Waianae Kai uphill adventure

August 15, 2008 by

We managed to almost miss the trailhead and to go the opposite way round the loop from that which we intended, but somehow we tackled the steady uphill climb in the hot sun to reach our goal. The long walk up a paved road to the trailhead isn’t all that much fun.


Maunawili Demonstration Trail from the Pali to Waimanalo

July 31, 2008 by

I always put off doing this trail because it is dauntingly long to do it round trip and it is a hassle to have to take two cars and leave one at the finish point. Finally, I had a chance to carpool with others and loved the trail. It is well-groomed and relatively flat. We followed the hike with a great potluck in Waimanalo and a performance by amazing roller pigeons.

Kahana Valley hike with HTMC

July 21, 2008 by

It was perfect weather for this 6 mile figure-8 hike in Kahana Valley, just a little overcast and so not too hot. The lower half of the “8” is the Nakoa Trail. I don’t know what the other half is called, but it joins up at the middle of the loop of the Nakoa trail right by some old bunkers.

It was very muddy and slippery and there were many stream crossings, including one over a dam. There were more mountain apples along the trail than I’ve ever seen before. They were tiny, but perfectly ripe and juicy, and reminded me of the first time I ever tasted mountain apples on the Hanakapiai Falls trail on Kauai.

Our cutest Hike Club member on Koko Head

July 21, 2008 by

Having been awakened at the crack of dawn on Saturday by several annoying wrong-number phone calls, we got a very early start up the Koko Head stairs.  Not early enough, apparently, as it was already quite crowded.  A very nice extended multi-generational family of about 10 was making the climb, all wearing identical bright purple zinc oxide on their lips.

Hike Club takes over the Spaghetti Factory

July 21, 2008 by

What happens when the women of Hike Club have the entire upstairs lounge at the Spaghetti Factory to themselves?

Likeke Trail from Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden

July 7, 2008 by

This was a pleasant loop hike, leaving from Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe, following the Likeke Trail to the falls just below the Pali Highway and returning along the edge of the golf course to the back gate of the botanical garden.  The trail was literally covered with mango, guava, and mountain apple, fermenting and sickly sweet.  Flowers were in equal abundance, especially haleconia and shampoo ginger.  Mosquitos were fairly plentiful too.

In case you thought the era of the WPA and great public works was over, Hoomaluhia is a fine example of our tax dollars at work.  It was built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1982 to provide flood protection to Kaneohe.  Not only is it gorgeous, but you can camp there for free and there are toilets and showers.

Hike Club and a Half at Germaine’s Luau

June 15, 2008 by

Food, entertainment, deadly drinks and good friends (and I don’t mean the guy in the pink grass skirt).

You have to do it at least once.

Hike Club tackles the Na Pali coast of Kauai

June 9, 2008 by

I had been hearing about the Kalalau Trail on the Na Pali coast of Kauai for a few years. I remember my first reaction to the description of the trail was, “Why would anyone do that?” But the more I heard about the beauty of the beach and valley, the waterfalls and ginger pools, the spiritual vibe, the mangos, the less crazy it seemed. I was still intimidated, but totally determined to do it. The opportunity suddenly arose a few weeks ago – and was probably a good thing that I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it and psych myself out. Just threw together a backpack and went.

Despite the short notice I felt pretty well prepared with my tent, groundpad, water filter, dried food and camp stove. Checked my backpack and was sitting at the interisland terminal at HNL waiting for my flight on go! airlines (this is the airline that overshot Hilo by 15 miles because the pilots were asleep), when I was overhead paged to the TSA counter. Everyone looked around like, “Oooooooo, who’s in trouble?” I slunk to the TSA counter where I was informed that they would be making a report to the government because I was carrying an explosive substance – a gas cannister for the stove. Oops. I was told that someone would be calling me to follow up. Nothing so far.

