Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kuaokala

This is my second time to organize a hike in meetup.com. And honestly, I think it went pretty well. The first half of the trail was well worth the long drive. The second half was just a dirt trail with nothing much to see. I forgot my camera so there are no pics, sorry.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Mo'ole-Makuku Trail

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by welikehike

There were three of us trailing the group after taking some pictures at the third waterfall. The return trip was a bit tricky and we were uncertain at times. We were always on the right track until I came to the end of the trail. I always thought we entered a hole in the fence, and not a gate. When I arrived at the gate, I told myself, "this is not it!" I retraced my step and found the other two hikers approaching. I led them off the trail and had them follow me towards the east hoping to find the trail that led to the 'hole in the fence'. Mosquitos were aggressive and our legs were heavily scratched by the low lying branches. It was quite an adventure! When the vegetation became too thick and there was no other place to go, I decided to hop the fence. All except one was able to climb over to the other side. The other person decided to return to the gate. As soon as I got over the other side of the fence, we then realized that there was no 'hole in the fence' and the gate was the actual exit, and it was unlocked! So all the trampling, the mosquito bites, and scratches were due to my stupidity!

I can't believe it, I was actually at the end, but decided to spend an extra 20 minutes of hiking off the trail. My hiking mates had mosquito bites and scratches all over their arms and legs. One was constantly cussing and the other had two big bites on her forehead. I felt bad so I decided to treat them to Boots-n-Kimos. I didn't have cash with me, so someone else treated, but I promised to pay her back. haha

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Aiea Ridge

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by welikehike

Aiea Ridge trail takes you to the summit of the Koolau mountain range and provides lofty views of both sides of the island. On a clear day, you can see the island's borders from the east to the west shores. What makes this trail stand out above the other Koolau trails is the view going to the summit. You can see layers of ridges running parallel to each other which is best viewed in the mid-afternoon. I consider this to be Hawaii's version of the Smokey Mountains.

I joined up with the meetup group at around 8am. There were about 19 attendees with a good balance of men and women. The trailhead is shared with the popular Aiea Loop trail which I did numerous times when I was a kid. We started off with the sweet scent of the eucalyptus tree in the morning and snacked on some strawberry guavas. After a mile of hiking the loop trail, we turned left up the narrow path to Aiea Ridge. Recent maintenance work on the trail was evident with the uluhe ferns set back to keep our legs scratch-free. It was the usual roller coaster ride to the summit with no junctions to confuse us. The group began to split apart with the slower ones in the back. Majority of the group ended the hike at the helipad. I intended to finish the entire hike despite the clouds. I was willing to do it alone even after several discouraging remarks. Some people thought I was crazy, I just wanted to finish what I've started. I proceeded forward. The trail got narrower, muddier, and overgrown. I saw traces of wild boar footprints which made me a bit paranoid after last week's incident. It began to drizzle and the chances of a view in the end got slimmer.

The steep climb to the large grassy clearing was difficult, and at the same time, exhilarating. I was just moments away from reaching the top and, if any, the views. When I finally arrived at the first clearing, I should have gotten a first glimpse of the windward side, but unfortunately, I was surrounded by thick clouds. A minute passed and a tower nearby surprisingly came into view. The clouds were slowly clearing away and as I turned around, the mountains, the shoreline, and the blue sky began to reveal itself. The thick blanket of clouds hovering at the mountain ridges were slowly driven away by the wind. Words do not do justice in explaining this occurrence, but I'm pretty sure Ansel Adams had moments like this. The clearing of the storm was a rare sight and it will definitely be one of my best hiking moments. What made it more special was the people who doubted me were the ones at a lost. I savored the moment and reaped the benefits of my hard work. However, as I continued my way to the summit, the clouds returned and it was back to white. I waited for a few minutes but it started to rain hard. I decided to call it a day and proceeded back down the ridge.

I picked up the pace hoping that I would make it before sunset. I only had a few hours before the wooded area would turn pitch black. I was bit worried for I didn't really study the trail thinking that I would return with the group. But it was just me alone in the woods and the freaky noise of the trees rubbing against each other. When I arrived at the end, the place did not look familiar at all. There was a chained gate and a neighborhood, not a park where I first started. I realized that I took a wrong turn somewhere in Aiea loop. I called my friend, Laarni, to pick me up since she lives down the street. She dropped me to my car which was about a mile away. It was a fun and awesome day!

