Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waiakeakua Falls

June 19, 2012

It's supposed to be summer right?  Well the weather in the Ko'olaus of O'ahu don't seem like it at all.  The weekend was cloudy and rainy all along the summit and today was no different.  So, instead of a ridge hike we opted to find a nice waterfall and selected an easy one.  Ka wai-a-ke-akua is a special place steeped in legend.  The name translates to "The water of the gods" and this particular falls tucked away in Manao Valley involves two of my favorite Polynesian Gods, Kanaloa and Kane.  Legends vary but according to "Hawaiian Legends of Old Honolulu" written by W. D. Westervelt in 1915 these two awa loving gods created the spring that feeds the now associated stream and series of falls.

"When at last they were weary of that resting-place, they passed Nuuanu Valley and went into the most beautiful rainbow valley of the world, Manoa Valley, the home of the rainbow princess. This valley is one of the well-settled suburbs of Honolulu.  Well-wooded precipices guard the upper end of the valley and make difficult the path to the tops of the mountains rising thousands of feet above.

Water of the gods
Here the gods found most excellent awa, and Kanaloa cried, "O my brother, this is awa surpassing any other we have found; but where shall I go to find water?" Kane replied, "Here in this hillside is water." So he took his staff and struck it fiercely against the precipice by which they had found awa. Rapidly the rocks were broken off. The precipice crept back from the mighty strokes of the god and a large pool of clear, cool water appeared among the great stones which had fallen. There they mixed awa and water and drank again and again until the sleep of the drunkard came and they rested by the fountain they had made. This pool is still at the head of Manoa Valley, and to this day is called Ka-Wai-a-ke-Akua (The water provided by a god).
The servants of hundreds of chiefs have borne water from this place to their thirsty masters.

In the days of Kamehameha I. very often messengers came from this pool of water of the gods with calabashes full of water swinging from the ends of sticks laid over their shoulders.  When they came near any individual or group of Hawaiians they had to call out loudly, giving warning so that all by whom they passed could fall prostrate before the gift of the gods to the great king."

We began our adventure in upper Manoa Valley along "7 Bridges Road" which took us into the jungle.

Group photo at one of the bridges
The forest is all introduced here but there are some beautiful Heliconia and gingers along the way.
Torch Ginger
Mike plays keep away from Agnes with a lobster claw heliconia
Ohia ai- photo by Agnes Bryant
Ohia ai, mountain apple, is just coming into season and were were able to score a couple tasty treats as we made our way up to the stream.

Tasty trail treat
We we reached the Manoa Tunnel which collects water from the valley mike stopped for a swim in a pool while Agnes balanced her way across one of the pipes of the waterworks.

Then we proceeded up the stairs to the stream again instead of continuing on the trail.  Here we passed the Gladstone Write Memorial.

Gladstone Wright Memorial Carvings
Gladstone Wright was an 11-year-old boy struck by a falling rock on a Sunday school picnic in Manoa Valley. Of course none of us knew that at the time and we speculated he may have been killed during the construction of some of the waterworks.

Leaving the memorial behind we made our way to the set of falls.  There had been a little rain along the way but some passing showers pelted us with huge rain drops.  We'd been hoping the recent rains would have pumped up the water levels in the stream and at the falls but they were still pretty anemic.

Heavy rains at the first of the waterfalls
 At the lower falls another group consisting of three girls and one guy arrived.  During conversations we learned the girls were from Chicago and the guy was from Honolulu showing them around.  We started up the first waterfall via the ropes by there's a bypass trail on the left side through the ginger that Marley and Jamie used to get around the climb.

Mike climbing the first falls
 After the first falls we took a slight left and arrived at the double set of falls.  The first one is only a few feet high but the second is very tall, probably somewhere between fifty and seventy feet.

Some of the girls followed us up to the second set of falls but didn't have a camera and I graciously offered to take a few pictures to email them.  What a nice guy I am!

Visitors from Chicago

Agnes, Mike and I climbed up the long rope to check out the falls above while Jamie opted to stay at the bottom with Marley to keep her company.

Using the long blue rope we climbed the steep falls.

After all three of us had safely arrived at the top the it really started to rain hard.  I noted the increasingly brown color of the water and we decided we'd gone far enough.

As Agnes and Mike made their way down the rope I snapped a quick shot of the stream beyond. Someday we'll return to take the stream back up to the Ko'olau Summit.  Be forewarned, the blue rope is tied to a dead tree.  It's fairly secure but for how long is anyone's guess. 

Stream above the falls
We descended back down in the same order we'd climbed up and by the time it was my turn the anemic falls had become a rager!

RAGING falls!
 The lower set of falls was a torrent of mud and white water and the rains continued to pound us.

We were soaking wet already from the rain so we climbed into the stream for a group photo.

We all took the bypass trail at the lower falls because of the raging water but I had to climb down into the falls to snap a couple shots!  As I dangled from the ropes I saw a couple rocks whiz by my head and the flow continued to increase.

Idiot in a raging falls (Me) - photo by Agnes Bryant
 After a few minutes I decided it was pretty stupid so stay there so I climbed back up and used the contour climb on the left side of the falls to get back down to the group.  We took the trail out this time because the higher water in the stream would have made it a longer and wetter adventure and we were ready to get dry!

 What a great change from the distance hikes we've been doing lately.  Sometimes it's nice to slow down and have a relaxing day on the trail instead!

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