Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Honolulu Mauka and Ka'iwa Ridge

January 26, 2011- Honolulu Mauka / Ruins / Ka'iwa Ridg
This week was a total loss as far as the Ko'olau Summit Trail goes.  My hiking partner needed a break from the less traveled trails we'd been doing so we scaled it back... way back and it was a good thing we did.  

I figured we could combine a couple small trails behind Honolulu into something worth doing and then add a couple short trails in the area afterwards.  We met at our usual Zippy's on Vineyard St at 0600.  Interestingly enough I met a guy in the parking lot with a very interesting sob story about how he was mugged and his car had been towed while he was at the hospital.  Supposedly he was short 16 bucks and change from bailing it out.  I figured he just was short for his next fix of whatever it was he was on but when he lifted his hat and showed me some pretty gnarly cuts and bruises on his head I figured at the very least I could part with a couple bucks simply because the guy was obviously down on his luck and had been beat up pretty good.  Our hastily formulated plan at Zippys was to combine a couple short trails that are part of the Honolulu Mauka Trail System.  We'd take the Manoa Falls Trail, connect with the Aihualama Trail to the Pauhoa Flats Trail to the Nuuanu Trail and arrive back at what would hopefully still be my car with windows intact via the Judd Trail.  Yes, the picture of the map is printed from Na Ala Hele and because this is the Not So Great Hiking Blog that's not even highlighter- that's chalk from my son's room.  Don't want to raise anyone's expectations!

We headed to Old Pali Road and with a quick prayer for the safety of my car we left for Manoa Valley.  Nobody was at the parking lot of the old Paradise Park to collect the five bucks I'd just given the guy at Zippys anyway so I left a note on the car saying we'd be happy to pay when we came back later.  I wandered over and took a couple hurried shots of the Orchid Station from the ABC Series LOST and then geared up.  We started up Manoa Falls Trail just after 7 a.m.

Manoa Falls Trail

Manoa Falls Trail is all but paved.  Tour groups do this trail.  It's barely more than a walk in a park on what is a very manicured and very well maintained trail.  The first third is full of erosion control steps and gravel making for a very trouble free jungle trail.  Towards the middle there are elevated boardwalk sections that can get a little slippery when muddy or wet.  Towards the falls itself the trial gets a little more rocky, muddy, and rooty but it's just enough to give the hundreds of tourists that visit here a day an authentic Hawaiian hiking experience.  It's a pretty trail but the plants are almost all introduced species if not by Europeans then by the Polynesians that arrived before.  We were early enough that we arrived to the falls well before the crowds did.  In fact we were the only ones there.  They've got so many signs at the falls warning about rock falls that it kind of spoils the mood.  If that doesn't do it the steel poles and cable around the pool at the base will!  Oh well, if you look past it all and the fact we haven't got much rain lately the waterfall is still pretty so I snapped a couple shots of the anemic waterfall and we started down the Aihualama Trail.

Aihualama Trail to Pauhoa Trail

Taking a right just before falls we started up what I'd consider nothing more than a connector trail to get somewhere else.  We passed a couple large stands of bamboo, some fiddlewood groves, more bamboo, some switchbacks, gained some elevation and we'd gone 1.3 miles.  Every once in a while I'd catch a glimpse of what might have been a great view of town but the vegetation blocked them.  We crossed paths with a couple pig hunters and their dogs who hadn't had any luck so far a little ways in and that's about it for that section.

Pauhoa Trail to Nuuanu Trail
Familiar territory because we took this trail a couple weeks back when we did the Konahuanui summits.  It's a wide open expansive trail with extensive roots.  We were only one it for a couple minutes before we reached my favorite section of the trip, the Nuuanu Trail.

Nuuanu Trail to Judd Trail

The Nuuanu Trail had some pretty nice sections with some really nice Ohia trees and a couple good views of Punchbowl and Downtown.  It takes you from behind Tantalus over to the ridge behind Pacific Heights.  Once you get over to the ridge the trail magically becomes a Hawaiian forest with uluhe ferns, ohia trees, ect.  We were treated to several great views of the downtown before we reached a bench with a nice grassy area and a short section with even bigger and better ohia.