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Puu Manamana (revisited)

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by welikehike

This hiked kicked my ass even more the second time around. I must be getting old, or maybe it's time for me to get back in shape. My legs are still sore as I type. This is the kind of hike that you would do once every five years. You think that going up is painful, well, going down is just as bad. And it's only 5 miles! I did 10 miles last week and I never complained. This hike, however, lives up to its reputation. It's undeniably difficult for the average person who may find himself feeling dizzy climbing up and struggling to keep his balance. Though it's hard to make a mistake on this hike, if it were to happen, it would prove to be less forgiving.

One of the best moments experienced in all the years of hiking was during my first visit to Puu Manamana when a flock of wild parrots were witnessed flying by above the ridge. The second visit, however, gave me the most funniest moment ever! It involves a big fat wild boar. As we were descending down the loop, a wild boar came into view by surprise. It was slow to react, perhaps due to old age, but it eventually ran away. A few seconds later, the boar came dashing towards us, and survival instincts kicked in with only a split second to react. I quickly turned around and started running for my life thinking that I might be able to outrun this beast. (Stupid! haha) I dove off the narrow trail just in time as the boar came charging through. As I turned around, I saw my friend Johnny and a few others mounted tightly to the tree. When danger has finally passed us by, we started laughing with great relief at what just happened. The spot was just a few feet before the narrow section of the descent. We, then, realized why the boar was forced to turn around.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Maunawili Demonstration Trail

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by welikehike

Yes! After eight years of archi-torture, I can finally say, "I'm done!" Today, I took my celebration to the mountains for I've been deprived of it for too long. A short hike wouldn't do justice for such an accomplishment, so I decided to take on the 10-mile Maunawili Demonstration Trail, starting from Waimanalo to Pali Lookout.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pu'upehe, Lanai

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by welikehike

As I arrived at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, my attention turned to a painting behind the front desk. I asked the receptionist about it and she handed me a pamphlet of what appears to be a hiking trail map. After checking into my room, I immediately changed into my hiking clothes and rushed towards the trail. I had to be somewhere in an hour, so I had to pick up the pace. It didn't take me long to arrive at the island's impressive landmark, a rock they call Pu'upehe Rock or 'the Sweetheart Rock'. The lighting couldn't have been any better for it was late in the afternoon, and the rock face prominently took presence in the landscape with its golden rich color.

Shipwreck Beach, Lanai

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by welikehike

The trail leading to Shipwreck Beach in Lanai was unlike any other trail. I arrived at my destination by means of a rented 4x4 Jeep Wrangler. This trail wasn't part of the plan, but I was left with no choice. The rental center warned me that the Munro Trail is inaccessible, and it's a $500 fine if I get stuck or caught in that trail. It was disheartening for it was always my intention to go there. I took the risk and disregarded their warning and thought I could do it without getting stuck. However, I started entertaining doubts after a mile into the rugged dirt trail. There were some steep and narrow sections, the bumps and dips were too much for me to handle for my first off-road experience. I turned around at a flat area along the trail and decided to head to Shipwreck Beach instead. The trail was much smoother, but rough enough to get me bouncing. I ripped through the dirt trail leaving a cloud of dust behind me. As I arrived at the beach, the jeep nearly got stuck as the tires dug deep into the sand. Luckily, I made it and I could already see the shipwreck, for which the beach was called, in the distance. Since my time was limited, I decided not to proceed any further and headed down south to check-in the Four Season Resort Lanai in Manele Bay.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Puu Ma'eli'eli

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by welikehike

Puu Ma'eli'eli sits atop a foothill separating the well-traveled Kahekili Highway and the coastal neighborhoods of Kamehameha Highway. I planned to do an afternoon hike, and since this trail was only 3 miles, I thought it was something that even my sick and-worn out body could handle. It was certainly a work-out especially for my hiking buddy who just had one hour of sleep the night before.

The trailhead wasn't so hard to find although there was no ribbon or sign to mark the beginning of the trail. Luckily, the articles I read from Island Trails and Associated Content provided me with sufficient information on how to arrive at the main trailhead. Parking is along Hui Iwa St, right across the Valley of the Temple in Kaneohe, you will also see McDonald's at the corner of the intersection. After you park your car, proceed down Hui Iwa St and turn left at Kahekili Hwy towards Kaneohe. Continue walking until you pass the last townhouse. Immediately turn left into the woods and find the trail. The trail should instantaneously get your heart beating fast as it will lead you quickly up the ridge. Be sure to make a left as soon as your reach the ridge and follow the main trail for about an hour or so. You'll encounter overgrown vegetation and low-hanging branches. The views are limited but you'll get some tree cover for most of the way. This trail is a mini roller coaster and there are a few junctions that may lead you to the wrong direction. Stay on the main trail and it will eventually lead you to a sign near the end. Do not turn back upon arriving at the sign, continue further for about a minute, and you'll arrive at your reward.

