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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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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

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.