Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kahanahaiki with OANRP

Over the past few months I've been volunteering with the Oahu Army Natural Resource Program.  This past Saturday we took an excursion out to Kahanahaiki on the West side of Oahu. The program takes up to ten volunteers on every trip and usually the spots are filled immediately when the sign up is posted.  The reason it gets filled so quickly is because of the opportunities to see rare native flora and fauna.  They teach you about the plants so that next time you would be able to identify them else where. They also point out hot spots on where you might find some cool bugs that are found no where else in the world. 

We all met at the baseyard and piled into two trucks.  We made our way to the north west side and up a windy road near Peacock Flats camping area.  As we hiked into our work site we collected seeds from the ko'oko'olau plants.  These seeds are easy to spread and they grow pretty quickly once they are in the ground.  On our way in we saw lots of ohia in bloom.  Also the snails were moving around since we got a couple of showers on our hike in.  It was cool to see achitinella out of their shells grazing around on some leaves.  As we neared the work site we did some trail maintenance and hacked at some branches that were encroaching on the trail.  At the work site we pulled lots of weeds around the area as Kim and Jamie set us up with herbicide.  But before we started to really weed, with herbicide and handsaws we took a break for lunch.  During lunch I spotted an 'amakihi.  Unfortunately didn't have my camera ready to snap a few pics.  I decided to walk around a bit and see what the other volunteers did up there.  It looked like lots of native plants were filling in where others had weeded.  After lunch we got down to business and weeded for about two hours.  I encountered tons of strawberry guava and christmas berry trees.  Cutting them was a breeze but having a whole forest of them took the energy out of me.  After weeding for two hours looking back at how much progress we made, made me feel pretty good.  I saw that I had to cut around a bunch of natives and there was more space for them to grow.  Hopefully spreading the ko'oko'olau will shade out the invasive plants and let the native plants flourish. 

The group took a different route back to the cars.  We made our way down a gully to check out some rare cyanea superba.  We were lucky to see the rare plants budding.  If only we were a week later we would have been lucky to see them in bloom.  Maybe next time.  Back at the cars we enjoyed refreshments provided by Roy.  Thanks for another great outing Kim! 

The trail to Kahanahaiki. 

Cat collected some seeds.

These are what the seeds look like. 

We hiked further in.

Jamie spotted a snail hiding in the leaves. 

Katie spotted this one grazing under a leaf. 

Here is Cathy pulling some weeds out of the ground. 

Steve started a pile. 

Can you guess what I was standing under? 

The leaf litter is a little different than other places. 

Katie spotted some similar plants we saw on another hike.  Awikiwiki.

After working for a few hours we were treated to seeing cyanea superba in the budding stage. 

Close up.

Katie talking with Jamie about plants. 

I admired the cyanea longiflora.

And the Makua Daisy.

The buds of a cyanea grimesiana.

Thanks to the Oahu Army Natural Resource Program the rare native species that once thrived in the mountains can have a fighting chance for survival.  In the case of the cyanea superba they found only four or five individuals and from there they were able to bring the population back into the hundreds.  Something that possibly our kids could see and appreciate in the future. 

Monday, August 18, 2014


Conditions are everything in the outdoors, I've known it for a long time.  For instance chasing waterfalls require rain.  You don't want to go when the waterfalls are dry.  Surfing with off shore winds are more enjoyable than on shore winds.  Finally setting up a tent in light to moderate winds are more enjoyable than setting up in a hurricane. 

For the long weekend Cory planned a backpacking trip along the Ko'olau mountain range.  More specifically the central parts.  He stashed water where he needed with Lynne the week before.  I winged it and prayed for water where I needed.  The weather forecast from NOAA said that there was a fifty percent chance of rain with 15-20 mph winds.  The day before I packed my 42L pack with all the essentials.  My pack was at least 25 lbs. 

The morning of Statehood day I met at Cory's house and set off on the trail with Lynne and Josh around 6 am.  Manana trail is a grueling ungraded 6 mile one way trip to the Ko'olau summit.  An early morning start just when the sun is rising is the way to do it.  I wasn't too tired as we made our way up.  Brief and frequent morning showers sprinkled us, I thanked and cursed it because I needed water at the summit yet I didn't want to be wet.  When we reached the first big landing the rains stopped and there were splotches of blue skies.  It lifted my spirits and we continued on. 

