Monday, November 8, 2010

Kuli'ou'ou West Ridge

From Hawaiian BU

Hiking is still the passion that drives both members of 2-Bu Paina, but when it comes to writing about our adventures, we get lazy. We both get out there at least 3 to 4 times each month, but now we have expanded the groups of people we hike with. As I predicted awhile ago, Chinese BU has made trips with Kaleo and his gang on several outings. Most of those I was unable to join due to work, or some of them are absolutely too NUTS for me. Someone do me a favor and convince Chinese BU to write about these hikes, especially Kaupo Cliffs (I love the view of Waimanalo from the top), Mariner's to Hawaii Loa Ridge, and Olympus to Konahuanui.

I'm happy Chinese BU has gotten out and met the bigger hiking community. He brings back info and stories that help us out with the hikes we do, for work and for fun. He also has his own Go Pro camera, and I REALLY want him to post more videos of the stuff he's shot. But I think he's searching for a good editing program before putting them up, so if you have suggestions, shoot us a message.

This adventure we decided to do after a camp we had both attended on the weekend. I had gotten a lot of sleep the previous night, and was super energized to do some hiking on a Monday. Chinese BU wanted to find the terminus point for the Bear Claw hike, and I wanted to get to Pu'u O Kona, so it made sense to hit up Kuli'ou'ou. However, I wanted to find an old HTMC route that Dayle Turner had written about, and had gotten there early to try and find some old ribbons. Luckily, I found some old ribbons, but it looked like the path hadn't been traveled in some time.
When I showed the path to Chinese BU, we agreed that it probably was the right one, but that we'd save it for another time. He wanted to go up the reverse way to Pu'u O Kona, which I didn't object to.

When you get to the point where the path leads to the state trailhead, and the road leads to the left, take the road. In short order, you get to this fenced off building and an obvious trail up on the right side. Take this path up the mountain. And get ready to start huffing and puffing up this mountain. In my opinion, you will work your tail off gaining the ridgeline, but it is way faster than taking the state trail and it's relentless amounts of switchbacks.

You gain the ridgeline of Kuli'ou'ou West in an ironwood grove, a great place to take a break before moving on to the right. This begins a steady diet of climbing up hills and going through brush, occasionally coming upon some roped up climbs that requires some focus due to the exposed terrain and the lack of footing in some spots due to the mud. There is no rollercoaster action like there is on other hikes to the Koolau summit, just a good dose of steady climb to reach the summit.

I have to admit that even though I was gassing, I was enjoying this hike more than I had any other hike in good long while. We even came up with the next idea for Mid year Raggers (We'll see if this one happens). After relaxing for a bit at the top, we set about looking for the Bear Claw Ridge. Kaleo was looking forward to reaching the top (which already has happened) and Chinese Bu wanted some scoops from the top (unfortunately, Chinese BU didn't join Kaleo on this one). We both looked at the possibilities, and no matter which on you look at from the top, it is one sketchy hike to complete. I'm not sure which on is tougher, Piliwale or Bear Claw, but you should not take either on unless you know what you are doing.

We ended up going right on the summit trail and heading down the state trail. I remember doing Kuli'ou'ou as a kid and thinking it was the coolest trail to climb up. It's been fixed up tremendously since those days, a far cry from the trail we ascended on the opposite wall. I guess it would be cool to do the the state trail again, but there are so many different options out there just waiting to be explored. Then I remembered that I was in the business of introducing people to the joys of hiking, and I felt relieved that people maintain this hike. My recommendation for all you people that consider yourself a novice hiker, do the state trail to the top. Kuli'ou'ou West is for all of you hikers looking for a new challenge to find that same reward. I really like that hike!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mariner's Ridge to Tom-Tom

From Hawaiian BU

I guess I feel like updating this blog, with the second entry of the day. We're going with one of my new favorite combos to do, climb up Mariner's (Kaluanui) Ridge in Hawaii Kai, hike along the the Koolau summit, then descend down the Tom-Tom Trail. I first came up with this idea trying to plan some hikes this past summer for the Teens in our STRIVE program at the YMCA. I was looking for something epic, something challenging for their age level, and then some place to swim after the hike, all within a 6 hour time range. My normal thing to plan would be a waterfall hike, but I wanted something that takes the breath away. When I realized that I could go to a beach close by, it opened many possibilities. And when I figured out that we could get dropped off in one place, and picked up in another, well that made all types of things possible. And this was the first thing that came to mind: A good ascent to a picturesque viewpoint overlooking Waimanalo and the whole windward expanse, then a cool crawl along the Koolau ridge, with the final descent down into Waimanalo town for some Keneke's and the beach!

