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Kailua, Hawaii, United States

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!

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