Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dodging a bullet

I toyed around with the idea of doing Moanalua Saddle to Haiku Stairs for a few months.  My friend Kyle was looking to do a hike and I threw the idea that we should do a route from Moanalua to Haiku Stairs.  My first choice was Saddle to stairs but I knew the perils of the journey.  My second choice was a safer route from Moanalua Middle Ridge to Haiku Stairs.  Either way was fine with me because both had amazing views.  We made an event on FB and invited a few people to join.  I kept posting on the dangers of the saddle and the group was still gung ho about it.

On April 21st Katie, Kyle, Matt, Shama, Dural, and Jared joined me for a hike.  My plan was to scope things out before we make a decision and make our final decision two miles into the hike.  Weather and confidence in ability was my main concern for the group.  We met around 7:30 at the bottom of Haiku Stairs and made our way to Moanalua Valley to meet the rest of the group.  The only person that didn't have Microspikes was Jared because he was invited last minute by Dural.  Shama also didn't have any but Justin stopped by and let her use his spikes for the day (Thank you!).  We shoved off at the start of the trail around 8:15 am and made our way two miles in for about an hour.  During that hour I really thought hard about what we were getting ourselves into if we really were going to do the saddle.  We made it to the junction and the group agreed on doing the saddle.

We slowly made our way through the valley floor and up to the saddle.  When we got to the top we discussed on what was going to happen.  I pointed and showed them where the no return point was and how there was loose rocks riddled along the ridge where at any moment someone could pull down a rock on another hiker.  There were two sections I worried about for the group.  We snapped a few pictures and took a good break before we started to tackle the ridge section.

After five minutes of walking along the ridge the first difficult section came up.  The group was spread out a little and the first people to the section were Kyle, Shama, Katie, and I.  I told the other half of the group to wait a little ways down because the potential of a rock fall.  We examined the rock and it seemed like everything we touched was a little lose.  In some write ups and some videos at 0:30 they make it up this section on the windward side.  This was the moment where I was like screw this hike and let's turn back because it ain't worth it.  But we looked at the rock more and I was confident in my climbing skills that I'd be able to get up and over this section.  But what about the rest of the group?  Luckily half of the bottom group waited so long that they found a contour section below.  I had already bouldered the town facing side of the rock face so I was up already.  I told the girls to turn around and make their way back down but not before Kyle because she was already taking the route I was taking.  After she got done with that she told me, "That was fucking hard."  "I don't think all of us could have done that."  I agreed but now we were committed.  We both saw right above where we climbed how much loose rocks there were.  The rocks varied in size from playground ball size to tennis ball size.  Both could be dangerous if someone pulled something down.  The rest of the group contoured under us and we all met back up on the ridge.

Five minutes later we were onto the next hard section.  This one wasn't loose rock but loose dirt and some tufts of grass you have to use to pull your self up.  There was an old blue rope to aid us in going up but there were sections that were frayed so bad that I guarantee if you put all your weight on It'll snap.  This section before you get to it you contour onto the town side of the ridge.  Slowly one by one we made our way up this section.  Near the top the terrain changed back into choss rock.  Luckily there was another shorter newer brown rope to aid us near the top of this section.  When we got above it I thought we were in the clear.

Dural and Kyle came up to the next section where the rock was really lose and they were shaking their head like we have to turn back.  I told them we can't and I checked the hand holds and foot holds for some good ones.  All were a little loose but it had to be done!  I went first with Dural spotting me below.  I threw a high right foot on a boulder and scrambled my way up that section.  There was a root on the left side where I tied paracord to to aid in the ascent up for the rest of the group.  By the last person the root snapped and the last person got up luckily.  We took the paracord just in case for any other sections that were unforeseen.

After those three sections we were some what in the clear.  Now was just a walk up a thin ridge looking at the beautiful windward side of the island.  When we got near the top we spotted the Moanalua waterfall we saw earlier in the day.  It was the upper section to that falls.

