Thursday, December 31, 2009

Maunawili Falls

Starting a new tradition...
Vance thought it would be a cool to do a hike on New Year’s Eve so we opted for Maunawili Falls because it is short and sweet. (Sweet since it only takes about 20 minutes to get to because we know a shortcut.)
I hadn’t been to the falls in years so I was excited to play in some mountain water. We leisurely walked and exited the shortcut path turning right onto the main trail. Immediately we passed a group of hikers leaving, and as we strolled further in passed more. I was shocked to see so many people as I recall being the only group of “swimmers” at the falls in the past. We finally reached the falls after some mud and back tracking (we turned right on a side trail when we should have hiked straight up the river bed). Filled to its capacity, were some 20 or so people standing, sitting, jumping and swimming. Super bummed about the newfound (or maybe just news to me) popularity of the hike, I sat and waited while Vance took a dip and jumped off the side. We didn’t stay long and headed back.
Although "crowds" are the complete opposite of my definition of hiking (which is why I took no pictures), it was definitely a nice way to enjoy the last day of 2009 and is the start to a new tradition...

September 1998

The good 'ol days.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Koko Head Tracks

Furlough Friday and no one can hike. Wanting to get a good workout I opted for Koko Head Tracks. In my opinion Koko Head isn’t really a hike, but it is popular and frequently used by locals so I knew it would be safe to do alone. I parked near the baseball fields at Koko Head Regional Park and got to the tracks by walking along the cement path pass the dugouts. 
From the base, I couldn't help but take a deep breath as I looked up at the old railroad. I knew it was going to be a killer quad workout. After some intense 20 minutes, and a lot of huffing and puffing I reached the top. As I took a quick break I scoped out the descent. I’ve heard about people running down the tracks but I wasn’t taking any chances. With my record of grace, I knew one trip or slip meant tumbling down hundreds of steps. Surprisingly I made it down in one piece in a little over 10 minutes. 

A pretty good workout indeed, but I still won’t consider Koko Head a hike.
Hopefully next furlough someone will be off so I can go on a real hike...

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Haiku Stairs III

We've always wanted to do an early evening hike up Haiku Stairs. Starting off later than expected, we only made it to the first platform before it got too dark. From there we got a different but just as beautiful view of Kaneohe. Staring at the city lights from atop the Koolau is one of those sights that makes you really appreciate Hawaii, and for me--Kaneohe in particular. I love where I live!

Descending the stairs was not bad because of the H3 lights. However, making our way through the pitch black bamboo forest was a bit scary because we had no idea what lurked beyond every three feet. We made it out just fine and still have it on our list to complete the entire stairs at night...

Friday, November 6, 2009


Kuliouou, known for its spectacular views, is a 5 mile roundtrip hike that reaches an elevation of 2000 ft. Popular and well maintained, Shasta and I made sure we turned right at the state sign. From research we knew not to head straight because that is Kuliouou Valley.

I don’t remember much of Kuliouou except that immediately there were a series of switchbacks. The trail then eased into an open forest of pine and norfolk trees after which the vegetation turned to uluhe and ohia. The final ascend to the Koolau summit was muddy and in deed a workout but before we knew it we were looking at the east side. The view, similar to Mariner’s, extends from Kualoa to Waimanalo. I never get tired of seeing the lush green pressed against the vibrant blue and still consider it the most gorgeous sight on our island.
We took a nice break and ran our way out. One hour in and 30 minutes out makes Kuliouou a relatively easy hike with lovely views.

Monday, October 5, 2009

*Diamond Head*

Since the kids did so well on Waahila Ridge, we decided to take them to Diamond Head. A tourist hike, I knew Ezekiel would complete it with ease. Diamond Head is cake compared to Waahila. BUT what about Zephen? Would I have to carry him up all those stairs and piggy back him out? Even more, I dreaded the thought of being subjected to whining throughout the entire hike.
Fortunately, the kids impressed us again! We actually passed numerous tourist as they took breaks, and Zephen climbed each and every step all by himself. Quite a feat for a three year old! I don’t know who was more proud, me or him. 
We were in and out in less than an hour and are definitely looking forward to more hikes.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Lanipo II