As we started down a Marine CH-53 helicopter flew down Nuuanu Valley and circled above us.  I grabbed a couple shots as it flew overhead.  Too quickly this section ended and we descended down into Nuuanu Valley through a series of switch backs.  I had to laugh when we came across the first of three rope sections.  The rope was about three feet long.  Further down the trail a downed tree truck had been notched nicely to make it easy to go over.

The last portion of the trail takes you through a Norfolk Pine stand.  These stately growing trees are often used as Christmas trees here (I buy one every year) and someone had taken the time to decorate a small one along the trail.  I took a couple pictures of that a a whole bunch of the pine forest.  Eventually we left the pines and entered the bamboo again near the Nuuanu Stream.  We paralelled the stream for a short time than crossed over and made our way upstream to the small pool and falls called Jackass Ginger.  This neat little spot is about 40 feet from Old Pali Road.  I took some pictures of the falls and we exited the trail to the road.  To my relief the car had all it's glass intact and was still there!

Kaniakapupu Ruins Trail (the singing of the land shells)

Back at the car we drove a short ways up to the Board of Water Supply's building and parked again.  The here we walked up the road and took a side trail to the ruins of King Kamehameha III's summer home.  These ruins are not on any tour bus route and I suspect that a lot of people who live here don't know anything about them and are only about 5 minutes from the road.  We walked along a pipe on one side ,which I'm guessing has to do with the water system, and a ditch on the other.

Not long after leaving the road we made a left turn and 50 yards or so later arrived at Kaniakapupu.  A fresh lei, and some other offerings were laid out below the plaque identifying the site.  We stayed for a short time taking a few pictures trying to imagine what this place looked like when the King of Hawaii was it's owner.  Here's a nice site with info if you want to read more about it.  I had planned to do the Pali Puka again afterwards but my hiking partner was in tough shape from last week's trail.  His knee was acting up and he was limping pretty bad so we called it a day.  It's a darn good thing we didn't go up to the Ko'olau Summit because if we had his knee would have been a big problem.  Hopefully he'll be back in action next week and the weather will cooperate because I'm itching to get back on the KST and finish the two remaining chunks.  Mokapu to Kuliouou and Konahuanui to Awa'awaloa will have to wait.

He was done for the day but after a lunch at Don Ho's at Aloha Tower I headed back to Kailua and when the kids came home it was time for the final trail of the day- Ka'iwa Ridge- again!  

Ka'iwa Ridge Trail

After the kids got out of school we loaded up and headed to Lanikai.  The weather was AWESOME.  The visibility was so good you could see Moloka'i, Lana'i, and Maui.  As an added bonus we had beautiful golden afternoon sunlight.  The kids slipped and slide up the hillside as their nervous mother anxiously watched.  Passing the initial climb we were treated to our first ocean views.  Whales!  We watched a group of whales playing just beyond the Mokuluas and I kicked myself for not bringing my 400mm lens.  I never have it when I need it!  We continued up with the kids doing a great job up past "Stay-Puft" rock.  Higher and higher we climbed with Mrs. XJ getting more an more nervous as the trial got steeper and the drop-offs on the windward side bigger.  Passing the first bunker she regrouped and we continued to the second set of bunkers.  I took Keona down into one of them and explained that, "This is where the men looked with big binoculars for ships for the big guns to shoot but they never came".  Questions, questions, and his curiosity was satisfied.  The visibility was so great and the landscape highlighted so beautifuly with that golden sun. Totally amazing!  We hung out enjoying a perfect Kailua afternoon atop the old fire control station and finally headed back down when the kids got restless.  Nohealani was carried for a while by my wife then passed to me.  A couple small slips by Keona and Mrs. XJ but we returned to the car safely.  A perfect ending to a great day!

The Honolulu Mauka pictures can be found here, the Kaniakapupu Ruins here, and these Ka'iwa Ridge shots here.  Other trails  I've done are can be viewed in my Trails Collection at Flickr. 

Aloha and mahalo for reading!

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