When we made it to the first section of stairs we took a long break and looked back on where we had come from.  Slowly I made my way down the stairs and to the bottom.  My knees were aching by that time.  Thank God we made it out safely!

From the bottom of the valley to the saddle all the way in the distance.

Took a break at this swim hole.

Looking back towards town.

Happiest couple on the hike!

Great views of the windward side through out the rest of the hike.

Walking along the ridge.  You can see the obstacles we face and off in the distance is the radar dish, our end point.

Conquered obstacles... looking back!

Reaching the first stair section!  Happiest group!  Lucky to be alive and no serious injuries.

Sick views!

 Coming down Haiku Stairs!

Platform to nowhere.

Who drew me and Katie?

 I am not encouraging any one to do this hike!  This is what has been done by me and my friends on that particular day.  I know a few people that have been seriously injured on this hike.  Even one day before I did this hike someone reportedly had fallen off of this section according to the newspaper.  So please think before doing this hike.  The conditions were near perfect for us on this day.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Hiroshima to Nara

March 27
The next day we woke early and aunty and uncle were up already preparing dinner. Also the night before the cat home and ate. His name is Tora! Uncle Kazumi had to leave for work so we said our good byes to him. Since we woke really early there was a lot of time to talk. Uncle George gave me some money to spend in Osaka or at home. He also talked about how he is going to retire the farm after this year because he is getting old (89) I would have retired way before him! Haha. Around 8:00 am the taxi came to pick us up. It was raining that morning so all out bags and suitcases got wet. We said our good byes... I knew that I might never see him again. It makes me wonder why I never visited him earlier in life. One day I would like to go back to that area. I was so sad to leave. Two days wasn't enough...

On our way back to Hiroshima it was quite a bit longer because the taxi dropped us off at the nearest train station which was 20 mins away from uncles house. We caught our first train back home which we were supposed to transfer once and be headed to Hiroshima straight but come to find out that that train wasn't coming till around 3 in the afternoon. We asked around and luckily we found a route and train that would take us back. We transferred maybe three times total to get back to Hiroshima with at least 30 min rides on each train.

When we got back to Hiroshima we dropped our bags off at the hotel and went to search for the gym I wanted to climb at. Luckily it was one stop away in Yokogawa prefecture and just a five minute walk down the road and down a side street.  We got lost a little but we found it just as it was opening. When we got there the owner was vacuuming and tidying up a little. A lady came and checked me in a filled out the paper work with me. For $22 it got me a card membership which I think is good for a day, shoes, and a chalk bag. In the back there was a changing room where I changed and got out of warm clothes. She explained how the routes worked and how difficult each color was. Lots of the routes were any feet and they were graded by color with black being the easiest and pink being the most difficult. The first floor of the gym had an over hanging feature or cave like feature and a pillar. There were lots of different angles in the wall as well. I also remember seeing pictures of a different wall so I asked if there was an upstairs. She pointed me up a metal staircase where they had a huge over hanging wall and some work out boards. It was big for such a small area since they had two floors. The lady was really nice and talked with me a lot. She was interested in Hawaii and what the climbing was like over there. I also sent a few routes in the mid color section (yellow). After about three hours I was beat and headed back home solo because my mom went back already. I picked up a cool shirt as well from the gym. We eventually met up with the group and headed out to eat dinner.

At dinner we caught up with what was happening with the group and what they did. 

March 28
The next morning we had to leave early and catch the Shinkansen back to Osaka. We grabbed some bentos and made our long journey back to the hotel in Osaka. When we arrived we dropped some bags off and headed to Nara park and visited the Todaiji temple which is the largest wooden structure in Japan. It housed a gold statue of buddah and various other relics. The Sakura was in full bloom and it wasn't a bad day of weather besides the constant rain. We also fed deer and saw the pagoda in the park. We ventured into a small town and found small gifts here and there. They are known for there hand woven hand towels. I bought a few and we also ate at a little shop with chicken Katsu donburi. We spent all day there and headed back to Osaka again where we ate dinner underground. The group was tired because of all the traveling we did that day but little did they know that the next day was the day we were gonna do most of the walking.

