Saturday, April 25, 2009

Laie Falls

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Good times with good company!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Puu Hapapa

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This is my first hike with Oahu Hikers and Adventurers from 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.


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


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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.