Mariner's Ridge is probably one of the easiest ways to get to the Koolau summit, and a very well-used trail by locals. It's a great test for high school students to get to the top, yet allows for more challenges after a short break at the top. The one thing I was initially sketchy about was the path from the top of Mariner's to Tom-Tom. When Mitch and I initially did the hike to "check", it seemed that the path, although not heavily used, was clear enough to take the STRIVErs. We just needed to ensure that they remained focused.

When we took the Teens on the hike, there was some great excitement, mostly because they knew they were going to a beach afterwards. Mitch and I did a great job breaking up the hike into fun portions that allowed the Teens to rest as well as reflect on the things we shared with them. We also have the Teens write in a journal during their hikes, and it allows for some profound thoughts that they sometime share with us. Plus the scenery they encountered up on top the mountain really brings them to a great state of mind.

I guess I need to write more about the hikes we did with the Teens. Chinese BU works with Middle school kids, and he has some adventures as well this past summer. I've always said that the big thing I like about hiking is the people that go with you to the places that you discover. Their experiences provide for a more enriching journey. I have now done this route three times since that first time with those Teens. And each time I've done it, everyone that has traveled with me talks about how positive the experience is, even though there are some pretty challenging parts along the way (especially going down Tom-Tom).

For those of you that hike all the time, I know that it may be old hat to hike these trails. But for me, taking people that have never gone to these places is really exciting. And for those of you considering doing this, make sure you got a ride at both sides of the mountain. It would suck having to climb back up Tom-Tom, that's for sure! Unless you're hard core and want to go up Kaupo Cliffs (Chinese BU went up there today with some internet hiking legends and came back down Tom-Tom. Talk about some knowledge, that group he hiked with keeps their blogs up way more than we do, so hopefully we can all read about that adventure.)

Ok, enough for tonight. See all of you on the next hike!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lua'alaea Falls

From Hawaiian BU

So a couple of weekends ago, I decided to explore on my own the back of Manoa Valley and find a falls I have always heard about, but have never had the opportunity to find: Lua'alaea Falls, one of the creators of the four streams of Manoa. Not as well traveled as the tourist-laden Manoa Falls, this isolated beauty runs parallel to it's sister, and ends up in an extremely shallow pool followed by another shorter falls 80 to 90 yards downstream.

Now, enough online resources have been written about finding this trail. However, it's not exactly clear where you need to go once you begin. The common thread I found was that you start at the same trailhead as Manoa Falls, cross the foot bridge, then go across the stream and find the trail. I also found the Dorkatron write-up saying that you could also find the falls by going up Haukulu Road. I'm very familiar with that road, having explored that area during my time trying to find Waiakeakua. Figuring that was enough info to get me through, as well as my instincts, I parked the car down in the neighborhood you go to park for Waiakeakua, then went up the road to the Manoa Falls trailhead.

Manoa Falls was packed! Tons of cars packed in the parking lot just below the entrance to the trailhead, and tourists were flowing to and from the Manoa Falls gate. If you take the time to look to your right and look at the stream, you can already see potential trails that might be the one you need to take, and this is before the foot bridge. With that confusion in my head, I went past the foot bridge and walked directly towards the stream and the clearing right before it. It was at this point I ran into the only local guy I saw, pants partially muddy, and I decided to ask him if he knew the way to Lua'alaea.

Luck was on my side, because that was where he came from. Unfortunately for me, he pointed up Manoa Falls trail and said that I needed to bypass another foot bridge, then look for the stream crossing! Great, I thought. I was already confused, but undeterred, as I passed that small bridge and started my hunt looking across the stream for a path. There really was no evident path. I went up a few more yards, said the hell with it, and decided to cross the stream at the next open area. I figured that if I went straight across in a straight line, I would cross the path eventually that would lead to my destination.