First floor at PB Climbing Gym.

Cave like feature with a pillar.  Sent a few routes under here.

Check in desk at PB climbing

2nd floor of PB climbing gym.  Retired husband and wife working on an overhanging problem.

Here is the owner of PB Climbing gym, Mr. Sasaki showing some moves on a hold. 

Front door entrance at PB Climbing

First night back and eating sushi with the rest of the group.  Eric had whale Katsu!

In the Nara Park watching people get attacked by deer.  These deer were more lively than the ones in Miyajima!

Getting a deers perspective on life in Nara.

Todaiji Temple is the largest wooden structure in Japan.  

Todaiji housed many large buddah statues. 

Walking around Naramachi which is a small town near Nara.

Sakura in full bloom in front of Todaiji temple. 

I miss my uncle George and aunty Tomoe.  For the short time I was there I felt like I was their grandson.  He had my grandfather's hospitality for sure! 
Climbing at another gym for the first time was another experience for sure.  Finding the place was a little hard but talking with the owner and his wife made it feel like I was at my home gym.  They were very helpful and was really interested in where I was from and what the climbing scene was like back in Hawaii.
Nara park was cool with all the deer roaming around.  I especially liked this part of the trip because it was one of the first days that we went to go see things from historic Japan.  Even though it rained on and off it wasn't too bad, definitely not like Hawaii.  If I ever got the chance I would go back here to look again.

Kyoto is up next!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Nipple Peak

I figure I take a break from the Japan post and post something a little closer to home.  By the time I came back from Japan I was itching to get back in the water or get back in the mountains.  I emailed my friend Pete asking if he was hiking.  Unfortunately the weekend after I came home he was busy so we scheduled a hike for the week after.

We decided to hike to a lesser known peak on the windward side of the island.  This peak looks into the valley that Sacred Falls is in, but we couldn't see directly into it.  We started off on a state trail and veered off of it and bush whacked what seemed like a few hours to a peak called Waiahilahila.  The weather started off just overcast but grew into a continuous rain.  Once we reached the peak there were a bunch of passing showers and passing helicopters going into the valley, I'm guessing to take aerial views of Sacred Falls.  Anyways this peak is a little hard to get to but not as dangerous as some other hikes!  Hope you enjoy the pictures and video!

 The rain coming in while we were hiking.

 Walking along this ridge takes you to the Nipple Peak

Over looking the valley that Sacred Fall sits in. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Hiroshima and visiting family in the country

March 25
We got up and ate breakfast at a beef bowl place close to the street car station.  We went to Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Peace Park.  It was a rough time walking through and reading all the first hand accounts and seeing all the drawings of the bomb survivors.  The memorial and exhibit was really moving that I was at a lose of words on what to say or write at the end.  It should be some place everyone should visit once in their life.

We (Mom and I) left the group and made our way back to Hiroshima station to meet Kumi and travel to meet her brother near Joge so that he could drive us to my grandpa's brothers house.  The train ride was really long and we had to transfer once to another train.  I say about two hours by train to where we stopped.  We met Kumi's brother, Chiaka when we arrived at the train station.  My grandpa's sister Rose was waiting in the car.  She looked exactly like uncle Fred back home in Hawaii but not like my grandpa, and now i know where I get my infectious laugh from!.  I get my laugh from Aunty Rose. 

They all talked about how my aunty's and uncle's are doing in Honolulu.  I didn't understand a lot but I knew who they were talking about.  We arrived at my uncle George's house.  We exchanged presents to one another when we got there.  Uncle George looks like uncle Fred and aunty Rose but not like my grandpa.  They played Hanafuda while I watched baseball.  We ate snacks and hung out for about an hour and a half.  Aunty Rose, Chiaka, and Kumi had to leave because they lived far away and weren't sleeping over.  We said our good bye's and I thought to myself I'll probably never see aunty Rose again because it's so hard to travel here, she also knew this but we both were so happy to meet finally.  We took pictures and they left the house.

