Kahana to Wahiawa - October 8, 2011

Hike long enough on Oahu and you begin to notice that the island is small.  It also becomes obvious that you can hike trails -- or blaze your own -- and find yourself in another town on the other side of either the Ko'olau mountain range or the Waianae mountain range.  And if you plan accordingly, a lot of those "over the mountain" treks can actually be done in a day.

In my pre-hiking days, if someone told me, "Yeah, you can walk over that mountain range to your house in a day," I wouldn't believe it.  Take Kahana Valley to Wahiawa for example?  I'd think, "Yeah, right!"  "How is that possible?"  "Who in their right mind would do that?"  Well, a bunch of my friends and I did it for my birthday, and it was long, wet, muddy, and cold as fuck.

Hiking with me was Kelven Del Rosario, Johhny Martin, Daniel Napoleon, Lei Yamasaki, and Ryan Chang.  We started around 8am in Kahana Valley, a massive valley situated on the northeastern side of Oahu.  From Kahana, we ascended the recently cleared Pauao Ridge trail to the Ko'olau summit.  From there we hiked southeast along a short, beautiful stretch along the KST to the Schofield-Waikane trail.  Upon reaching the Schofield-Waikane trail, we descended it all the way to California Avenue to Wahiawa Heights.  A half-mile walk down California Avenue, and we ended at my house.

The day started off perfect for hiking: clouds were high, the tradewinds were blowing, and an intermittent drizzle would cool us down.  It was whole different story along the KST and down Schofield-Waikane.  The KST jaunt had its fair share of no-rain moments, but the majority of it was spent in clouds and being pelted by heavy downpours, especially coming down the Schofield-Waikane trail.  Almost the entire time coming down Schofield-Waikane, we were getting pummeled by endless amounts of rain to the point where we just took off our shirts -- not Lei -- and jetted down the trail to keep our body heat in check.  A little after 7:00pm, we were at the water towers at the top of California Avenue.  From there we walked to my house and finished around 7:30pm.  Drove Kelven's car all the way back to Kahana to drop Lei, Ryan, and Johhny off at their cars; arrived in Kahana a tad before 9pm.  Long day, but well worth it.

To see previous write-ups, pictures, and videos of the trails mentioned in this blog post, check out the following links:
Pauao Ridge - October 18th, 2008
Schofield-Waikane Trail - July 5th, 2009
Pauao Ridge (Trail Clearing) - July 10th, 2011
Poamoho to Wahiawa - July 24th, 2011

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: L. Yamasaki

Looking toward Punalu'u Valley.  The prominent peak near the middle of the photo is Pu'u Piei.

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: L. Yamasaki

photo: D. Napoleon

View of Kahana Valley and its bay through the bushes.  (photo: D. Napoleon)

photo: D. Napoleon

Heading toward the Schofield-Waikane trail along the KST.  (photo: D. Napoleon)

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: L. Yamasaki

photo: L. Yamasaki

photo: D. Napoleon

Finally at the road and Schofield-Waikane trailhead.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

Walking down California Avenue.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)


Missile Flats (Kaukonahua) - September 18, 2011

Big mahalos to Jason Nakasato and Shannon Shimata for giving me directions to this jump spot.  And also thanks to Melissa Hernandez and Tony Mercado for identifying it.  I've lived in Wahiawa for the majority of my life, and I had no idea this existed.

Located in upper Wahiawa, there's a 35-foot jump spot into Kaukonahua Stream known as Missle Flats.  The trail is easy, short (about two miles round trip), and offers a great workout, but it can get you lost fast.  The trails above Wahiawa are endless, with numerous junctions and side trails.  If you don't know where you're going, you can get really disoriented.  Tall trees and a vast undeveloped landscape will make a dummy out of someone who is not familiar with the area.  Directions to this spot are even more confusing to put on paper, or on the internet for that matter.  So, if you're looking for directions here, I can't help you.  My directions will make no sense, and it probably won't be correct.  I know how to get there if I'm actually hiking there.  Sorry.