So away I went, through a path that hadn't been walked in a long time from the looks off it. It took me up a short distance until I spotted a a faint blue ribbon (Blue?) up towards my left. I tracked my eyes higher and far more left, until a path became more clear, leading up this side ridge. Thinking that I had finally found the path, I continued upward.

I should have paid attention sooner, but I eventually found my self looking at the expanse of Manoa Valley, climbing up this side ridge that wasn't in any of the descriptions I had read about Lua'alaea Falls. So I did the one thing my family always said to do when lost on a trail: stop and listen. I closed my eyes, and then realized that the sound of water rushing not only came from the left side of me, Manoa Falls, but on the right side of me, Lua'alaea, as well. I realized that I had spent almost 45 minutes going above the falls!

I quickly made my way back down this side ridge, following the ribbons I had mistakenly used to find my way up. Eventually, I discovered newer, orange ribbons, that were very defined, and cut across the ridge I was currently descending. I know I should have gone right to see the exact crossing, but I was so enamored with finding the proper way up, that I decided to just go left and find the right way. And this of course led me to the trail to Lua'alaea Falls!

After that, the hike was a breeze. Not a tourist in sight, I enjoyed my walk to the Falls, with the stream flowing nicely beside me on the way up. Lua'alaea is a tall Falls, just like Manoa Falls, it just has no pool to swim in. And there are a ton of mosquitos everywhere, so bring some repellent if you don't want to be a buffet. The best thing about this hike is that it has no publicity amongst the tourist population, and the hike is not "landscaped" like the hike to Manoa Falls. Some of the tourists thought I was lost when I left the Manoa Falls trail, but little do they know what I was trying to find.

I returned back towards Haukulu Road, which actually is private land, a flower orchard maintained beautifully behind Paradise Park. I lucked out because no one was there at the time, but I'm pretty sure that someone is up there on a consistent basis, tending to the plants. I returned to my car, happy to have found this jewel, yet still just as confused about where the exact starting point for this hike is. Anyone want to help me out?

PS Chinese BU has done some pretty cool hikes out with Kaleo, and he said he and Nate Yuen are doing Kaupo Cliffs today (crazy!). Here's hoping he writes about one or two of them.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ko'loa Gulch

From Hawaiian BU

Back again with a another adventure in the Oahu forests and mountains. After Konahuanui, sister Dawn, a frequent hiking partner with the BU brothers, asked to go to a waterfall hike. We have done a whole bunch of them around the island, so it didn't take long for me to figure out one that would satisfy Dawn as well one that we had not been to. An earlier adventure in from our blog had us attempting to do Ko'loa Gulch previously, but not completing the journey due to it's close proximity to a certain gulch very nearby that we both have very vivid memories of enduring. However, after Konahuanui, we both seem to be in this mood to try and complete hikes we haven't yet mastered. So Ko'loa it was going to be.

The trailhead is somewhat difficult to locate. It's on a dirt road between PCC (Polynesian Cultural Center) and Kokolio Beach park, opposite of this White Mansion. You know you are on the right track when you see the Ko'loa Gulch Hike sign. Just follow the the path with ribbons and you'll start making your way up the ridge. It's very much like going up to Laie Falls or Malaekahana Falls. Strawberry guavas, Ironwood Trees, windswept views of Laie, and eroded hills decorate the trail as you make your way upward. Eventually, you make your way to a fork on the path. The left one goes up the ridge, the right one leads to the stream and the waterfalls.

Once you have gained the stream, the trail now resembles Ma'akua and Kaipapau, with multiple stream crossings that lead past ginger, guava, mountain apple trees, and lauhala trees. It's a pretty pleasant hike in a nice gulch that is very undisturbed. Of course, you have to remain vigilant for changes in the weather, especially rain, which can fill the gulch quickly, thus chasing you to high ground.

For the hike, we had four people with us: Dawn, Cassidy, Lynette, and Robyn. Chinese BU lead the way, and I brought up the back. I especially like when Cassidy and Dawn hike with us because they take alot of photos. Hopefully, we're able to scavenge some from them to post up here on the site. They had some good stuff. This was Lynette and Robyn's first time with us.

