Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Manoa Middle Ridge

From Hawaiian BU

I would say this entry is more of a thank you than a description of the hike. For a long time, I have wanted to hike Manoa Middle Ridge, but was told by many people "in the know", that it was severely unkempt and impassable. My family has taken me hiking throughout Manoa Valley and Tantalus since I could crawl, but it was probably the one trail that I had overheard talked about, but never really shown the way. Manoa was like a backyard to me- I could probably take you on all the hikes that you read about online and in old hiking books by the age of 10. The only one I couldn't show you at that time was Waiakeakua and Manoa Middle. And I guess it makes sense to me now why I was not capable.

In a previous blog about Waiakeakua, I documented the struggles we had in making sure we found the correct path. Needless to say, Chinese BU and I have gone there countless times since we began hiking together, and know that portion of the valley very well. I have taken several side trails marked with double ribbons off the main path, not sure if they led to the falls, but curious about the destination nonetheless. I knew instinctively as well as by searching the maps that one of these paths must be the way up Manoa Middle.

I had left Manoa Middle on the back of the radar, eventually figuring that someone in the hiking community would know the correct path, and that it would be cleared. And guess how it came to happen? Chinese Bu calls me and tells me he wants to do Manoa Middle, and that Kaleo is planning the trip.

Let's not get too gushy, but if you get the opportunity to hike with Mr. Kaleo Lancaster, you are in good hands. He does his research before he hikes, and his knowledge base is excellent. And yes, I do read his blogs regularly. Other than that, he's just a normal local boy that has a passion for hiking and sharing it with others. And he was going to help me finally find Manoa Middle!

We met up at the Kolowalu trailhead to park cars for the exit point, and then headed to the beginning point for the trek. From sharing pertinent info that we all had, the four us (Kaleo, Brian, Chinese BU and myself) pushed off from the beginning of the path towards Waiakeakua. If you don't know how to get to this waterfall, it can be very confusing, and you can easily get lost. Using the shared notes we had, I knew that we at least had to make it past the first set of steps. From there, the trial and error would begin.

As I said earlier, there are multiple side trails that you could conceivably take. I stopped at the first one I knew and we made the choice to try it out. As we gained elevation, we could tell that this wasn't going to be the right path. Kaleo made a call to his source, and found out that we needed to journey past the second set of stairs to find the path. It also helped that we had gained some elevation so the call could be placed.

When we regained the main trail, we headed for the small pond and the second staircase. After reaching the top, we finally found the correct path and began the real work of climbing Manoa Middle. And it's time to for the second round of Thank Yous.

Whoever took the time to clear this path deserves some absolute praise. The work they did was absolutely tremendous! Over an 11 day span, they cut and pruned and sawed and chopped and widened this trail. And this is no easy feat, let me tell you. Some of the sections, while not on the class of some of the intense hikes we've been reading about recently, is still very steep and I was amazed at the effort that was put into this. The path clearers had marked their progress from day to day. In some sections, it looked as if they had only made 50 to 60 yards of progress in a day, yet they were some of the steepest portions of the way up. One day, I plan on thanking those people personally.

The trail overall is tough, rugged, and a great barometer for those considering some of the harder treks on the islands. Remember that this hike has not really been used in some time, nor is it like most of the trails that lead to the Koolau Summit from the leeward side. Kaleo has already posted this up on his blog, so you can find out more details there. I'm just happy that I can finally go back to the family and tell them I found the path up Manoa Middle. And someone tell Chinese BU to start posting some blogs from stuff he's done. Can't wait to hear about his adventure to True Manamana. Mostly likely will read it from Kaleo's blog first! Happy Hiking everyone!

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