On this outing, we were greeted to a raging stream, all due to the constant rains a couple days prior.  The water was brown as brown could get, but we jumped in anyway.  (Can you say "lepto?")  Kinda gross, but we had a blast.  Definitely gonna come back when the water level drops a bit and the stream color gets back to normal.  A portion of this hike uses the Wahiawa Hills trail.

For more info on the Wahiawa Hills trail, check out the following links:
Wahiawa Hills - April 25, 2009
Wahiawa Hills - August 20, 2010

photo: D. Napoleon

photo: D. Napoleon

Kaukonahua Stream.  As brown as it gets.  (photo: D. Napoleon)

photo: D. Napoleon

Ryan Chang, taking the leap.  (photo: D. Napoleon)

View of Ryan jumping from the water.


Piliwale to Lulumahu - September 10, 2011

Last time I did Piliwale, I fell off.  The trail leading to the notch was overgrown then, and beyond the notch there were very little ropes affixed for assistance.  There were also a ton of bees that set up camp along the southeastern side of the ridge which weren't very happy of us being there.  To make a long story short, the bees attacked and won, forcing me to fall head first off the ridge, with a scar left on my head as a reminder to never do it again.  Yeah, well, actions speak louder than words.

Fast forward to 2011 and I found myself back on the ridge that almost took my life.  Only this time the trail and ridge was way different from how I remembered it.  The trail leading to the notch was pretty well paved, there's a contour section around a rock face just before the notch that I had no idea existed the last time I did it, and the ridge is littered with rope, some of which is not even needed, but that's besides the point.  The point is I finally got to complete it.  Joining me was Lei Yamasaki, Ryan Chang, and Daniel Napoleon.  Daniel was with me on the last attempt, and he, too, fell off, tweaking some back muscles and getting some awesome muscle relaxers as a plus.  But now, since completing Piliwale, I've come to realize that it really isn't that bad.  It just climbs, climbs, and climbs constantly to get the top of the highest peak in the Ko'olau mountain range, Konahuanui (K1).  Don't get me wrong, though.  Piliwale is not for beginners.  The ridge is narrow, crumbly, and very steep, with large drops on either side of the ridge.  One for the books, I must say.  Because we didn't only do Piliwale: we descended Lulumahu Ridge on the other side, too.  No bees this time either.  Hallelujah.

Lulumahu Ridge is a little-used ridge jutting south from Konahuanui (K1) to Nu'uanu Valley.  Near the summit of K1, the trail is very obvious, then disappears as the elevation decreases.  And when I mean "disappears", I mean that there is no trail at all until a large saddle in the ridge is reached.  The upper portions of Lulumahu Ridge are loaded with native Hawaiian plants that are only found on Oahu and nowhere else in the world.  Had we had known this before the hike, we wouldn't have descended it.

After the saddle, the trail was still partially overgrown but in way better shape.  We reached an old rope at a steep section (Dayle Turner?) that aided our descent to a spot on the ridge that indicated we were almost finished.  Following the ridge further, our hopes that it's direct route would eventually bottom out somewhere in Nu'uanau Valley was botched.  We encountered an insanely overgrown section where the ridge dropped off into oblivion.  Ryan was the guinea pig, tying a rope to a tree, and then jumped down into the "oblivion," only to disappear in the thick uluhe brush.  After a short scare, Ryan called out that he was okay, so we then backtracked, brainstorming other options as to how we were going to get down into Nu'uanu without another mishap.