Our friend Davin, on a return trip home for a couple of weeks, wanted to hike. Maybe because it’s the hike that got me “hooked” or it’s breathtaking view of our side of the island only visible on the clearest day, we decided on Lanipo.
Shasta, Nicole, Davin, John, and I started our trek at around 10 and reached the summit some two hours later. Although long...sorry Nic, all I gotta say is that you're a trooper and thank you for making it all the way in and out...the view at the summit was the clearest we have seen yet and well worth the trip.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Haiku Stairs II

Having enjoyed Stairway so much, Shasta, Justin and I decided to tackle the stair master of masters.
Looking to beat our previous time, we hiked to the top with little rest at the platforms in between. Thirty minutes faster than the last, we made it up in about 1 hour.  Of course we took a nice break and enjoyed the view. We headed down and in about 35 minutes were back under the H3.
What a great day...

Friday, July 3, 2009

*Makiki Valley Loop*

The kids were off from summer school due to the fourth of July holiday so we decided to hike Makiki Valley Loop. All ten of us: Shasta, Hurley, Sugar, Michelle, Marc, Nicole, Aunty Meta, Ezekiel, Zephen and I headed to the Maunalaha trailhead. The steady inclined path was well shaded and easy to hike. We walked through a variety of greenery from bamboo to Jacob’s Tears to Norfolk pines and eucalyptus trees.  The boys could have cared less about the scenery and were expecting rocks to climb and jump like at Wa`ahila Ridge. They were definitely bored after a mile or so, and their patience was running short. 

About an hour later, although it felt more like two, we reached the top. Marked by a bench to rest, we sat and had lunch. The kids ran around and played, picked up sticks, and balanced and jumped off a tree stump. I think they had more fun playing at the top than the actual hike. 

The trek down was much steeper than the walk in. It was very rooty so once again the kids had a great time running, jumping, and playing. After a long three hours we finally completed the loop.

Overall, Makiki Valley Loop is a good outdoor activity for the family.
Personally I like hikes with more views and challenges, and today I learned so do our children.

Directions: From Nehoa turn left onto Makiki Heights Drive and into the Hawaii Nature Center entrance (when the road takes a sharp left go straight onto the dirt road). Soon after passing the main gate there is a "Visitor and Hiker" parking lot on the left. From there walk towards the back-right of the Nature Center to the Maunalaha trailhead and hike left.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Moanalua Valley (Kamananui/Kulanaahane)

Knowing we were planning a bunch of hikes, my mom recommended Kulanaahane after reading about it in the Honolulu Advertiser. Reopening after many years, Kulanaahane stretches from Monalua Valley to the Koolau summit offering views of Kaneohe, Kailua and the H3. Nine miles roundtrip sounded pretty fun so Shasta and I headed out.
After taking the Moanalua Exit we turned right onto Ala Aolani, and drove all the back to Moanalua Valley Park. From there we walked through the chain link gate and along Damon Estate Road to the trailhead 2.5 miles away. With over an hour under our belt we still hadn’t seen the trail marker. I was just about ready to turn around when after what felt like eternity, one hour and fifteen minutes, we saw the Kulanaahane Trail state sign.
We immediately crossed a dry riverbed, the first of many to come, and were soon in some crazy hau trees. I thought of the men who cleared the hike and could just imagine what a b* it must of been! The noticeable ribbons marking the path made the trail easy to follow. It was also relatively flat, and luckily it hadn’t rained recently so the riverbeds were completely dry. Soon we were among ohia, ginger, and uluhe, a good sign that the Koolau summit was near. In less than an hour we were ascending a pretty steep, muddy, and deep trail. Fortunately, it was short so in no time we were looking at the beautiful windward side. Being close to the Koolau, Kbay, and H3 was stunning. It is definitely the reason why we hike. To the right was the Haiku Stair’s satellite. We could even see the makeshift guard station at the bottom.
As we ate lunch we wondered if it was possible to continue to Stairway. Knowing that was out of our league anyway, we carefully began our descent. The trail was slippery but we made it without falling. On the way out we passed some biologist still conducting research, one of whom happened to be a friend of a friend. We chatted for a bit discovering they were hoping to reintroduce the larvae of a native dragon fly but unfortunately discovered they would be eaten by the fish already living there. Pretty cool job!
After some running we were once again on that dreaded dirt road! I wasn’t about to waste another hour walking two and a half miles so we continued our run out. The hike took a total of 4 hours. 

