Monday, November 30, 2009

Maakua Gulch Trail

Important Note: THIS TRAIL IS CLOSED (which i found out after the fact *wink*). SOME BOOKS MAY STILL HAVE IT LISTED AS AN OPEN TRAIL.
Trails: Maakua Gulch Trail
Distance: About 6 miles round trip (from the general entrance of the Maakua Trails to end of the gulch and back), this may be inaccurate since my GPS didn't really work towards the end of the gulch.
Elevation Gain:  once again unsure. At least 900 ft.

Hiking time: 3 1/2 hours
Area: Town of Hau'ula, Northern Windward side, South of Laie (Polynesian Cultural Center)

Trailhead: End of Maakua Rd
Trailhead Coordinates: N21 36.221 W157 55.113
Sights: Windward Shore, Papali Gulch
Directions via bus: From Ala Moana Center take the 55. It will go up the Pali, though Kaneohe, and up the windward coast along Kamehameha Highway. It's quite a long ride. You'll pass Koolau Ranch, Ka'awa, Kahana Valley, and Punaluu before getting in the area. Ask the driver to stop at Hau'ula Homestead Rd in Hau'ula. Follow Hau'ula Homestead Rd. Right before it curves to the left, follow Maakua Rd. After a short walk, you'll see a sign that says "Maakua Trails." Right up the road you'll see a gate to the left. This is your starting point.

Directions via car: From Waikiki, take H1 West. From here you have multiple options. You can take Likelike Highway, Pali Highway, or H2 through the mountains. Then make your way onto Kamehameha Highway going Northwest. Pass Koolau Ranch, Ka'awa, Kahana Valley, and Punaluu before getting in the area. Make a left onto Hau'ula Homestead Rd and before it curves to the left, follow onto Maakua Rd until you reach a gate on the left. I've seen cars park right around the gate but there isn't much parking available.

Recommendations for hike: I recommend shoes or hiking boots for traveling along the stream bed. Muddy at parts and rocks are slippery. Your feet will get wet. Bug repellant is recommended. Water and bathing suit/trunks.
Trail Conditions: This follows Maakua stream all the way to the end. It starts as a trail bu quickly alternates between trails and going up the stream bed. Eventually, you'll have to follow the stream along into the gulch. It gets narrow and you're surrounded by the mountains. Your cell phone and GPS will probably not work once you enter the gulch.

 Yellow is the Maakua Gulch Trail from the gated entrance. Look what my GPS did!! It got lost!

Since my GPS was on the fritz... this can't be accurate. I know the first 2.5 miles is accurate. There's a section in the middle where it is jumping around. 

This is a more interesting hike than I had anticipated! I've never done a gulch hike. It enters an ever winding gulch following a stream to the end.

So as I departed from the previous loop trail, I decided to do another hike. I just wasn't satisfied with the previous 3 mile loop. So I ventured back on to the utility road and followed it all the way down. Eventually I reach some sort of water station, made my way around, and found the trail head. At first, there were a series of pine trees but that soon stopped. After crossing a small stream and descending a little bit, the trail began to follow a dry stream bed.
The trail became unclear. It was unmaintained and as I followed it, I saw that many of the markers had fallen off. I ended up just walking along the dry stream bed.  The first half of this trail was quite muddy along the side trails though the bed was dry and the mosquitoes were getting on my nerves. What a pain? As soon as I stopped I was swarmed. A bit unsure if there would be any stream and a bit lost, I was reluctant to continue. I'm glad I did though.
The trail continued along the side of the stream bed, onto the bed, and back. There were some forks following the bed. Wasn't sure where to go. It didn't matter. Soon I found that the stream bed split and converged multiple times. And soon enough in the next 3/4 or so, my first sign of water. Just a small section of it but it was so clear. It's the clearest stream that I've seen on the island. Perhaps because there wasn't much soil around. Little by little, more and more water and it finally became a stream. Skipping from rock to rock, I avoided getting wet for quite a while. But as the gulch narrowed and the stream became more fluid, I had no choice.
Being in a gulch is interesting, eerie, and oddly refreshing. I was surrounded by walls covered in green at least 100 ft high. Huge rocks layered the gulch. I knew I had to be alert in case of a rock fall. A severe one would be deadly. My paranoia kicked in and thought what would happen if I injured myself that far in. No phone. No way that anyone could hear me. An unpopulated trail. Not good. But.. I had to reach the end. Another factor was the daylight and weather. It had been overcast in the mountains and valleys that day. If it started raining, well a flash flood could occur. Plus it would just increase my chances of me slipping. There were little places for shelter. Daylight seemed to be fading but it was only because it was narrowing. I had to reach the end and started picking up my pace.
I got impatient... the gulch didn't seem to end. Winding left and right and left and right into the valley, it got narrower. It started off relatively wide, maybe 30 ft across. By the end, where I could see the waterfall, it only spanned 10 ft. Right at the waterfall, it was only my arms span across.
The waterfall was amazing though. I've never seen one in such an environment. It was a small waterfall and swimming hole. Enough to wade around and cool off. I noticed something behind it. Where was the water coming from? I could go a bit further but had to leave my gear. As I climbed up, it bended to the left. A bit of climbing on some slippery rock and another larger swimming hole and slightly larger falls. Maybe a dozen feet or so high. I was just so impressed with the environment. Miles away from a civilization (I know it's not that much)... it was peaceful and secluded. Walls towering above me. Light shining through the narrow opening above. Quite spectacular.
Enjoy the pics!

