Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thursday Trails: Lower Waimano Trail

Installment three of Thursday trails brought me and my weekday hiking buddy to Waimano Trail (Upper and Lower). The last time I did this trail was in 2010...back when I only had one kid. 

This time I only had one kid, as the older one (that I previously did this hike with) was traveling in Washington, D.C. 

I remembered this hike because it is minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Pearl City and easy for kids (and moms). 

This trail was better maintained the last time I hiked it, but was still enjoyable this time around. Introducing new people to new hikes is also a thrill. 

We trekked through tall leaves and grass, were surrounded by trees and rocks, and stomped through dark, thick mud. 

We snapped some photos for Instagram, ate a small snack, and enjoyed the stream (and mosquitoes). 

We only encountered one other person (and her dog) along the way, which was a nice change from the highly trafficked Manoa and Makapu'u trails done on previous Thursdays. 

This hike is great to come back to again and again as it is not too strenuous and a really good way to introduce young hikers to nature. 

If you are curious about what my previous experience on this trail was like, check out my post from January 2010 entitled: Waimano Valley Hike. 

Directions to Waimano Trails:
Take Waimano Home Road (in Pearl City) towards the mountains, all the way to the end. Park on the left hand side of the road. The trail entrance is by a chain link fence. Look for the official brown and yellow state sign marking the trail entrance. We took the lower trail to begin. And if you forget your hiking boots, maybe you'll find a pair like we did! 

Or shoes and a ready made sling-shot...

Monday, October 17, 2016

O'ahu Exploration: Ualaka'a Loop Trail

"Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky." Kahlil Gibran, Sand and Foam

We walked through a poem. It is easy to see why great authors of our time (and not our time) choose to write about nature---the forest, the trees, the sky, the oceans. There is a majestic quality to plants that were here before you and will (hopefully) remain long after your time is done. 

With each hike checked off my Hike O'ahu checklist, I am discovering that outdoor exploring helps with inner exploration too. I am overcoming (one step in the forest at a time) some of my previous dislikes and anxieties related to physical accomplishments. Hiking is a challenge of the mind and body. I tried running. And I didn't get very far (literally and figuratively). I never experienced that so called "runners high". But hiking on my own terms and pace has allowed me to experience what I am calling "hikers high" (literally and figuratively). So for those of you with me on finding running diffucult...I encourage you to find your inner Cheryl Strayed (author of "Wild") and get on your hiking boots and hit the nearest hiking trail!

Recently, our oldest son (13) was doing some off O'ahu exploration in Washington, D.C. For a week, he and ninety other eighth graders hiked through our nations Capitol. While he was trying to catch glimpses of Obama, we were trying to catch glimpses of Diamond Head. 

We drove to Honolulu and up Mt. Tantalus. We parked at Pu'u Ualaka'a State Park and started on yet another mosquito filled trail. I would describe this trail as easy. There are a few switchbacks  but the terrain is generally level and easy to navigate. This trail provided shade and the coolest tree roots and the biggest intertwined banyan tree beautiful mess I've ever seen. 

The trail is a loop, but it is a little tricky when you reach "the top" where there are a couple of benches for snacking, thinking, or being bate for mosquitoes. We were literally at a fork in the road and forced to choose a path. I'm sure any of the choices would have been fine, but since we had our five year old in tow, we weren't prepared to hike for an entire day. 
Thank goodness our choice led us down the correct path...the one back to our car! 

There were two spots when we emerged from the protection of the trees and crossed the road (please be aware of drivers who may be speeding around the curve). The last part of this hike was cool. We came across a spray painted love seat situated perfectly in a puka of trees, inviting a romantic view of Diamond Head and Honolulu below. I love my husband, but we opted out of sitting in the bug infested couch...great idea with a slight flaw. 

A short walk up from the "bug couch" was a rudimentary and unofficial tree loft built for the purposes of an even better view of Diamond Head. We watched two young hikers climb the tree and stand on the crude platform. We snapped a photo,  got their verbal description of what they were seeing, and were on our way to finish our loop trail family hike. 

Quick. Good views. Plenty of trees. Great for kids and beginner hikers. Close to the city. And the state park has a non-rudimentary catwalk platform that you can see Diamond Head from---minus couch bugs, potential unsafe conditions, and includes information boards for your reading pleasure. 

Started with trees...ended with sky. That's a poem.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Oahu Exploration: Manoa Falls

Mānoa means: thicksolidvast, depth or thickness. I'd say these same words apply to the Falls Trail. 

My hiking explorations now include one weekday hike. At first, I was just hiking on the weekend with my boys (hubby, 13 year old, 5 year old). Now, I have roped another mom into joining me one morning a week to explore hike at a time. 

For our inaugural week morning hike, we chose Makapu'u Lighthouse---familiar and kid friendly, since our other hiking partner is my five year old Zach. This past week (week two if you are keeping track) we chose the opposite of Makapu'u---Manoa Falls. Wet. Muddy. Shaded. Mosquito Heaven. Thick. Solid. Vast. 

We arrived in the early morning and parked in the pay lot adjacent to Treetops Restaurant. The fee for parking is five dollars. You can make a pitstop to the restaurant bathroom and pay for parking all in the same can even grab a snack from the gift shop if you forgot to pack one for your hike. 

Manoa Falls is a hike I have done several other times. There were the times I was much younger and in college and I rode my moped there. There were the times before my second son was born, and it was a family hike of three. And now I am forty and hiking during the week with anyone who is willing. 

The good things about this hike: 

1. It's green. Manoa Falls is what comes to mind when I invision a "nature trail".
2. It's easy. There's not too steep of an incline, it's not that far to the end, and the path is well maintained.
3. It's a waterfall. When you reach the end of this trail you are greeted with a clear, crisp, running waterfall. It is beautiful. 
4. It's close to a bakery. I picked the best weekday hiking partner. She suggested fresh chocolate croissants as a treat after our hike (Manoa Marketplace, bottom floor near Longs for those who may want to skip the hike and head straight for warm, flaky goodness.) No, these are not on my special eating plan, but I'm not opposed to trying a bite or two for the sake of being social! 😉
5. It's kid friendly. Most kids will enjoy all the different trees, the stream, the rocks, the bamboo, and the waterfall. This hike has a lot of "nature eye candy" for young hikers to take in.

The bad things about this hike:

1. Paying for parking isn't my favorite, but at least it's a nominal fee.
2. There are a ton of folks on this trail. Sometimes I prefer a little less interaction on the nature path.
3. Mosquitoes. Mosquitoes. Mosquitoes.
4. Slippery when wet. (You won't see Bon Jovi.) There can be a few rough to navigate, wet, rocky portions of this hike. 

But that waterfall...

So glad we made the drive across the island to re-experience my old stomping grounds. Manoa never gets old. It gets wet, but never old. 

Tip: Go on a Thursday morning and afterward you can hit up the Manoa Farmers Market---I found some great jalapeños!