing about this was the majority of the hikers were members of the club. In fact, I noticed only two other names next to mine and Chinese Bu's name on the Guest List. What a positive sign about the club: active membership! The other thing I immediately liked was the amount of names I recognized at the briefing before the hike. There were many names mentioned that I had read about online from various sites, as well HTMC hike coordinators besides Wil.

Now, I'm the first to admit that I'm still trying to get myself back into reasonable shape so I can attack many of these trails. I must share with all of you, HTMC members consider hiking their religion. They are some of the best in-shape people I've met, they know historical facts about the hike, and they're extremely helpful. They are also alot older than me and Chinese BU, and I was quickly corrected when I kept using last names to address them. Always first names I was told with a laugh!

The hike itself starts out on a dirt road through the old Damon Estate in the back of Moanalua Valley. The best thing about this is the various historical sites you encounter along the road. I think the HTMC gang realized pretty quick that I was into that type of stuff and engaged me in conversation about stories of the valley and Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe. And one of the gentlemen (I forgot his name) was well versed in Sites of Oahu, and I had a great long talk with him about the valley.

After a two (2) mile walk along the road, you come upon a Na Ala Hele sign that marks the beginning of Kulana'ahane. You start crossing the left fork of Kamana Nui Stream multiple times, walking through an excessive amount of Hau tangle along the way. Of course we noticed the stream and got excited to find a good water hole to dip in. There were no good jumping spots, but there were decent dunking spots along the way. After all the stream crossings, the final challenge awaits.

It's not really that far in terms of distance, and I've done steeper hikes, but the final push up the mountain was tough. The main reason for that was because it was a muddy mess with not many solid footholds in several sections. I realized that I should've been ahead of everyone else, because you could tell that everyone had slipped as well and trampled the trail into mush. It just took a little longer than I thought, but it was still great to get to the top and enjoy the view. Everyone on top was happily enjoying their lunch, and gave me some smiles and thumbs up. Yes, I felt very special.

The return trip was honestly kinda boring. I did the whole butt slide thing down the muddy ridge. We took a dip at a nice little swimming hole at one of the stream crossings, cleaning all the excessive mud off the legs and body. We trudged back slowly, taking pictures of the various cool things we encountered, and talking story with more of the members. We ran into a pig hunter in a Nissan truck trying to find his hunting dogs. We got some great pics of the Petroglyph rock. And then we finally arrived back at the park, ready to wash off and head home.

Well, one hike down, with two more to go. We haven't decided yet which one to do next with HTMC. We'll look at their schedule and find another suitable one to jump on with them. Both of us appreciate the help we got from HTMC, and we can't wait to gain membership into this venerable club. See ya later and catch you on the next hike.

The Main Gate

A Great View Of Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe

Kulana'ahane Sign

The Stream along the Trail

Dawn's Waterfall from the ridge

Chinese BU at the top

The HTMC members enjoying lunch

Hawaiian BU all tuckered out at the top with Haiku in the back

Shoe Shot!

Petroglyphs on the rock.

Chinese BU next to the rock. Look how big the Pohaku is!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


From Hawaiian BU

This is possibly my most favorite waterfall on this island, by far. There are many waterfalls that you can go to, discover how wonderful it is, and then share it with others. The only thing about that is that pretty much all of those waterfalls can be found in several different literary publications and online resources. Waiakeakua is written about, but you really got to search for it and be able to decipher the route on your own with your own skills. The first time I ever did the route, I had just graduated high school, and I was told through my family about this secret waterfall that I needed to find. Mind you, this was before the advent of this wonderful technology called the Internet, so all I had to go on was the basic instructions given to me. Let's just say that the first time I did it with my friends, we went the wrong way for over an hour and a half, and I hate going the wrong way. The most confusing thing about the hike was the fact that there were really no ribbons that marked the path to the falls. There are ribbons you could've followed, but they just marked trails that lead upward, or to another area. When we finally got there, the only way I was sure was to take this old picture that I had from the family archive and match it up. I must tell you, Waiakeakua has some of the most refreshing water that Oahu generates, and its COLD!

Basically, I didn't really give you any directions to the place, nor do you know where on the island it is from this description. I honestly hope that you are willing to earn it like I did. Do the research for this hike. Find someone that knows about it and can help you. I do this because I believe that it is worth the effort to get to this place. Read the legend about Kane and Kanaloa like I did. Look at BWS maps like I did. You will see for yourself how special this place really is when you visit. Hopefully, this will translate into you having a healthy respect for Waiakeakua, and having the feeling of true stewardship for the land.

Chinese BU and I led the Atherton students on this hike today. This group has demonstrated time and again that they respect the land, and understand the importance of the places we visit. I'm thrilled to report that they absolutely fulfilled what I expected from them. They enjoyed the experience and most of them agree that this could be one of the best adventures we've gone on this semester. Chinese BU had taken Dawn with him a few months ago and wrote about it here. (Ooooh, he may have left some details in that write-up) He didn't go as far as he wanted last time, but today, he took some of the squad up the falls and then some.