When people say that this trail provides panoramic and scenic views of Kaneohe Bay, it's certainly not an understatement. In fact, the bunker at the end of the trail is the best seat on the island to enjoy the lofty views of the windward side. This is an excellent beginner's hike if they don't mind itching after brushing their arms against the tall grass. Please be mindful that the trail sits on private property, which means by entering, you are trespassing.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Nualolo Cliff, Kauai

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by welikehike

Nu'alolo Cliff Trail...it is said to be the best day hike in Kauai, and perhaps, the best in the islands according to Stuart Ball, Jr.'s Hiking Guide to the Hawaiian Islands. The author combines Nu'alolo and Awa'awapuhi Trail resulting in a combined loop trail of 11.4 miles. After reading about it, I immediately started to entertain the thought of a spontaneous trip to Kauai. There were several factors that led me to this outrageous plan. First of all, I was overworked and stressed from last month's craziness at work, and I never felt that I fully rewarded myself for all the hard work. The last two hikes prior to this one was unsuccessful and incomplete due to unfortunate circumstances. My inactivity was starting to make me fat and unhealthy. And lastly, I was so bored and so depressed from being bored, I told myself, "the next hike has to be BIG!" And BIG, indeed, was the next adventure in a place outside of our island borders - KAUAI. I called a few of my hiking buddies, and surprisingly, four responded promptly.

Saturday, June 13...we were all present at 4:20 in the morning as we waited anxiously in the airport lobby for the first flight out to Kauai. We were still in shock and marveled at the fact that we were doing a day hike in another island with only two-days notice. When the moment arrived, as we were lifted in the air, we got a glimpse of the early morning sunrise above the clouds, it reminded me of a familiar scene atop the summit of Haleakala.

After hopping into our rental car and driving through the winding road in Waimea Valley, we arrived at our destination, Kokee State Park, at 7:30am. Just seconds into the hike, we already got lost and had to turn back. We missed the switchbacks to the left, but we definitely made up for lost seconds as we ripped through the descending trail in military pace. There was really nothing to see as we persistently pushed our way to the first lookout. However, excitement ignited as we were provided with small windows of views of the majestic pali cliffs. When the canopies of trees cleared and the views were finally revealed, we embraced the reward of nature's beauty at its grandest scale. Words cannot explain it, but I'll say this..."only a hiker knows the feeling."

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Laie Falls

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by welikehike

Good times with good company!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Puu Hapapa

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by welikehike

This is my first hike with Oahu Hikers and Adventurers from Meetup.com and my first time to organize an event. I learned that the moment you want things to be perfect is the moment when everything goes wrong. First of all, none of our military friends who said they were coming showed up, and we had no way to get in the base without them. We were beginning to search for alternative plans. Luckily, a late comer from the air force arrived 30 minutes after the scheduled meeting time and he was willing to take half of the group to the trailhead. Just when we were about to leave, the eldest member of the group forgot his ID in his car, so he had to run back to get it. He pulled his knee in the process. He made a last minute decision to back out.

When we got to Foote's gate in Schofield Barracks, everything went smoothly and each passenger didn't have to show their ID after all. As we arrived at our destination, Laarni's car overheated and it sounded like she busted her water pump. Her concern for the return trip was postponed as we started hiking through the woods. The trail started off with a steep climb on muddy terrain. I would see families along the way, with the father carrying their infant child on the shoulders which I think is really stupid. One slip, one fall can end it all! Several minutes into the trail, the group nearly passed the legendary stone unnoticed. I brought them to a halt and had them look at the sacrificial stone that bore unusual carved forms.

After reaching the second fork as mentioned in the Stuart Ball book, we bore right with some hesitation. The book said we should be going downhill, but it was an uphill trail that soon ended with a lookout to the correct trail in the distance. We retraced our steps back to the fork and decided to disregard the book's directions. We took the left trail which led us to a meadow that provided us with the first breathtaking views of the majestic Waianae Mountain Range and views of West and Central Oahu. The sheer face of Puu Hapapa reminded Will of Pali Lookout but it was much grander in size. We actually spotted a group of hikers traversing the ridge, and from that moment, I was convinced that I would pay another visit and take on that route myself.