After crossing streams over 30 times, you come to this portion where the gulch splits. Take the right, although I've heard that there is another waterfall to the left with a possible Kalo patch back there?!? (If anyone knows for sure, can you let us know.) After some rock hopping, you end up at this great pool with about an 8 foot cascade that falls through some large pohaku. On the left is some ropes that you can use to climb to the top and see a fantastic waterfall to the right. If you plan to jump, make sure that you investigate the pool to find where rocks are located in the pool before taking the plunge.

I had some fun on this hike! Its fairly long (about 8 miles round trip), but there is a lot to see, and a great reward at the end. I would suggest doing this hike at the end of summer like we did to avoid potential rain hazards. And have people that you like talking story with, so the miles just seem to fly right by. Mahalo to the crew that joined us for this one.

Already looking forward to doing another hike that's been on the list for awhile now. Come back soon to see if we have made it to Pu'u O Kona. (If you don't know what that is, I guess you'll just have to come back and read about it!) Aloha!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


From Chinese Bu

Just a little insight from Chinese Bu...
I've been wanting to do this hike for a really really long time. I didn't really care on how the view was... it would've been a plus if it was clear but from Hawaiian Bu's blog you all know it was clouded over. I guess clouded over is an understatement... anyways... from the beginning of the day I knew it was going to be clouded over but I said I wanted to do this hike and finish it. My comrades might have changed my mind to do a different hike if they said something from the beginning because we were getting rained on walking up to Kalawahine trail.

Kalawahine to the flats was easy then to Nuuanu overlook. Contour trail was a breeze and still I was trying not to get my boots dirty. As we made our way up the contour trail I was just hoping the skys would clear up. We made it up half way and Hawaiian Bu was looking a way down to the upper Lulumahu falls. (Maybe for another adventure)

We got just below a rope section where Hawaiian Bu said he would stay put because he didn't want to not see where he was going. Daniel, Katsu and I continued on. The push up seemed like any gain to a summit except a little bit longer. Near the top I noticed the weirdest thing, a palm tree! Soon after the palm tree we reached K1 the first peak on top Konahuanui. We found a cache and wrote in it. We chilled there for a good ten minutes and decided to push on. After about five minutes Katsu asked, " how long will it take to K2?" I told him about an hour. He decided to turn around and I told him to wait for us on K1.

Daniel and I pushed on. I was a bit worried because I didn't want to my party to wait for me long but I also had my safety in mind. We actually trekked in the clouds all the way to K2. Also Daniel had me worried because he didn't have good balance. I pushed on and kept the goal in mind though. I wanted to complete this hike! After about and hour in the clouds I reached a peak. It was K2! Daniel was about ten minutes behind me and I always kept him in ear shout. I tried to look over the edge but all I could see was clouds... EVERYWHERE! I called back to Daniel because he was taking a while and I was worried a little... also a little about the time. I knew we had to get back to the second peak by 2 o'clock and it was already 1:15 by the time Daniel reached the second peak. We blitzed it back to K1 in the mud and clouds. Right before K1 summit on the way back the clouds receded a little just to give us a glimpse of Maunawili valley.

We all made it out safely at about 5:30... I will be back to see the view from the top!

If you would like to view more photos or videos hit me up on Facebook!


Monday, August 9, 2010


From Hawaiian BU

We've promised ourselves time and again that we would eventually tackle this hike, and Chinese BU felt like Sunday was the day. I want to do this hike as much as he does, but I'm pretty wary about the possible pitfalls and dangers that accompany trekking up to Konahuanui, or as I have read "large giant balls". The tallest point of the Koolaus, I have always wanted to look down from the top at the windward panorama, look being the keyword.

As most of you intrepid hikers may be aware of, there are a couple ways to get to this point. You can take the classic route from the Nuuanu overlook, which in itself has many different trails that lead up to it. You can go up Olympus. I think there is a path from the Pali Notches which I heard is nuts. Or you can go up Piliwale ridge...which to me was NOT an option. After what Kaleo had gone through with his bees, and David with his overnight adventure, I may never want to travel up that ridge. I know that there have been people successful making it up that way, but I don't think I may be one of them.

I'm guessing that Chinese BU has been really anxious to make the summit, because there was no stopping him, even though the weather sucked. To say that there was clouds would be an understatement. It was so bad at one point that the Pali notches were covered, and there were points where Upper Lulumahu was shielded in mists. Another problem we faced was the mud..lots of it, and some puddles were shin high.