The trail had an abundance of mountain apples, and they were ripe and juicy. The ginger was also in full bloom, as were the mosquitoes. The students also had a good time taking pictures of the junked cars on the path as well find multiple excuses to dip in the water at the nearby stream. If you are into walking into a native Hawaiian Rainforest, this is the hike for you. The plants you discover along the path is numerous and exquisite.

I'm always thrilled to visit Waiakeakua. The place will always hold an esteemed place in my hiking heart. I wish you well if you decide to take on the quest of finding it. If we trust you and like you enough, maybe we'll take you too one day. Take care everyone and hopefully Chinese BU puts up the new pics from the top of the falls.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


From Hawaiian BU

So I guess we did get in a new hike this weekend. The original plan was to take the teenagers up the Crystal Canyon and spend some time on top of the Waianae Mountain Range with them. However, people had some reservations about us taking the teens climbing with ropes, so they made us change the plans to something more acceptable to their wishes. The only logical choice we had was to take the crew up the Kealia trail, located a stone throws away from Camp Erdman behind the Dillingham Airfield. All of the higher-ups were more satisfied with this plan, especially since it was a nice wide trail that 5th graders had done previously. Even though, they still made sure to send Camp staff with Chinese BU, brother Mitch, and me to ensure that all went according to the plan.

Kealia is a one hot hike. It's a whole bunch of switchbacks that zig-zags up the side of the mountain, periodically providing some excellent views of the Mokuleia Coastline. There is not much nature to speak of as you progress up the mountainside, aside from a few trees here and there at the beginning of the hike. You discover this hidden pond located behind the airstrip that you have no clue is there from the main road. It looked very green, so I'm not sure me and Chinese BU are going swimming there. You also get to see all the prop planes taking off from the airstrip, dragging gliders behind them on a slow, steady upward ascent.

And that's the basic idea for the hiker as well. You keep climbing up the switchbacks until you eventually get to a covered picnic bench (?) bordering an Ironwood grove. This ended up being where we stopped, mostly because of our timeframe and the added troops to the hike roster. Chinese BU and myself most definately wanted to continue exploring past this point, but we had bigger responsibilities and ended up doing the right thing by the teens that had joined us. Honestly, there were a lot of ideas that we had (Trust me, nothing bad or dangerous, just exploratory, I promise) and we knew the teens with us would have been down for the ride, but we both made the good choice.

We also got to do something up there that we had never done previously. We were able to sit down with the teens under the Ironwoods and share some positive ways that we were looking to make changes in our lives. With a big assist from Mitch, we discussed about making improvements with yourself, thus allowing people around you to find ways to improve themselves, which leads to growth and positive changes for all. It was awesome, being able to share this type of stuff with the Teens. We need to do that again!

I would do Kealia again, but only because I want to go past the bench and get to Makua Valley. I imagine that there are many unexplored secrets to be discovered up there, especially the path that leads to the top of Crystal Canyon. Many other ideas come to mind, but I'm alright for now and look forward to future opportunities. Hopefully, Chinese BU took some good pics.

BTW, gotta give some love to Kaleo Lancaster. He took on Piliwale, and left with some pretty major battle scars. I know that won't stop him and his crew from continuing their Island Trails crusade. Do me a favor and go visit his blog. His stuff is mean! Can't wait to read his write-up about Piliwale.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Confusion and the Crystal Canyon

From Hawaiian BU

The original plans we had mapped out for today was to tackle Koloa Falls, mostly because Chinese BU was looking forward to some water after his trip from LA. Honestly, I flaked on doing enough research on this hike, but we ended up finding the location to not only Koloa Falls trailhead, but to the secret PCC falls that we had read about from several websites. I also think we were hesitant from the excessive rain that had come down the previous night in Laie, and of course, Kaipapau was fresh in our minds. This led us to come up with an alternative to spend our Sunday. With the upcoming Teen Camp that we are both attending at Camp Erdman, we decided to investigate Crystal Canyon, especially since we were both put in charge of leading it due to our "hiking guys" status.

Before we continue, some clarifications are needed. I consider myself to be a hiker, not a mountain climber. Chinese BU is down to do whatever I think, yet has no real experience climbing mountains. We are both pretty capable of finding paths up mountains when it's a designated trail, even if it's steep. If you are unfamiliar with Crystal Canyon, it requires a short hike to the base of the Waianae Mountain Range from Camp Erdman. When you get there, that's when the challenge begins. The path is an old dried up waterfall that needs to be climbed with the aid of ropes anchored to trees at the top of each flat level. There are many levels that need to be climbed, some not that steep with many footholds, and some that are sheer rock faces, with minimal to no footholds to speak of. And we decided to explore this thing and see how far we could get, thus having an idea of what we would encounter this coming Saturday with the teens

I think we made a good choice climbing this thing, because we learned a lot from this task. The first rope climb is no problem. The second rope climb is about 2 stories high and fairly flat on the way up. There is this maze of banyan roots that makes its way down the wall. With the roots and the added rope, you should make it up no problem. However, I kept praying that the roots and the rope would support me that whole way up. I'm a bigger guy and always wonder about this whenever we do a climb. I'm not really that afraid of the height: it's whether or not the support system will stand up and give me what I need to get up. And I really didn't trust the rope. It was one of those lines that mountain climbers use to scale mountains. I know it can support my weight, but I didn't like the fact that it had no knots to help a brother out. We're bringing our own rope this Saturday.

