Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Maui: Iao & Road to Hana Waterfalls

May 20, 2017

Erik and I were able to take a trip to Maui to attend a graduation party.  We decided to take advantage of our island trip and explore the road to Hana.  We arrived a day early and flew in the first flight to start the road trip.  However, we decided to just explore Iao Valley since we ended up getting a late start. 

I met up with my cousins and we parked past the Hawaii nature center.  Turns out the Iao valley state park was closed (even when we asked some workers at the airport if Iao was open and they said yes).  However, with some help, we managed to do a short hike along the stream and eventually found ourselves at the Iao lookout spot.  It took us about 20 minutes to get there.  My cousins and I probably got an impression on how much Erik and I love nature.  They were in nice clothes while they tagged along with us to go along the stream.  I felt bad for them since they were waiting around as we setup and took some silk photography.  Hehe.

Here's where we ended up before we turned around.

May 21, 2017

This day was another early bird starter.  We were able to convince my cousin and brother to join us on the long drive.  We left Kahului Walmart around 7:00ish after grabbing some ice, drinks, and breakfast before heading to Hana.  I drove first since I tend to get car sick.  A little after Kaupakaula Road officially started the Road to Hana mileage.  I made sure to press the reset trip odometer button to keep track of all the waterfalls that are at a certain mile marker.

Surprisingly, I guess I was driving so quick that we missed mile marker #2: Twin falls.  I was expecting Twin falls to be located at a bend in the road, and instead it was on a straightaway.  We noticed a bunch of cars parked on the right side with the food trucks and I realized I just missed it.  So we turned around and parked where the cars were.  It was a very short trek maybe not even 5 minutes to reach the first set of falls.  Erik and I setup our tripods and captured long exposure shots with the Lee filters.  They were two falls next to each other, short and wide.  It kind of reminded me of Na Ohia falls but thicker.  We didn't go to the waterfall in the back that people usually swim in since we were on a time constraint.  We had to make sure to be back in Kahului by 3pm.

Our next stop was Ching falls at mile marker 16.8.  Surely, this one was on the inside of a side valley.  We also missed it since there weren't any cars parked along the road.  However, when driving on the bridge, I was able to see a glimpse of the waterfalls below us so we turned around and parked along the side of the road.  At first, we went into the valley thinking the trail was there to the lower falls, and instead we found the stream which gave a small waterfall.  Erik was able to find the trailhead to the lower falls which we had to cross the street to get to.  It took about less than 5 minutes to get to the bottom.  Ching's pond is pretty huge to swim and jump in.  It started to drizzle, so we just took a few pictures and rushed ourselves back to our car.

After mile marker 19, we definitely did not miss Upper Waikani falls, also known as 3 Bears Falls.  This was my highlight of the trip.  3 tall and full waterfalls...so gorgeous!! Erik and I was able to find the trail head and it took us less than 10 minutes to reach the bottom of the falls.  I climbed up some rocks to get a cool angle, while Erik was at the bottom on the right side of the falls.  We stayed at the base of the falls for about 25 minutes.  I kept gawking at this beautiful waterfall(s).

When walking back to our car, two big lifted Tacoma trucks honked at us and it was my cousins who lived on Maui that caught up to us on the road.  We were able to just follow each other along the rest of the drive.  We stopped by Pu'a Ka'a falls, where the parking lot had a public bathroom and across the street was what looked like a state built waterfall park.  I went closer to the falls and one of my cousins and his friends went above the waterfall to dive in the nice cool pool.   We took some group pictures and we then went back to our cars.

Before reaching Hanawi falls, we drove past two waterfalls at the valley bends.  Erik and I made sure when driving back that we explore those.  Hanawi falls was an obvious waterfall that can be seen when driving along the highway, just like 3 Bears falls.  We stopped there and Erik and I went down to shoot.  There were three waterfalls that can be seen when standing at the bridge.  I didn't care for the left waterfall and instead shot the two right ones with a dam below it.  It was already 11:00am, and we established that our turn around point was at 1:30pm. 