With this in mind, Chinese Bu, Daniel, Katsu, and myself started out at the Kalawahine Trailhead. By far the easiest route to the Nuuanu Overlook,we were greeted by the sounds of pig hunting dogs trying to capture some wild ones in the Pauoa woods. We joked about the Native Snail sign and how the state needs to move it every 5 years to keep pace with the snails. We bypassed the different trail junctions (which we should have shown each person in our group-more on that later) and stopped at the overlook before pressing forward.

We were in decent spirits and I was alright at that point. We were making good progress uphill, and Chinese BU was trying to find David's sleeping spot from his Piliwale adventure. (If you have no clue who I'm referring to, check out his stuff. Just Google Piliwale Ridge and I'm sure you'll find him. He's always got cool pics!) We found the spot, chilled there for a bit then started the rest of the trek up.

It was at this point that I looked up and changed my mind. I was down to travel with the crew, but the cloud cover was thick- you couldn't see a damn thing! I wasn't scared of going up the ridge, I've done a good share of ridge climbing. I'm just not cool with being blind and having sheer drops to either side of you. I told the boys how I felt about it, and they were cool with it. I told them I would wait for them, and that if they needed help, I would be there. And then they went.

Within less than 5 minutes, I lost sight of them- permanently! We were yelling at each other, but we couldn't see each other. With nothing left to do, I headed back to the overlook. I ran into 3 other hikers that were going to try and gain the summit. Let's just say that they didn't go all the way because they couldn't see it either. I will give credit to the boys though. They called me 45 minutes after we had parted, saying they had reached the first summit. DAMN!!!! Of course they couldn't see a thing, and it was pretty sketchy, but Chinese BU and Daniel were going for the next peak. Katsu was done and heading back.

It was right at that moment that I was like, either they are some crazy nutheads, or the peak was more attainable than I had ever imagined. I felt like I should have went, but I was also stuck with being safe and wanting to "see" the view from the top. As I write this, I'm still stuck on this. I'm proud of the boys BIG time for what they accomplished, yet I was nervous as hell the whole time waiting for them. The good thing was that they called me periodically to update me.

One of these calls was not good. As I told you earlier, we should have made the signs clear for each of them to follow. Katsu didn't continue with Chinese BU and Daniel, and came down on his own. He basically told me that he was looking down at Manoa Valley, and made a wrong turn at the Flats. Well, with reception terrible so I couldn't contact the other two, I told Katsu what to look for, and I made my way back to the Flats from the Kalawahine trailhead. I ran into Chinese BU and Daniel, who looked like he ran into a big piece of walking mud. They were not thrilled that we had to look for Katsu, but they were down and followed me in.

Thankfully, about 15 minutes later, he came bounding up the trail!!! He apologized that he didn't pay attention, and thanked us for coming back after him. We all hiked back to the car, and that ended our day at about 5:30, after starting at approximately 8:30 AM. I was left with a lot of thoughts, but I was extremely thankful that the boys were there in one place.

Don't worry, I'll get up to the top of Konahuanui one day. By the way, did you see how clear it was on the mountain today? I'm telling you, it happens every time!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ma'akua Gulch

From Hawaiian BU

I know I said we'd do more updates, but we've both been extremely busy with Summer Programming at the YMCA. However, Chinese Bu was desperate to get out again, and truthfully, so was I. He came up with the plan this time: Ma'akua Gulch.
And yes, I was hesitant. But the day looked great, and I was itching to get out as well.

Ma'akua Gulch could be one of the scariest hikes to do, because of how narrow the gulch becomes. A simple rock the size of a baseball coming from the top of the mountain could spell the end of even the most aware hiker.

The second thing you must consider when doing this hike is the weather. A light rain may seem harmless in most hiking situations, but it translates into mortal danger for hikers stuck in the deep recesses of the gulch. A little rain can turn into a torrential river in the gulch.

So it is with these considerations in mind that I agreed to join a very determined Chinese Bu and several of his friends for this expedition, only one valley removed from maybe the single worst experience of our hiking career. And of course, Chinese Bu invites someone who never hiked before with us, who turned out to be very awesome and on the same wavelength thought wise with me about the hiking conditions we were entering.

