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Hike Difficulty (Overall) : Intermediate – This cardio workout is a three-mile hike to the summit, six-mile total to head back. Have plenty of water on you and know that high humidity, rain, and muddy conditions are common in the winter months (November – April).Summer brings high humidity and intense heat often in excess of 85 degrees so shade and cover is essential to avoid early exhaustion.

Accessibility: Gated Community with Limited (10 parking spaces)Time to Complete: About 4 hours for larger groups, slower hikers.

Suitability for Kids/Dogs: Yes, but note that the valley is a hunting ground, so be warned of hunters and their canines. Hunting dogs are vicious and can often attack anything due to poor hunting practices of the island. Most will never experience an encounter.

Waialae Iki View from Wiliwilinui

Directions: Heading from Town, Take H-1 East until it becomes Kalanianaole Highway.  Pass two lights (Ainakoa and  Kalaniki St’s), then left on the third. This will be Laukahi St. Head straight up the mountain until you get to the Waialae Iki 5 Community entrance and gatehouse. This private community accommodates hikers through controlled access. The gatehouse requires ID (state, driver’s license, or military ID) from which you will be allowed a parking pass up top. From there, they provide directions, but it is simply straight up the road, then turn left and continue up at the T-section to the end of Okoa St. Park in the shaded areas at the trail entrance or use overflow on a paved lot if you’d rather not risk mud. DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR.

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After a little over a mile trek, you will exit an access road of mud and gravel.  The trailhead will be on the right following a water tank. Begin under shade of thin koa trees and strawberry guava. Some larger non-indigenous pines will also grace your skyward gaze, as well as some ironwood trees. The later portions of the hike beyond a notable checkpoint swing will be blanketed and spiky uluhe. Wear something to cover your legs unless you want to get scratched. Ferns and  steep, open inclines and recycled plastic staircases have been built along the ridge climb up to ease your effort, but this is sometimes daunting due to the steep angles and heat.

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Our group headed up the road to the trailhead.

You will continue up the ridge until you reach the electric power station, a total gain of around 1300 feet in a little under two hours. From the station, there is another summit offering a beautiful eyeful of the eastern shores, iconic Olomana peaks, and the Mokapu islet. Reference Na Ala Hele’s link here for more info:

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Pali Notches from Aiea Falls

As most of these stories pour from internet jargon and folklore spurred from talking story among Hawaiians and later shared in written form, I do not support or claim proof of any of these stories. But I did hear that a cousin of mine once had the experience of being a part of this…

King Kamehameha I’s death led to one of the greater Hawaiian mysteries of the islands. Many believed that when King Kamehameha died on May 8th 1819, his closest advisor hid the bones in a sacred ceremony and attempted to maintain the secrecy and preservation of the bones of his leader. In the case of Kamehameha’s death, Chief Ulumaheihei (called Hoapili by the King) went into the mountains and placed the bones somewhere in either a cave on the Big Island or were moved to  the Nuuanu Mausoleum with the other leaders of the time. This hiding of the bones was meant as a way to preserve the spiritual transition to his place with the aumakua, or gods. Should they ever be found or disturbed, the spiritual and cultural ramifications brought on by the Hawaiian people would be severe. The mountains are also said to hold massive chambers connecting various tunnels through which many burial sites and ceremonial grounds reside.

Roadside Lookout from Old Pali viewing New Pali Hwy

“According to legend, the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele and the demigod Kamapua‘a (a half-man-half-pig) had a turbulent relationship, and the two agreed not to visit each other. If one takes pork over the Pali, the legend goes, one is symbolically taking a piece of Kamapua‘a from one side to the other, and it is said that Pele would stop that from happening. (wikipedia)”

Rumors arise of a figure of a warrior in the rearview, car troubles, engines dying, and sputtering and smoke from the engine for those who did break the kapu. It is recommended if you must carry the pig meat across, then do so in ti leaf for protection to feign off Pele’s power.

View of eastern side

Old Pali Overlooking New Pali Hwy

Stories tell of white ladies, common urban legends told on the mainland. The tales focus on the stories of multiple car accidents occurring due to a mysterious white lady walking along the road or asking for a ride. The hitchhiker wore white pareau and was wearing a beautiful haku leipo’o (braided head lei) of lehua blossom and ama’ufern. She often travels with a white dog, one of the guardians of the afterlife, and many speculate she is actually Pele. Drivers would be caught off guard and brake to a halt though no reports of death from this curse, only disappearances. It is thought that you should always ask for the help of Pele, or face her wrath.