At 11:30 we reached Wainapanapa beach park at mile marker #32.  Since Erik and I wanted to checkout the two waterfalls we drove past between mile marker 20-22, we decided to head back.  Just so we can explore the two waterfalls and we also didn't plan to go fully around South east with the car rental.  We didn't get insurance and we heard that part of Piilani highway had rough terrain to drive on.

Erik and I were able to explore Kopiliula falls, which Baron mentioned for us to make sure to see if we had time.  It was along the valley bend and there was a small shack that had the graffiti of "You are beautiful".  There was also a dam like waterfall on the left.  Erik and I hiked in for about 15 minutes to reach the waterfalls in the back.  It was very beautiful, the stream had at least 4 tiers.  To get to the three tiers, we had to boulder a little to get to it.  We spent a lot of time taking silk shots of the falls and then hurried ourselves to get to the car so my cousin and brother didn't need to worry about us (they just napped in the car).  We stopped by the dam waterfall and quickly snapped some pictures of it.  Since it was already 1:25pm, we decided that this is the last waterfall to see along Hana highway.

All of us in the car were satisfied with all the waterfalls we've seen and was sure hungry! We stopped by Maui mall to grab some take-out Genki sushi and then head back to my Aunty's place.  We were right on schedule :)

The next time Erik and I go to Hana, we will probably start the drive on the other end of Hana to see Wailua and Sacred pools.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Kaua to Pohakea via Honouli'uli

May 13, 2017

One hike that's been on my bucket list since I started hiking back in 2012 was Pu'u Kaua, along the Waianae Summit Range.  Pu'u Kaua is the third highest peak on Oahu at 3,127 ft.  Many of the hiking blogs I followed boasted of Kaua's panoramic 360 degree view.  For 5 years, I couldn't figure out how to get there without trespassing.  However, recently, a good friend obtained permission to access Kaua's trailhead and invited me on this hike.  Of course, I couldn't resist.

Joining me on today's hike was Baron, Marilou, Aprille, and Ani.  I picked up Baron, Marilou, and Ani at Baron's house at 7 am, then headed to Waipahu to pick up Aprille.  We headed to the trailhead, where we began the trek at 7:30 am.  We passed through the gate and proceeded up a ridiculously steep dirt road.  What a way to start the day!   But within 15 min, we finally arrived at the Honouli'uli Contour Trail (HCT).

However, being that the HCT hasn't been maintained for many years, I think it would suffice to say it was overgrown!  The picture below is the OPEN part of the trail.  LOL.

After a solid 2 hours of bushwhacking, we finally arrived at an enormous boulder near an open area along the HCT.

Finally, after 3 hours of bushwhacking through California grass and finding the trail, we reached the base of the ridge heading up to Kaua.  The hike up the ridge was unrelentingly steep, but very beautiful.

Below, Aprille makes the final climb up this steep ass ridge.

4 hours later, we reached the top and were treated to this . . .

We all took a seat in a nice, grassy area and soaked in the 360 degree views!  Kaua was all I dreamed it would be (well, except for the crazy bushwhacking at the bottom).  With a long way ahead of us, Baron suggested we gear up and continue on.   We needed to get all the way to the north side of Pohakea Pass, which is the low point along the ridge in the pic below.

The views all around us were never ending!

In a short bit, we encountered the fence line that DLNR put up to keep wild animals from trampling the native forest or spreading the seeds of invasive plants.

We followed the fence line for what seemed like days.  However, the views kept our minds off the unsightly fence.  A little over an hour later, we arrived at the "fun" portion of today's hike: Baron's 4 obstacles.

