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!