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!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pali Notches

From Hawaiian BU

Aloha to all of you out there! 2-Bu Paina wishes all of you a happy and safe 2011. It's been a crazy couple of months for both of us, but it seems that Chinese Bu has really taken the hiking thing to the next level. He has done some pretty amazing trails over the past couple of months, with what I consider to be some very unreal hiking people. Although I have yet to meet most of them, I am a fan of the love they have put into hitting the trails of Oahu and documenting their adventures for the rest of us to enjoy. These people he's hiked with have taken the torch from legends like Stuart Ball, Dayle Turner, Waianae Steve, Wing Ng, Pat Rorie, and Jay Feldman, and bring new knowledge about these precious trails for the rest of us to learn from. I may have missed a few on my roll call here, but those are the people who's work I've read either in books or online, and I know I'm thankful that they took the time to make that available to the hike-loving public. Hopefully one day, this new generation of "blogging" hikers will be given their proper love and respect.

We decided to start off the year with a relatively short, but very inspiring hike, up to the Pali Notches. There are several literary sources that talk about these unusual holes in the mountain, but we do know that it was used by Kalanikupule, the Oahu Moi, to mount ship cannons in defense of Nuuanu Valley from Kamehameha's forces. Both the Notches and the Pali Puka (on the opposite side of the Pali Lookout) provide unparalleled views of the Nuuanu Valley and the Windward coast from Chinaman's Hat to Waimanalo. We were blessed with an absolute clear Sunday, as we prepared in the Pali Lookout Parking Lot for the hike.

If you decide to do this hike, bring $3, because they charge now to park there. It seemed that the Filipino uncle that was working there had his "A" game, marking down each car's license as they came and went . We both paid without argument, took our receipts, and headed for the beginning of the trail. As you walk toward the Lookout, look to your right, and you will see an obvious path that leads up.

Although the distance to the notches is relatively short, be prepared to climb up some challenging Rock faces on the way there. In fact I have a recommendation- If you can get to the notches, maybe then you can consider doing one of the very difficult rock climb hikes like Bear Claw, Piliwale, or Kawiwi like Chinese Bu and some other steel-faced hikers just did. (Go check out Kaleo's blog for info on that one. I think it's kinda nuts!)

One of things we talked about going up this trail was how in the world did Kalanikupule get those blasted cannons up there! We figured that there must have been a whole army of guys at the top that somehow pulled it up there, but it's an amazing accomplishment, no matter how they did it. After dealing with the climb and the serious drop to your left, we got to the top of the first Notch, and the view was majestic! From that point, you can see the whole valley, making it an ideal choice for the cannons.

We decided not to venture any further, but we looked ahead at the ridgeline leading up to Konahuanui. Chinese Bu busted out his Binos, and what we saw, well lets just say if you told me I had to get to Konahuanui, and the way from Pauoa Flats and the way from Olympus was blown to bits, I would choose Piliwale. And I seen all your guys Piliwale videos (that's crazy what you guys have done!) But this way to Konahuanui? INSANE!!!!!!!

I've heard the story that Mr. Pete Clines has done it. (Some of the stuff that I've read and heard he's accomplished should not even be published!) I read that blog from Martyna and Allegra and how high they got on their second try. But peeps, I pray for anyone trying to attempt that thing without ropes or some type of support. There are safer ways than that to get to the Koolau's highest peak. But I guess some people want the challenge. And I'll be here to support and root for your success.

For all of you that want a challenge that can be accomplished in a short amount of time with a great reward at the end, hiking to the Pali Notches is a great choice. Hey, I just reread an old article online from Wing Ng- in it he claims that he may have discovered a 5th path up to Konahuanui. Need to do more research on that!!

oh BTW, Chinese Bu is talking about hiking a place I've always wanted to explore, but I was told by several people I trust that the path was overgrown and hard to discern. Looking forward to exploring it!