Obstacle #1:

Obstacle #2: PC - Marilou

Obstacle #3: PC - Ani

Obstacle #4:

What an adrenaline rush!!  With 40-50 mph winds, it made these obstacles a little tougher, but safety-minded Baron made sure we all got out safely.  A few minutes later, we reached the Pohakea Pass ridge and headed back to the bottom.  Approximately half an hour later, we found ourselves back at the road, heading to our cars.

We ended our day our PHM (Post Hike Meal) at Village Thai in Kunia with some ono food and reminiscing on another epic day in the mountains!

Saturday, May 6, 2017


May 6, 2017

The original plan for today was to finally get my butt to the summit of Ohikilolo, which has eluded me over my last 4 tries.  Today was no different; our connection to park at the trailhead was still recovering from an epic Cinco de Mayo so we diverted to plan B.  Baron recommended another fun hike on the west side: Kawiwi.  So, we hopped back into our cars and headed back to Waianae.

We parked at the trailhead, geared up and quickly made our way, as it was near summer and in Waianae, which meant we were in for a blazer!  With a 6:30 am start, the sun was already peeking over the mountains.  On the positive side, the summit of Kawiwi was crystal clear!!

Today's crew was made up of Baron, James, Marilou, Aprille, Bernice, and me.  About 15 min in, we arrived at a lo'i someone is growing.  Was a pretty sight to see.

After a short break in the cool shade, we began a bushwhacking, ass burning, calf cramping jaunt up the base of Kawiwi.  Definitely, not my favorite part of the hike!  After 20-25 minutes of grueling bushwhacking, we finally got above the bushes and were treated to our first view!

From here, the fun began!  There were . . .

. . . Scrambling sections . . .

. . . Narrow rocky dike sections . . .

. . . Climbing sections . . .

. . . and AMAZING views!!

And we weren't even at the summit yet!  Speaking of the summit, that didn't disappoint either!

Needless to say, after a little over 4 hours of hiking, we sat down and enjoyed a well-deserved break and re-energized with some snacks.  However, we still had a long way to go and a lot of fun still up ahead.  Maybe 10-15 minutes from the summit, the fun began.

We snapped billions of photos at all the eye-candy surrounding us!  Not much farther ahead, lay the signature spot of the crossover: the Broken Teeth.  This section required some serious focus as there are drops of hundreds of feet on both sides as we made our way across these smooth, but crooked boulders.

Along the crossover, we spotted a bunch of blooming Silk Oak flowers.  Although not native, they produce a unique floral pattern that's still beautiful to behold.

Just about 7 hours into our hike, we finally arrived at the summit of No Name Peak.

From here, the rest was downhill.

PC: Bernice

In about 20 minutes, we reached Tiki Ridge and began our descent back into Waianae Valley.  After the final obstacle, the remainder of the hike was just a knee pounding trek back to the bottom of the mountain.

About 2 hours later, we finally made our way back to our cars.  With our adrenaline fading, energy gone, and stomachs growling, we made our way to one of the best parts of any hike: the PHM (Post Hike Meal).  Today's PHM was at Shakey's in Waipahu for some delicious pizza, chicken strips, potato wedges, and awesome company!!

PC: James

Monday, March 20, 2017

Kilauea Lava flow and Halema'uma'u Crater

March 20, 2017

On the third day of our big island trip, the gang and I made the long drive from Waikoloa to Hilo via South Point.  This was our last full day excursion.  We left Waikoloa village around 8:30 am and began our omiyage scavenger hunt.  On the list: Mrs. Barry's Kona Cookies, Kona Chips, Two Ladies Kitchen, and KTA for my Warabi or Pakpako ferns.

The drive was long and winding, most of us fell asleep while Troy drove.  Along the highway were acres of farms, ranches, or old lava.  So country!  We stopped by Punalu'u Bake shop for lunch and took a look at most Southern point of the United States, South Point or Ka Lae Beach.