Uhhh... area closed? So after some quick research... the trail is closed. Explains why it was not maintained.

Entrance to the trail.


First immediate stream crossing... not Maakua Stream though.


Not too promising...


Where's the water?


Yes first sign of water!




 Looking up.


I thought this was the waterfall and maybe it was dry. I was wrong.


Deeper into the gulch.


Looking up again towards the end the gulch.


It never seemed to end.


Though there were some nice tiny (maybe a foot) along the way.


Finally a falls. Still not too impressive. At that part, it was only like 5 ft across. Wasn't too deep.

Wait! I can go further!

Okay so these aren't the best pics. The final falls was at least 6 ft and pool was nice. Still relatively narrow though but just so peaceful. It was such a pain to get these last 3 pics. I had to swim with camera above water. I'd just hate to lose a camera and all the pics. But hey... it worked out. :)

Maakua Ridge Trail Loop / Papali Loop Trail

Trails: Maakua Ridge Trail (also referred to as Papali Loop trail)
Distance: A bit over 3 miles
Elevation Gain:  about 700 ft

Hiking time: 1 1/2 hours
Area: Town of Hau'ula, Northern Windward side, South of Laie (Polynesian Cultural Center)

Trailhead: End of Maakua Rd
Trailhead Coordinates: N21 36.449 W157 54.976
Sights: Windward Shore, Papali Gulch
Directions via bus: From Ala Moana Center take the 55. It will go up the Pali, though Kaneohe, and up the windward coast along Kamehameha Highway. It's quite a long ride. You'll pass Koolau Ranch, Ka'awa, Kahana Valley, and Punaluu before getting in the area. Ask the driver to stop at Hau'ula Homestead Rd in Hau'ula. Follow Hau'ula Homestead Rd. Right before it curves to the left, follow Maakua Rd. After a short walk, you'll see a sign that says "Maakua Trails." Right up the road you'll see a gate to the left. This is your starting point.

Directions via car: From Waikiki, take H1 West. From here you have multiple options. You can take Likelike Highway, Pali Highway, or H2 through the mountains. Then make your way onto Kamehameha Highway going Northwest. Pass Koolau Ranch, Ka'awa, Kahana Valley, and Punaluu before getting in the area. Make a left onto Hau'ula Homestead Rd and before it curves to the left, follow onto Maakua Rd until you reach a gate on the left. I've seen cars park right around the gate but there isn't much parking available.

Recommendations for hike: Easy hike. Not much needed. Some good shoes or sandles are fine. Some water of course. Much of the trail is shaded so some light sunscreen will do depending on how sensitive you are. Not too many mosquitoes.
Trail Conditions: It's like a foothill hike but has some ridge elements. The trail is well marked and it's semi popular trail. Mostly dry but depending on the weather it might be muddy.

The yellow is the walk from the bus stop to the gate.
Green is from the gate and the loop trail.

This corresponds to the green on the above map, from the gate and the loop trail back to Maakua Ridge Trail Head.

So today, I headed back to northern windward side to check out the area. This is a good place with multiple trails. You have Maakua Ridge Trail (Papali Loop), Maakua Gulch Trail (read the next post), and Hau'ula Loop Trail (didn't have time for it). From what I hear Hau'ula is the easiest of the three and shortest.

So once I got to the gate and followed it up a bit. Almost immediately, I noticed this little tribute at the trail head for Hau'ula Loop.