We hit the summit of Manana just before 11.  We pushed off again to the next peak, Eleao.  Along the way Josh spotted some Koli'i.  We reached Eleao just in time for lunch.  The summit has a fairly large meadow area.  It was really windy and isn't ideal for camping this day.  After lunch Josh wasn't staying with us so we said our goodbyes.  He left me with a goodbye present as well.  Thanks for the water Josh!  His plans was to hike back where we came from.  Cory, Lynne and I pushed for the next couple of peaks.  Off in the distance I saw our camp spot. 

Cory took the ramrod position.  Pushing through overgrowth along the way clearing a swath for Lynne and I.  Even though we needed to be at camp at a decent time I took my time looking for anything interesting along the way.  There were no lobelia plants along the summit from what I could tell.  We reached the summit of Waimano and up to Waiau.  At Waiau we took our next break.  We were a little more than half way to Waimalu.  Cory and Lynne stashed their water at Waiau, topping off their bladders and water bottles.  I think they had 6L each, luckily they spared a little more water for me!  I took the front position and we made our way to Waimalu.  A little over an hour we made it to the infamous meadow.  I searched for my water source, puddles is what Chase told me.  Luckily I found some puddles and a little stream that flowed by camp.  We searched for over an hour for a decent camp spot out of the wind.  We finally settled down and set up camp for the night.  We had enough time to sit on a hill side and watch the sunset.  Golden hour on the summit was incredible!  The summit of Waimano had a beam of light going through it.  Around 7 rolled around and Cory cooked up a meal.  I on the other hand had snacks for the duration of the trip.  Sports Authority didn't have any dehydrated meals, I'm guessing because of the hurricane Iselle all the ready to eat meals were all taken out.  Cory and Lynne was kind enough to share a few bites from their meal.  The last thing on the agenda was to set up guylines.  I had never used guylines for the tent because I never camped in a windy spot.  Cory had a few extra that he lent to me.  He taught me how to tie the guylines and set them up properly before night.  About half an hour into the night in my tent the winds started to pick up.  The stake for the front door ripped out of the ground because of the wind.  Both Cory and I rechecked our stakes and restaked it if needed.  I got a tip from Chase to put rocks over the stakes and get better stakes.  We finally got everything set again and I settled back into the tent. 

For the next 10 hours I was supposed to be sleeping.  I didn't get any sleep what so ever.  The entire night the winds were nuking!  Flapping the rain fly and flexing some poles.  I wasn't sure if my tent was going to stay or blow away.  I checked my phone every hour counting down until sunrise.  There were about 5 showers that passed quickly through our camp site.  I had to use the bathroom during the middle of the night as well.  That's no fun.  I got out and rechecked the tent and pissed.  The wind was still blowing hard and I watched outside as my tent flexed in the wind.  I got back in and stayed up.  When the wind blew my reaction every time was to brace it with my hand inside.  This happened for the rest of the night.  At 6 I got out of my tent to see the sunrise.  It was just as beautiful as the sunset last night.  By 7:30 I was packed and ready to go.  I was mentally and physically drained by this time.  My back hurt and not a wink of sleep.  As soon as Cory and Lynne were packed we made the summit above the meadow at 8:30.  I looked at how far we had to hike today, to the summit of Aiea which was shrouded in clouds.  I reassessed myself and made a call that I wouldn't be able to make the entirety of the hike today.  I really wasn't sure if I'd be able to make it down Aiea ridge with so little sleep and being physically exhausted from the day before.  I decided to part ways with Cory and Lynne and make my way down Waimalu middle. 

Because I was hiking solo now I took the precautions of letting people know that I was coming down by myself.  I knew I wouldn't have reception once I hit the bottom of the valley.  Luckily my friend Matt was available to pick me up and give me a ride back to my car.  Thanks Matt, I owe you!  I slowly progressed down the ridge.  About half way down I heard a bunch of native birds.  I saw a few 'apapane and heard a lot of amakihi around.  I took a break in a grove of ohia looking for them.  I quickly fell asleep but woke up ten minutes later to a few text messages.  I told myself if I sit down and take a break for any reason it'll be for water or food and that's it.  I quickly made my way down to the valley floor.  I took some water from the stream and purified it.  I set a good pace through the valley and was out by 2. 

Break time a Manana.

The clouds lifted off the summit and blue skies prevailed for the rest of the day. 

Epic views from the top of Manana on a cloudless day. 

Barely a distinguishable path up there. 

Having views like this for the rest of the time made the day seem too quick.

