November 12, 2005

Hawaii Blogging 2: Manoa Falls

Hatched by Sachi

Before the this Hawaii trip began, we were planning on hiking almost everyday. However, one week is too short to explore all of Oahu. Not to mention that I had to show up at work every morning, only to be told there was nothing for me to do that day. Well, finally we had a chance to hike, although it was a short one.

Only four and half miles away from Waikiki Beach, toward the mountain (or hill) where Manoa Road ends, there is a rain forest. It was aptly named: as soon as the road turned upward toward the moutain, rain started to pour, startling us... the Ala Wai canal area we just left a mile back was totally sunny. We wondered if we should actually hike today; but it had been raining off and on like this every day since we got here. If we didn't hike today, we never would.

After driving a couple miles on the winding Manoa Road (Dafydd insisted on calling it "Manure Road"), we got to a dirt parking lot. There was a man sitting under a big unbrella attending the lot. The skinny Japanese parking attendant said the weather has been like this all week and would not likely change. "After all, this is a rain forest," he explained with a smile and a shrug. So we sprayed ouselves with insect repellant, and off we sloshed.

The entire trail is only two miles round trip. From the same trailhead, there is the much longer and more strenuous Aihualama Trail. But that one was closed due to the weather. Since it was a little too late in the day to start a long hike anyway (we spent longer at the U.S.S. Missouri than we expected), we were OK with the shorter.

The vegetation of this forest is like nothing I have ever seen. We felt like we were in Tarzan's forest, and at any moment, he would come swinging by on a vine. According to the guide book, the large trees are kukui, African tulip tree, guava, and mountain apple; Dafydd thought he saw mangrove, too. I cannot tell you which tree was which; but I did recognize palm grass and ferns, and vines hanging like giant Spanish moss from the trees. This really is a jungle. We are so used to a desert mountain hike, this was quite a difference!

The muddy trail follows a babbling stream on the right which makes a soothing sound. We wondered whether there were fish in the stream, but the stream was too muddy to see anything anyway. The temparature was a perfect 80 degrees, but the rain persisted and even got worse. When I saw a large palm that looked like a giant lotus leaf, I suggested we should use that as an unberella, just like the Japanese Anime monster Totoro did in My Neighbor Totoro. After a while, we could not tell if the water dripping into our eyes was sweat or rain.

The moderate slope is not a challenge for serious hikers. But the trail was wet and very slipperly. The reward for this slidey hike is at the end: the Manoa Falls. It's tall and skinny like Yosemite falls, making a perfect splash 150 feet down a sheer cliff to the pool below. We sat down on a bench by the pool and opened our lunch. At that precise moment, the heavens opened with a deluge. Dafydd covered his sandwich with his hand to avoid soggy salami, while I quickly shoveled the entirety of my own into my mouth, almost choking on it.

We wolfed down the food and decided to head back immediately. The trip back was worse than the trip out, even though it was all downhill. Especially because it was all downhill! Muddy tracks that were passable by fast lunging on the way up became a Winter Olympics slalom course heading back down. Our shoes were quickly caked with mud, and we lost what feeble traction we had. We should have worn water skis!

"We should just jump in the river and swim back," I said; "maybe it would dry us off."

The rain was heavy enough that we couldn't really even see the forest for the streams of water in our eyes. We slogged down and down, somehow staying on our feet. And finally, we reached the gravel part of the trail, then the wood planks, then gravel again... and then before we realized it, we were back at the parking lot. The Japanese man had turned into a Hawaiian girl, but she huddled under her drooping umbrella and didn't say anything to us. It was just as well. I don't think I could take another "alooooooooooooo-HA!"

Just as we got to the car, Dafydd said "oh good -- it stopped raining!" I looked up; he was right. I hadn't even noticed, because the water was still streaming from my hair across my eyes.

Everything we were wearing was soaked. We looked like big stacks of rumpled wetwash. We washed our hands with the bottled water we hadn't drunk and slid into the car, dripping all the way back through the sunshine to Waikiki. It was the best day of the vacation so far!

Tomorrow, we're going kayaking in Kaneohe Bay and the Kahana River. I bet it'll be drier.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, November 12, 2005, at the time of 2:54 AM

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The following hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi

oh...thank you so much for sharing that, sachi. the totoro image was awesome! that's my favorite miyazaki.
i loved your grand canyon tour, even tho i didn't get all the japanese (watashi wa gakusei des).

this is really the best blog in known blogspace. ;-)

The above hissed in response by: matoko kusanagi [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 12, 2005 6:37 AM

The following hissed in response by: JRM

On your first Hawaii post, there was some discussion of restaurants. Since you are on your way to Kaneohe, let me suggest the following:

Kin Wah Chop Suey
45-588 Kamehameha Hwy. at Luluku Rd. -an unimpressive-looking place in a strip mall behind a gas station, but they have really good and inexpensive Chinese food.

Buzz' Lanikai Steakhouse
413 Kawailoa at Kailua Beach Park - Good, not outrageously-priced steakhouse in a nice location (if you can accept the fact that Bill Clinton ate there).

Haleiwa Joe's
46-336 Haiku Rd, Kaneohe - fairly pricey, good food (fish, prime rib), beautiful location. They have another restaurant in Haleiwa.

The above hissed in response by: JRM [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 12, 2005 3:42 PM

The following hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist

i use to grow 'refer' in Hawaii before Hawaii knew what 'refer' or a refrigerator was or were. Times have changed, and i moved from Hawaii decades ago.

The above hissed in response by: KarmiCommunist [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 13, 2005 4:35 PM

The following hissed in response by: Sachi


We tried Buzz' Steakhouse in Waikiki. It was the best food we ate here. Thank you for the recommendation.

The above hissed in response by: Sachi [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 14, 2005 1:03 AM

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