Onward... followed the paved road curve to the left. I guess this is some sort of utility road. There was a concrete wall along the right with plenty of graffiti. Soon enough, the Maakua Ridge Trail Head was on the left. The hike first drops down and I crossed a dry stream bed. Soon after it starts ascending via a series of switchbacks. At this point, I was covered by the trees. Nice to have when ascending. After a couple of switchback, I had an option, another switchback or out into the open. So out into the light which gave me a nice view of the Windward coast. I ended taking the loop clockwise, following the foothill facing the ocean, then dipping back and around. It was a relatively easy trail. The ascent was gradual and a little tiring but certainly not what I understood to be a ridge hike. At one point though, there's a junction (marked on the map as "split"). It looks like it follows the ridge up even further. I wanted to do another one of the trails so I skipped it.




Some more pics on Picasa (includes the next trail as well)


Saturday, November 28, 2009


Black Friday... I awoke... as if it were any other day. This day in the US has become a consumers day. The first day of the Christmas season. Got to start shopping for presents!

This past year, I've been searching for meaning in life. One aspect I've spent much time contemplating is my own consumer lifestyle. I've changed it, minimized my desire for material objects, focused my energy on becoming more efficient. I've slowly recognized my past and still lingering desire for a nice car, electronics, fancy name brand clothes, subtlety distinct black leather shoes.... they have all been arbitrarily assigned meaning by myself. It disgusts me to think how masses have been influenced to accept this consumer lifestyle.
So this afternoon I decided to visit Ala Moana center, one of the world's largest open air mall, not to shop but to observe. I wanted to see the chaos of Black Friday. Instead, I see a calm crowd of shoppers, busily walking, traveling on escalators, resting on benches.... reflecting how accepted and encouraged this behavior is.

I leaned against the edge of the 3rd floor rail, peering into the population around me. I noted in my phone: 


Our greatest innovation as humans is our ability to find meaning in all that surround us. to find happiness in family, a smile in a dog lying belly up or even a pink baby seal stuffed animal, a gift whose value is derived from some subtle comments in passing conversation. Though it can be manipulated to such a degree where masses assign meaning to matters, which in essence have no values. Our greatest ability turns a sunder, poisons our lifestream, and threatens our natural lives.

Something seemed clearly wrong with our society where so many flee to shopping for comfort. Consumers spending their time and money on such nonsense... designer bags... fancy jewelry... four dollar lattes... twenty dollar tshirts (at least)... Though kindness may fuel this seasonal gift giving habit, we have placed value in these objects and faithfully believe that they are valuable. So why do I have a problem with this sort of consumption? It's due to it's wasteful and inefficient nature. Each material object has expended so many natural resources, workers' time, money, thought, and overall energy to be created. For what? To produce objects to the public and to cushion a bottom line. All this while the world has so many different issues. In the end, I see a spiraling rate of consumption and resources that will inevitably lead to our species destruction and along the way affect all other organisms on the earth.

As from an individual perspective, I have this inner desire to find something beyond what is presented to me, to find something that will give me a more profound sense of happiness.. like gazing out into the ocean or being on top of a mountain or watching a monk seal rest on a rocky shore. A sense of individuality has allowed me to question that which surrounds me.

Getting back to consumption, I'm reminded of Tyler Durden from Flight Club, "Things you own end up owning you."

I noted again:

I see this futile struggle to change the masses, open their eyes, minds, and hearts. Everything we value needs to stripped and destroyed in a cataclysmic fashion, resetting our values so that we may understand a greater emotion.

I quickly noted some flaws in this thought. The problem with this mentality is the expectation of sudden change. Any destruction can be rebuilt and materials replaced unless it is a major irreversible change on the scale of the world's population. It has to transition and it must start with individuals' mentalities. The individual must have a desire to consume less and an understanding the benefits of this change. I thought what had led this. My general thought is the huge corporations that financial prosper due to the consumption. They themselves may be deluded by the luxury that money has provided, thinking that they are providing a service that is helping everyone. There is a mass exposure of advertisements in everyone's lives that propagate these desires for products and perpetuate the consumer lifestyle. At first, I defended them in saying that it is up to the individual to choose. However, there are those who know no other way, may not have the free time to think and debate of such issues. These corporations may not be directly forcing a choice but they are certainly not providing alternatives. I noted again:

People still have a choice but when bombarded with so many different notions, it's difficult to see what choice is most beneficial to themselves and people around them.

More importantly, I turn to some basic notions that often hold true. Naturally, organisms will follow the path of least resistance. As does inanimate forces such as electricity. We are no exception. We do the least we can to reap the most benefits. We utilize technology and innovation in this matter so that we can reach goals quicker and more efficiently. The system has been manipulated though, to put products in arms reach, food that we do not have to harvest, clothes that we do not have to sew, the only resistance we see is the financial cost. There is a hidden "resistance" in its production from natural resource to its consumable product. If these were abundantly clear, more people would start seeing that it is not the least we can do and that we as a society are not gaining much benefit. However, it is difficult to see past one's individual scope though and we continue to satisfy our individual desires.