Into the Forests and Golf Courses Below

Maunawili Demo Ditch Trail Marker

View of the Pali Puka from Old Pali Hwy Hike

Night marchers, huaka’i po, are deemed as the royal warriors, ali’i of the islands. In the ancient Hawaiian days, crossing the path of a Hawaiian procession or falling into the shadow of such a powerful warrior leader would mean instant death by the guard. Stories say of drums beating and fire on the mountains signalling the descent of the marchers down and through the valleys of Manoa, Pali, Moanalua and down to Wahiawa where the ali’i were born and imbued with their blessings. The pathways pose risk to the commoner,  maka’aina, who fall prey to the curse of coming across one of these processions. Being touched by the royal warriors would range from the capture and tormenting of your soul, to vanishing, to being forced to join the procession until the end of time. Avoiding such a fate is difficult as stories speak of a voucher in the ranks usually of your bloodline calling out in an effort to save your soul. Another tip if you aren’t of Hawaiian blood is to lay flat and stay face down on the trail until they have all passed as not to risk viewing them and being taken. Other renditions mention stripping down as an extra step, so I will be watching for those naked hikers laying down in the mud from hearing the beating drums of the Hawaiian kings of old.

Nuuanu Pali Cliffs Make for Some Shady Adventures

Entrance to Old Pali Hwy, right of the Lookout access.

At the Pali lie two stones of Akua-wahines, powerful chieftains and goddesses of the island, believed to  be dragon ladies. These dragon ladies, or mo’o,  were rumored to be blessed and gifted by the townsfolk as safe passage out of Nuuanu Valley. Counts of written documents dated back to 1825 mention the donations necessary to make the transition from the southern shore to east Oahu and back. These dragon ladies would manifest near the stones believed to be at one of the waterfalls in the valley (Alapena, Kapena, or Likeke being a few visited). Giant tangled hau trees would surround the spot. An excerpt of passage:

“The long stone is on the seaward side, and this is the Mo‘o woman, Hauola; and the other, Hapu‘u. The leaves of ferns cover Hauola, being laid on that stone. On the other stone, Hapu‘u, are lehua flowers. These are kupuas.’ (Huaka‘i Pokole, Koolau)

As each person passed, a signage was made to show respect of the stones draped in white cloth. Not acknowledging these deities could result in someone falling off a cliff, or simply vanishing in the most haunted spot on the island.

Waimea is said to hold such a water spirit who is known to sunbathe along smooth rocks in Waimea Valley before bestowing her gifts to those who come seeking her blessings.

East View from Pali

Pali Notches from Aiea Falls

Enjoy your hikes on and around the Haunted Pali Hwy. 
References: 
http://www.to-hawaii.com/hawaiian-secrets-and-mysteries.php
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folklore_in_Hawaii
http://www.squidoo.com/haunted-hawaii
http://www.unsolvedmysteries.com/usm390878.html
http://www.weirdus.com/states/hawaii/stories/old_pali_road/index.php
http://www3.hpu.edu/kalamalama/archive/2610/sub/Etcetera03.htm
http://www.pacificworlds.com/nuuanu/stories/story4.cfm
http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2007/Jul/06/ln/FP707060349.html

Venture north from Downtown Honolulu along Highway 61 and immediately the hustle and bustle of city life melts into the back of your mind. Skyscrapers give way to beautiful and ornate trees like the monkeypods, koa haole, and Hawaiian ash.  Nuuanu Pali stands tall against the sloping valleys and offers breathtaking views to most of eastern O’ahu. Nuuanu in Hawaiian means, ” This spot holds a plethora of mystery and legends across its open and rocky crevice.

Pali Lookout View North Pali Lookout View East

This lookout memorializes the defeat of the Oahu warriors under King  Kalanikūpule at the Battle of Nuuanu after King  Kamehameha I with a 10,000-warrior army rushed the defending Oahu army. This rushed surprise attack forced 400 warriors to stand and fight as the defeated Oahu forces retreat back to the mountain pass and down the steep mountains from which they came; almost 800 bodies were found as many would fall over the ridge and to their deaths hundreds of feet below. Nuuanu was seen by many as the sole means of transportation over land for hundreds of years by the Ancient Hawaiians. The only other safe access point to the main southern villages of the coastal area of present-day Honolulu was by boat. Nuuanu Pali stands at the lowest elevation of the Ko’olau’s just under 1200 feet above sea level. Transportation between current day Kailua and Kaneohe were paramount for trade supplies and economic growth for the fertile windward side. Legends tell of wahine (women) who would offer safe passage once you visited her at the falls below. Mo’o, giant lizards similar to the monitor and gila monster were said to live in the waters of murky waterfalls as well. King Kamehameha has an abandoned palace in the bamboo forests of Nuuanu, and the remains of the kings were said to have been kept in the large number of caves along the ridges to protect them from vandalism and mistreatment. Being that this area sits at this low level and had such a role in the lives of the everyday Hawaiian, this area has been the site of a lot of history for Oahu’s people.  (To Be Continued)