Some healthy looking koli'i on the summit trail.

Fairly large open area that we walked through at the top of Eleao.

Cory and Lynne pushed on along the summit.

The end is in the upper left corner. 

Where we started is past where the clouds are on the summit. 

Home for the night. 

During sunset.

Golden hour.  The peak in the upper right corner is near where we had to summit. 

The sunrise the next morning. 

What was planned is to make it to a summit in the clouds.  I knew my body might not been able to handle.  Maybe next time. 

Winded from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Chasing waterfalls after hurricane Iselle

Friday I had the day off like most of us in Hawaii waiting for hurricane Iselle.  On Oahu I spent most of the day cooped up waiting but nothing came.  Only some rain and bouts of rain.  By the time noon rolled around I got so bored Katie and I ventured out to see what kind of waterfalls were flowing.  We drove the H3 and only saw trickles of water.  We went to the east side and it was the same story.  I was bummed that there wasn't any more water flowing from the waterfalls.  The following day we woke up to rain and gloomy weather.  I joked that this day looked worst that hurricane day when it was supposed to be really bad. 

I decided that going back to the hike dubbed "town waterfalls loop" would be a good.  Joining me and Katie was Matt, Cory, Lynne, Amanda, Garvin, Emma, Andrew, Aprille, and Darren.  They were all excited since most of them didn't come with me on my last three times I was there.  I ranted and raved about the hike for the past few months saying I need to go back because it was so fun. 

We started the hike early since I knew it would take a good 6-8 hours completing the loop.  We made our way through the well trodden trail to where the stream take over and you have to rock hop and wade through pools of water.  I was happy to see that the water level was pretty high and flowing pretty good.  Cory led the charge up most of the waterfalls showing the beginners the beta on how to easily climb them.  When we got to the tall waterfall we made our way up the left side instead of going straight up the waterfall.  When we got to the top there were still many more waterfalls we needed to climb but nothing like the first couple of obstacles. 

The higher we got the less flow there was.  We took a break before the last push before the summit.  We ate lunch and looked at plants.  The higher we went the more native the plants got.  After our break we climbed a waterfall using the rock face and uki grass that was growing on the face of the waterfall.  The waterfall above that there were two ways up it.  Straight up the waterfall with an overhanging section or a contour on the left side which proved to be a lot more slippery.  Cory stayed at the over hanging part and yanked people up over it.  The last section was a good forty to fifty foot face with uki grass covering it.  Cory scrambled up and layed down some paracord line for the rest of the group.  Emma after him who was barefoot the entire time made it look easy.  Darren took another rope up which was provided by Garvin just for another safety line.  We all carefully made our way up.  I was the last one to top out meaning I needed to untie the rope and ravel it up.  As soon as I untied it I had too many things in my hand and I dropped the rope all the way to the bottom of the falls.  Major party foul!  I told the people above me that it fell.  They laughed and said I gotta go get it.  Luckily Darren had webbing and threw a fifty footer down just to aid in my descent and ascent again.  I probably wasted thirty minutes doing that!  After this last obstacle we just followed the stream up all the way to the summit. 

Along the stream there were a bunch of more uncommon native plants.  Cyrtandra and Kamakahala lined the banks for the stream.  The amau fern provided contrast against the green lush mountain side.  Loulu palms and alaalawainui grew right on the stream.  It was a pretty cool site to see.  When we topped out we crossed over on the KST going left and back down into the valley.  Clouds rolled in and out making cool scenic changes.  I will never retire this hike.  It's too good of a hike, probably top 5 on Oahu in my book if you like waterfalls! 

All photos are courtesy of Darren, Katie, or myself.  Thanks for submitting!

Garvin follows Amanda up the first big waterfall. 
The rock face and uki grass provide hand holds and foot holds. 

Osprey backpack photo shoot.

  The crew excited to climb the next waterfall. 

Coming back to this trek on my fourth time I noticed a lot more native plants.  Kamakahala were in bloom above one of the waterfalls. 

Ha'iwale were in bloom as well. 

Group shot at our lunch spot. 

The stream was a little brown after passing showers in the morning. 

One of the last major obstacles before the summit.  Lynne shows us how it's done. 

Me being me while climbing waterfalls. 

Along the summit we found some pretty yellow flowers.  Ohe naupaka. 

The group trekking through the clouds making the loop back to our cars. 

Chasing waterfalls after hurricane Iselle from Ryan Chang on Vimeo.