Tuesday, November 29, 2016

O'ahu Exploration: Aiea Loop Trail

So, we hike a lot. Some years more than others. I'd say this is our third go at being extra hike-y people. The first time was when our oldest Gabe was a toddler. Then again right before our youngest, Zach, was born...and now. There are several hikes that I have done, but with years in between going. This, I have determined, makes a huge difference. It can be a good difference---coming back to a trail you love. Or it can be a bad difference, in the case of today and Aiea Loop. 

We have done this hike before. With kids. And I in no way recall how long it was. In fact, I'm sure I've read online several times that people equate this trail with being easy and kid friendly. Hmmm. Once again, my opinion differs from the hiking community at large. 

This trail is lush. It has a couple of scenic views. There is greenery and trees and plants everywhere. But, this trail is a case of nature getting in its own way. All the wonderful things that make this a truly secluded trail through the woods?  These are also all the things that made me question why I love hiking. Or maybe it was the lack of preparedness I felt going into this hike. I made a mistake. Instead of reading the sign clearly WARNING of length and mud, I relied on my memory. Ugh. Huge error in judgment. Huge. Apparently I had forgotten the following key things:

1. The loop is almost five miles. That is fine, but in my mind I thought we were doing three miles.
2. End of November in Hawaii means rain. The trail was mud. Thick mud. Soft mud. Mud with puddles. Mud with rocks. Mud with sticks. Mud with fruit and flies. Mud with leaves. Mud with downed trees. My shoes are done. I'm now asking Santa for a pair of REI hiking boots a la Cheryl Strayed in WILD (the book)! 
3. Mud and rain destroy a trail. Half the time I was unsure if we were even hiking where we were supposed to be. 
4. Kids start getting complainy after three falls in the mud. Or two miles. Whichever comes first.
5. Unleashed dogs on trails don't mix well with mud and whiny children. We had a momentarily scary and muddy encounter with a very eager "puppy" that looked to be over 100 pounds. Jumpy. Saliva. Muddy paws. Side of mountain. Scared five year old screaming bloody murder. Today was super exciting. 

We got some good pictures, however.

We saw the most downed trees ever. We climbed under and over...we will kill it at the next limbo party. 

We discovered a hidden Christmas Tree lot. 😂

We saw an airplane eye view of the stadium and Pearl Harbor.

We realized what we had gotten ourselves into...at the END of the trail.

Zach was not pleased with moms choice of activities. Actually, mom herself was not pleased with the choice. Lesson learned. We are not five mile mud hikers. Or trail entry sign readers...

Sunday, November 27, 2016

O'ahu Exploration: Likeke Falls

This hike is perfect for kids, waterfall lovers, novice hikers, and mosquito fans. We saw an incredible amount of man made and nature made beauty on this hike. If we lived closer to this hike, I'm sure it would be one we would do weekly. It's a one stop shop for golfing, church, nature, exercise, and art. 

Likeke Falls is on the windward side of O'ahu. We ended up taking the Pali Highway over the mountains because I thought we were headed to the Pali Golf Course instead of Ko'olau Golf Course. Although right down the road from each other, the distinction is important. I realized our mistake and we were quickly back on track. Ko'olau Golf Course in Kane'ohe is beautiful. Why am I talking about a golf course in my hiking post? The golf course provides the parking spot (except on Sundays during church) for this hiking hideaway. 

After finding the right golf course and parking, we were on our way. The trail begins on a leaf covered old road that leads you to what I suspect is an old water tank due to the large amount of graffiti art along the bottom of the tank. Or maybe it's still in use. I guess a little graffiti never hurt any water?! I dunno.

At the water tank we met a few lost, mud soaked hikers. Together we figured out the correct trail, bumped into a Jackson Chameleon (the charming bright green lizard pictured later on in this post), and immediately got up to our ankles in red mud. 

Most of this hike is along an old stone road overgrown with cool ferns, guava trees, what looked like mangrove twisted knots, and moss---it was very fairytale-esque. I would not have been shocked to see Prince Charming pop out of the wooded brush on his white horse. 

Not far into the hike, you go off the trail. This went against my better judgment, but sure enough, off the trail was the way to the cold, mosquito haven waterfall that we had ventured to see. A few stomps through more thick red mud, ducking under some low hanging branches, and we arrived at the stream and waterfall known as Likeke.

I recommend you going so you can check this off on your "to hike" list. It's nice to be able to easily access a trail that offers mountain views (you can see the Pali Lookout), wildlife (mosquitos and chameleons) a waterfall (technically it's two), two types of graffiti (tree and water tank), and you can end the hike with a round of golf (after you sluff off some of the mud on your shoes). 

The forrest spoke to us: 

And so did the water tank, we just weren't sure what it was saying...

The name of the hike, Likeke, spoke to us too. It means powerful or brave. Each hike inspires us in some new way. If the obvious take away for this one is love and bravery? I'll take it. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

O'ahu Exploration: Wiliwilinui Trail

A two week break from family hiking adventures, and of course we pick up with a beast of a trail---Wiliwilinui Trail. I'm not sure that I can continue to trust online reviews of hikes. "Novice" is not the description I would use to describe a hike that required the Sierra Club to fly in stairs for a portion of the trail. That's just me. 

Our forray back into nature was especially exciting for the kids. The Wiliwilinui Trail has fruit picking and tasting opportunities for half the hike. Zach (5 years) was ecstatic to eat guava while hiking. Gabe (13 years) loved going off trail to shake trees for fruit. Isom (38 years) was happy the fruit was free. 

Wiliwilinui Trail is a ridge trail in East Honolulu that reminded me of a cross between Koko Head (steps, steps, steps) and the Hawaii Loa Ridge Trail hike. Let me add again for extra measure, that neither of those hikes are for the faint of heart.  So, of course, after two weeks of not hiking, in the worst vog we have had in recent months, with our two children...we decide to hike (at 11:30 a.m...😁) the "novice" Wiliwilinui Trail.

In the beginning, all smiles. It was quiet. Nothing to hear except birds, fruit falling from trees, and the soft clicking of my left knee (I'd claim an old sports injury, but at this point, I think it's just a being old injury.) 

Wiliwilinui Trail is high up so you immediately get ocean, valley, and city views. Unfortunately for us, some of the view was lacking due to the thick haze from the afore mentioned vog.

You know a trail is serious and means business when they have signs and boot brushes...you are not in Kansas anymore!

Decided some zen was needed to continue on...

⬆️ Someone didn't get enough zen I guess...

Wiliwilinui Trail ended up being a family triumph. We made it over several hills, walked around mud, over tree roots, through ferns, over rocky terrain, through the forrest, on top of steep cliffs...all the way to the almost end of the trail. When we reached the swinging ropes on the side of the muddy cliff as the only way to continue on, we decided to call it a day. We like to be responsible. 

The kids handled not completely finishing the trail well...they devoured a piece of Halloween candy and moved on. As kids do. They get over things and keep going (great tool for life). 

They even stopped to literally smell the flowers on the way back down. Proud of our little family for taking on a mountain. Wiliwilinui is no Everest, but it sure felt like we were accomplishing something momentous. One foot in front of the other, I'll take it.