Not far from the iconic University of Hawaii and Downtown Honolulu lies the tropical jungles and lush vegetation of Manoa Valley, a paradise of forest and falls that pulls at the average adventurer to follow its course and leads many to explore more of this great island. Due to its popularity as the film locations for such blockbusters as Jurassic Park and LOST,  as well as aid from the Japanese tourism industry, boosted this site to most visited trail by more people than anywhere else on Oahu. How does one maintain a highly-visited 0.9-mile trail in the middle of the forest and its 180-ft waterfall?

Manoa Falls From A Distance

Manoa Falls From A Distance

Restoration efforts include University of Hawaii’s Lyon Arboretum reforestation projects high above to Pauoa Flats and the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter’s Restore Manoa Project utilizing various rock laying techniques to filter the seasonal rains across the trails and not corroding this beautiful place with its high traffic. Sugar and bamboo cane grows full and large in the back of the valley as part of a 1940′s experiment to introduce a plantation and fields for expanding crops. Plant life remains diverse among the farther reaches for the resolution of the plantation and introduction of the University of Hawaii botanical influences to the valley. While on the top of flora worth mentioning is the large banyan tree in the parking lot and its legend as a paranormal connection to Hawaii’s Night Marchers, a group of dead warriors who bring bad omen to those who come face-to-face with them. Best to play dead as the story goes or else become one.

Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls

Seasons are important to Hawaii amidst criticism that we on Hawaii only have the year-long summer. Temperatures range from 68 in the winter to 87 and above during hot summer months. Rainfall is a necessity to the tropical rain forests and the trade winds will bring an abundance each year listing a 300 inches over one season in Oahu’s Kahana Valley, a mere ten miles away. Manoa Falls in the winter months find this trail bathed in pools of red mud, filled with mosquitos, and flooded with rivers at full strength. Summer months give way to dry mud paths and worn rock surfaces making navigating the trail easy on pets, kids, and the elderly. Be mindful as a quick storm can give way to those dangerous trail conditions mentioned above.

Barefoot Hikers assembled right inside the Manoa Falls Park fence at the end of the Manoa service road.

Barefoot Hikers assembled right inside the Manoa Falls Park fence at the end of the Manoa service road.

So where do I begin my adventure, you ask? Manoa Falls is located  on Manoa Road at 3131 Manoa Rd. This location is at the very back of the valley. Located at the entrance is a parking spot charging upwards of five dollars for a single teenage or college-aged student to act as security guard and watching the area. This is an option due to high theft at a lot of Hawaiian tourist spots; this being no exception. The other arrangement is to park in the lower neighborhood and walk the half-mile to the parking lot and another quarter mile up the fire lane service road to the fenced entrance to the park. There is no fee to hike. More directions can be found at this site. As always mentioned on these blogs, DO NOT LEAVE VALUABLES IN YOUR CAR.

This hike will take roughly an hour in, one hour back. Humidity and wet conditions could pose breathing difficulty as well as pollen. High pollen seasons include March through November on the island. Shoes are encouraged.  Have fun and don’t forget to share your adventure with all of us!

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References

http://www.hawaii.edu/lyonarboretum/about/historymv

http://hawaiitrails.ehawaii.gov/trail.php?TrailID=OA+19+007

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Kane’ohe Bay is a beautiful and serene place. Located off the coast of the greenest part of Oahu, the windward side not only has some of the best forested hikes on the island but also some of the best beaches. Neighbors Kailua and Lanikai beaches boast world fame as being listed top 100 beaches in the world. Equally beautiful is what lies out in the eight-mile bay. In the middle of the bay lies a 3-mile by 1-mile stretch of submerged land known as the Sandbar.

My Wife and Co-Organizer Crystal Showing Off All the Open Space to Have a Party!

My Wife and Co-Organizer Crystal Showing Off All the Open Space to Have a Party!

The Sandbar sits about two-miles off the coast with access being difficult depending on the tides. Weather including the Kona winds can limit access and sea states in the harbor can still be somewhat hazardous. Two points of approach are through renting boats or kayaks out of He’eia Harbor pier, or finding friends with military base access and licenses to rent out boats from the MCCS Marine Corps Base Outdoor Adventure Center. Tours and charters run expensive, but are viable as a last ditch effort. Kayaking two-miles IS extremely dangerous in bad weather conditions, only experienced ocean-capable kayakers should try from the Coconut Island piers.

