Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hawaii Loa (revisited)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Puu Manamana (revisited)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010


The original plan was to do a 3-day hike at Haleakala Crater, but we waited and waited until the airfare was ridiculously high. Luckily it didn't happen because I was schooled at our home turf with this two-day hike at Manana Trail. I've done this 12-mile trail last year as a day hike and it kicked my butt the first time. Now with a heavier load on my back, what gave me the idea that I was gonna conquer this trail with ease? What was I thinking? I guess the last 2-day hike at Waimano Ridge gave me some confidence as we blazed through the trail at a decent pace. Manana has some merciless roller coaster hills which requires careful footing most of the way. I found it physically difficult to counteract the weight of my backpack as I try to keep balance on a scarcely leveled trail. What killed me were those inclines that tested my quads at every vertical step. And, what made matters worse was the fact that it was pouring rain at the most critical sections of the trail.

Our goal was Puu Eleao and we intended on camping on the grassy meadow at its summit. But darkness beat us to it. We settled at a nearby clearing at the end of Manana trail. The existing clearing was about half the size of a parking stall. We made it three times bigger as we stomped on the neighboring weeds. We nestled in our tents after dinner as it poured hard three times during that night. Yes, three times it rained. I know because I could not sleep. My tent failed as water seeped from the top and bottom. My blanket was soaked and I laid there all damp and cold. I waited to fall asleep, but the day beat me to it. After creeping out of my tent, the surroundings were dominated with complete whiteness. This wasn't good because we knew we wouldn't catch the sunrise as we hoped for. There was a small window of clearing for about 5 minutes, then the clouds came rolling in again. We decided to wait a bit longer before heading back to civilization. We, the five of us, decided to play scrabble in a 2-person junior size tent. Boy, it was uncomfortable! I was worried about two things: cramping and farting. At mid-morning, we packed up our things, and with a dreadful sigh, I slipped into my damped socks and muddy shoes for our return trip.

View looking back towards leeward side of Oahu at sunset
A more dramatic view of the Koolau mountains at sunet

North view of windward side of Oahu

Koolau mountain summit

Sunday, August 22, 2010


This trail combines Kanealole, Makiki Valley, Nahuina, Kalawahine, Pauoa Flats, Manoa Cliff, Moleka, and finally, Maunalaha trail for a total of 8.5 miles.  It was my first time hiking alone, but I wasn't worried for I had my garminfone and I knew I was going to run into several hikers along the way.  I met a couple from Switzerland at the Nuuanu Lookout, a dad and daughter along Manoa Cliffs, and a young couple at the end of the trail.  The last couple carried their backpacks in training for an upcoming 3-day hike at Haleakala.  I may run into them since we were planning on hiking it on the same 3-day weekend.

I love this trail for several reasons.  One, the trailhead is one of the best in the islands with clean toilet rooms, informative maps, and a water catchment system for cleaning your muddy shoes.  Second, there are always friendly people on the trail to be there "just in case", mostly elderly Koreans.  And lastly, it's just 15 minutes from work or home.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kanealole-Maunalaha (revisited)

I hate toads!  Remind me to never hike late in the afternoon.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Puu Piei (revisited)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Wahiawa Hills

by welikehike

We underestimated the intricacy of this loop trail located in the foothills of Wahiawa.  Since it was a 5-mile hike with just 1,300 feet elevation gain, I decided not to bring any food and anticipated finishing this trail shortly after noon.  My companions brought some snacks and two did not have any water.  Though the Stuart Ball's book attempted to give clear directions to the trail, we came across numerous junctions that were not identified in the book, and ribbons were visible on both directions of the trail.  We were forced to make decisions that could either lead us to the right trail or off the trail.  We definitely made some wrong choices as we waded through the Kuakonahui Stream for six hours and came back to paved roads and street lights after scrambling in darkness with no trail to guide us but our headlamps.

