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Kailua, Hawaii, United States

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wiliwilinui: A Great Hike to the Koolau Summit (with Bonus Movie!)

This is a really nice hike, my nephew did it when he visited Tim and I in the summer of 2006 but I couldn't do it with him then. I probably wouldn't have done it anyway, since I was still smoking and wouldn't have been able to make it to the top!

The hike starts off in a private gated community, but you just have to tell the guard you are going on the hike and they give you a parking pass. You go up a road quite a ways to start. Eventually the road stops and the small, and very steep trail begins. There is one section where you have to use ropes to go up and down, but I managed it pretty easily. When you are almost at the top, there is a radio station transmitter. From there the trail is kind of creepy, because the little ridge you are on for the last little ways seems much smaller with a dropoff on each side. But its NOT really dangerous!

As I was getting to the top, the clouds started coming over the crest of the Koolaus, so it was actually pretty cold up there. The clouds that were settling down on me obscured the view of the other side of the mountain and the 2000 foot cliff that was right in front of me. Some pretty spectacular views of Diamondhead Crater though.... I put in a small video that I took at the top, check it out!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The Haiku Steps: Caught on the Stairway to Heaven

I've wanted to do this hike for a long time. Unfortunately, its another hike that has been closed for quite a while. This one is very different though, it consists of steps and ladders that lead up the side of a nearly vertical mountainside just outside of Kaneohe, near where the H-3 comes out of the tunnels.

I had to get up really early and was at the trailhead and climbing the fence (yes, breaking in...) to get on the road by 7 a.m. I didn't know exactly which road to take once I got in, there were several leading different directions. After a couple of mistakes, I found what I thought was the path and headed up a dirt trail. I ended up at a fence where I could see the steps but not get to them! Back down that hill and up the road a little more until I found another path...this one ended up leading to the steps.

I started out on the bottom steps and started climbing up. Soon I could see that there were other people on the steps, heading down towards me. I kept climbing up, but then I looked up to see where the other hikers were. One of them had a silver badge...crap! He made a "turn-around" motion, so down I went. He turned out to be a pretty nice guy (for a security guard) and just told me I couldn't hike up the stairs. I don't know what time they get out there, but earlier than I want to get up.

I took Tim there to see the different old Coast Guard buildings, the place they shot some scenes from "Lost" (has the Dharma Initiative symbol!) and the swimming hole, but we didn't try to go up the steps. The first pic is of Tim on the later trip in June.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Under the H-3 Freeway: Not your usual hike!

The H-3 freeway cuts through the Halawa Valley, then goes through a tunnel cut into the Koolau Mountains and ends up on the Windward side of the island above Kaneohe. The entire freeway is elevated above the valley, which is beautiful. As you drive the freeway, every once in a while you can see an access road; I'd wondered what might be on the road, so I decided to try and walk it.

I checked it out on Google Earth to get a good idea of how I could get to the access road, which doesn't have an entrance thats easy to get to. I saw that I could cut through the Board of Water Supply's Xeriscape Gardens, and then walk up a stream bed to the road. I headed out to the Gardens, parked right out in front and walked in. I was immediately "greeted" by a woman who wanted to know why I was there. Now this is a public garden, but open only on certain days. This was one of them. Apparently they don't get a lot of unannounced visitors...she was immediately suspicious of me "because you have a backpack on". I told her that I was going hiking, which only made things worse! Then she just freaked out about how we were by the water aquifer and after 9/11 you have to watch out...and then told me she'd feel "safer" if I didn't have the backpack! What a nutball...lol. She made sure to tell me that I couldn't go on the hike through the Gardens, they didn't allow it. I said that was fine, and I was going to look around a little anyway. Next thing I know she has a guard coming over and wants to search my backpack. I handed it to them and said fine, go ahead, which seemed to make them back off a little. This was the weirdest thing, I was dressed for hiking and I'm pretty sure I don't look like a terrorist...

Anyway I left there, went out in front and found a trail that went around their fence, down to the stream and right to the access road. I didn't even need to go in there! I started walking down the access road, and after about a mile I saw a big group of native Hawaiians coming down the road towards me... not so good for me because I knew that they had protested the road going through the valley when it was built and consider it somewhat off limits to outsiders. I kept walking, and they didn't say anything as I passed by but the men gave me some hard looks!

I walked a little further and came to a spot that had signs about staying out of Hawaiian cultural spots and there were several people there, some gardens, the ruins of a building and several other ancient looking things on the grounds. Two men were sitting by the side of the road talking, and I knew if I was going to get by I needed to talk to them. They told me to go inside and talk to a woman there. I did, and it turned out she had been one of the original protestors and was responsible for keeping up the place we were at. It was very interesting and I arranged to have middle school students from my school go there next year to help in the gardens and then they feed them a Hawaiian meal. It would be a great cultural experience for the kids. They gave me their blessing to continue on through the valley!

To be honest, there wasn't that much to see in the valley. It was a really nice walk, and about 11 or 12 miles round trip. I walked all the way to the tunnels and then back...it was pretty, but didn't see anything as exciting as my meeting with the native Hawaiians at the beginning. Oh yeah... I didn't take any pictures of the Hawaiian camp as I thought it might be rude, so sorry about that!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hamama Falls

I found this hike online, it really surprised me because it was so close to our house. When I got to the waterfall, it was less than 2 and a half miles from home! There is a great swimming hole, a couple of weird concrete things I couldn't identify... and a ROAD (steep, but great for killing off a few calories) went all the way to the waterfall...weird huh? Not a bad waterfall either!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Kawainui Marsh in Kailua

Kawainui Marsh in Kailua is a great place for a walk, if I was feeling spunky I'd do it twice. Its about a mile and a half each way, so a pretty good workout if you do a couple of times.