Ma'akua Gulch is the one hike that is not labeled at the end of Hau'ula Homestead road. You can choose from a variety of different hikes in this valley, all safer options than the one we were doing. After you sign in at the mailbox, all you need to do is follow the road all the way towards the end, which leads to a well-worn path into the gulch.

It was at this point in the hike where the first ominous sign came out: a rain squall that lasted a few minutes. It was slightly overcast, and I was not happy about this. I knew that the rest of the group wanted to continue, so I suggested that we go until we reached the portion of the gulch where we needed to exclusively rock hop.

With everyone on board with this plan, I figured it was only a matter of time before the rain continued and everyone else agreed to head back. Well, it stopped raining! And we just continued on, navigating our way over an unkempt trail, and many dry stream crossings.

As usual, Captain Trailblazer (Chinese Bu) was leading the way, and going out ahead. Sally and Keri were keeping up with him. I stayed behind with Cydnee, the one who just joined us, but had the same mindset as me. I never leave anyone behind on a hike (also because I like to look at things and landmarks when I hike, which would play an important part of us getting out), and she was very cool to talk to. We ended up stopping at this small water hole that had several crayfish, and decided after a short break to head back.

After leaving Chinese Bu a message about our whereabouts, we leisurely made our way back. According to Chinese Bu, we were only 10 minutes away from the falls. And I was ok with that. With all the potential for danger over our heads from the rocks to the rain, I was more than relieved to return back to the main road. As expected, Chinese Bu and the girls caught up with us.

Another note in case you decide to tackle this hike: there are not many ribbons marking the path into the Gulch. Because of it's closed status, there is not much upkeep conducted. I ended up having to lead the group out of the gulch several times, because I remembered the proper path. But just remember to keep the dry stream bed close by, and you should really not have too many problems.

If you come to hike Ma'akua Gulch, and you see water at the first stream bed, DON'T GO!

Chinese BU said he'll post pics soon. Aloha and happy hiking!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Wailele Falls

From Hawaiian BU

Sorry for the long hiatus, we haven't been keeping up with the blog. It doesn't mean that we haven't been hiking though. We've actually done a good number of hikes since the last write-up, some of them repeats, and some of them new stuff. Many times, we have done them with groups of people through our YMCA contacts. Alot of times, we have done them without the other brother BU present, which is all good. We are planning to get back on this thing when the schedule allows it, but for now, I'll relate a hike to you all that I just did with my college students the past weekend.

I've always wondered about the stuff that people don't tell you about. Things that are kept out of the public eye on purpose. Stuff not written about in hike books, magazines, maps, etc., yet are whispered about in passing conversations. Its given weird names because, many times, the person relating the story may not have the true info that you need to get better answers. They were taken there by a "family friend", "my neighbors cousin", that sort of thing. It's like a big Jigsaw puzzle where you have to first acquire all the pieces and then try to put the puzzle together, but there is no set way the puzzle fits together. The only way you can know for sure is if you go there yourself, be willing to make mistakes, and try your best to find the true answer.

When we began this hiking Blog, Chinese BU and I had heard about this thing called the PCC Falls. When we did the initial research, no one had written anything in the normal books about this falls. When you looked it up on websites, there was no clear path that anyone would describe to you. There was things like, "Went hiking to PCC Falls, it was super cool!" or, "Turtle Falls was kinda dead today, but the day was beautiful.". No good descriptors whatsoever. One website even called it Waikalele Falls.

After looking at some maps of Laie, I figured out that these people must be referring to a falls on Wailele stream. But that whole property is private land owned by the Mormon church. It seems they lease the lands to farmers, who then farm the very fertile aina with a wide array of crops. If you think logically about this land, there are multiple falls and streams (Laie, Malaekahana, Koloa, Wailele) that feed these lands with water for a bountiful harvest. It began to make sense that if you were not Mormon (I'm not, neither is Chinese BU), you would have no chance of even knowing that this place exists. I wouldn't be surprised if even some hardcore church goers are not aware of this Falls.