From the start of the hike, we were already confused as we walked through a clearing in a paperbark grove. We hiked along the edge of the main ridge and overlooked a junction that would lead us to a steep descent on the left side of the ridge.  We had to duck under and climb over numerous fallen trees which made the trail a bit obscure.  Later, we found ourselves doing the trail in reverse as we noticed an abandoned irrigation ditch which was suppose to appear in the return trip.  We had the opportunity to turn back and retrace our steps but we decided to attempt the trail in reverse.  We descended down a gully with a small stream and shortly climbed up a steep hill.  At the top, we arrived at a junction that left us clueless of where to go.  We decided to go right and the trail eventually led us to more hills to climb.  We continued working our way up the ascending trail, and as tiring as it was, it did not stop me from noticing the delightful blend of native and introduced plants and trees.  Uluhe ferns dominated the ground and the eucalyptus trees towered above us.

We later made our steep descent down to Kuakonahui Stream where there are pools of darker blue perfect for cooling off and swimming.  We took a quick dip in the pool and encountered what appeared to be a flesh-eating fish but it was just a lonesome seabass with no fear of human presence.  It lingered near us and it had a mouth wide enough to swallow my big toe.  We ate our afternoon snack near the pool and knew nothing of what would happen to us later that day.  After we were cooled off and well rested, we were ready to tackle the next steep hill ahead.  Well, I thought I was ready up until we reached mid-point.  I began to lose strength quickly as this hill was kicking my ass.  All the heat and exhaustion came back to me within minutes of merciless climbing.  Once we reached the ridge, there was more gradual climbing to do and we continued forward with the music of my pounding heart and heavy breathing.

We were brought to a stop by another junction that was not identified in the book.  There were two choices with pink ribbons on both trails.  We decided to take the left trail which eventually led us down the same creek.  We arrived at another stream crossing and another hill to climb.  We were on the ridge again as we walked between two streams below us.  The trail started to descend and we were in the stream once more.  We took another dip in the pool.  This would be the last time we all took pleasure of being in the water because for the next 6 hours, we were following pink ribbons while wading in the stream.  Sometimes, the water level would be up to our chins, and for some of us, we had to tip-toe our way across the deep sections of the stream.  It seemed to be an endless journey in the stream for all of us and we were eagerly yearning for a way out.  False hope arrived when we saw pink ribbons leading uphill.  When the trail shortly turned downwards just around the bend, excitement turned into despair as we stepped back into the stream we so dread.  It was getting late in the afternoon and we decided to a take a narrow trail leading up the hill.  The trail disappeared and we were forced to trample over uluhe ferns to eagerly get to the top.  We found nothing but green and forest, no sign of civilization nearby.  We headed back down to the stream after getting heavily scratched by the ferns.  We were back on the pink ribbon trail, and back in the water.  Time was not waiting for us as the sky was getting darker and our spirits were getting more desperate.  Surprisingly, no one complained and some of us entertained the idea of camping overnight.  As we reached the hour of the setting sun, someone discovered through his cell phone that we were located in a creek between two neighborhoods.  Civilization was just one or two football fields away.  We decided to leave the pink ribbon trail and head upwards in the dark.  There was no trail to follow, we made our trail with our headlamps to guide our way.  After 30 minutes of scrambling up the hill, we heard a shout of relief from the front man as he spotted a chain link fence.  As we climbed over the fence, we found out that were in a highly secured naval base, NCTAMS.  Getting stopped by security guards was the least of our worries, we were just so happy to finally be out of "no man's land".  The walking was not over for our cars were miles away from where we were at.  We walked about a mile to get to gas station in Whitmore Village and we got picked up by a taxi driver who could not believe our story.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nualolo Cliff, Kauai (revisited)

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by welikehike

If you're gonna do a loop trail for the second time, do it in reverse!  That's what I did at Nualolo Cliff trail in Kauai, one of the best day hikes in Hawaii.  It felt like I was hiking it for the first time and the lighting was so much better with the reverse route.  The sky was clear, no rain and wet terrain to worry about, but it was hot hot hot.  Traversing up the steep hills was truly a test, and luckily, I didn't suffer from cramps this time around.  It's too bad we didn't find anyone to transport us to the trailhead.  We had to walk the extra mile on asphalt pavement.  After the hike, we drove up to Kalalau Lookout and Waimea Canyon Lookout and got me some money shots.