The actual Kulanaahane hike was pretty fun, but...that road! I despise hikes that include roads of any sort, let alone roads that take over an hour just to get to the trailhead so IF I ever do this trail again, it's going to take a lot of convincing.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hauula Loop

Shasta, Leesa and I decided to check out Hauula Loop. Rated a "novice" hike we figured the loop would be a nice stroll...
Immediately we crossed Waipilopilo Gulch, and walked through some hau forcing us to bend our heads to miss the over hanging branches. The trail continued up numerous switchbacks which made for a pretty good cardio workout. Along the way the thick layer of fallen needles from the norfolk pines made the ground “spongy” and prevented any view until we reached the top. There we got to see the beautiful Kaipapa`u Gulch, but nothing else. We descended expecting to see a view of Hauula. Further and further we hiked, but still no sight. Knowing we had probably missed a side trail or bypassed a “lookout” area, we decided to backtrack and sure enough came across a gorgeous view of La'ie point. We ran out and in 90 minutes completed the 2.5 mile hike. 

Directions: Turn onto Hauula Homestead Rd. When the road curves drive straight onto Maakua Homestead Road, and park near the gate. The trailhead is just past it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mariner's Ridge

It was a pretty nice day so Shasta and I headed out to Mariner's Ridge.

Initially starting with a series of switchbacks Mariner's open trail was hot and dry. However, a short while later it became forested with strawberry guava and then ironwood and pine. The tree coverage and breeze definitely helped keep us cool and made the hike very pleasurable. The trail continued up a pretty steep rocky and rooty section that for sure got us working up a sweat but as elevation was reached beautiful views of Koko Crater and Hawaii Kai came into full view. The incline snaked through more pine finally ending with an open panoramic view of the windward side. Shasta and I could see all the way from Chinaman’s Hat to Waimanalo. The Olomana peaks which we've heard so much about protruded sharply. We definitely enjoyed the gorgeous view while we rested. Knowing the descent was pretty much all downhill we ran our way out and finished in under an hour. 

I was surprised by the beautiful sights Mariner's Ridge provided especially since it is short and relatively easy. It is a pretty fun hike that I highly recommend.

Directions: From Hawaii Kai Drive turn left onto Kaluanui Road (the left immediately after the Post Office) and continue driving up to the end of the road. At the dead end you will see the trailhead.

Koko Crater


Chinaman's Hat

Since our first hike to Mariner's we have done it many times to get a good workout. If you run in and out, you can complete it in about 30 minutes.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Manoa Falls

Shasta and I had lunch at Bale today. While there a police officer took it upon himself to strike up a conversation. I guess by the way we were dressed he knew we were going hiking so of course he asked where and made some small talk. He told us about Manoa Falls and advised us to jump off the second ledge. We smiled and left with our lunch.

On our drive to the end of Manoa Road it started drizzling which made the trail even more muddy and slippery than it already was. The parking lot was muddy for goodness sake! Luckily the trail was flat because if there were any inclines I have no idea how we would have made it up. On the contrary, it was completely aggravating having to walk slowly as to not splat mud all over ourselves or slip and fall. In addition there were numerous people on their return trek and even a guided tourist group with walking sticks. Not really my idea of a hike, but...
The stroll through the bamboo forest and lush greenary was lovely. Of course at the end the 150 ft waterfall cascaded beautifully into a shallow and small pool. 

On a side note, we wondered what the heck the police officer was talking about because 1) there was no second ledge and 2) even if there was a ledge the pool was way too shallow to jump into! Maybe he meant Maunawili Falls?

We took a few pictures but weren't really impressed. I guess the 20 minute walk to and fro is worth it if you've never seen the falls but if you're looking for a hike I do not recommend it. If you are looking for a walk, the half mile "novice" trail won't disappoint. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Aiea Loop

I really have nothing to say about Aiea Loop Trail except that it is rather muddy (especially if it has rained recently), there are a lot of trees, and at one point there is an okay view of the H3. If your definition of hiking is walking on a path in the woods with minimal exertion, Aie`a Loop Trail is the hike for you. 
Don’t believe me?! Go see for yourself.

There is also the Aiea Loop Falls, Aiea Ridge, and Aiea Loop Bisectional Trail. Hopefully, probably, those hikes are better than the loop itself.

The highlight of our hike...a Jackson crossing the street

Shasta carried "him" all the way out and took Kevin home.
*Named Kevin after the prehistoric bird in "Up."