The best description I got about Wailele was from a farmer when I took the college kids to Malaekahana Falls. He told me that you had to take the quarry road and look for a wooded driveway towards the falls. Chinese BU and I accidentally did this during our trials of trying to find Koloa. We went up this path, but decided not to go the rest of the way without knowing for certain where it led. The sign on the fences said that you needed permission from Hawaii Reserves, the company representing the Mormon Church, to gain access. I figured they could give me more directions towards the falls when the time came.

Let me tell you something- the people at Hawaii Reserves are great, but they really want to protect the lands that they are charged with preserving. The nice lady there was very polite, but she didn't want to divulge too much information to me. I asked for a map-they didn't have one. She asked what hike I wanted to do. I told her Wailele, and she gave me a kolohe smile. When I looked at the permit paper, I could see why: Wailele was not one of the options of places that one could hike to. Let me explain this to you so you get what is going on. Hawaii Reserves WILL let you hike to Wailele, but they will not tell you how to get there or that it even exists. You have to know it for yourself. She told me to write in Wailele in the section marked OTHER. I got to talk to her later on the phone. She recognized my last name, so I told her who I was related to. Seems she knows my Aunty and danced with her for several years. She also knew my father and the rest of his siblings. I took that as a blessing to move forward with my expedition.

I'm going to end my description of how to get to this Falls here. My students and I were able to find it, and I understand why they want to protect it so much. It is beautiful! A priceless gem, making me think of how special Waiakeakua is to me. I have several pictures that the students took of the place, but I think that I'll wait to post them up. If you want to find it, either I'm going with you, or you need to do the work to find it yourself. Let me tell you, it's well worth the effort. And if you do find this place, make sure you respect it as much as you would any other natural resource that is scarce on this island paradise. Happy hunting!

PS I'll start writing up the other hikes we've done soon. Stay tuned!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The epic Kulepeamoa- Hawaii Loa Ridge Combo

From Hawaiian BU

So, as most of our readers know, Chinese BU and myself work for the YMCA of Honolulu. During our free time, we like to work with Teens from Kaimuki YMCA's No Limit Program and Club MID. (As well as hike) There is a signature program that YMCAs nationally run called Raggers, a goal-oriented program that each willing participant reflects on the progress of their life and looks to create new objectives that challenge them to grow personally, with the guidance of like-minded individuals. Kaimuki YMCA decided to run a mid-year Raggers as a way to keep teenagers mentally stimulated and focused on the goals they had established during the Summer session. Each Raggers event requires much planning and preparation to bring participants into the right frame of mind.

I have always been a person that wanted to try different things to help people reach potential that they may not have known themselves capable of. This also includes the adults that were responsible to run the event. I proposed something big that I wasn't sure was possible at the time for various reasons, but I knew would be life-altering for anyone that took on the task. I said lets challenge No Limit with Kulepeamoa, and Club MID with Hawaii Loa Ridge. The ultimate goal was for both groups to meet at the top on the Koolau Summit Trail, and do an amazing closing from there.

A little background on each trail so you can gain some perspective- 1) Kulepeamoa starts from the bottom of Pia Valley (Niu Valley), inclines very sharply until you gain the ridgeline, then steadily climbs up (with the aid of ropes in one section) to the Koolau Summit Trail, overlooking Waimanalo and the Windward side. There is a MASSIVE amount of elevation gain that is required. The return trip starts down Hawaii Loa ridge, takes a pretty undefined left down the valley, then goes through a solid strawberry guava tree slope until you reacquire the valley floor.
Most people I talked to say it's an intermediate to advanced hike, because of the elevation gain that you have to do, but if you are in decent condition, and take many breaks, that it is attainable with the right mental capacity.

2) Hawaii Loa Ridge is a Na Ala Hele hike (listed on the DLNR website, thus maintained by DLNR) that does not have the elevation gain that Kulepeamoa does, but is still challenging for a younger teenager like a middle schooler. It has steps placed into the trail for the final ascent up to the top, with short rope sections along the way that can be managed by adult supervisors to aid the younger hikers. What I also like about this hike for middle school is that you can see the end point early on in the hike and point it out to them, so they know what they are trying to get to.