On another note, a major issue we face is that people have become dependent on such conveniences. We can no longer provide for ourselves without the system.

I am slowly realizing that my individual perspective of life is slowly coinciding with the idea of a sustainable world. My thoughts have always been centered about enjoying my own life despite what any one else has to say. I find myself puzzlingly conflicted that my thoughts are promoting the long term well being of everyone else that requires individuals to abandon their desires for a greater good. Perhaps because I do not believe that the current society is deserving or perhaps my mentality that each person must be self reliant and independent and free to make their own conclusions. Now I find myself propagating. It is new ground for me and still unsteady. I continue to exhibit the consumer lifestyle while searching for a way out.

All this from a desire to return to a more natural state of being.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Waiomao Stream Trail / Waimao Falls Trail

Trails: Trail along Waiomao Stream.
Distance: 3.6 miles to and back from the trail head to the top of the third water fall
Elevation Gain:  about 700 ft

Hiking time: under 3 hours
Area: Palolo Valley (Valley east of Manoa Valley)

Trailhead: End of Waiomao Rd.
Trailhead Coordinates: N21 18.650 W157 46.915
Sights: 3 Waterfalls, Waiomao Stream,
Directions via bus: Catch the 9 anywhere along Kapiolani Blvd. It will head into the valley, pass the school and fields on the right, and start heading back along 10th Ave. Ask the driver to stop at the closest stop that intersect Waiomao Rd. Takes about 30 minutes. Follow the road to the end. It's a little more than 1 mile of a walk.

Directions via car: From Waikiki, head down Kalakaua Ave, make a left on Kapahulu Ave. Take it all the way down and make a right after the underpass onto Waialae Ave. After a bit, make a left on to 10th Ave. About a mile and half up. Make your right onto Waiomao Rd. Towards the end, it will narrow into almost a single lane. I'm not sure where you can park. The trail will start at the end.

Recommendations for hike: Pack light for the climbing. Some water. Good shoes. I'd recommend boots with a good sole. I slipped multiple times with my walking shoes (Merrells). As with most other trails close to water, there are mosquitoes too. It was a bit humid that day.
Trail Conditions: Unmaintained trail with overgrown foliage. Narrow at certain parts. Muddy! Rocks are slippery and you'll most likely get your feet wet.

The green is the actual trail. Yellow is the walk from the bus stop. The blue is a previous hike to Mt. Olympus.

Elevation profile is from trail head to and back from the 3rd waterfall.

Please note that this blog entry is only to the 3rd waterfall and back. If you continue on the trail it will lead you to Ka'au Crater. There is supposed another way to get to the crater but I am not sure where it is.

This is by far one of the more interesting hikes I've done. I have this fascination with waterfalls. They're just so calming. This trail has 3 distinct falls! It's not touristy at all either. The first 2 are traditional falls as you'll see and seem about 80 ft high each. The last falls is sloped so it isn't so much of a waterfall that spills over a cliff. You'll see later. What's fun about this hike is climbing around the waterfalls. There are several ropes to help you out. Just make sure you are stable before making your next move. It can be slippery and can easily injure yourself if you fall.

End of the road

At the end Waiomao Rd, I came to a no trespassing sign. The road was a private road. I noticed an unmarked trail. Of course, there was a no trespassing sign there but it was unclear if it meant just for the road or also the trail. After a quick descent, I reached Waiomao stream. I did notice that on a rock, people had wrapped rocks in some leaves.... and recall reading something about a tradition... so when in Rome.

Sorry about the quality. My camera kept on getting a "camera lens" error so I had to use my phone. 

Just an nice part of the stream.

Anyway, after crossing the stream 4 times, I finally found what I was looking for. Some sort of water pipe that would lead me to the falls. After a short ascent, I followed the pipe and stream, crossing several more times.

I lost the trail a couple of times but was able to pick it back up by following the stream. Then the trail changed a bit. The pipe follows on the left side of the stream but started ascending. I thought I was off track. It became more of a foothill hike, weaving in and out of hill 4 times. I heard the stream and was probably 40 ft about it at all times. Only one direction to go in...
Finally, at the end of the pipeline, I saw the falls. So the fun begins. A quick descent to the falls and you're at the bottom. I grabbed some quick real quick and moved on. It was late and clouds were moving in. So backtracking up to the end of the pipeline, there are some ropes to climb around the left side of the first falls.
After climbing around the first falls, the second is not too far. A quick climb around the right side and a short hike along the stream again, and I was to the third falls. I climbed to the top of this along the left side and decided to turn around. Like I said before, looked like it was going to rain and it was getting late. I'll have to go to the Ka'au crater next time. Enjoy the pics!