Location of Ahu O Laka

Estimate Location of Ahu O Laka via Yelp User tony I.

Holidays find the sandbar packed with kayaks, pontoons, boats, and paddleboards as people head out for grilling, swimming, snorkeling and fun. Note: Alcohol is not allowed, so don’t get caught with an open container. Citations run into the hundreds of dollars.

It’s hard to find a reason not to come out and enjoy crystal blue waters.  If you get the chance to head out with the Barefoot Hikers, my social hiking group, you will have the time of your life. Puffer fish, honu (turtles), and loads of sea life await.

This little guy is just enjoying some coral

This little guy is just enjoying some coral

Always a Great Time on the Bay

Always a Great Time on the Bay

Kalihi Ice Ponds

A dip in this chilly water will have you rattling your teeth.

History and Geography: Adventurers were we on a random weekday morning as coffee in hand and dew in our eyes led us blindly up to the Naohia Falls, now more commonly called Kalihi Ice Ponds, for an experience like no other. Kalihi Ice Ponds are a set of three-tiered waterfalls and pools located in the back of Kalihi Valley. This easy walk is almost not something you’d think of when you go hiking, but then again we have Kahana Nakoa and the Manoa Fall Trail which also have ease of access.

Kalihi is considered a multi-ethnic and middle-working class district of Honolulu, was said to have been named by King Kamehameha V . Meaning “the edge” in the Hawaiian language, the history of this neighborhood is filled with stories of 1900′s sugar cane plantation workers transitioning into city life, farmers, cannery workers, and teachers; of famous fishponds, called Loko i’a; and later as the Receiving Station for leprosy patients screened for treatment or to be sent to the  Kalaupapa colony on the island of Molokaʻi. The contour of the valley was created by its streams and openness in lower sections come from the widening of the valley as it reaches the Honolulu harbor. The flatlands at the bottom of the valley now hold such landmarks as the prestigious Kamehameha private school and Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, a famed site of old world Hawaiian culture culminating from years and millions in research and preservation.  Among those are the businesses in the commercial district such as Hawaiian Chip Company and the Kalihi Corner Kitchen, family owned restaurants all trying to make a living in a bustling, grown-up district.

Kalihi Ice Ponds

Another view of the frigid falls as hikers make their way up.

Directions:

Kalihi St. to the End – located at the end of this road are some residential areas and businesses. Be quiet, respectful, and timely in parking your vehicle out of sight, out of mind. Cross the wooden bridge and do not disobey No Parking signs or expect to hitchhike your way home on the way back. If you have a loud engine, you probably shouldn’t even go to this site if you can’t be considerate enough to carpool with a quieter vehicle. There is a continuation of the Kalihi St, worn and not used, that will continue up the hill for some 1500 yds. The fenced section has an access point on the right to follow the road along one bridge section, then a steady 400 ft climb over the course of a half-hour along this old road.

Rope Climb

Hardest part of the hike is a 60ft section requiring rope to climb down to the fall. Located on the right side of the road a little more than a mile, this is the entrance to the Kalihi Ice Pond.

Heavy flow of Kalihi Ice Ponds

When the rain pours, the falls come alive. With a little persistence and good luck, you may catch a full flow like the one pictured.

Once you have rope climbed up the first fall, you have the chance to see the other two falls behind it. Viewable from the banks of the first, this is a much closer vantage point for the effort.

Once you have rope climbed up the first fall, you have the chance to see the other two falls behind it. Viewable from the banks of the first, this is a much closer vantage point for the effort.

 

A tree branch wedged in the mud offers a nice spot to snap a pic of more hikers scaling up the rock facing.

A tree branch wedged in the mud offers a nice spot to snap a pic of more hikers scaling up the rock facing.

Below This Section Recounts One of the Dangers of Going During Rainfall. Please Use Caution and Never Hike Alone. Mahalo. (Note: All debris was cleared after this storm.) Read the rest of this entry »

I Am Back

With the December month coming to a close, I am back and already planning for the next year’s hikes. There is a lot of change for me and the Barefoot Hikers as I adjust to a new work schedule, new house, and various other elements of Hawaii life. I hope to be able to plan and provide my hiking crew with all the necessary information I originally deemed as a prime reason for the Barefoot Hikers.