At first I felt a little uneasy staying at uncle George's house along with aunty Tomoe and mom but I came to realization that it was exactly like staying at my grandpa's house back home.  I felt George treated my like his own grandson.  We talked and drank tea until about 7 p.m. when his son Kazuki came home and brought a ton of sushi and all this food for dinner.  I drank some Sho Chu and whiskey "black" while uncle and aunty drank beer.  I was surprised that they drank but we Kanpai and had a feast for dinner.  I ate and drank so much while watching Formula 1 on tv.  I ate so much that I had a kanak attack and fell asleep and I didn't sleep correctly under the heated blanket... so I was freezing most of the night.

March 26
The next day we spent the whole day at uncle's house.  I n the morning they cooked so much food for breakfast.  We had sausage, bean sprouts, cheese bread, tea, and eggs with tsukemono.  After we ate we went to visit our ancestors graves.  The first set of stones were my great grandparents.  The ones behind was my great great grandpa and his children.  There were more stones to the left, aunty Tomoe said we don't know who they are but they are related some how to our family.  They suggest that it dates back to the 1500's maybe earlier.  We came back near the house and went to visit a samurai grave.  After that we came back in the house and ate lunch.  Steak and fried chicken.  After lunch I crashed out on the futon for two to three hours.  When I woke up uncle had some oranges but it didn't curb my appetite.  I was hungry again and we waited till about 8 to eat because everyone went to take a bath in the furo.  The bath experience was on another level.  It was in the mid to lower forties but warmer than last night.  I'm guessing my body adjusted to the temperature but it was still really cold!  In the bath you rinse with water and soap up.  You wash all the soap off and you sit in a tub after filled with really hot water.  It was like a jacuzzi but it didn't bubble.  That night Kazumi brought home shabu shabu meats.  We ate and drank like the night before.  I was just as full as the night before.  We played a little Hanafuda with grandpa and Kazuki.  We arm wrestled a little too!  This time around I fell asleep the correct way sleeping under the heated blanket.  It was a lot easier to sleep that night!

Outside the Peace Memorial.

Hiroshima before the atomic bomb.

Hiroshima after the atomic bomb.

A bike and a helmet melted from the bomb.

This was the most moving room for me where survivors of the atomic bomb drew what they saw the day of or days after the bombing.  Some of the pictures they drew were graphic and the little card on the bottom explained first hand accounts on what they saw.  

It is unbelievable what they saw and what they went through.  

Peace Park with the eternal flame and Genbaku Dome lined up.

 Genbaku Dome

First day at my uncle's house with mom and aunty Rose playing Hanafuda.

My family in Joge Japan

Mom and uncle George.

Kanpai on the first night with lots of sushi shrimp and takoyaki!

Second day was in the rice fields and a little exploring on the mountain side.  

We went to a temple close to our uncles house on the second day.

Lunch at uncles house.

After my bath on the second night I went to take some night time photos.  The ring around the moon signifies there will be rain the next day.

Our last dinner together... Shabu shabu.  

My thoughts on Hiroshima...  This was the first time I went to Hiroshima.  The city it self was not like other cities in Japan.  I felt Hiroshima wasn't as welcoming as the others.  For some reason the hotel we were staying at wasn't that great either and they weren't too service oriented like Iwakuni.  The city felt dirty, there was tagging in a lot of places and lots of rubbish compared to other parts of Japan.  But don't let that stop you from going.  The food is great, you have to try the Hiroshima style Okonomiyaki!  The one major place to visit is the Peace Park and Peace Memorial.  The Park we ventured at night on the first night and it was great!  I got to take some sick night time photos of the Genbaku Dome.  The Peace Memorial is really good too.  It's very depressing yet you learn what the Japanese people had to go through and you kind of sympathize with them.  It is some place everyone should get a chance to visit!

