Saturday, February 27, 2010

Jackass Ginger

With a tsunami warning and sirens blaring Shasta put it best, “Only in Hawaii Lori and Beimes go hiking.” 

Yes, under a potential natural disaster Beimes and I still left to Jackass Ginger Pool. We don’t live in the coastal area and weren’t headed towards it, plus everything was closed so we figured why cancel our hike? Anyone who has done Jackass Ginger knows it really isn’t a hike but simply a 10 minute stroll through bamboo and eucalyptus. The hardest part was making sure we went the right way. At one point the trail split into four but we just followed the stream. We got to the pool so fast, at first, we weren’t sure it was Jackass Ginger. The water was flowing nicely but it looked icky especially with an empty Mickey's bottle bobbing around so we took a bunch of pictures while we debated whether or not to jump in.

Beimes decided to go for it and used the rope to swing in. A little later a bunch of kids from the area came and "worked" the pool. They swung and jumped in carelessly, and slid down a portion of the rocks we would've never known about. Finally, I got the courage to get in. Unlike Waimano Pools the jump didn’t bother me but the anticipation of submerging in freezing mountain water sure did. It was chilling but definitely worth the cold. Of course we tried the slide too and it was fun but a bit harsh on the tailbone.

After some playing we began our way out. Looking across the stream it seemed that just above the adjacent hill was the road. We decided to give it a shot and sure enough the road was right there. We found the shortcut! 

Jackass Ginger is a pretty fantastic place. No crowd, easy access, and the swinging, jumping and sliding make it one of the funnest pools I’ve been to. 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Pali Notches

Pali Puka was so much fun we had to do the Pali Notches...
Beimes and I originally planned to hike on Friday but because of the rain were forced to wait. The anticipation was just about killing me so today’s drizzle wasn’t going to stop us. We were ready to take our chances and a little rain never hurt anyone anyway....right?
I scoped out the trail after last weekend's hike and knew there were three trailheads. Beimes and I decided to take the middle one since we figured they'd all met up at some point. The initial incline was muddy and extremely slippery. I’m sure on a drier day it’s pretty easy, but today it was next to impossible! We grabbed whatever we could: roots, branches and even grass. After many slips and careful maneuvering we managed to the end where a nice grass clearing provided stunning views of the windward side. 

We continued up the wet trail with our muddy shoes making the rock climbing sketchy. Nonetheless we made it to the top and although it was cloudy the view was incredible. Quite a bummer, however, was not being able to go to the second notch. We knew it would have to wait for a sunnier day so we sat hoping for the clouds to clear, which they did, but in almost an instant we were in total complete white-ness. 

With the clouds going nowhere we began our descent which wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Back at the grass clearing we decided to go down a different path--the one closest to the ridge--learning the hard way that it is the best trail. There were lots of trees to keep from falling and it was more rooty so it wasn't as muddy or slippery. But...just when I thought I was in the clear, with only about 10 feet left of trail, I fell flat on my ass sliding down several feet. My entire right leg, hands, and butt were covered in mud! I really shouldn't be surprised because on almost every hike I fall or hit my head.

Although embarrassed and a total mess, I wasn't hurt so I guess a little rain doesn't hurt anyone. The view in my opinion is better from the notches than the puka, but both hikes are really fun and highly recommended. I can't wait to go back to complete the Pali Notches not just the Pali "Notch."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Pali Puka

Not wanting a furlough Friday to go to waste, I prayed that the rain would subside for just an hour so we could hike Pali Puka. Ever since I spotted the hole in the Koolau three weeks ago, I’ve been dying to get there. I can't believe in the 27 years I've lived in Kane`ohe I only noticed the puka this year! 
A popular hike, Pali Puka is short but steep and narrow throughout making it a fun trail that “should never be underestimated.” The entrance would have been easy to find, near the “No Trespassing” sign where the tour buses park at the Pali Lookout, but there was no sign in sight. Shasta, Beimes, and I walked back and forth when Kela finally spotted a post, hidden amongst the bamboo, which of course should have had a sign. (Also noticeable was the crumbling wall below the post probably due to the high traffic of hikers stepping on it.)
Entering through a bamboo grove, the trail split into two and we opted to go left since the path to the right seemed vertical and looked impossible to climb. We grabbed whatever we could pulling ourselves up the slippery slope to a grassy hill where the trail vanished. We hiked further upward hoping it would meet with the main trail, like at Crouching Lion, and sure enough it did. The trail continued under some pines and exited out near a utility pole. There we looked at the Pali tunnels below, and got our first glimpse of the dangerous ridge we were about to partake AND just how sheer the drop to our right would be.
You might have never guessed that I have a fear of heights as I led the way. Hiking steep inclines are usually fun but add a deadly drop, previous rain showers and some wind, and it becomes nerve racking! I was, however, able to find a little relief in the brief parts of the trail that veered left into the trees. I love trees.
Not before long we spotted the “puka” and eagerly climbed down to peek through it. It seemed almost strange to think that 1) there’s a hole in the Koolau and 2) we were peering through the same puka Kamehameha's warriors once used to scout oncoming enemies. The air wiped through the hole and I can just imagine that on a windier day it has the potential to be very dangerous.
We enjoyed the view and hiked out making good use of the trees to aid in our descent. The entire hike took only an hour and that included numerous stops to take pictures and a nice break at the puka. 
It was a hell of a fun hike. 
Not too long. Not too steep. Not too dangerous. Just right. 
Add in the nice view. What more could you want? 

Pali Tunnels



Me and Shasta


Chinaman's Hat

Home Sweet Home


Looking back at the ledge we went down when we should've gone right...

Friday, February 5, 2010

Puu Manamana

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.