There was a small section to be climbed with the aid of a rope (not that difficult) which led to the next challenge. The fourth one is fairly manageable when you have a partner tell you where the footholds are. I'm so happy Chinese BU got good eyes and told me where each one was. He's a great hiking partner. The main thing we've developed during our hiking time together is a trust in the judgement of each other to make the right call. This was another rope I didn't like because it had no knots.

If I remember correctly, the next series of ropes requires you to cross over a thin ledge holding on to the rope while being accomplished. You must then gradually ascend the right side wall of the mountain with the aid of ropes that have been anchored to the rock wall with rock climbing pins. You need to remain absolutely focused during this portion because the footholds are not that wide, and you must use a swinging maneuver to get to a ledge to your left. I was okay with these ropes, yet I didn't feel like falling either. After safely navigating this test, the next big workout starts right out.

You are presented with two ropes: one the mountain climbers use, and one that is used to moor tug boats to a dock. Needless to say, we both used the big guy. And, you need to climb up nearly 4 stories with this guy. There are some decent footholds along the way, but there are some other parts that it's just you, and that big rope, and flat rock. Truthfully though, I had more confidence in this rope: It had nice big knots to help you out, and I knew this one had no problems supporting me. Even though this ascent is longer than the second, I liked it better and felt more secure. When I got to the top of this level, I saw how well anchored the rope was, and it made me even more confident.

Well, that's about all the joy we got for the day, because the next rock face to be climbed was an absolute monster. At least six to eight stories tall, by my estimate, considering what we had done previously and had been able to look back down upon. And there was no normal rope to help this time, just mountain climbing rope. Plus there was this family that was trekking up, loaded with carabiners and ascenders and rope and children! I was impressed, but we both knew that this was where the party would end for us today. There was this side trail Chinese BU explored for a bit, but that only led to another amazing set of mountain climbing ropes and mountain climbing guys.

Can we take the Teens up here? I think we need to seriously evaluate each of them and see what they can take. I think it's doable up to that point with the right equipment and the right minded individuals. I'll tell you, I'm tired right now, like we just did a 7 mile + hike or something, most likely because I used many more muscles today than normal. But I'm glad we did this beforehand.

This week, we're taking Chinese BU's middle schoolers to Hamama Falls. Should be fun. Also, we're camping this coming weekend, so we probably wont have any updates next weekend. Take care and happy hiking.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ka'ena Point

From Hawaiian BU

I debated about posting this, but I ultimately felt that it was worthy of placing here because the only way to truly experience this priceless jewel is to walk the entire way and soak in everything that makes Ka'ena special. I took the Atherton crew to investigate the one remaining untouched beach left on Oahu. I think I speak for all of them when I say that if you want to find out what it means to be a lover of natural things on this island, you must spend time at Ka'ena Point.

We took the North Shore route to get there because we decided to combo some other North Shore things with it. (Shave Ice, Shrimp, Lost, etc.) Just follow the road all the way until the end and park in the lot on the right. Be sure to bring lots of water, a hat, and some sunscreen. You could take a dip in the ocean in some spots, but unless you are familiar with the currents and are a super strong swimmer, I would recommend against it. The only possible place to safely swim is in the tidepools.

All you really need to do is follow the dirt road until you get to the blocked off gate that protects Ka'ena, where it becomes a bird and monk seal preserve. For the most part, the only people you encounter are fishermen, 4x4 vehicles, and people making the trek to Ka'ena Point. you also may want to bring some slippers with you as well because the point has a lot of sand and it would make it easier for some to continue walking.

When you enter the Point, stay on the paths! Don't be going off and trying to disturb the birds' nests. Also, if you encounter a monk seal (which we were blessed to have one in our presence) you need to stay at least 150 feet away from it. The seal we saw must have been almost 200 pounds, a big, grey hulking creature sunning himself on the rocks near the tip of the point. I think he alone made the trip worthwhile for everyone who came. Absolutely blessed!

I think the major thing that you experience when you visit Ka'ena Point is the pure mana of the place. You can see the convergence of the waves at the tip, bashing against each other and creating an amazing visual spectacle. From near the tower, you can see down the coast line of both Waianae and Mokuleia. Above you, the Waianae Mountain range looms with the Satellite Tracking station coming into view. And how could I forget to mention the Leaping place for the departed souls so nearby. Just sitting there by yourself and absorbing everything about this special place allows you to really find out what you treasure and why you treasure it.

I would recommend this walk to anyone that wants to really see what Oahu was before buildings and Burger Kings. I honestly feel transported to another time each time I make the journey to Ka'ena Point. The hike itself is not that difficult. Prepare yourself to find out what true natural, rugged beauty is when you decide to visit Ka'ena Point. It will be worth the effort to walk that long, dusty , dirt road, I promise.