On a beautiful Monday
morning, Dave, his dog Mia, Andra and I piled into the Jeep and drove east
towards Pearl City. The wind from 55mph blew through the open back of the
Jeep and flapped the canvas top as we rode down the interstate. West of
Honolulu, we exited the freeway and drove north to a trailhead at the end
of a long residential street of 60’s flats and chain-link fenced yards.
I put my boots on and shouldered my backpack while admiring a particularly
large tree fern in the fenced-in yard nearby. Dave leashed up Mia while
Andra shouldered my tripod. Then we were off. It was sunny and beautiful,
unlike the previous hike at Maunawilli where we got drenched with rain.
The trail was flat and easy to begin with, following a ridgeline forested
with strawberry guava and eucalyptus, with a thick understory of ferns.
The orange clay of the trail was scattered with the roots of trees pushing
up through the soil. A cooling breeze kept us from getting hot.
After following the
ridge for a mile or so, the trail abruptly led down a steep hill to the
valley below. We took our time on this trail, slick as it was from recent
rains, and took advantage of the fixed ropes along the way to prevent falls.
Nevertheless, Andra fell on the way down, and I just happened to catch
it with my camera…an unusual occurrence since it was with the digital camera,
which has a shutter lag of at least 1 second before actually taking the
photo. Thus, I had framed a nice shot with her and Dave hiking happily
along, and she fell just as the shot was acquired.
Upon finally reaching
the valley bottom, some 700 feet below the ridge, we were rewarded with
a gorgeous, straight-from-the-movies waterfall and swimming pool. Two large
falls created two large pools. We visited the lower pool first, and found
the water cool, but refreshing, to swim in. Leptospirosis is a microorganism
which can cause flu-like symptoms, and is contracted through contact with
infected water (tainted by rat, mouse or mongoose urine), and signs at
hiking trails around the island warn against drinking or swimming in stream
water. Naturally we paid this warning no heed and swam care-free in the
clear water. The lower pool was about 20 feet across, with rock walls
draped in ferns and moss, all billowing in the mist created by the water
pounding over a 6 –foot rock ledge. It was too deep to stand in, thus allowing
great swimming. Someone had rigged a rope swing just below the falls. We
all gave a shot at climbing up the rope and swinging off it into the water,
only Andra couldn’t reach the rope. Dave and I could just barely reach
it. Since it was just below the falls, it required strong swimming
just to stay under it, then a big jump out of the water to grab it.
After about 30 minutes of swimming and wading in the water, we climbed
up the short, steep trail to the next swimming hole, one which required
a repel on a rock wall with footsteps carved in it. The waterfall here
was much more impressive, perhaps 50 feet or more, but the diffusion of
the water on its way down resulted in a shallow pool that was never more
than about 4 feet deep, though 30 –40 feet across. Nevertheless, it was
a treat to wade out there and backstroke through the cool, fresh water
(a welcome change after days of swallowing salty ocean water). After
another half hour of this, and snapping dozens of photographs, I reluctantly
allowed my skin to dry and put my boots on for the climb to the top of
the falls. The upstream direction hinted at interesting exploration, but
it was lunchtime and we had nothing but snack bars with us.
The hike back was pleasant.
Though parts were very steep, the adventure of needing a rope to climb
out was enough to keep our interest, despite breathing hard. I collected
several cuttings along the way to try to root back in Wyoming. We all got
pretty muddy in the soupy trail, Mia especially. The enjoyable hike ended
surprisingly quickly, after which we stopped by Maui Tacos for a delicious