Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Hiking Oahu Bonanza (paca)

A couple weeks ago my mother forwarded me this link from CNN about hiking in Oahu. We've been on one or two hikes in the three years we've been here, but that's it. Her link got me inspired once again, and so I've now done three hikes from 2-4 hours in length in the last two weeks. The first was N's idea and it involved trekking up Makapu'u Point on the leeward side, in this case on the far eastern tip of Oahu. It's very arid over here and one can see many cacti. There are some really nice view as well, however.

Here are B and I all excited about our new exercise endeavor.

This is also a really popular whale watching spot. The humpbacks only winter in Hawaii, so there are none out here today, but we can come back in January and try again. This was also the first time I have been able to see another island in the distance. We think it is the island of Molokai.

Some decent views from the top, I think. This is looking up towards the windward side. The beach you can just see there, where the cliff wraps around is a popular body boarding site due to bigger waves. The beach is always covered in official Caution: Not Safe for Swimming signs, which everyone is ignoring. And then the little collection of buildings is Sea Life Park where they do dolphin shows. N and I have not been yet, because we're too cheap, but B has with his school.

I was stoked enough from this trip that a couple days later I went out on my own. This time I headed up Manoa Falls trail, which goes towards a 100 foot waterfall, then up the ridge on the 'aihualama Trail where it connects to Pauoa Flats trail for a nice overlook at the end. All of this is quite close to me. The full name of my U is University of Hawaii Manoa, named for the valley in Honolulu that it is located in. The Manoa falls are at the back of the valley. I think it's a little under a mile from the trail head to the falls.

As you can see here on the road towards the trailhead, it's a bit more humid. You have to switch out the sunscreen for the mosquito repellent.

A view of the Manoa stream. It's not always quite so benign. My first year here there were some torrential rains and the stream which flows behind the East-West center at the U jumped its banks and rerouted itself for a few hours through the biomedical building and the library. About a hundred million in damage with the biomed building still closed due to flood damage.

Ummmm, a flower.

And here we get to the falls. Someone did take a pic of me, but I'm covered in mud and sweat so you get to see the falls instead of me. There is a woman on the left hand side of the pic, which can help with scale. (Well, OK, this is supposed to have been flipped rightside up, but it's not. So just tilt your head to the left. All the pics that aren't vertical like this don't get the entire fall.)

The falls are the end of this trail and now it is up the valley wall to the summit. Manoa Falls trail is quite popular and relatively easy. N, B, and I did it a couple years ago and I carried B about 2/3rds of the way. But on the new trail, there are far less people. In fact, I only saw a single person the entire way up, which took close to an hour. Just to make me mad, he was trail running, while I was huffing and puffing my way up, a mere walker. The greatest mystery to me in trail running is how in the world a runner doesn't twist his or her ankle every second run. At the run club, it seems like someone falls down on the sidewalk each week (I've done it once), so I can't imagine leaping the continuous roots and boulders here.

There were two really nice bamboo forests along the way.

And closer to the top of the trail.

For almost the entire hour up the trail, it is so densely forested that there are no great views, but every once in a while, the trees will give a small break. Here you are looking over Manoa valley, Waikiki, and you can see Diamond Head Crater and the ocean in the far distance.

This trail in the middle of that bamboo forest connects to the Pauoa Flatts trail which is a main hiking thoroughfare. In one direction, you can connect up to another large system of trails. In the other, you get to the End. In fact, they have a nice little sign to let you know you are at the end.

But somehow, if you raise your head from the sign, I think most people will figure out they better stop walking here.