The Guide

A comprehensive hiking trail updated with the help of those hikers who have gone before, written to a more modern audience. Specifically detailed would be a new difficulty rating from that used abroad and on the mainland. Hiking in Hawaii is a unique experience and should always be treated as such. To tell someone a hike is “Easy” comes blanketed and often misguided. I have hiked with many who hadn’t the clue of how difficult just an easy hike could be.

Along with a Easy-Intermediate-Advanced rating system for the hikes, I will be providing reviews, photos, and group feedback to help build this overall Oahu and eventually Hawaii hiking guide. This system will also include the all-important answers to why each hike is rated 1-5. An easy hike with high altitude, rock climbing, heights, rain run-offs, hunters, etc could be labeled E-5; this hike could be more challenging for the acrophobic than an Intermediate with low altitude, IE I-1, I-2, but 4-5 hour distances at low gradients. I plan to compile and release my hiking system in the next few months, so be on the lookout as I test it on future hikes.

What’s New

Barefoot Hikers is still free, and shall continue to be free as long as I am able to get people to come out. Donations may be suggested for events, etc. I am leaving this one caveat open as I don’t see any instance requiring it, but do know this website and group costs to maintain.

I hope to see you all in the New Year and thank you all for making this hiking group more than I could ever have imagined. I have made some amazing friends who are now gone and elsewhere living their new adventures. I am excited for what this year has to offer and look forward to seeing you all on the trails.

 

Jeremy

The Barefoot Hikers all met up around 8 a.m. to meet with Bob at TwoGood Kayaks for our rentals and disclaimers. As we got out of the car, we noticed our fellow hikers Michelle, Kara, and Shanda parking in front of us along the side of the road as well. We crossed the street and headed into the shop to find the place packed with both All Things Oahu and Barefoot Hikers gearing up with their tandem kayaks. We all got our safety brief on how to avoid imminent death from crashing into coral or worse, the dreaded tide flip. As we made our way down to the beach, all forty of the Meetup.com members grabbed their kayaks and began to practice in the channel leading out to the ocean. No one seeming to have too much problems on the shallow, calm waters, we beached our kayaks and dragged them up to the surf crashing along the Kailua Beach. 

Setting into the water was a little more complicated than throwing a big two-seater kayak into the water and floating it out into the ocean. The back person would need to get situated in thigh high water. After they have control of both partners oars, then the first person must mount up and maintain balance while the kayak is rocking under their weight and the rolling effect of the ocean. Don’t forget the waves. No one flipped on the way out, but several BFH’s would bite the water on the exit from the more difficult entry point at the island. After the ten kayaks of our group made it out with the help of John J. and myself, we both boarded our singles and made our way up to the rest of the group. 

The wind was rough. High gusts caused splashing waves and a drag on the kayaks causing a whole lot of fatigue for everyone early on in the day. We were slowly being pushed into the surf to the beach, often struggling to remain out of the Swim Area marked with red and white floating buoys. After some heavy paddling, we all veered around the sharp rocks of Lanikai Point and out to the Lanikai beach section. Turtles were popping up from the coral caps of rock formations tucked just below the water’s edge. Not paying attention would have been one sure way of running aground and ending a trip soon. The winds persisted and controlling the kayaks were still even more complicated as the nose of the craft constantly fought to gain way into the direction it would rather us go. More often than not, that was back to the beach we worked so hard to leave. 

As we crossed over the coral, time felt as if it was moving faster than we were noting that any time someone would stop for rest we would be drifting back. One step forward, as the saying goes. 

We eventually began to trickle into the surf of Moku Nui, the bigger and human-accessible portion of the two islands named Mokuluas, “Twin Islands” in Hawaiian. The surf here broke more at a tip in the center of the beach portion located in the calmer section on the coastline side of the island. Approaching it meant you had to paddle hard, get a good wave, and hop out of your kayaks in time to grab your rocketing watercraft before it blasted into the impenetrable beach sand wall that met you. The kayak would be coasted up and along the edge of the beach and grabbed for a tow until we could line it up alongside the rest of our group to make room on the small section of beach. 

We had made the whole windy trip in about an hour and fifteen minutes from the launch to landing of our first kayaks. We wouldn’t see the end of the stream of weary travelers until two and a half hours into it. The worst part about the last group was the fact that within the next half hour they would have to rest and recuperate for the much easier, but still tiresome trip back. 

We gathered most of the arriving group together for a quick hike to the Queen’s Bath. This mineral-rich tide pool sits high enough above the shore break and ocean to only get the spray and occasional big wave to topple in and fill it with all the salt and minerals the ocean didn’t have room for. Several of the ATO/BFH decided to hop in and soak up this rejuvenating water as we played and frolicked among the lava rocks. I had forgotten my shoes for this portion, so did end up completing the hike with only my bare feet. True barefoot hiking. 

