Shasta and I were eager to take on the challenge of Puu Manamana. Rated as an advance hike because of its "very steep initial ascent, very steep final descent, and of course infamous narrow ridge sections in between," Puu Manana is a 4 mile hike that reaches an elevation of over 2000 ft.
We parked near Trout Rd. at about 9:45 and walked along the highway to Post 279 to the Crouching Lion trailhead. There were no ribbons to follow but there were ropes linked from tree to tree near the bunkers. Forewarned about the homeless that live there we decided to head right and soon got lost. Realizing we were going nowhere we turned back, climbed over some rocks to a cave, and debated whether to turn around again or climb higher. (At this point, I was completely irritated and frustrated that we were still lost.) Deciding to scale the rocks to the left of the cave initially was not such a great idea. We found ourselves on a pretty steep "grass" hill but since there was no turning back we climbed higher. Thank goodness just over more rocks I spotted the trail. Within minutes we reached the lion head and took these pictures.
The weather conditions told me to appreciate the view from the lion, and come back another day to complete Puu Manamana but I couldn't resist the challenge. What's on and off again showers? We descended the lion and that is when the real hiking began. The beginning of the trail pretty much entailed rock climbing and walking along a sheer ridge. We carefully gripped each rock and strategically placed our footings. One mistake and we'd be headed for the lego size ocean front houses to the left or Kahana Valley to the right. As soon as we scaled one set of rocks, there was another portion to climb. Few sections included ropes and as I tried my best not to look down I wondered when the "roller coaster" would end.
Leaving Crouching Lion
Ridge were about to hike
Scariest view was not looking down but...
looking to the right.
Luckily there was a "SAFER BYPASS"
After about two hours we were relieved that the ridge was "enclosed" by trees. I love trees. We definitely felt much safer but remained cautious as we watched each step. Although not as steep as the drops earlier, a slip here could be deadly. At a small decline, I took for granted the strength of a tree as I used it to brace my weight and went swinging with it as it bent towards the opposite edge. Talk about a close call. Soon the narrow path turned into a very muddy and fern covered trail. Our shoes and socks were soaked as we sloshed on. In fact there was so much mud and so many damn uluhe, I wanted to be back on the "roller coaster!"
Still on a ridge
After eating 5 or so spider webs and shortly before the "Turnover," I took a shot of Kaneohe. We finally reached the grassy rest spot and only stayed for a second because not only was it enclosed by trees--meaning there were mininal views, but it was very hot! In my opinion there is nothing really to do there unless you want to take a break in the sun.
Unable to stand the heat, grimy and wet, we kept going. Surprisingly, as we began our descent we were able to see just how beautiful Kahana Valley is. Peeking through the trees I was able to snap this shot. The picture turned out great especially since majority of the time our view was blocked by trees and overgrown bush. The muddy trail continued and we fell numerous times down the steep slopes. It was extremely funny as we tried our best not to fall flat on our you-know-whats. The few sections with ropes were completely useless because of the morning rain, and at one point I fell hard hitting the entire right side of my body as I slid down helplessly. Shasta tried her best but followed in my footsteps using the hill as more of a playground slide than walking path. It was completely and utterly pathetic, and of course extremely hilarious. I wish we had video of our efforts to stay clean.
Pleased to leave the mud and ferns behind we were again on a narrow path. In fact, at some points the trail was as narrow as the ascent, and the path is only a path because of rocks and roots holding it together. At one point, a ribboned tree actually rest some 10 feet below because it had fallen loose. Exposed tree roots were all that remained, and what was once a two foot path now became wide enough for one foot. Still, I had fun maneuvering my way down the moss and rocks, and using the trees to keep from sliding.
Five hours later we were back on flat ground. Exiting at a cemetery was not the nicest way to end the hike, but it was the least of our worries. Shasta was long "over this hike" and said, "It's a once in a lifetime hike." I consider it a once a year hike because of the over grown ferns and mud, and the not so spectacular view. As we walked along the highway back to our cars, oncoming drivers stared in confusion at our mud covered, beaten bodies. Puu Manamana's narrow ridges and rock climbing definitely tested my fear of heights and makes this hike by far the most challenging we have done yet.