 View along Nualolo Cliff (photo by F. Langit)

View at end of Nualolo Trail (photo by F. Langit)

 Waimea Canyon Lookout (photo by F. Langit)

Kalalau Valley Lookout (photo by F. Langit)

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Oneawa Hills

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by welikehike

I thought this trail was going to be an easy 4-mile walk in the park, but with the sun beating hard on us, I found my hydration pack running low on water.  The trail started at the historical Friendship Garden along Kokokahi Place in the windward side of Oahu.  It follows the stone steps built before my time and eventually leads to a switchback section with various plants along the side.  It immediately takes you up to the ridge on several steep sections involving some light rope climbing.  The views at the top were beautiful with scattered clouds in the sky.  But beauty came at a cost for it was hot as hell without the expected overcast.  As we got to the ridge, it became a roller coaster ride from then on, I think there were about three to four dips along the ridge.  Along the way were views of the hidden Kapaa quarry, a sight rarely seen by many residents and tourists.  Even though it was an industrial area, the calm turquoise water looked so inviting.  As we made our climb to the final hilltop, there were some narrow sections which contributed to the enjoyment of this intermediate trail.  From the top, we made our steep descent on the right side of the ridge to check out Kaw'ewa'e heiau nestled at the base of the hill.  The second part of the trail loop was a bit cooler with shade from the tree canopies above.  But as soon as we began scrambling back up the hill, we got tortured by the heat once again.  The last downhill stretch was a cinch and the faster half of the group glided their way through.

Saturday, May 8, 2010


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by welikehike

In a previous hike, we went to Laie Falls, but today our target was to finish the trail up to the summit.  The trail portion from the start to the falls was pretty decent, but beyond that was very muddy with no impressive views.  At the end, we were able to see both sides of the island (Central Oahu and Laie); however, the mountain ridges were not as majestic as the ridges in Kaneohe.  Small hills dominated the landscape and I wasn't able to get any money shots today with my camera.  We did explore further beyond the first waterfall and found about four other falls.  The third waterfall was actually higher than the first.  And, we had to climb down a near vertical cliff with the help of a rope to get to the base of the third waterfall.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


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by welikehike

I’ve done this trail up to the waterfall several times before, but the goal this time around was to complete the entire trail up to the closed parking lot along Likelike Highway. The trail name is often mistaken for ‘Likelike’ but it is ‘Likeke’, named after Richard “Dick” Davis, the legendary “mountain goat” who built the trail with the help of others. We labeled it the ‘Tunnel to Tunnel’ hike since it started near the Pali tunnel and ended at the Wilson Tunnel.

This trail can be a bit confusing without the help of an experienced guide or guide book. But even with Ball’s book, there are some junctions that left us guessing. The best advice we got for this hike is to follow the main trail that runs parallel to the base of the Ko’olau mountains. Avoid any side trails that may lead you to the mauka or makai direction. There is a junction that is worth mentioning in this blog and it was not clarified in the book. When we arrived at this point near the end of the trail, we had to make a choice between taking a graded trail to the left or a descending trail to the right. We decided to go right. After 15 minutes of hiking and getting bit by mosquitos, we found ourselves going down towards the direction of Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens. Even though there were many ribbons, our instincts told us we were going the wrong way. Luckily, we followed our instincts. We retraced our steps and took the trail on the left. After only a few minutes, we arrived at the closed parking lot near the Wilson Tunnel. Right before we got to the asphalt surface of the abandoned lot, it was disheartening to see the disgusting sight of beer bottles a few feet away. They were all over the place and we couldn’t avoid stepping on them. This was the downside of the trail, to come so far and to see a total mess at the end.