We checked in at the Kilauea Military Camp around 3pm.  Thanks to Michelle for the hookup!  Already a long day, our hiking adventure had only begun.  We wanted to checkout the Kilauea lava flowing into the ocean and Halema'uma'u crater.  Unsure of how to get to Kilauea, we stopped by the visitor center and asked directions from the park ranger.  We had to two options: either drive down the Chain of Craters road and do the10-12 mile round trip hike or drive all the way to Kalapana and walk or bike the 8 mile round trip to see the lava.  Since it'll take another couple hours just to drive to Kalapana for the shorter hike, we didn't chance it since our stay was closer to Chain of Craters road.

We arrived at the end of Chain of Craters road a little before 5pm.  The wide road was subtle with its ups and downs.  Just about a third way down the gravel road, the sun began setting behind us.  Way ahead was this massive, grey plume floating skyward at the edge of the cliff.  It looked like a huge train was passing by, blowing out steam.   Slowly but surely, dark surrounded us, making it necessary for us to use our headlamps on this long, long night hike.  Instead of the grey steam, the only color we saw in front of us was this bright, glowing, dark red lava.  I was getting pretty excited the closer we got to it.  Since we were near lava, it was pretty warm.  We didn't bother to wear our jackets the whole time.

At the end of the gravel road, we came across a chain preventing us from going straight, forcing us to go left where we started hiking on established lava.  The ground was very uneven.  My shoes took a beating that night stepping on the jagged and crusty lava rocks.  We were stepping on Pahoehoe and A'a type lava rocks.  On our right, we were getting closer to the lava pouring out into the ocean.  However, the rope blocked us from walking towards it.  The rope was about a 100 yards away from the lava flow.  We didn't want to chance going past the rope and pay the consequences if we got caught.  Instead, we made our way to the lookout and it felt like a hundred miles! 

Clusters of headlights and flashlights could be seen approaching the lookout.  The bright starry sky above us and the lava was a sight to see.  Many people gathered and only stayed for about 5 minutes to watch Kilauea then leave.  I was bummed seeing the lava because it was so far away.  I was expecting to see what Hawaii News Now and the boat tours would showcase.  Instead, it was just like a glowing red orange line going into the ocean.  The blocked off section kept us so far away from Madame Pele's creation.

I was able to get great pictures of the dark and starry sky along with the lava flowing.  Erik with his bazooka lens was able to get better pictures of the lava in detail.  After about an hour at the lookout, we packed up and started heading back around 9:30pm.  Everyone was dead tired and quiet as we made our way out.  I was excited with how my long exposure pictures were coming out and needed models to be in my picture.  Luckily Darren and Jana was in the back with me and agreed to be my subjects.  I hardly take night shots because I do not own a wide lens.  I was able to rent the Rokinon 10mm lens from Pro Cam Hawaii and use it for this trip.  I was very happy with my shots and couldn't keep myself from telling the group how awesome my pictures were coming out.  Eventually, I convinced the group to do a cool group shot with the stars above us once we were back on the gravel road.

It was already past midnight and we still had a few miles left to go.  We dragged ourselves to the car and surprisingly we were the only group that hiked the 10-12 miles (that late).  Darren and I ended up racing back to the only car in the parking lot.  Darren says he beat me, but I'm sure I won, haha.

Troy drove us back up the Crater Rim Road and headed to the Jagger Museum lookout, which is open 24 hours.  Since we didn't want Troy to fall asleep on the wheel, all of us quizzed each other on the 80s and before music.  I didn't have a clue since I was born in the 90s.  And in just a few minutes, we made it to Jagger museum. 

The Jagger museum lookout showcases the Halema'uma'u crater caldera, where boiling lava bubbles in crater.  Only Darren, Daniel, Erik, and I went to check it out because of how cold it got.  It was about two in the morning.  After capturing some shots, we finally made our way back to the cabin.  All of us were dead tired, and I'm pretty sure we all knocked out fast once we all showered.  It was a long but eventful day.  I think we were delirious because when Erik was revealing his pictures, we saw Pele's face in the lava.