End of pipeline.

First falls! About 80 ft high.
 It's steeper than it looks, but not so bad. There are some more sections further up.

Looking down from the first falls.

Second falls and view from top. Think it was shorter than the first.


A memorial atop the second falls to Heidi Marie Page. ???

  Third falls.

Ran into a St Bernard on the way back. Thought he was alone but his owners came soon after.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Olomana Trail - To First Peak

I'm headed to the peak on the left!

Trails: Olomana Trail
Distance: 2.5 miles round trip from the trail head to the first peak and back. There is additional walking distance to the trailhead.
Elevation Gain:  1600 ft

Hiking time: under 3 hours
Area: Kailua / Maunawili Area

Trailhead: In Luana Hills Country Club
Trailhead Coordinates: N21 22.105 W157 45.655
Sights: Windward Coast (Kaneohe, Kailua, Waimanalo)
Directions via bus: Catch the 56 or 57 from Ala Moana Center towards Kailua. Get off at the second stop after going down the Pali Highway around the hairpin turn. It should be intersection of Auloa Road and Kalanianole Highway. Across the street you'll see signs towards Luana Hills Country Club. Follow that road, it runs parallel to Kalanianole.

Directions via car: Take H1 West and jump on to the Pali Highway North. Travel up and down the Pali, past the look outs. At the second light after the look outs, make a right on Auloa Rd. There will be a road immediately to your left with signs pointing out Luana Hills Country Club. Not far down the road, there's a bridge. Park before the bridge on the side of the road and start walking towards the country club.

Recommendations for hike: Good shoes, water, sunglasses. Pack light, you'll have to do some climbing.
Trail Conditions: The initial trek up to the ridge may be muddy depending on weather. Then it follows a ridge line. Many parts are narrow and steep.

 The yellow is the walk to the trail head from the bus stop.
Green is Olomana Trail to the first peak.

This is only for the trail (marked in green above).

So this morning, I set out on a challenge. Up until now, I've only done what most sources call intermediate hikes. I've had some experience with ridge hikes and after reading up. This is a decent trail to transition into something more difficult. Along the way, I ran into quite a few people. This is a popular hike. There was even one ground with kids (probably around the age of 10) and they made it to the first peak. Still, it's not for the feint of heart. If you don't like heights (oddly enough I don't like hikes but it kind of makes it fun), you may want to find something else.

After parking or getting off the bus and following the road towards the country club, you'll see a gate. Just let the guard know you're going for a hike and he'll direct you to the trail head. It's about 1/2 a mile up the paved road. On the left hand side, you'll see the sign for the trail.

From the trail head, the trail starts ascending gently. I saw some wild boar in the distance! Wasn't quick enough to get a pic though. Conditions were muddy due to the recent rain. Soon enough, you'll find yourself in some open areas and to a junction. You want to hang a right. Soon after, you'll round a open red dirt area. Just beyond that point, another junction. To your left you'll see some pine trees and this begins the ridge line hike of the trail.

It just kept climbing. Little by little getting steeper. I was out of shape and haven't done any steep hikes in awhile. No matter, I just took more breaks then usual and set a slow pace. After hiking a mile, you'll start to come across more roped sections. There a total of 8 roped sections including the initial one at the beginning of the ridge. Some are there just for support. Others are necessary to get past the point (well at least for someone who doesn't mountain climb... that would be me). The last 2 roped sections were a vertical climb. The first of the 2 was about a 15 ft climb. Quite honestly, I got nervous and wasn't sure where my next step was going to be. So I hung out for a minute then made my move. I'd recommend the left side for that first section. The second one wasn't so bad. Heading towards the right side seemed pretty easy.

Soon enough, I was at the top. It was nerve racking being up there. It was extremely windy and certain parts were really narrow. Like I said before, I'm not a huge fan of heights but the view is definitely worth it. Looking back you can see the North face of Koolau Range. I remembered hiking along the foot of the range (Maunawili Trail to Waimanalo). Looking beyond the first peak, I saw a descent and another hike up to the second. It seemed way to narrow and I was tired already. I was content with getting to the first. Maybe some other time.
I always like pine forests. The way the pine needles cover the ground remind me of being on a ski slope for some reason.

Just some scenery on the way up.

 So this was the hardest part. I've never climbed before. Was an interesting experience.

Those are the other 2 peaks of the trail. No way I'm going there. Well maybe in the future but not this time.

Just some views from the first peak.