After enjoying the views, we continued on and enjoyed the protection of the eucalyptus trees towering high above us. Everyone ripped through the shaded trail with ease but we did come across a few eroded sections with loose gravel. As we turned right towards the ridge, the group began to split up as the slower half began to trail further behind. I had a difficult time myself, but luckily, I wasn't the only one. I admit that I used the slowest person as an excuse to catch my breath. When we got to the ridge, the nature of the trail reminded me of Puu Kalena, but not as impressively dangerous. At the summit of Puu Hapapa, we could see Puu Kanehoa in the distance. We intended to continue on to the next peak, but were impeded by the newly installed fence and overgrown vegetation. We had to cut our trip short due to this unfortunate circumstance, and it left me with the same empty feeling I get whenever I don't complete a hike. On our return, as we reached the meadows, we realized that one person was missing. Laarni along with two other guys decided to go back and find him. Luckily, the missing person was found, and we all went home safely.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Scramble Hills

"I got lost!"

We intended to see Laie Falls today, but for the first time in my three years of hiking, we actually got lost and missed out on the reward of an idyllic waterfall in the end. The waterfall must've been nice with heavy rains the night before. The sad thing is that we took the wrong turn 5 minutes into the trail. We kept on going and going for hours oblivious to the fact that we were on the wrong track. The hike was more challenging than expected. Our sources say that it would be a safe and easy hike. It didn't feel so as I found myself scrambling at some steep sections. It was then that I began to question whether we were on the right trail. The funny things is, we had the Stuart Ball book, an authoritative source for our navigation, and the route description written in the book closely matched the wrong trail we were in. It mentioned the lofty overlook back to Laie town, Cook pine trees, the grove of strawberry guava trees, and uluhe ferns in the same sequential order. The book also directed us to turn right as soon as we reached the uluhe ferns, and coincidently, at the first sight of uluhe ferns, there was a side trail leading steeply down to Kahawainui Stream. As we descended down the steep dirt trail, excitement grew with the increasing volume of rushing water. However, when we arrived at the bottom, there was no waterfall in sight. We decided to move forward hoping the waterfall was just a few yards away. But after several stream crossings, rock hopping, slips and dips, we began to entertain doubts and questioned, 'how much further?' After feeling some negative vibes among the company of hikers and the sight of the treacherous journey ahead, we decided to turn back with dismay. I didn't want to give up, I actually wanted to continue on the ridge and find the correct side trail, but time restricted us from doing so. With our heads down and our pride shaken, we headed back for the return trip.

It wasn't until we were in the car, as I was reading the Stuart book carefully, I discovered where we made the wrong turn. At the first fork after the Laie Falls trailhead, we bore right rather than left. The path on the right lead to an open dirt area, as mentioned in the book, and it eventually led to Scramble Hills trail. By its name, now I know why I was huffin' and puffin' earlier. The next time I do a trail, I will be more prepared and mindful, and never rely on the 'blind to lead the blind'.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Konahuanui

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by welikehike

On the fourth of April, we aimed to set foot on the summit of Konahuanui, the highest point in the Ko'olau Mountain Range. The name "Konahuanui" roughly translates to "large testicles" in English. According to a Hawaiian legend, a giant threw his testicles at a woman fleeing from him.

The weather forecast warned us of rain, but this did not sway our determination to conquer Koolau's highest obstacle. We met knew friends, and good rapport and comraderie were quickly established. We started at Kalawahine trail which led us to Pauoa Flats. The first half was fairly easy and quick with its relative flatness. It was a good introduction to an assortment of native forest plants including some endangered native snails. We passed some ferns growing on the rock face along the trail. It was a sight reminiscent of the Fern Grotto in Maui.

After reaching the Nuuanu lookout, or the end of Pauoa Trail, we prepared ourselves for the real hike ahead. Our destination was blanketed by heavy clouds and I imagined a confucianist monk sitting at the top with answers to life's biggest questions. It was windy at some sections as we traversed along the steep mountain face. It rained momentarily and left a nice rainbow in the distance above Nuuanu Valley. The air was thin, wet, and cold; cold enough to take out my poncho in my backpack and wear it. There were eroded sections that required careful and sure footing. And steep sections that required nerves of steel. Luckily, ropes were available to aid us in the steep and slippery climb. Since it rained consistently the nights before, there were mud puddles as anticipated, and we later gave up trying to keep our shoes free from the mud. My confidence was re-tested after not hiking for some time. I hesitated with uncertainty and with the fear of slipping and falling. At a plateau high above, we were surprised to have reached the first of the two summits marked by a benchmark. The views were disappointing as it was thickly obstructed by the white clouds around us. But the idea of reaching the top, our destination, the highest point along the Ko'olaus, has made the journey worthwhile.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Waimano Pools

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by welikehike

I've been to Waimano Pools too many times, but witnessing others experiencing it for the first time and claiming that it is the most fun they had in years has made this reoccurring trip a memorable one.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ka'au Crater

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by welikehike

The New Year's Day hike was the perfect way to kick off the new year. I consider this to be the ultimate trail for waterfalls.