Saturday, August 1, 2015

Ehukai Pillboxes

After the last hike, which was deemed an "in-complete" due to the heavy rain, I was wanting to get out again. The weather had been tolerable and sunny skies were forecast for the weekend. Some old classmates of mine had told me about another pillbox hike that also boasted some great ocean views. Saturday morning we all piled into my car and drove out to North Shore. I surprised them by sharing that it was the first time I've ever been North Shore. They were excited and played tour guides for me the entire adventure. Once we got out of the city hustle, the open spaces and stretching pineapple fields were a welcome sight. I could also tell we were approaching country, as cars disappeared into jacked up trucks and muddy SUV's. Surfboard racks, faded coolers, and poi dogs barking in beds of passing trucks all made my heart warm and fuzzy inside.

 Pulling in Sunset Elementary School, we parked and geared up for the hike. Mostly covered with trees, we started up the hill. To our chagrin, we had to take several breaks to wildly inhale the oxygen we needed. We agreed that school is only good for working our brains and not our other muscles. Pine trees which first dotted out hike, gave way to a large forest. The gentle breeze could be heard playing with the slender needles. The calming whistling reminded me of my childhood and days spent playing underneath the Waimea pines.

Talking story on top the cement pillbox 
Inside the Graffiti Studded Chamber 

Before we knew it, we were at the first pillbox. The effort it took to get there was well rewarded as the view was just stunning. We climbed down and went into the pillbox. I spent some time looking over the different artsy messages and drawings by the diverse graffitists. 

Piecing together artful thoughts 
 Even though I was as happy as a clam with this pillbox, my friends said the view was nothing like what the second pillbox had to offer. Of course what could be more tantalizing then a better view....and knowingly trespassing!!! As we all looked at the foreboding message on the dilapidated metal sign posted to a tree, the well worn path invited us onward. It took just a short 10 minutes down another hill before a small clearing opened up.

Sunset Beach, North Shore
It was simply breath-taking as I could see all the way from Ka'ena Point to Kawela Bay. We sat there for a while, eating snacks and absorbing the view. My friends shared with me landmarks as we watched the waves come in. Surfers dotted the shoreline and we spotted some catching the waves.

The 3 Musketeers
While perched on the top, we decided on lunch and were to go for a swim. Before saying goodbye to Ehukai Pillboxes, I did the obligatory jump shot.

We ended the days adventure by grabbing some ono grinds at a local food truck. After filling our empty bellies, the girls decided to show me Oahu's Waimea Bay. Although we were ready for a dunk in the refreshing water, the surf was high. Signed posted all along the beach along with random loud-speaker life guard comments stayed us from entering the turbulent waters. Of course that didn't dampen the fun we had soaking up the sun and giggling about life.

  Surrounded by lovely sights and awesome friends, this hike reminded me of how blessed I am.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Lanikai Pillboxes

So after seeing some waterfalls, the next hike on the list was a ridge hike. I got my friend to pause her studying for the day and come join me and the church group. Driving through the Pali Tunnels we were hit with some heavy fast-moving rain. I looked at my friend and we both had the same thought, maybe todays not a good ridge hike day. But we pressed one with hopes of clearer weather on the other side of the island. We reached the parking area and walked the short distance to the hike start. When the other ladies joined us, there was talk of cancelling due to possible rain. My hope was still high and we decided to try it out since we were already there.

New shoes meet old dirt
I had read reviews of this hike and all mentioned the "cardiac hill" that you get to almost immediately. We were huffing and puffing and sweating up a storm on the barren and dusty "hill". Loose dirt and lack of stable bushes made it hard at points. Good thing my new shoes had the traction they did. My friend was doing well in her slippers (but then again, she's a pro). Once over that, the hill leveled out to a more "easier incline". Don't get me wrong, it was still an incline, just not one that would blow the arteries in my neck. About half way up, the clouds were still blocking much of the sunshine and the smell of rain was in the air.

the beginning of the ocean side rain clouds
My friend and I scuttled up to the first pillbox just as large raindrops started to blow in the wind. The rest of the group decided not to brave the rest of the hike and had turned around at the half way point. Well, the rain was coming in faster and harder, but it felt good to just admire the view and let our pounding hearts subside. As we rested and hid from the rain, we pointed out landmarks and named the ones we knew.

After sitting for 5 minutes, I decided to look around the pillbox and see what the cloud pattern was forecasting. To my horror, those fast moving clouds that we had come across driving over were pressing in and showed no sign of withdrawal. The ocean was partially blocked out by dark rain clouds as well. Because this was a bare ridge hike, wind and rain can play a huge part in safely ascending and descending.

Moku Nui and Moku Iki
I turned to my friend, and the fear in both our eyes told us our joy ride was at its end. We quickly shoved our phones into the driest parts of our backpacks, and picked our way down. Within a very short time, rivers of muddy water ran between and around our feet. Wind and rain blasted on us from all sides and soon we were wet. About the halfway point, our hair was completely soaked and we were having a challenging time getting down the hill.

