Rather than go into a long dissertation about how this limestone cave system was created here under the shadow of the Ko'olau Volcano, the short version is that a very long time ago the sea level on O'ahu was much higher and the area near the University of Hawaii was once covered by a coral reef. As the sea levels dropped the reef was exposed to the air and died. Springs and runoff from the mountains above ate into the limestone layer left by the reef creating a network of caves. Most have either collapsed or been filled in over the years. These systems are also found other places on the leeward coast. This fantastic link that explains everything about this system in far more detail than I could. http://www.caves.org/pub/journal/PDF/V60/V60N3-Halliday.pdf
Before we go further, despite what the link says the water in the cave system is anything but clean just from visual observation. Further, access to the system is tenuous at best and there is a danger of both flash flooding and the possibility of a cave in. Neither scenario is a good one because there is only one way in and one way out of the cave. No directions and no names and, for the record, I was never there either.
After entering the cave system, which required crawling through the muck through a few low areas we entered the still low and shallow karst. Fair warning, armed only with the Nikon AW100 which is waterproof, photography was a little challenging especially with everyone moving around in the dark with headlamps so a lot of the pictures are blurry. Two of the members of the expedition were armed with DSLR's (you guys are mental!) so hopefully they were able to get better shots.
|Entering the cave system|
|Checking equipment and adjusting to the cramped quarters. Also wondering why we were even here!|
|Setting up a shot|
|Venturing deeper into the cave...|
|One of the pilings driven down into the Karst to support a building above.|
|Exploring a shallow section|
|A deeper section... up to my shoulders|
|Returning back to the entrance.|
If you've got about 9 minutes and 1 second to waste you can watch this series of video strung together as we swear, complain, joke, and trip our way through the waters of the karst. This is taking Not So Great to a whole new level- pretty crappy! Those with sensitive ears will have to pardon the language too.
Andrew Agcaoili put together a better video of our visit and was nice enough to give me permission to share it here. Be sure to check out his other videos on YouTube
There will be other write-ups about this visit to the Moili'ili Karst and I'll update this post as they are published. More pictures from this adventure and others can be viewed on Flickr. Aloha and mahalo for reading!