Two ridge spurs to the west were obvious escape routes.  One was higher up, which meant we had to go back upridge to the steep rope section.  That option seemed pointless considering that we were at the apex of another side ridge that was broad but looked to be choked with vegetation.  We opted to descend it, with Daniel leading the way.  Lower and lower we went, eventually hitting a wide swath marked with pink ribbons.  It was the recent work of Josh Serrano, who has been clearing Lulumahu Ridge from the bottom-up.  Relieved, we pushed on, following Josh's ribbons all the way to Lulumanu Stream.  Exhausted and hot, we headed toward Lulumahu Falls to cool off.  After a quick rinse, we headed out the stream trail towards the Nu'uanu Reservoir and out onto the Pali Highway.  Waiting for us was Keahi Ka'a'awa with drinks and food.  It was an awesome day hike: all nine-and-a-half hours of it.

To see my previous hikes up Piliwale Ridge, check out the following links:
Piliwale Ridge (Trail Scout) - May 8, 2009
Piliwale Ridge - October 10, 2009

 photo: D. Napoleon


 photo: D. Napoleon

 Looking toward the Konahuanui Windward route.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

 Descending Lulumahu Ridge looking toward K2.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

 photo: L. Yamasaki

 Cyanea koolauensis.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

 Looking back toward Konahuanui.

 (photo: L. Yamasaki)


Waimanu - August 19-21 2011

It's been over a month since I backpacked to Waimanu Valley. Since then, I've been back home on Oahu, working, sitting in traffic, and getting in the usual day hike every weekend; familiar views, familiar terrain: beautiful in its own right by Oahu standards, but compared to the Big Island, everything I've done doesn't come close to Waimanu. Waimanu is surreal in every sense of the word. It is wild, alive, and it affirms every breathtaking expectation you have before you get there, multiplied by a hundred when you arrive. The smell of salt air, the howling tradewinds, the rushing streams, the dark grains of sand: Waimanu is definitely an out of this world paradise. From fishing, to day hiking explorations in the valley, to bodysurfing, or just laying back at camp or on the black sand beach: Waimanu Valley has it all. I once heard a phrase that claims "experience frees the mind." The Waimanu experience frees the soul.

Waimanu Valley is located in the Hamakua district on the Big Island of Hawaii. The valley is lush and filled with water that flows from the upper reaches of the Kohala Mountains, resulting in tall and spectacular waterfalls deep within the valley. The rain water flows into Waimanu Stream and empties into the ocean. The majority of the valley is a large wetland, with only a narrow strip of walkable terrain existing at the base of the northern valley wall. During the times of ancient Hawaii, Waimanu Valley was an ahupua'a (ancient land division) and was once inhabited by native Hawaiians.

Today, no one lives in Waimanu, but camping is allowed with a permit that can be obtained by the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Waimanu can be accesed by boat or by foot along the Muliwai Trail from Waipio Valley. The Muliwai Trail is an eight mile contour trail that weaves in and out of thirteen gulches between Waipio Valley and Waimanu Valley. The start of the Muliwai Trail is located on the northwestern end of Waipio Valley. The trail steeply ascends on switchbacks, topping out on the northwestern wall of Waipio where the trail starts meandering through lush gulches and fast flowing streams. The trail is mostly shaded with much of the views obscured. After the tenth gulch, there is a large hunter's shelter that can be used as a camp site if needed. From the shelter, you walk in and out of three more gulches and finally see the first view of Waimanu Valley. The trail then descends steeply along the southeastern wall of Waimanu Valley to Waimanu Stream, which has to be crossed and is the last obstacle to negotiate before setting up camp.

The Waimanu campsites are meticulously set up and numbered from one to nine near the bay's coastline. Campsite #1 is nearest to Waimanu Stream on the southeastern side of the bay. Campsite #9 is at the northwestern end. Campsite #2 is the largest campsite and can perfectly accommodate a large group and has an unobstructed view of the valley. Because of its luxuries, Campsite #2 is the most popular and is often used by "squatters" -- those without permits. For first time visitors, I'd recommend Campsite #2. For those who are visiting Waimanu for a second time or more, Campsite #9 would be the camp of choice, especially with a group of two to five people. It is closer to Keawewai Springs (the water source), and it conveniently sits right near the section of beach that is the preferred spot to swim.

