Aloha to all! Hope you are doing well wherever you may be hiking these days. The Bu Brothers are still out there, hitting the trails and trying to find paths to our favorite waterways. The title for this piece comes from an old Saturday Night Live skit featuring Alec Baldwin. We wanted to try and come up with a different name instead of the place we visited, and Chinese Bu comes up with "Sweaty Balls." Now he may make me change this title later, but I had to get in a plug for one of the funniest skits from SNL during that timeframe.
So, some hints before we tell you the place (if you haven't already guessed where this is)- It's a waterfall that falls between two high mountain peaks. The water is very cold at this place, probably because it's higher up than your basic waterfall. Lastly, it's not marked with any ribbons at the most crucial junction. As usual, we went on instincts and stories we had heard from other well-informed hikers. Wait one more thing-this was the first time either of us had visited this place, meaning this is our first write-up about the place.
Originally, I was supposed to do Wa'ahila Ridge with my college students, but only a few of them showed up, and the ones that came wanted to see a waterfall, so we initially decide to go to Kalihi and check out what's happening over there. I get a call from Chinese Bu, saying he's going to hit this hike, completely not expecting me to join him. I make a quick decision with the students, and we decide to join Chinese Bu on this adventure. And I was excited, as well as unprepared, for what we were about to encounter
We parked our cars and pushed off from the Kalawahine trailhead. It was a pretty overcast day, and the recent rain had me hoping for some raging falls. Guavas were in full bloom, littering the ground and making the path more slippery. We pretty much just zoomed through that trail on our way to Pauoa Flats.
Now, before we continue, several things I would suggest you bring before you attempt this trail-
1. Microspikes- They saved my okole out there. We'll get to that later.
2. Cutting tool of some type, like a machete- We really could have used the one in my van!
3. Rope-climbing rope would have been very helpful on this hike.
4. Gloves- My hands got all tore up from getting out the gulch.
5. Aspirin or pain-killer- Wait, you don't really need that for this, but I sure wanted some.
Now that you're wondering what's up with this list, let's continue.
Pauoa Flats to the Nuuanu overlook was calm. Only one other person was seen during this time, which I think is strange for a Sunday. We briefed the students on the next part of the trail, then headed up towards Konahuanui. Konahuanui, or Large Fat innards, according to the Place Names of Hawaii book, are the twin peaks to the right of the Pali Lookout. As the story goes, a giant threw his testicles at a lady who had escaped him, thus creating these peaks. Konahuanui also happens to be the highest place on the Koolaus, with a commanding view of the Windward side on a clear day. As you probably have guessed, that wasn't today's target.
As we continued to contour the left side of the mountain, I started getting nervous, like I usually do when exploring unfamiliar terriotory. I hate going the wrong way on hikes, and I'm always double checking my surroundings 3 to 4 times when we do new hikes. We finally hit the ridgeline and started looking for the way down to the left to get to the waterfall. Mahalo to Jeremy Kreis, who I asked for clarification a couple months previously about where this junction was exactly. With those directions and instincts, we decided to rush the only path that sort of looked like the way down.
Now if you plan to do this, this is where things get down to business. The incline on this hill can be steep in several sections, and good luck trying to maintain balance when it's muddy (like it was today) All of us basically butt-slide down most of the way. Ropes would have been very helpful, but anchor points were very few. There are 2 points along this mountain wall that had ropes, but more would be good. Another thing was the ferns-lots of them. Needless to say, the going was slow.
When we finally got to Upper Lulumahu Falls, I was awestruck. This is such a beautiful place, located in this tiny gulch, I didn't want to leave. The water is clean, and yes, some of the coldest water you will feel at an Oahu waterfall. I know that people go to this place, but it doesn't feel like there are that many that do. It feels so natural, so untouched by human hands. The pool is pretty too, but you can't really bomb from the ledge located there, it's too shallow. But I don't think you should do that at this place. Yes, we made fun of it in this piece, but I think I paid the price for that trying to get out.
Let's just say I got injured, making the climb out very difficult. I'm alright now, but some pain killer would have been nice. Thank God for the Microspikes! They got me out, without a doubt, and I'm not really the most nimble horse in the stable. I need to thank my students that came along with me and made sure I didn't fall off the ridge on the way back.
Upper Lulumahu Falls is worth the effort to get there. I'm now thinking that maybe it shouldn't be easier to get there. Everyone should be willing to pay the price to visit this place. It's beautiful and serene, and I hope if and when you decide to venture there, you come ready to open your heart to this small slice of heaven. Aloha and see you folks soon.