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!!!!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Wahiawa Hills

From Hawaiian BU

I went nuts at Sports Authority last night. Bought me a brand new pair of shoes, new Camalback bag, and the most important of necessities, thick hiking socks! All my stuff was breaking down, and I needed to be ready for the next hike with the college students, Wahiawa Hills. Several students had previously mentioned that they wanted to see a river, so the closest thing in my head on Oahu was Kaukonahua Stream. I figured 5 miles, up and down some hills, and a cool swim spot, that would be perfect.

Now usually we don't hike far from the Koolaus, but the capability to see the Waianae Mountain Range from the trail really got me thinking that I should get my okole up earlier than usual and get out to the Westside. It was right around 9 AM that myself, Chinese BU, and the college gang pushed off from the end of California Ave, and adventured into Kaleo Lancaster's backyard.

I was very thrilled to have Chinese BU along for this one, because he had done this about a year ago with Kaleo. I'm thinking that he would be able to handle all the complicated junctions one encounters as they progress throughout the hike. On the safe side, I had my copy of the Ball book with me, and a printout of Kaleo's directions from his site. The crazy thing about this was that the book and Kaleo's directions didn't match, and Chinese wasn't exactly reassuring when we came to questionable junctions. I guess I'll have to forgive him, since it has been a year plus since he last did it.

With those challenges in front of us, let me share this with you- this is a testing 5 mile hike. Going the route described in Kaleo's directions leads you to this punishing climb up a ridge that is choke-filled with Uluhe. Each of us got scratched up all over our arms and legs as we ascended this portion of the hike. Footing was tough because you couldn't see the ground, and it was wet from the light drizzle coming down on us. Getting to the top of that ridge led us to another junction, which turned out to be the alternative way to come up to that point. We figured that out because two ladies and their dog, which we had passed previously before the first stream crossing, had beaten us up the ridge.

We kept on walking through the trees until we got to this epic view of the Koolaus and took a break there. We turned right and down the ridge, eventually hitting the swim spot at the bottom. That water was as cold as some waterfalls I've encountered! After spending nearly an hour playing around in the stream, we geared up and returned to the trail. We were instantly greeted by another heart-pounding climb up a ridge with Uluhe on both sides. At least this portion was more clear than the last one.

With the knowledge that we were going to grind some Dot's sizzling Hamburger Steak afterwards, we pushed through and methodically made our way back to the critical junction of the whole trail. If you decide to do this hike, please take someone with you that knows the way. It's so much easier. I know I gave Chinese BU a hard time here, but once we got past the first climb, he knew where he was going, and everyone felt better (except for his occasional jokes about going the wrong way!).

One more thing I should tell you before I sign off on this one- That long hill you had to descend in the very beginning that reminds you of the "Heartattack Hill" from Waimano Pool? You gotta climb that thing to get out! And I will say, its my opinion that that hill is just as challenging, if not harder than the one you face at Waimano Pool.

I know it's not a waterfall (besides the hidden one you find at the bottom of the first hill), but I like the swim spot at Wahiawa Hills. I'm very thankful for the new equipment I got, especially the socks. All of us kanacked out at Dot's, and there were alot of happy faces at the end of this one. Hopefully you get a chance to go visit this workout sometime soon. But make sure to bring a guide!

Catch you all on the trails. Aloha!