So what is there to do in Waimanu? Plenty. Doing a day hike in the valley can bring you to four waterfalls: Wai'ilikahi, Kaka'auki, Lahomene, and Waihilau. Wai'ilikahi Falls, a multi-tiered waterfall with a combined height over 1,000 feet, is frequented the most. At the base of the falls is a large, deep pool, perfect for swimming. The trail to Wai'ilikahi is pretty straightforward, and relatively easy to follow. Ribbons mark the way. A bit of trailblazing is required to reach the seldom visited falls deeper in the valley. If you're hungry, either side of Waimanu Bay -- Laupahoehoeiki and Laupahoehoenui -- is great for fishing and picking opihi. The valley has a lot of food options as well, from guava, mountain apples, and even prawns, to name a few. And if you're into riding empty waves with not a single soul around, there are nice surf breaks along the entire stretch of sandbar and along the rocky Laupahoehoenui coastline.

I was very fortunate to experience Waimanu with great company. Aside from my usual hiking pals tagging along -- Ryan Chang, Lei Yamasaki, and Brian Bautista -- I also invited several avid hikers from Oahu known as the Lost Trailblazers -- Reanne Solomon, Justin Ugalino, David Chatsuthiphan, and Cory Yap. We shared stories of our past hiking adventures and future hiking adventures, we shared food we caught from the ocean and the valley, and we shared some hard liquor all around our toasty campfire. Cory Yap runs the AlohaFrom808.com website; David is the owner of UnrealHawaii.com. Both are extremely talented photographers with top of the line camera equipment. If you haven't seen their websites yet, you have to check those out. The pictures they shot from our Waimanu trip are mind blowing.

To get more information on how you can get to Waimanu Valley, check out the following link:
Waimanu Campsite -- Division of Forestry and Wildlife

For more pictures and even more information about Waimanu, check out the following links:

Unreal Hawaii by David Chatsuthiphan
Installment #1
Installment #2
Installment #3
Installment #4

Aloha From 808 by Cory Yap
Installment #1
Installment #2

Wailoa Stream in Waipio Valley.  The first stream that has to be crossed on the way to Waimanu.

Crossing Wailoa Stream.

Walking near the Waipio Bay coastline to the start of the Muliwai Trail.

photo: B. Bautista

Waipio Valley.  (photo: B. Bautista)

The first view of Waimanu.  (photo: B. Bautista)

Descending into Waimanu, looking toward Wai'ilikahi Falls.  (photo: B. Bautista)

Crossing Waimanu Stream.

Starting the fire.

Settled in a Campsite #2.

Looking toward the Laupahoehoenui coastline.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

Looking toward the Laupahoehoeiki coastline.  (photo: B. Bautista)

Brian, taking it all in.

Pre-packed harami steak that the Lost Trailblazers brought in.

Fresh prawns and ophi.

Night crawlers.

Waimanu Valley in the morning.

Fun looking wave breaking right in front of Campsite #7.

Panorama of Waimanu Bay.

Wai'ilikahi Falls.

Group shot at lower Kaka'auki Falls.  (photo: L. Yamasaki)

Kaka'auki Falls.  (photo: J. Ugalino)

Exploring down the Laupahoehoenui coastline.

Found a perfect, empty wave far along the Laupahoehoe coastline.  Surfer's dream.

Using a raft to get our packs across Waimanu Stream.  (photo: B. Baustista)

photo: L. Yamasaki

Our last look at Waimanu Valley and its spectacular waterfalls.  (photo: B. Bautista)

The hunter's shelter.  (photo: B. Bautista)

Back at Waipio.

Video by David Chatsuthiphan (UnrealHawaii.com)

Video by Ryan Chang (http://2-bupaina.blogspot.com/)

Video by Justin Ugalino