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