We finished up with the tide pool and made our way back to the beach. By now, more of the stragglers had beached their kayaks and were ready to begin the hike up to the hidden cove on the backside. While we waited for the last two kayaks to come in, we went to the edge of the second hike and watched some of the shearwaters, the native, protected, and cave-dwelling birds of the island. These little water birds sat beside one another outside of their little holes in the cliffs enjoying the sun or relaxing under the cover of the dry brush and trees scattered around the hillside. We had a small portion of the hike to cross into their territory before we moved against the rocky shoreline amidst the crash of waves and warm, hot sun. 

The lava rocks were too sharp here to not wear shoes, though one crazy local seemed to have surpassed all physical limitations as he broke past the group almost leaping and bounding through the more jagged sections. One by one, we filed down through breaks in the rocky landscape, watching for waves battering the coast, and attempting not to be caught on a wet patch of rock if a wave did decide to come tumble onto the platforms we were occupying. After some precarious tiptoeing and maneuvering, we edged out onto the shelf. 

The cove proved to be too difficult to reach. Waves had engulfed a portion of the hike we needed to cross and the better part of the group had already opted out of the climbing portion. We decided to just enjoy the view of the cove from a distance for another five minutes, then made our way back through the rough, rocky section to the landing spot. 

We had all stopped to take a group pic before the hike, so it was a good thing since the some of the other guys had  taken the initiative to head back out and over to the return spot for the rentals. John J. and myself again chose to help the ten or so kayaks still left on the beach to the water’s edge and sent them out instead of having them deal with high waves that had come up and onto the beach since we had landed. After launching the single kayak, the rest was a “breeze”; winds had kicked up and sent all the Barefoot Hikers pushing out and back to the Kailua Beach drop-off so much quicker than on the way there. We beached our rentals and dropped the kayaks off.

Thanks to all the Barefoot Hikers, All Things Oahu and the people who showed up for the National Trails Day event.  

While the sun snuck from out of the ripples of the Waianae coastline to breathe its warm breath of renewed life into the bleak world of haze, the Barefoot Hikers corralled as horses stampeding to the prospect of greener plains beyond the horizon. This proverbial horizon being beneath the waves of Electric Beach amidst the run-off waste water and likely irradiated fish and flora of this doubly crustaceous world. No, radiation leaks aside, this beach held secrets below its foamed caps that would leave us breathlessly searching for the source of its wonder. Another entendre caught, perhaps?

While the makeshift vanity off the back of my Ford Explorer lent some countertop space for my medley of chemical concoctions, the rest of the group went to work tying, loosening, fitting, chewing, twisting, and thatching equipment and gear into something superhuman for our adventure out to the wilds. Heavily applied with dense sunscreen and having suffered quite the burn from the numerous outings this past week, I made an effort to protect the thin layer of this scaly dragon skin now plucked away and revealing of its softer pink patches shred to ribbons by the ultraviolet flayings of an invisible whip; punishment for my negligence which would not be forgotten today. Another quick fastening of lotion to the extremities and with a nod to our small armada of snorkeling enthusiasts, the fleet made our way to the sandy shoals of Electric Beach to situate ourselves for the rush of cool water to come.

Diving groups, seemingly filled with a baker’s dozen or so of tourists and Haole brethren, filled the waterway in and out of the sweeping waves leading out into the open ocean where our destination lay. The view of the ocean was impeded by the large fence to our right held tucked within its thin walls the life of the beach; a torrent of bubbling, brewing, rushing water being pushed out from the electric plant across the street and into the ocean at a forceful joust against the whole of Poseidon’s calm. As we moved to position our own jousting stance to maneuver around the rocky coral and human alike, the few Barefoot Hikers who glanced a chance at discovery gripped on to snorkel, fin, and boogie board to surge forth into the break of the choppy waters.

The water caught you like a kitten run amuck with mother’s clinched teeth placed lightly around the nape. It was chilling and jarring with the beating waves pushing and pulling us as little more than a Raggedy Ann or Andy. The push would lessen the momentum gained from the paddle of fierce fins on murky ocean crests, but then shoot us out with enough force to double our solo effort in shame. With a new swimmer in the midst, the boogie board was fastened to our novice adventurer and the rest of the party harkened to the call of the boiling water no more than a hundred yards ahead. Below us, fish and dense coral floor decor gave way to sand and nothing. Twenty, thirty feet we saw between our fins and the bottom before the coral again populated the floor with the exiting pipes of the plant spewing warm water up to the surface.