But other than that, the trail offered some scenic views that made our efforts worthwhile. My favorite spot was the lookout where you can sit on a man-made bench constructed of branches from the strawberry guava tree. You can see most of Kaneohe Bay and behind is the beautiful Ko’olau Mountains. Deep in the trail, we were surrounded by native Hawaiian plants and we were fortunate to see some waterfalls flowing down the sheer cliffs. It was an extremely hot and muggy day. There were certain spots that felt like we were walking through a sauna. It was uncomfortable, but some of us took pleasure in the idea of this cleansing process, it felt like we were sweating out all the toxins from our body.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Ma'akua Gulch

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by welikehike

Plans of hiking Ma'akua Gulch has been lingering for some time, but doubts have hindered any previous attempts. It is said to be more dangerous than the neighboring Sacred Falls that killed eight people and injured fifty others due to a landslide in May 1999. The potential of getting caught in an inescapable predicament is greater in Ma'akua Gulch since it is much narrower and longer. Doing this hike during or after heavy rains would be suicide! However, six of us were willing to take the risk to bear witness to spectacular views of the narrow gulch and to step right in the middle of it.

We met at Hau'ula Beach Park and walked up the road leading to the trailhead which also leads to a network of other trails such as Ma'akua Ridge and Hau'ula Loop Trail. We followed the paved road leading to the water pump station. At this point, we thought it was a dead end since the pump station sat right in the middle of the road. We retraced our steps back until we reached a signed junction. I pulled out my Stuart Ball book, and after carefully reading the directions, I realized we were going the right way from the start. So, we walked back up to the pump station and went around the fence to the right where we walked on a concrete retaining wall. As we passed the pump station, we could see the trail leading to a wooded area. The pink ribbons were removed as it was scattered on the ground at the beginning of the dirt trail. The only guide we had was the stream itself which we hoped would lead us to the narrow gulch. The dirt trail was relatively flat and easy to walk on, but it wasn't until we reached the stream bed where we found it technically challenging. Hopping from one boulder to another was a daunting task and it would be like this for the rest of the trail. Unstable, wet, and slippery rocks can easily make one slip and fall. I found myself using my arms frequently to keep my balance or to push my way up. My mind and body had to stay alert at all times especially when trying to keep up with the rest. As we entered the gulch, the dry stream began to flow with cool water as it meandered around fallen rocks from previous landslides. Walking in the gulch gave me an eerie feeling. The awe-inspiring scale of the towering cliffs on both sides was a sight to behold but some of this satisfaction was reserved with fear. At one point, we heard a thundering roar which could only mean that rocks were falling nearby. I couldn't help but to look up from time to time.

Without hesitation, we continued onwards until we reached the first waterfall characterized by a huge boulder above. We had to submerge ourselves to get across the damn freezing swimming hole where a thick rope hung at the base of the waterfall. At first, it was difficult to climb the slippery wall face with barely any footholds to place my toes on. Taking off my waterproof Keens sandals and climbing barefoot proved to be the way to go. As I climbed near to the top of the waterfall, I had to duck into a void space beneath the huge boulder where a gush of water was still flowing. The route led to an opening above and I pulled myself out with the assistance of a rope. From the top of the first waterfall, it took us a few yards up to see the next waterfall which was much higher. After a few minutes of taking pictures, we decided to turn back. Fortunately, we all made it out safely without any injuries or scratches.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Aihualama-Ohi'a (via Manoa Falls)

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by welikehike

This hike combines Manoa Falls, Aihualama, Pauoa Flats, Manoa Cliffs, and finally, Puu Ohi'a Trail for a total of 8 miles round trip. This was suppose to be an easy hike to recover from the merciless 12-mile Dupont trail done last week, but this trail gave us a moderate workout. We started off hiking the busy and tourist-infested Manoa Falls trail and we turned left to the Aihualama trail right before the falls. We met up with some old folks who kept us company at the switchbacks and later ditched them when we had the chance. Finally, we had some peace and quiet but the air started to get a bit chilly as we elevated ourselves to higher ground. We had to keep on moving to keep our bodies warm and muscles loose.

We were in a complex network of trails and we regretfully took some wrong turns as we retraced our steps to the right path. We turned into Kalawahine Trail when we were suppose to continue on Pauoa Flats; we turned right on Manoa Cliffs Trail when we were suppose to go straight (Stuart Ball's said to turn left. This is may be misleading because the trail options are either straight into the gate or right.); we turned left into Puu Ohi'a trail instead of taking the left fork up the paved road. I mentioned this so you don't have the make the same mistakes we did.