Made it to Kauai and stopped at just about every store en route from Lihue to Limahuli Botanical Garden, where I was meeting my hiking companions. No gas. My carefully laid plans were already fraying. Oh, well, surely someone else would have brought gas… Arrived at Limahuli where we were lucky enough to be able to spend the night in a real bed next to a very soothing babbling stream. Here’s the pillow I slept on (courtesy of the super cute daughter of Limahuli’s director)…

Limahuli was the perfect starting point, just a short walk from the trailhead at Ke’e Beach. So many things seemed to just fall into place like that, including transportation appearing when needed in the person of Uncle Matt and Coast Guard Barney. (Mucho mahalo!)

We all thought that it would be great to hike the entire 11 miles of the trail in a day, but weren’t sure how we would hold up carrying heavy packs in the sun on a challenging trail. By mile 5, I was thinking that camping at mile 6 sounded like a fine idea. Arrived at the Hanakoa Valley campsite at mile 6 around 3 pm, hot and tired. The most notorious section of the trail is after mile 6. Friends told me to camp at Hanakoa and do that section in the morning when “fresh.” But after a rest and a snack, we all decided to push on, with me thinking, “Am I crazy?”

The trail was indeed challenging and more than a little scary with narrow, slippery spots along the sea cliffs, but after so much anticipation and terror, it didn’t seem so bad. I was super tired, though, by the time we started the descent to the beach at Kalalau. Asami and I were the first of our group to reach the beach where I threw myself right into the water before claiming a prime camping site under a shady tree.

Kalalau is full of characters, and I met lots of them, including Bill, Gray and Surfer Chris. Bill was a Marine, but now he lives at mile 8 and works his ass off to maintain the trail. He cleared the emergency helipad. He widens the trail with a pickaxe. And he carries huge buckets of water to the rare plants along the trail. He probably looks younger than his age, but up close you can tell that he’s had a hard life. The same goes for many of the longterm residents that have chosen to escape from our consumer culture. I woke one morning on the beach to the sight of a bronzed and beautiful man strolling the shore in nothing but a homemade straw hat, his body accented by the warm light of the rising sun. I’m perfectly happy to keep that vision intact without approaching more closely, since I’m pretty sure that he wouldn’t have looked so god-like at close range.

Kalalau’s beach is a gorgeous wide stretch of sand backed by dramatic ridges. A huge cave at one end provides shelter for those without tents and amplifies the booming of the surf. One of my companions had been there some years before, sitting in the mouth of the cave watching the surf, when suddenly a goat came dropping from above the high arch of the cave mouth onto the beach. (I always wondered if goats fall sometimes…) The poor goat died, but the lucky campers had goat curry that night.

As you sit on the beach and contemplate how far you are from “civilization,” a catamaran tour boat will periodically cruise by off shore. They don’t land at the beach, but all the tourists line up at the rail with their cameras to take pictures of the beach, and consequently of the campers on the beach as well. You feel sort of like a zoo animal. “Here’s a fine example of the naked hippie hiker…” I took some pictures of the boats, just because I felt like I should retaliate in kind.

A trail – or rather many interwoven trails lead up into the Kalalau valley along two small streams. The trails are confusing but it is fairly hard to get lost in the narrow valley where you are always somewhere close to a stream. We got off the well trodden trail a few times and did some rock hopping and bush whacking in slippers, but nothing too hairy. The streams form a picturesque series of pools and small waterfalls surrounded by thick stands of white ginger that smells like every wonderful thing in the world. The smell is so nice it makes you dizzy. One pool is surrounded by thousands of tiny bright pink flowers. You almost have to blink a few times to make yourself believe how pretty it is.