In the warm water, the fish, turtles, eels, and other marine life were caught up in the comfort of their haven to pay any mind to the new visitors. Fish wove in and out of the openings in the orange, green and brown coral caps and iron mesh of man-made and dead animal remains. Schools of needlefish darted in search of prey, Lawiliwili convict fish struck out to capture food beads invisible to our human eyes. A giant sea turtle thought it odd that we would come to his home without food and sought to confront or ill-placed manners with a staredown and scoff of his obviously disgruntled face. He ducked in and out, around and about the group of seven before lifting his flippers to push off into the depths of the ocean far below and beyond our view. The water was still in turmoil and the paddling boogie board swimmer took to drifting out to the rippling stew of hit water jutting out to the surface. Had he gotten caught in this artificial current, this young man may have been recovered days later off the coast of Australia. With a tug and a hard frenzy of fin, the snorkeling Barefoot Hikers maneuvered and saved the man before his adventure out to sea. After a few more sea turtle sightings, a captivating starfish, some frivolous, fancy flickers of fine fish fashion, the exhausted crew aimed for the shore and made for the coast. Only having been in the water for a full 45-minutes, the fatigue was a shock for the crew who showed an abundance of highly athletic and fit individuals. Still, the cold and constant energy lost out in the deep blue war the most battle-hardened warrior. We brushed to shore for a rest and to reflect on an awesome day.

No dolphins arrived as expected, but their chatter and flipping shenanigans were seen and heard from a distance and near the tourist traps of large catamaran and sea expedition vessels laying just outside the boundaries of the buoys placed for diver and swimmer’s protection alike. Had we the nerve and energy to venture just the small distance out into dangerous waters, we would have made the next chance in a month of swimming with these chatty animals. The day was not lost on over-exertion and restlessly impatience over the lack of these jesters of the sea. We saw plenty, pictures and experiences were had by all, and the smiles rippling across faces like the waves stirring out in the ocean from the water pipes was a sure sign of success. Recommendations for more outings to this spot have been given, and I see no reason why Barefoot Hikers should not enjoy the island and the gift of paradise we all are given each day.

Lost in the woods just above the Honolulu city lights is a mystical place. Deep within the crevices of the Palolo Valley, there lies a trail to the top of the Ko’olau   ridge overlooking the entire southern and eastern sides of the island of Oahu. Pristine beaches, lush forests, bustling cityscapes and views like no other are spread out in wonder simply waiting for a lucky soul’s eyes to feast on.

A heavy rain made this flow at the second fall quite spectacular.

A heavy rain made this flow at the second fall quite spectacular.

Directions:

H1 East to 6th Avenue exit, Left Crossing H1 then beyond the first light to Waialua Ave, Follow Waialua Ave down four roads and turn left onto 10th Avenue. 10 Avenue will fork after a mile and you will follow the right fork. The end of this private road will be a Diamond Sangra Zen Temple. Park on the outside of their property along the one-lane road or near the entrance in the parking spot. Below is the map.

This is the only section of the falls deep enough to wade out. Brown murky water.

This is the only section of the falls deep enough to wade out. Brown murky water.

What to Bring:

Three big bottles of water or more, shoes/boots and maybe extra socks, small lunch, backpack or something light to carry all the snacks and water in, hat, sunscreen, bug spray, camera. Swimming is only really possible in the first falls, but you would simply be wading as none of the falls are deep enough to swim submerged in.

Description: This is the adventure that awaits you on Ka’au Crater.

Watch your step up the third fall as you will be climbing rope after rope.

Watch your step up the third fall as you will be climbing rope after rope.

Located in the Palolo Valley off 10th Avenue off the H1 highway, the hike begins at the start of a private road near the end of Waimao Road.  10th Ave forks about a mile and a half down from the Waialae exit. Take the right fork all the way until Waimao becomes a single lane. At the end is where the Palolo Zen Temple rests with the behemoth mountains rising to her back. Parking along the road and at the trailhead is minimal (maybe five or six vehicles can fit), and the approach to begin the trail is even tinier as you may think you are entering the rabbit hole with Alice and friends. Look for a mailbox at the opposite side of Waimao Rd. There is a little opening next to a large tree behind the mailbox.

This is the location of the trailhead. You head behind the mailbox and straight down into the jungle. Not heeding the warnings of the private road signs will see this hike closed. Be respectful.