We walked through many bamboo forests, and at times, we were alerted by the sounds it made. At first, it sounded like a land slide comin' our way but it was merely the wind and the bamboo rubbing against each other. The view at Puu Ohi'a was actually amazing. I wasn't expecting much, but I have to say, it's a sight worth hiking for. At a distance, you will see Diamondhead Crater to the south with Nuuanu Valley to the north, and adjacent ridges along the Ko'olau mountain range. I did not like the paved roads near the end of the trail. I could not stop thinking that there is probably a vehicle route that is accessible near the peak. And having to hike all the way up here would feel like a waste. However, we did meet up with a couple that told us about an easier route to the peak of Puu Ohi'a. We were a bit disappointed to hear that, but at least we can say that we conquered this trail route, and we can officially cross it off our list.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


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This trail kicked my ass, mainly due to me being out of shape, but everyone who did it can attest that it's no walk in the park with a 4,100-foot elevation gain within a 5.5-mile stretch (11 miles round trip). There were a few tricky sections that involved the use of a rope or cable, but no extreme conditions to test your nerves.

The trail starts at a private road near Waialua High School. Along this road, there are many gates and warning signs like "Private Property", "No Trespassing", and "No Hiking". It's amazing how many hikers manage to get by without heeding to the signs. The state owns the ridge part of the trail but everything near the trailhead belongs to private owners such as Dole, Waialua Ranch, and Kamananui Orchard. If you do plan to do this hike, make sure you contact Kamananui Orchard (Randy: 808-778-6014).

For the beginning part of the trail leading to the summit plateau of Ka'ala, we hiked under the hot scorching sun on a dirt road. We took a detour to a scenic lookout on the hilltop which eventually led us back to the main trail. Once we arrived at the Mokule'ia Forest Reserve boundary, the dirt road ended and the trail narrowed. There is a section that was overgrown with tall grass with heights soaring above me, and sometimes, it became difficult to make out the trail. The only cuts I had this day was from the annoying grassy section, I had nasty scratch marks all over my arms. After this point, the trail got more serious as keeps going up and up with steeper inclines. My leg muscles were getting tighter at every step and I could feel a cramp on my left calf muscle. Later, I felt the tightness on my quads and hamstrings. We were on our last hill, and my legs were done! My legs would cramp up and it would force us to take longer breaks. It was mid-afternoon, and at this pace, we began to worry about the return trip. When we arrived at the concrete steps, I thought my cramps were gone so I picked up the pace. But the pain hit me on my right calf and it was a real bad one. I called out for my hiking buddy for her assistance. I lied on the muddy steps with my right leg lifted up. I wanted her to bend my foot back to stretch my calf, I asked her to place my backpack between my foot and her body so she wouldn't get dirty. Instead, she hung my backpack on my foot. We were both confused, "what is she doing?", "what does he want me to do?" After all the pain, we got to the end of the trail. My hiking buddy proceeded up the paved road and I trailed behind her. Around the corner, she came running down with fear. She thought she was being chased by the guards since she hopped over the fence to take a picture. I turned around and I limped right behind her, I could barely run.

On the return trip, it took us half the time and it was much easier.


Saturday, March 13, 2010


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Ohikilolo is classified as one of the most extreme and difficult trails in Oahu. The hike is now hindered or aided with a metal fence that runs along the entirety of the ridge trail. There are no signs or ribbons marking the trailhead. Anyone wanting to do this would have to scramble up the steep hill and eventually arrive at the fence at the top of ridge. Once you reach the fence, it will be your guide or your frustration throughout the trail. It is said to be a closed hike, despite the absence of any warning signs, anyone thinking of tackling this trail would have to do it at their own risk.

Along the trail, you will come across some skeletal remains of unfortunate goats who probably got their heads trapped in the fence. You will see numerous wild goats of various sizes down in the valley or on the side of the mountain. You can see them in herds, in pairs, or single ones snuggled inside shallow caves. There are wild birds flying in the air preying for their afternoon meal. The terrain is mostly made up of crumbly rocks, tall grass, and thorny weeds. It is not wise to do this at the peak of the summer season for there is hardly any canopy protection from the scorching heat of the west side sun.