As it turns out, only one person that came with us had brought cooking gas and didn’t really have any to spare. Fortunately, Kalalau is generous and I didn’t find myself needing or wanting much of anything during our 4 days there. I discovered the morning after we arrived that I had chosen a campsite next to a thicket of tomato plants laden with hundreds and hundreds of sweet little cherry tomatoes. About 20 feet away was a lime tree. Many of the other fruit trees weren’t in season yet, though. Massive mango trees were covered with green fruit and the mountain apple trees were full of beautiful fringy pink blossoms that carpeted parts of the trail with hot pink petals. A nice couple in a nearby tent let me borrow their gas a few times and we worked on our fire building skills. The end result was a pot of hot brewed coffee every morning for Asami, Alex and me and hot oatmeal with nuts and dried cherries. And the box of wine that I toted all the way from Oahu was worth every last ounce. I didn’t even miss my shower thanks to the waterfall on the beach.

Heck, I even had a book to read – Andre Norton’s Key Out of Time. I picked it off my shelf on the basis of slimness, but the cover blurb sold me – Time Agents “aided by a Polynesian girl and her team of telepathic dolphins probe the mystery of the sea planet men have named Hawaika.” Nothing too heavy, either literally or metaphorically.

I was not at all anxious to go home, but we eventually had to face the return trip. It was much faster on the way back – knowing that we were going to do the whole 11 miles made us keep up the pace. Left the beach around 8:30 and we were back at Ke’e a little after 4. We had planned to stop at Hanakapiai to swim (2 miles from Ke’e) but decided to push on since we were so close and then relax at Ke’e. I had just finished my water and having done 9 miles already, I saw no point in stopping to pump more from the stream at Hanakapiai since we were so close. Bad idea. I had forgotten that the last two miles have quite a bit of altitude gain, and the cloudy weather that had blessed us with a little shade gave way to full sun. I was dreaming of the water fountain at Ke’e – but when we got there the “comfort station” was beign renovated! Alex generously shared her last bit of remaining water and then we threw ourselves in the ocean which was the perfect temperature and very sparkly. The most annoying thing about the last two miles was all of the day hikers that clog the trail and have to ask if you hiked the “whole thing” and then act impressed.

Laura easily gets the award for most impressive hiking adventure – her boots started to fall apart in the first mile. Many miles and many applications of duct tape, straps and string later, here they are….

When we met up back at Limahuli later, we heard how Laura and Aaron had provided water to several people earlier that afternoon when they stopped to pump from the stream at Hanakapiai, including a young military couple and a solitary guy. Fast forward a few hours later and I’m waiting to see if folks will get their act together to go into Kapaa to get dinner at Blossoming Lotus, one of my favoritist restaurants ever. Finally, I got tired of waiting and it was starting to get dark so I decided to hitch. A car immediately stopped and gave me a ride all the way to Kapaa. The driver, Coast Guard Barney, turned out to be one of the people that got water from Laura and Aaron!

Thanks to the ride, I made it to Kapaa in time to have a fabulously yummy meal of mung dahl and spanakopita and German chocolate cake and white sangria. It eased the transition back into society. Spent the night at the cute little Coral Reef Hotel in a room full of heavy wooden furniture and the sort of remote controlled air conditioner that I associate with being in Fiji or Samoa. There’s a small beach fronting the hotel and the next morning when I strolled down to put my feet in the water, I found that I had only one companion on the beach – a monk seal. I sat and watched him (or her) snort and stretch contentedly for quite some time without anyone else showing up. Very very cool.

Which reminds me that about halfway back from Kalalau, we spotted a group of dolphins off shore. That seemed sufficiently exciting in and of itself, but then we spotted a plume of water and realized that there was also a whale with them. After watching for a couple of minutes, we realized that the small blue spot in the midst of the activity was a lone kayak far offshore. Wow. If you were that man or woman in the kayak, I’d love to hear the firsthand story!

Hike Club and a Half at Sansei

May 28, 2008 by

Half price sushi on Sundays at Sansei.  Whoo hooo!

Magnum…  (or is that Blue Steel?)

Lanimoo Revisited by the HCHC

May 28, 2008 by

Dragged Alex, Jennifer and Amanda up Lanipo on a very hot and sunny day.

Rather voggy…