When we got back to cardiac hill I had a terrifying thought that we could easily sprain our ankles. With little to no shrubs to grasp onto, waterfalls of mud now enveloped the once dry hill we climbed. A hiker in front of us directed us to go to the far side in order not to slip as much. Just as I made my way over, I completely lost my balance and slipped. It was like a slow-motion of skating on all fours. Thankfully my hands and feet were able to keep the rest of my body off the ground. I sighed a bit of relief as I looked at my cut hand. At least I didn't have a muddy butt!

short but sweet moment
Even though we should have been terrified the entire way down, both me and my friend wished that we had a go-pro attached to us to film this great feat. We laughed at how our siblings think of us at "boring". Ha! We were pushing the envelope on crazy and deadly and we loved it! We were almost at the bottom as screeching and giggling rang from our open mouths. There was just a mud filled blacktop when we exited the hike, as all the mountain seemed to be pouring out onto the street. Running to my car we were in ankle deep water. I quickly grabbed a few handy beach towels from my trunk, took off my soaking shoes and jumped into the car. When we finally got our breath back, we looked at each other with wide eyes. "That was fun!" We checked our phones and tried to dry them off.

Since we were not able to reach the other pillboxes, we felt a bit gypped from the hike. Looking like drowned rats, we put on a motely array of dry clothes I had in my car and headed into town. Searching for a coffee shop offering warmth and shelter from the continuing downpour, we found a cute place tucked away in a small strip mall. After getting our drinks we decided to head back home.....the scenic way.

Makapu'u Tidepools, Waimanalo
Driving past Waimanalo, I felt like I had been transported back home. From the jacked up trucks to the old single wall houses, everything breathed simplicity and comfort above all. Compared to the nearby city of Honolulu, the quiet town of Waimanalo seemed unscathed by the busyness over the mountains.

lava rocks are my friends
The sun was peaking out the of the clouds more as the day progressed and we went further away from the Lanikai area. We pulled over and stuck out toes in the water by the Makapu'u area.

Rabbit Island and Kaohikaipu Island
We continued our journey around to Sandy's Beach where we jumped in for a quick swim. Obviously, I feel that this hike was not completed as we only made it to the first pillbox. Pictures were also lacking as, well, I was trying to live and not kill my phone with water.

Until I am able to try again, memories of this adventure rapturously play back in my head. If I'm going to fall, I'd most enjoy falling while laughing. Lanikai Pillboxes, we shall meet again!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Lulumahu Fall's

My adventure appetite had tasted the goodness of hiking, and I was itching to explore a new place. Hearing that the next hike also featured a grand waterfall, I was all in. The morning of the hike found me tired from a previous day at school. I almost called it off but my better judgment pulled me from my warm covers. Driving up Pali Highway was so gorgeous as the morning sun fingered through mountain peaks. I got to the turn off right as some of the other ladies pulled up. Donning my newly purchased hiking boots, I scrunched up my nose to the bug repellent spray in the air.

The hike started with a walk through some bamboo forests. There is a soothing and yet eerie sound of the wind moving in a grove of bamboo. Future photo shoot possibilities tucked their way in my mind as we walk on. I had read reviews of the dangers of getting lost on this part of the trail (good thing the path we took was well trodden and marked brightly with tape).

All of a sudden we stepped through the forest into an open grassy clearing. The views were simply magnificent from this spot and one could easily think this was the end of the hike. Picnic ideas floated through my mind as I stood absorbing the moment. From the picturesque mountains flanking each side to the lake in the middle, any way I turned was picture perfect. Some have described this area as from a scene in “The Sound of Music”. I couldn’t agree with them more as I was dying to belt out some song. I could have taken an entire morning just to sit there, but alas, there was still a hike to accomplish!

Part of the lake is seen in the left of this picture

Back into a thickly covered path, the sun’s rays had disappeared into a gently morning glow. A short way in, we came to a narrow rock path with a sheer drop on one side. A river (coming from the waterfall) cascaded down and past us. We gingerly walked in single file to the end of the walkway. What awaited us there was a bit of rock skipping to the other side of the bank. It was amusing to see which of the hikers cared or didn’t care to get their sneakers and tennis shoes wet. I scrambled over the slippery river rocks and made it safely to the other side dry. From there we picked our way parallel to the bank, always keeping it within our sight. Several people have gotten fairly lost on this hike due to its many “paths”, but as we found out, if you keep close to the bank’s edge there is no way to get lost from the waterfall.
A little graffiti to brighten the cement
Even though there was an incline, I found that it was easy for me. Having to pick our way through dense brush also helped to slow our time (and give me pseudo-breaks). I was glad that I had bought some real hiking books with traction as many parts were muddy. Roots and fallen trees keep us looking down almost constantly. Sounds of nature still tickled my ears and I smiled with the new chirps and calls I heard overhead.

I could sense that we were getting close as we came to an area with big boulders. The water trickled down and formed little waterfalls into a small area below. Climbing over the boulders, the familiar sound of rushing water filled our ears. Bits and pieces of the waterfall could be seen as we made the last turn and incline.

And there is way in all its glory. Lulumahu Falls was majestic and thundering. With a total of 3 falls (2 small at the top were hard to picture with the morning glare), this waterfall was pretty darn sweet. The pool at the bottom was bigger than the base of Hamama Falls, but still only knee deep in places. We sat around taking pictures, smiling and congratulating ourselves on our accomplishment. 

Yes, that little person is me