This trail can get your heart pumping fast from the beginning. There are two prominent hills that need to be conquered to get to the uppermost part of the ridge. These hills can appear to be very intimidating when you're facing the front of it, but they're absolutely climbable. As you reach near the top of the second hill, more of the valley's beauty will come into view along with the danger of the narrow and steep trail. Although it is potentially dangerous, the fence will give a sense of security and something to hang on to.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mount Tapyas, Philippines

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by welikehike

Mount Tapyas is probably comparable to Oahu's Diamond Head trail but with 10 times more steps. It is widely visited by tourists and the trail is primarily made up of concrete steps and metal railings from the beginning to the end of the trail. They say it is best to do this hike before sunset. When we started this hike, we only had a few minutes before the sun would touch the horizon. We hurried our way up even though our aching muscles were still recovering from the previous Mt Darala hike. We made it to the top in time and we stood in awe of the lofty view before us. A big lighted cross marked the end of the trail and it is also a popular landmark in Coron Town. At sunset, the sky lit up in fire and clouds began to glow with its accented golden hue. It was another good and adventurous day in Coron, and there was no better way to end it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mount Darala, Philippines

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This was my first time visiting the Far East and I wasn't going to leave without doing at least one hike. So, I decided to tackle Mount Darala, the highest peak in the Calamianes group of islands in Northern Palawan, Philippines. I hired three tour guides/bodyguards, invited a French guy I met in Krystal Lodge, and my cousin who was my translator for this trip. With the company I had, I felt more secured knowing that the chances of getting kidnapped or lost was least likely to happen. However, we did get lost in the beginning since the tour guide hasn't done this trail in 8 years and much has changed since then.

The hike started in the valley where it was hot and muggy. I passed through some villages with plantation fields and nipa huts. From this point on, the trail kept going up and up, and I found myself being physically tested by a trail classified as a "minor climb". Everyone but me seemed to be doing okay as we scrambled up the hill. What made this hike ultimately different is that my backpack, water, and camera was in the burden of someone else's back. My bodyguard offered to carry them for me, and since I was the only one struggling, I let him. Many times, I kept on getting tangled with thorny plants along the trail. This unknown plant became a nuisance and the tour guide would later pave the way by tying these thorny branches out of the way. I guess they do have high respect for nature here, for in Hawaii, we would probably cut these annoying weeds.

As we elevated ourselves higher up the mountains, the panoramic rewards began to come into view. We were catching glimpses of all sides of the island with the addition of other islets in the distance. It was a hot and clear day, but the air was actually cooler and breezy as we were no longer protected by nature's canopies in the valley. The barren landscape from a previous forest fire was evident as we neared the summit. This area is normally lush and green during the wet season but we settled and took delight in its golden attributes. The frontal view of the final stretch up the peak was very intimidating and it appeared too steep to climb. But it's actually climbable even with the absence of foliage and trees to hang onto in case one falls. Small steps were carved into the ground which made it easier for us to push forward. The views were spectacular and I'll leave it up the photos to describe its beauty.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Waimano Valley

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Our traditional New Year's Day hike takes us deep in Waimano Valley. It was suppose to be a short hike, so I decided not to bring any lunch, only my leftover trail mix from the last hike. I skipped on breakfast and lunch, and we didn't finish the hike until 5 in the afternoon. Surprisingly, I wasn't hungry or thirsty, the trail mix does wonders!

The trail was nice and peaceful, a break from the strenuous hikes I got accustomed to in the previous year. The trail was well maintained and wide enough to keep our legs scratch free. When we got to the picnic table (halfway point for the 15-mile Waimano Ridge trail), we proceeded down the valley to the left rather than taking the graded trail towards the Koolau summit. As we reached the valley floor, we forded through the calm and cool stream to arrive at a delightful swimming hole at the end. The last time my friend did this hike, he mentioned that there were lots of mountain apples, guavas, strawberry guavas, and crayfish nearly the size of lobsters.