Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Love for Manoa

From Hawaiian BU

Taken from the book "Place Names of Hawaii"

Manoa. Lit. vast.

Manoa has been a part of my life since I was a young boy. I learned baseball on it's fields. I got in trouble with neighborhood kids, doing stupid things like marking off "our turf", and acting like we ran the place. I made out for the first time with a girl there. My family shopped all the time at Longs. And, my family would take me into Manoa and show me it's natural beauty through the various hikes located within. At the time, I didn't really care about those details. But now, well, things have changed, as have I.

I really believe that it is part of my process that I had to go through, to get to the point I'm at now. The secrets that escape us do so for very specific purposes, and when the time comes for you to uncover them, it feels like you have earned the right to discover these treasures. It's with these thoughts that I present this writing for those willing to read it.

If you have read our blog before, you know that both Chinese BU and myself are enamored with finding waterfalls on this island, and we spend large amounts of time trying to find them and enjoy them. We started out as most hikers do, travelling the most common trails that can be found in tourists magazines and websites. We then graduated to Stuart Ball's incredible hiking book, and the various online resources from people that had come before. It was during this phase that I began asking my family for help, and a whole new avenue for information became available.

My family is FILLED with hikers. Grandma has countless photos of herself in front of all types of Hawaiian historical places, some I have come to discover were VERY difficult to get to. My Aunty was the main trailblazer, continuously finding places all around Oahu and sharing her adventures with us. My Mom and Stepfather had all the Robert Smith hiking books from each island, and you can still see some of the notations they used in the books. Our Family home has literary resources, including maps, stories, personal collections, many of them not in publication anymore. When I finally decided to really make hiking a big priority in my life, and my ohana knew it, that was when I began getting access, and past memories began to become more visible and clear.

Over the past couple of years, we have been taking this knowledge, and finding our own place, and creating our own resource to point back to, this blog. We've had a lot of fun along the way, made many new friends, and found more trails than we ever anticipated. We've even hiked on other islands, and discovered that we have barely scratched the surface of what is possible for us. Just like Manoa, the world of hiking is vast!

One more thing before I finish this off- We have always talked about how the people you hike with is the most important part of the whole experience. Why only have this experience by yourself? That's why we take the kids, teenagers, and college students we work with on these hikes. We debate all the time about which hikes certain age levels can handle, in fact, its probably the most recurrent topic for us when we hike. Not only do we want to show the next generation these places, but hopefully instill in them the passion to care for these places as much as we do.

I've been spending a lot of time in Manoa Valley the past couple of months, finding trails that have never been written about, but have somehow been there for previous hikers. The goal is to connect all the major waterways that exist in the back of the valley. So far, I've been able to get to Aihualama, Wahi, Lua'alaea, Naniu'apo, and Waiakeakua. I think I'm very close to finding Waaloa Spring, which I think is off a side trail from Naniu'apo. I have been able to connect Wahi, Lua'alaea, and Naniu'apo without trespassing on private lands. With some help of the greater hiking community, we hope to make all of them interconnected a complete reality in short order. When that time comes, I promise to share that with all of you, that way, we all can care for these treasures that were once hidden, but deserve to be seen.

I'm excited about this! I'll be back with more soon.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


From Hawaiian Bu

What's up everyone, hope summer has been kind and allowed you to hike the trails of Oahu. As usual, both of us at 2-BU are busy with the YMCA, but we always seem to make sure we plan hiking into the programs we run. But we were finally able to find a day that both of us could hike and we chose to attempt Kaliuwa'a (again!)

We have both tried on many occasions to get to the falls, but each time we have been met with either a guard or some maintenance guys, and have been forced to find alternatives. I have discovered that others have been able to get there without interference, but that wasn't our luck previously. If you have never been to Kaliuwa'a before, it's probably been for a good reason. Located behind a closed state park on the road to the North Shore, you are not supposed to go and hike to this place, due to a very big tragedy that occurred there on Mother's Day in 1999. I leave you to find out more on your own if you must know the details.

Since that time, I guess they have a guard that watches over the place that gives out trespassing tickets if you are found there. It must be cheaper paying this guy's salary than what it costs for, other expenses. So each previous time we have gone, we have encountered this person, blocking our way. We figured that you had to go early in the morning, on a weekday, when no other person would hike the trail. We also ensured that we didn't park right in front of the park (big tip!) so that the guard did not think that someone was there. We decided to park at the stretch of beach, right before the Greater Mt Zion Church, and walk towards the park entrance.

Kaliuwa'a is not a long hike, but you do spend a good 15 to 20 minutes on the dirt road past the yellow gate until you reach the first dry stream crossing, and discover the actual trail. Several things you should keep in mind if you decide to do this hike-
1. You will be trespassing on private property, and if you encounter the guard, you most likely will have to take the hit, so hike this at your own risk. Not only were we concerned going into the trail about meeting the guard, but coming out of the valley as well. Kaliuwa'a is a gulch hike, and there are really no alternative paths you can take safely to escape the guard's notice as you exit. We encountered the guard twice right at the beginning of the actual trail, smart buggah!

2. Because it is a closed hike, it hasn't been maintained in years, and there is alot of overgrowth in some areas. The problem is compounded by the fact that there are no ribbons to mark the path, since they probably don't want you going deep into the gulch. But if you got good instincts, use some common sense, and keep communication good with your hiking crew, you should be ok. For the most part, you can see which way you should go, just remember to keep following the stream up the valley. When you see the signs saying "Park Closed" along the way, you know you must be getting closer.

3. Beware of Falling Rocks! This is a gulch hike you are doing, very similar to Ma'akua (read our blog about that adventure). Even a rock the size of a quarter falling from that height can do major damage to you. We were very fortunate on this day that nothing fell on us, and I pray for you if you decide to try this hike. Take this warning under serious consideration.

The valley is very fertile! I was amazed at the amount of Mountain Apples bursting from every tree we passed. We also found Kukui Nut, Guava, Torch Ginger, and Avocado in abundance as we progressed towards the falls. I also have a feeling that there is a healthy pig population back there, just because there are probably no control mechanisms in place. I'm fairly certain you could survive there for a long time if the situation warranted it.

One other thing- you could feel the "mana" in this place. It is very strong, and rightfully so. I really don't want to elaborate about it, but if you are familiar with the Hawaiian history of the place, as well as the recent catastrophe that happened there, you probably understand what I'm referring to. We both decided not to swim at the falls, which is a big thing for us, since we swim at every falls we go to. It just didn't feel right, for either of us. Maybe next time.

The falls is beautiful, and exactly as I remember it from the last time I went there (around 1996). Personally, it was an experience I was ready for, and I look forward to completing it again sometime in the future. Gotta thank Chinese Bu for taking videos of the trek, and I hope he attaches his completed version here in the near future. Hope everyone out there stays safe, and we'll see you out on the trails. Aloha!

Sacred Fall video