This is the location of the trailhead. You head behind the mailbox and straight down into the jungle. Not heeding the warnings of the private road signs will see this hike closed. Be respectful.

The course of the trail will lead you along multiple stream crossings, up and around the forested valley floor until you cross the large water pipe which you will follow for the next hour. This pipe pumps the life force of water down from the valley’s water source and through the cluster of mountain slopes to the residents below. After an hour of hiking in the trees and breaking the canopy to view luscious landscapes of healthy green foliage along steep hillsides, you will skirt the slopes on small paths until you again reach the next treeline and meet the first giant waterfall. The slope has steep portions with several hundred foot drops at spots.

Finding your footing is key in navigating the boulders and rocks littering the riverbed as you make your way up to the ridgeline section.

Finding your footing is key in navigating the boulders and rocks littering the riverbed as you make your way up to the ridgeline section.

The first waterfall will have you thinking that this alone is a destination worthy of an hour trek. The cave cut from the water erosion forms a gourd which cradles the waterfall in a rocky terrace. Settled into the rock face will prove a photogenic opportunity for pictures as this “waterfall cave” is filled with the trickling of filtered water seeping through the rocks.

Rope section at the end of the pipeline section of the trail. This rope leads to the top of the first fall.

Rope section at the end of the pipeline section of the trail. This rope leads to the top of the first fall.

After relaxing in the misty haven of the first fall, the second is only a five minute trip; directly up the side of the first. Climb back up to the water plant’s cement container and make your way to the left of the falls. Rope climbing up the ropes left behind by fellow hikers and groups, you will grip and work your way up a small rock face to the top for a scenic view on top of the water flowing down into the ravine you just came from. Continuing to the second waterfall, bigger than the first, you will encounter a shallow brook thinned by the smooth stones placed ages ago by nature herself. Another stint of upward climbs, this time to the right of the second waterfall, will have you clammering for the next and last of the waterfalls on this trip.

The last waterfall is located deeper into the brush over rocks and streams another ten minutes from the other two. The 400-yd cascading waterfall sits on a gradual hillside no more than a forty-five degree angle. Ropes will aid your steep approach as crossing the stream occurs more than once. The ropes hold strong, and you will enjoy the cool water mists and beautiful views of the vegetation and stream. Be sturdy on your foothold and maintain three points of contact often  and you will be fine.

The top of the waterfall leads up into the artesian well fondly nicknamed the “Raptor Fields” by yours truly for the thick and tall saw grass which grows densely in the middle of the craters water source. Stopping here at the top of the third falls is in itself a feat, and nothing to be ashamed of if the ridgeline doesn’t seem to be the ideal adversary to confront after mastery of such a rigorous and strenuous hike. About two hours will be needed from the top of the third falls to traverse the often muddy, slippery, or brittle ridge line to the summit of Ka’au. Rope sections, loose gravel, and crumbling sections will make for a hairy experience; then comes the part where you head back down.

This is the beginning section of the longest falls. This will take you up to the Raptor Fields a little more than two hours into your journey for most.

This is the beginning section of the longest falls. This will take you up to the Raptor Fields a little more than two hours into your journey for most.

Head back to the start of the ridge section near the end of the last falls and cross over the stream to find a steep incline marked by orange markers. This will lead you up to the split on the hill above all the difficult climbing and rappelling you may have undertaken. You will have beaten the monster of a trail and begin your journey back above the falls to your starting point and completion point. Not feeling fatigued, tired, exhausted, and accomplished will mean you didn’t actually do any of the hike and waited in the car for the rest of the adventurers to come back.

Climbing up the ridge is a dangerous undertaking. Not that the entire hike doesn't have an element of danger, but falling here can mean serious injury or death. Do NOT do this hike alone, and not as a first one on the island.

Climbing up the ridge is a dangerous undertaking. Not that the entire hike doesn’t have an element of danger, but falling here can mean serious injury or death. Do NOT do this hike alone, and not as a first one on the island.

This is the thrill of the hike for most. Wet conditions make for slips and spills, so footing and maintaining balance is key. Pictured are hikers heading down as the Raptor Fields spread out in the background.

This is the thrill of the hike for most. Wet conditions make for slips and spills, so footing and maintaining balance is key. Pictured are hikers heading down as the Raptor Fields spread out in the background.

Rope Up the Ridge

Here are some of the forest canopy from the hike. Makes me want to just sit in the forest and enjoy the peace.

Here are some of the forest canopy from the hike. Makes me want to just sit in the forest and enjoy the peace.

Looking Out Over the Eastern Side of Oahu

Looking Out Over the Eastern Side of Oahu

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