Friday, September 9, 2011

Seven Bridges: my thoughts behind the myth

From Hawaiian Bu

If you were a local kid growing up here on Oahu, you were exposed to many different tales or urban legends about places that were haunted and gave you chicken skin. Places like Morgan's Corner, the Faceless Lady at Old Waialae Drive-In, and Seven Bridges of Manoa. When you hear the stories the first time, you're usually with some other kids who are also hearing it for the first time, and you're all like "Nah, I not scared! We go!".

But as time goes on, and the story is allowed to fester in your brain, you start wondering if what they said was true. In the future, you run into someone who went to the place, said it was scary, and now you really not sure if it's true or not. And every time someone brings it up again, the cycle renews and the place starts getting a heavy rep in your mind, even though you may have never been there yourself.

When you finally go, you're so worked up, that the slightest noise, or a croak from a frog, or a rustling of a tree branch, scares the crap out of you and your friends, and now, in your mind, the story must be true. You may not even do what the legend says you gotta do, but you and your crew had enough, and that's all there is to it. I guess this is how it goes for all urban legends you hear from other people.

Have you ever wondered- why was the story started in the first place? Did someone really hear a banshee when they went into the back of Manoa Valley? Does one of the bridges really disappear when you walk back out? Could it be that the story of the Seven Bridges of Manoa was made up so that you don't go up the road, and you never discover what's truly back there? And do you really know the correct path for the road?

I will confirm one thing for all of you: Seven Bridges of Manoa IS a hike, but it is not as long as some of the various websites have made it sound like. In fact, it is an old road that is overgrown with Hau and Bamboo, making it challenging to really discern the proper path. On my way up there, I went off the road many times, listening to the stream flowing and trying to see what I could find. I crossed the stream several times, trying to find old ribbons on either side. I finally realized that the easiest way up was to keep to the road, and fight through the overgrowth.

As usual, I finally found some old ribbons marking the way. However, there were stretches of the path where these ribbons had fallen down with the bamboo or trees they were connected to. I had to rely on instincts during that time, especially since I didn't see any new footprints on the trail I was on. This path hasn't been used in a long time.

The path finally led me back to the stream, and I kept pushing up towards the valley. After about 50 yards of climbing on terraces formed by ancient hands, the stream ended. I kept on walking up the valley for about 100 to 200 yards more, but I couldn't find the stream anymore. Strange. So I decided to go back to where the stream ended, and figure out what was going on. If you have been following our blog regularly, you might know what I discovered.

Waaloa Spring is amazing! The water is fresh, and it comes right out of the mountain. As I sat next to it, I began to envision my Hawaiian Ancestors, sitting at that very spot, filling their gourds, thanking their 'Aumakua for protecting them and this valuable resource. I'm guessing that there might not be many people interested in this, especially since there is no waterfall connected to it, but I find this place to be serene, calm, and full of mana.

Now take a step back with me for just a moment, and remember how I started this post. In fact, think about all the scary stories you may have heard about Manoa Valley. The nightmarcher tree at the beginning of Manoa Falls trail. Manoa Chinese Cemetary. Seven Bridges of Manoa. Take all of those and find a street map, and place a pin where you would logically pin the beginning point for each, or the actual spot. Now look towards the mountains from each pin. Figure out what I'm trying to get at? I remember being told as a child that the Menehune at one time controlled upper Manoa Valley, and that they should be respected.

Ghost stories and urban legends are awesome, and I love hearing about them. But I have a feeling that there just may be an alternative purpose to why I heard it as a kid. And I do love Manoa Valley and the beautiful secrets it has locked within. This particular secret I will keep with me for now, until I figure out how to link it with the other waterways located in Manoa. If you are trying to find it, good luck, and take some cutting shears with you, as well as some hiking instincts.

I guess I'll end this one with this- Yep, Seven Bridges of Manoa is Haunted! BEWARE!!!!!!

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