I keep saying that you can see both oceans from up here. What it really is is a view of Nuuanu valley and on one side, you can look over the Pali cliffs and out to the ocean on the windward side. On the other, you can see towards Pearl Harbor and the leeward side. Basically, you can see oceans on both north and south sides of the ocean. Such views do not come for free, and there is a reminder of that on a bench right at the top. It's a memorial to someone who gave a call to someone from the top of the ridge here, and then was found 4 days later dead at the bottom of a water fall. It's not clear if he fell on the trails I was doing by myself or if he had gotten far more adventurous. This is the end of the official trail, but there's a tiny little dirt path that starts at this lookout and starts going further up the mountains. Supposedly, if you take it and go far enough, you get to the two highest peaks of the Koolau Range, and the path up there is NOT wide.

That ended the big hike of that day. This morning I did a quick hour and a half walk through the Makiki Valley Loop. It's wet and mountainous like this, but is more cultural with tons of native Hawaiian plants and little signs and such. Still got my heart racing though. It's actually a set of three trails as well -- Kanealole, Makiki Valley, and Maunalaha. I didn't have my camera this time, so you can read about them at the links. I was actually looking for a trail that the whole family could go on, which I had read about in this area, but I ended up doing a forested ridge again that no jogging stroller can make.

Finally, I am supposed to be going this Wednesday morning with a classmate on another hike. We are going back to the desert-like eastern coast again, we think, and will try going to the top of Koko Crater. You can actually see it quite nicely from the first hike reported in this post. Here's the pic we took of Koko Crater on that hike.

Supposedly, there's a 1000 and some step staircase made of old railroad ties that goes to the top of Pu'u Mai. We will see on Wednesday.


December/Stacia said...

Wow, those are some stunning pictures. My husband would love to go to HI--these have convinced me a little bit too (I'm afraid to fly, so it's been rather out of the question.)

The stream looks like wallpaper I had once--one of those wallpaper murals, you know? :-) In my bedroom. I was cooool at 11.

bunnygirl said...

You live in a beautiful place, Paca! Thanks for sharing it with us!

Sammy Jankis said...

Man, I wish we had cool things like that to do in the outdoors. Tunica Hills is about it here in terms of scenery.

Emily B said...

Hiking mania!! Sounds like good fun :) I haven't been up the Manoa Falls trail yet but I did Koko Crater and limped for a week afterward ... it was well worth it, though.

Were there mangoes on the Manoa Falls hike? Someone told me there were lots of mangoes.

pacatrue said...

In reverse order:

Yo, Emily B. If you want to join Lisa and I some time, you would be most welcome. If there is a next time... Limping for a week, huh? And you are actually in good shape. Now I'm scared.

Sammy, I don't know Tunica Hills, but are there some places you could drive too fairly easily? I actually think that the cedars in Louisiana oxbow lakes and such are quite beautiful, but I don't know how easy they are to hike. You could try the Kisatchie National Forest! But that's 2-3 hours away, probably?

Bunnygirl, Thanks!

DecStac, if you ever do come out with the husband, give us a yell for dinner or at least for recommendations about where to go. As for flying, I completely understand. I am also afraid of flying and even took a cruise boat to Hawaii. About a year ago I had to fly to Montreal (which is some 13 hours or more with the time change), and almost didn't make it when a panic attack started on the plane before take-off. The key was re-enacting the scene from Airplane in which all the passengers beat up the freaking out lady. I felt nice and amused by that and was able to stay on. It is a long way though. You are clear on the other side of the world.

Julie said...

Did you find the railroad tie stairway? If so, can you give directions? I would love to do it. I have done a lot of the hikes on Oahu but not that one. Hope to hear the results.

pacatrue said...

Hi Julie.

Yes, I did find the koko head crater trail. In fact I did a whole nother post on the hike, which is here:

Unfortunately, I don't have the exact directions for you. You basically go to Hawaii Kai and turn left on Lunalillo Home Road. Then you turn right on a fairly major street (for a residential subdivision) pretty soon. Unfortunately, that's the name I can't quite remember. I am pretty sure there is a church of some sort on the mauka corner on the right there. The gas station by the shopping center might be across the street where this road is. Then you wander back in there until you see the district park. When you get to the park, you park near the end and then walk towards the crater.