With this bold suggestion, I guess Chinese BU ran with it and got everyone else on board. I wasn't even involved in the planning for this event, but the adult volunteer group latched on to the idea and made it the signature event for Raggers. Chinese BU made sure to take Brother Mitch on Kulepeamoa so he was familiar with the hike. (Hey, just so that we ALL know, I will get up to go hiking, even if it is at 6 AM, Chinese BU!) The two of them would lead the High School group on that trail. I got sent with the Middle Schoolers, since none of the other adults had done Hawaii Loa Ridge.

The pace for each hike was slow and deliberate. Both groups had designated talk times during the hike, which allowed for reflection as well as a breather. There were many breaks taken, but I was OK with that. I also had the genius idea to take walkie-talkies on the hikes to allow communication with both groups. That allowed for this great dynamic, where the High Schoolers were giving motivational talks to the Middle Schoolers, followed by random things being said by the youngsters (by far one of the highlights of the whole event!) Hats go off to Chinese BU, Mitch, and No Limit, as they reached the Summit before us, then started cheering for our Club Middies to make the top. (very special moment!)

The top was filled with hugs, high fives, cheers, oranges, water, pictures, and a great closing story from Jay. Yes, everyone had to get back to the buses, but right at that moment, with the view as our friend, we were able to make some positive differences in the youth we work with. As I type this now for you, I have this overwhelming sense of achievement, that I helped get these teenagers along their individual paths towards a better future. I've written before on these pages about the true victory in hiking- that it's not about getting to the end, it's about who you brought with you to get there to share that victory. For this Sunday, these wonderful volunteers lived up to that very premise. I feel so blessed to have shared this experience with them and the kids.

By far, the COOLEST thing we've done hiking since we started this blog. Talk to all of you soon.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wa'ahila Ridge (Mt Olympus)

From Hawaiian BU

Aloha and welcome to 2010! After a looooong break, the Bu brothers got back into the swing of Hiking with a nice little jaunt along the ridge behind Manoa Valley. It has been quite a while since our last adventure, and our conditioning (meaning my conditioning) was not in the best of shape. So this relatively short hike actually became a good test of will for me and Dawn, who decided to join us for our first hike of the year. Chinese BU was bugging out, ready to hike, but he was not 100 % either: something was wrong with his thumb, and he really couldn't hold any ropes that well. I did this hike many eons ago with my family, so it took long time to remember that there really wasn't that many ropes that I could remember.

To get there, travel all the way up St Louis Hts until you get to the park filled with Pine Trees. On this Sunday, the parking lot was PACKED! There must have been at least 50 to 60 people on the hike, which proved to be true. After hesitating for a few minutes, we decided to pursue the trail. I'll be honest when I tell you that the first hill almost made me want to turn back and try something else. But Chinese BU was already too far along up the trail, so Dawn and I trudged along behind him.

Wa'ahila Ridge crawls its way between Manoa on the left, and Palolo on the right. There are many places along the trail where you can easily view either valley. Although it was slightly cloudy, you still had fabulous views of the major parks in both areas, and the various activities held therein. For the townie children out there, this is a nice slice of nature located within arms reach without feeling like you're in the "boonines".

The ridge is also a very fun roller-coaster, with lots of ups and downs. It's not as drastic as Makapu'u Tom-Tom, but it can be testy trying to get a view of the final destination. And yes, there were a lot of people on the trail. In fact, there was this Korean Alpine Hiking Group along the trail, dressed in red shirts and tugging young kids along. Their group alone must have numbered near 40. Most of the ladies were picking every strawberry guava in site and storing them in plastic bags. Many of the hikers demonstrated aloha for each other, and it was good to encounter people that were passionate about hiking.

If you follow the directions of the Ball book, you end up at a glorious overlook of Manoa Valley. Mount Olympus sits in a straight line with the Manoa Chinese Cemetery and Punahou School, evenly dividing Manoa into two parts. History tells us that the Ewa side of the valley belonged to the Alii, while the Diamond Head side belonged to the Maka'ainana, or Common people. Looking from the top, you can tell why the land was so coveted and many stories in Hawaiian Mythology exist about Manoa Valley.

You can follow the rest of the trail to the Koolau Mountain Range and head up to Konahuanui on a clear day. It was obvious that we weren't going to make that attempt, but it's still on the radar. I felt good that we went on this relatively short hike, and one short piece of advice I learned: don't take too long of a break before going on your next hike! have fun and catch you soon!