 Visiting and meeting family was one of the main purposes of this trip.  I finally got to meet some of my Japanese relatives that live there.  They live far away and I understand now where my grandpa came from and how that side of the family operates.  They live far in the country but live happily with each other.  They are rice farmers and samurai.
I'm so grateful for my mom on taking me on this trip to meet them.  This will probably be my only time I see them in my life time!
Like I said before take advantage if you do have family over seas to see them because you don't know if you'll ever meet them in real life.  I was lucky enough to see them before they pass away. 
I can now say that I know where I come from and am proud of it.

Stay tuned for more in rainy Nara!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Miyajima (Itsukushima Island)

March 24
The next morning we slept in a little.  It was so comfortable because it was a traditional style kind of Japanese hotel with tatami floors and futon beds.  We went downstairs and ate another awesome meal.  It was a full course breakfast meal not like American with sausage eggs bacon but the Japanese kind with tofu, fish and lots of veggies.
It was time to leave Iwakuni and make a stop on the way back to HIroshima in Miyajima.  We took a ferry out to the island where we saw deer and the famous temple with the gate in the water.  The only thing I disliked about Miyajima was the crowds but we managed.
We got back to Hiroshima a little late.  The group split up because some went to the baseball game at Mazda stadium.  The Hiroshima Carps were playing against softbank.  Eric, Caryn my mom and me opted for shopping at Fukuya department store and visited the Hiroshima Genbaku Dome where I could take a few night time pictures.  We came back to the hotel to meet the group but they had already left for dinner.  We decided to eat Okonomiyaki and just so happened the other half of the group was there.  I ate half of a cheese type and other half was Eric's green onion Okonomiyaki.  I decided to get some Sho Chu barley style alcohol drink.  It was one of the strongest drinks I had in a while... Can tell I don't go out too much to drink.

Japanese breakfast at the hotel.

Last goodbyes in the hotel lobby with Uncle Kazuo.

All aboard the Miyajima ferry!

When you first set foot on Itsukushima island off the ferry, this is what you would see during spring time... CROWDS!

Oh and deer!

A deer waiting for his IKAYAKI!

The famous Torii and the not so famous Hawaii people.

The Torii standing alone in the water.

Enter the Dragon... I mean shrine haha!

Wash yo hands before

Some times the tide is out and you are able to walk to the Torii and touch it.

Itsukushima Jinja

Miyajima is known for their rice paddles. 

They have the biggest rice paddle in the world!

Peace park

Genbaku Dome

 Hope Okonomiyaki on the 7th floor?  

 Eric cutting into his onion style okonomiyaki.

 I had the cheese style but got to try some of Eric's one!  So delicious!!!

I had to try an energy drink while in Japan.  I'm addicted to monster energy drink and I wanted to try something different!

 This day was our first chill day.  I actually got to sleep in a little and had a big breakfast!  I wish I had that kind of Japanese breakfast once in a while at home.  Miyajima was really crowded, I wonder if it's this crowded year around.  Some things to check out while on Miyajima are the deer, they are very chill over here.  They don't really beg for food.  Another thing is the Manju.  Miyajima is known for different kind of manju.  Lastly I'm not a fan of it but some of the group had Anago, which is saltwater eel.  I'm guessing Miyajima has a lot of eel nearby.  The food booths are really good too!  They cook the food right in front of you and give it to you fresh!  Another thing I tried was fish cake with asparagus and BACON!  Boy was it delicious.  If you ever get a chance to go to Miyajima go and experience it.  I heard there are a bunch more things to do on the island... If you want more info from a person that lives there go to BUTTERZ PAGE

Lastly we visited the Peace Park in the early evening.  We ate okonomiyaki as well!  I love the Hiroshima style okonomiyaki.  The food was actually layered instead of all mixed up into a batter which I really enjoyed!  If you are ever are in Hiroshima I suggest trying okonomiyaki!