Monday, October 24, 2011

Nu'uanu's Forbidden Fruits

October 24, 2011

Getting off work...
Honestly, much of what happened Monday is pretty fuzzy.  I've been working an extra shift for the last month or so that takes me down to one off day a week.  Added to that,  I got a little too crazy last week with the trail selections and I really didn't get any time off at all.  Baron Yamamoto, waterfall connoisseur extraordinaire, had originally invited me to do the La'ie 18 but lucky for me he changed the venue to Luakaha, Lulumahu, and Mo'ole Valley instead.

I got off the mid shift at a little past 6am and headed for the Pali Highway and old Pali Road junction to wait for Baron who would arrive at 8.  I fell asleep in the car but woke up cold a while later so I retrieved a jacket from the back of the Jeep.  I didn't care one bit that the cops were there giving someone a ticket and ignored the officer's looks while I got back into the front of the Jeep and went back to sleep.  Amazingly, I woke up right as Baron pulled into the park.  I brushed off my sleepiness and grabbed my stuff to follow him to two waterfalls I've never made time to visit.  I'd predicted rain and left my Nikon at home so the pictures from this one don't do the various falls justice!
Lulumahu Falls
Luakaha Falls

Lulumahu falls was up first.  Following him through a giant hole in the fence we moved quickly through a network of trails in this forbidden territory.  He bounced up a stream bed while I floated in a zombie like trance behind trying to absorb the scenery whizzing past.  After a very short hike we made it to the beautiful Lulumahu waterfall.

We didn't stay long and quickly returned to the Old Pali Road for a visit to Luakaha Falls.  Speeding through the bamboo and over an old pipe we arrived at the top of the falls.  Too slippery to descend that day, we contoured around the back and down the mauka side of the valley to the falls below.  This falls is on private property so we tried to keep a low profile  not wanting to annoy the property owner.  We took a few pictures of the falls and headed back along the old irrigation ditch and upstream back to the Pali Highway. 

Baron kindly offered to spare me the trip into Mo'ole Valley as I'm sure it was fairly obvious I was like the walking dead but when I found out he had taken the day off to go hiking that changed everything.  I hope I wasn't too bossy when I announced "We're going." but no way I was going to be responsible for wasting someone's perfectly good vacation day!

It was a nice change to enter Mo'ole the way everyone else does, I have my own route.  Following the path we reached an intersection with the trail I use and proceeded along the ditch to the tunnel and into the valley.  Despite the considerable rain the day before, the water wasn't flowing too much.

First Falls- photo by Baron Yamamoto
Up the black rope and to the second falls we went.  A few pictures later we took the trail back to the landslide area.  Here it was interesting to compare notes because he went to the left where I'd cut a small trail along a ledge way back when I first cleared the valley.  That ends in a rather steep climb so I showed him what I believe is the old route makai across the bottom of the slide area.  Back on the upper trail we made our way to Third Falls.  I call it that because it's number three in the line up and when it's pumping back there it has three waterfalls.    While we were checking out the falls he pointed at a tree which I've never really paid attention to.  It was a 50-60 foot Ahihi, Metrosideros tremuloides, tree.  I'd never noticed it before but the valley was filled with these.

Second Falls- photo by Baron Yamamoto


Continuing up past it we made our way to Left Falls.  Baron called it the sinister falls because it's pretty dark with the heavy tree cover and even the rock there seems blacker than other places in the valley.  Apparently he gets a bad vibe from the spot.  He commented how the two names complemented each other as back in the old days people considered things from the left as evil.  "The bad guy always enters from stage left" Baron said.  Good call!

Fourth Falls AKA Left Falls - photo by Baron Yamamoto

Up on the left contour I named the falls for (it's the only one with a left bypass) we made our way to waterfall number five which I call Double Rope Falls because there are two ropes to climb past it.

Baron at Double Rope Falls
Next we entered a small series of slick flume-like falls to reach what I call The Pool.  By far the biggest pool with a nice two tier waterfall of the valley, I consider it the best place to take a break.  Baron found his old ribbon from a previous visit and prepared to depart the valley.  He mentioned he'd never been beyond this point.  Considering Baron had taken the day off to show me two other falls there was no way I was going to not at least take him up the valley a little further.  "We're going!"  I announced.  Poor Baron had been trying to cut me slack too!
The Pool
Moving past the Pool and up the stream a short distance we arrived at another waterfall I've kept to myself.  I call it The Flume.  This one is a multi-tiered waterfall back up the valley I think it's the most interesting of them.  With a little landscaping this would be a very zen like place.  There's some strawberry guava that blocks the upper falls section from view that I've thought more than once about taking out.  Baron, now enthused with this new falls immediately wanted to climb up and check out the pool.  Someone else has placed a yellow rope up the falls recently with a warning that it's not secured so first he, then I, proceeded up to check out the pool at the base of the largest falls.

Baron bouncing up The Flume while I claw my way up behind him.

Baron in the cutout midway up The Flume

This was a first for me as the trail I cleared bypasses this falls completely.  Cautiously we made our way up the tiers to a small pool where we snapped a few more pictures and wondered how crazy this spot got during heavy rains.

After inspecting the cutout in the rock we descended back down the falls and headed back out of the valley.  I was home before the kids were from school and after unpacking my stuff and eating a little poke for dinner I went to bed and slept for over twelve hours.

It was great to do the valley with someone who has such a huge appreciation for waterfalls and to swap information with such a knowledgeable hiker.  Mahalo Baron for taking the day off to show me around a few of Nu'uanu Valley's forbidden falls!

More pictures from this trail and others I've done can be viewed on Flickr.  Aloha and mahalo for reading!


  1. Looks like akolea on the right side of your flume pic...

  2. Good eye as usual Sebastian!

  3. It took (and still takes) a lot of getting it wrong before though :)

  4. It looks like there is a barrier created and multiple private property signs. I turned around!