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Kailua, Hawaii, United States

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Another Manoa Stream / Celia's Waterfalls

My last hike was supposed to be the hike my friend Celia told me about but I turned left down the road to follow the first stream I came to, when I should have just continued straight down the road. Anyway, so this time I went straight and then the road crosses a fast-moving stream and turns left to follow that stream. There were several more bridges and, oddly, they seem to be newly painted. Which is weird because the road passes nothing else but the ruins of a few buildings and some long ago burnt out cars.

Eventually the road becomes a trail and follows the stream most of the time. It has a lot more vertical terrain than the last hike. There is also quite a bit of mud to slog through from time to time. Another odd thing is that once in a while the trail becomes a cobblestone path, then goes back to dirt or mud. About half way to the falls it gets really odd when I came upon a staircase going up the steep side of a hill. Around the same place are some old bunkers, pipes and lots more steps. I have no idea what might have been out here before but the jungle is so thick it could be hiding about anything, maybe there's a pyramid or something else hidden that I couldn't see!

There are several nice areas of pools and small drop offs and then you reach the first waterfalls after about an hour (Celia said 40 minutes but it took longer since I didn't know the way and had to puzzle over the trail sometimes!). You climb up and around the first set of little falls, then you get to a much bigger waterfall. There is a rope ladder hanging down that waterfall, which leads to the next waterfall. I didn't climb the rope ladder, but I wanted to! It did look a little dangerous so I decided better safe than sorry. Celia says that waterfall is even bigger, guess I'll have to take her word for that! I couldn't find any name for the waterfall, so I've named it Celia's Falls.

Heading back down the trail I noticed a lot more of the vegetation and stream than on the way up. There were quite a few really nice flowers, including wild orchids and several types of ginger I hadn't seen. Once in a while you would come to an area where the ground was so covered in pink flowers that the path looked like a pink carpet! This was a very nice hike, not too hard with just about the right amount of up and down to give me a decent workout. Now Celia has to go and take my hike up the other stream.... maybe she'll name the falls after me.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Manoa Valley Hike -- Manoa Falls, Aihualama Trail, Waiakeakua Stream and Falls

The Manoa Falls Trail is probably the most well known trail on Oahu. I've taken every visitor we've had to the Manoa Falls I think. I knew that there were a couple of other hikes that could be taken in the same area, so I headed up there to explore something new. The report I found online told me to turn right after the first concrete bridge as you enter the hike. Well, at the first (and only) concrete bridge there was no way to turn right! I looked all over but still couldn't find any sort of path leading off the main trail. I decided to walk up to Manoa Falls, and then try the Aihualama Trail that leads away from it. Manoa Fall had hardly any water, didn't even bother to take a picture since I have some from other trips.

I headed up the Aihualama Trail, for the first half mile or so it was wide, graded and not too steep. Eventually though I reached a place where the "trail" was really just a boulder climb in a gulch. That wouldn't have been so bad but it was really steep! There were two Chinese girls hiking in front of me. I passed them after a while and not too long later I saw them turn around and head back down the mountain. I wasn't exactly thrilled with the hike either, so I called my friend Celia at school to see where she hikes at Manoa. (She told me before that she goes on another trail that has a waterfall) She gave me the basic directions and I headed back down the mountain, past Manoa Falls and down the trail to the beginning again. From there I walked a few blocks until I found what I thought was the trail she had told me about.

It started off as an abandoned road, then a dirt road, passed several dilapidated old structures and then went through an orchard of trees that I didn't recognize. After looking at them a while as I walked, I saw one had flowers. I don't know the name of the flower, but it is one that is grown to make flower leis with. The road turned into a trail and headed into the jungle. It was a really nice walk through the forest, not too steep, not too muddy. The path stayed right next to the stream which was flowing well. Lots of nice pools, little sections of rapids and dropoffs, finally leading to a couple of small waterfalls and one big one. Not a huge amount of water coming down the big one, but no matter, it was a really pretty spot. Definitely one of my favorite hike endings!

The funny thing is this...it wasn't Celia's hike at all! I talked to her when I came back and her hike was the next road down, she had never been on the one I had just done. I haven't seen it in any guidebooks or even online, so it is definitely a good find! A very nice hiking day for sure. Make sure and open up the pics on this page, you really need to see them bigger to appreciate how pretty it was!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Kilauea Volcano + Kona Winds = VOG

The Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island has been active for years, but right now there is smoke and ash coming from the caldera at the top, which hasn't happened in 80 years. Its been flowing down the hill a lot more also, and has made it to the Kalapana area. That is much closer to where we went to the store and from where we saw the lava last year. When the winds turn around and come from the southeast, it not only gets more humid here, but we get the smoke from Kilauea Volcano. For those of you who have been to our house, you may recognise the view from our house. Or maybe not with all the smoke...

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Lulumahu Falls and Kaniakapupu Summer Palace

Tim and I took this hike last year and got completely lost in the bamboo forest. We managed to get out, but only because we had the GPS with us. Without it, I swear we would have never gotten out of that forest! It has bugged me ever since that we failed to find the waterfall that day. I decided that since I have a lot more experience with hiking trails in Hawaii now, maybe if I tried it again I would find it this time.

I set out down the easy path that leads to the summer palace of King Kamehameha III and his wife, Queen Kalama. It was built in 1845, and wasn't occupied very long. The King had one big party there, the sign says he had 10,000 guests. They must have all been outside, the summer palace is small! It is in ruins, but the spot it sits in is really pretty.

The guide book tells you to go to the summer palace and then find the path that goes on from there. The guide says it is very hard to find the right trail, as there are trails crossing each other all over the place. S0me are pig trails, some from hunters, and most I think are trails left by hikers who were completely lost. The guide says "Don't worry, just follow any path that leads upstream; you'll eventually get to the waterfall." No, you won't, you'll end up lost in the forest again!

I followed a good path until it started to enter the bamboo forest. I was talking to Tim on the phone at the time and he told me not to go in! Since our last visit he has a bit of a phobia about bamboo forests! I told him the GPS was on and continued into the forest. Everything was fine for a while, I seemed to be making great progress upstream. Then the trail starts to disappear and then I'm lost again in the same forest as last time. I decided to try a different tactic and try to work my way along the edge of the stream until I get out of the bamboo forest. That didn't work at all! After about a half hour, I got to a spot that I remembered. I'd somehow gone in a big circle through the bamboo forest.

I needed a new tactic. I decided to head straight through the forest. following the GPS in a straight line towards the Pali Hwy. I figured I had to intersect with a better trail somewhere along the way. Even with the GPS it was hard to go straight through, I kept getting blocked and managed to get "lost" in the bamboo again, then "lost" in a grove of paperbark trees, then "lost" in a grove of strawberry guava, then I suddenly came out of the woods in an abandoned parking lot! It was an old campground, long out of use. It was still in good repair really, and I could see on the GPS that I had made progress in getting closer to the right part of the stream to find the waterfall.

I headed towards the direction I expected to find a trail, if one existed. Down a grass road, around a water tank and then I found steps leading to a nice wide trail! The trail led to the stream and then went nicely upstream. Soon I passed an old dam and spillway and not long after that I spotted Lulumahu Falls! I made it!! When I headed back I discovered that this is a nice hike IF you know the trick. Its actually just off the Pali Hwy., around the Nuuanu water reservoir, through the camping area and up the trail. Now if someone would clue in the guy who writes the hiking book! On the way back as I was walking to the Jeep I went by a crew of Hawaiian highway workers. Six guys watching one guy dig a hole, guess its the same everywhere!