Sunday, May 5, 2013

Whole lotta hiking goin' on! - Day 4

Today had many highs and many lows...there were times that we were on top of the world, and other times we were sloshing through the mud. Am I trying to be poetic? Nah...we just went for a 7 hour hike today, that's all!

This morning my friend Thaddeus picked us up around 8 AM and drove us to the trail head for the Palolo Valley/Ka'au Crater hike. I've done the Palolo waterfall hike portion twice with Thaddeus and friends before...and the Ka'au Crater portion one time before. But even with this bit of experience under my belt I don't really think I was prepared for today!

We got some good sleep last night and with full bellies we felt well rested when we woke up. When we got out to Palolo Valley we parked and made our way through the bushes and down the side of the ravine to the main trail...and the journey began from there. We thought we were going to have a sunny day, but Mother Nature decided to bless us with some rain along the way. Now on most normal hikes this would have been okay...but not for this one!

We made our way through what literally was a jungle to the first waterfall! And let me tell you, even though we'd only been hiking for about 1/2 hour or 45 was a welcome sight!

The stream that runs through the valley

The lower falls

Me and Thaddeus...OMG The water WAS FREEZING!
After spending a few minutes in the pool, we had some people take our pictures. Throughout the rest of the time of our hike we referred to them as "The Yankees." This provided much laughter and many "Blanche Devereaux" moments when she refers to Yankees! :) But they were so funny, they were cousins and the girl was really not enjoying the hike as much as her cousin was. But they were behind us for most of the rest of the hike.

After our pictures we made our way up to the top of the lower falls...using the first series of ropes. That's right...I said ROPES! Due to the nature of the terrain, ropes are needed to get up most of the places past the lower falls. Oh what fun this was! Truth be told...I'd forgotten this part of the hike...funny how your memory blocks things out!

The water that runs from the middle falls to the lower falls.

Looking towards the edge of the top of the lower falls.
After a brief hike through the jungle we made it to the middle falls. These are just as pretty as the lower falls. And just like the lower falls, we had to use ropes to get to the top of these falls! Bring on the fun!

Middle falls

View from atop the middle falls.
Now here is where the "fun" really begins! The picture below is of a nice stream, right? Well in a perfect world, this is where we would have stopped and enjoyed a picnic and some laughs. Well our world is not we ended up turning to the left to climb up the 2nd picture!

The upper falls...this goes on FOREVER!
That's right...this is what we had to tackle! And just like the last two falls...there were ropes that went up the side of these falls! All the way to the top! Thaddeus, not being 100% human, did most of this hike barefoot! Apparently having monkey feet helps him grip the rocks better. I think he's just crazy! :) But I have to say he was ahead of us the entire time and I don't think he actually broke a sweat!

One last look before we start the climb!
After hiking what seemed to be AGES, we made it to the top of the upper falls. These falls are fed from a stream that comes from the inside of the crater. So we actually at this point, made it to the mouth of the crater. But being who we are...we had to make it to the highest point. We made our way through the trees to a stand of pine trees...I know odd, right? And here is where we busted out the water and snacks! After we cooled down a bit, The Yankees had caught up with us. We shared some laughs and decided to head on up the trail. Now this is where it really begins.

We get about 1/4 of the way from the stand of pines to the top of the ridge and it starts to rain. The Yankees decide to turn around. Smart...we decided to continue on. It was mainly because the summit was SO close and it would have been a shame NOT to go all the way to the top. So onward we went. I snapped this picture before we got going again. You see the ridge that goes all the way to the top? Yup...that's the trail! In most parts it's about a foot to a foot and a half wide! And with the rain it was starting to get slick.

One last look before we continued on!
Again for most of this part of the hike we were using ropes to get up the steep, sometimes almost vertical faces of this ridge. I guess I should have said this at the beginning...this hike is not for someone looking for a leisurely stroll. Make sure to take water, snacks and to be prepared for it all! And go with someone who knows the trails otherwise it's SO easy to get lost!

That being said...we continued on. On some of the spots I had to have Michael literally push my butt up so I could get up to the next point! The whole time Thaddeus is just laughing! :) But after what seems like an eternity...we made it to the summit. By this time it was raining pretty good and I was getting nervous about the hike down. But I didn't let that stop me from enjoying the view! The clouds were literally passing around us! It is such an amazing thing to be up at the top of this crater! Looking one way you can see Honolulu and the airport. Looking the other way you can see Kailua on the windward side. Breath taking...honestly...this is what Hawaii is all about!

A view of Honolulu...and our car is literally down by the group of houses you can see in the middle left of the picture. LOL

Can you see Kailua behind me? ;-)

Most of the time we were up there it was like this! But so gorgeous!
Okay it was now time to make our way down. This part honestly had me terrified. But as any good housewife can NEVER show your fear! Be that in cooking or whatever you are doing! So I put on my brave face...called on my inner lesbian/large black woman and followed Thaddeus down this steep and slippery ridge. Now I wish that I could say that this whole descent from the summit to the stand of pine trees went off without a hitch...but I'd be lying to you if I did.

There were two times that I thought I was going to meet my maker. (Mom, if you are reading's a good thing you didn't know about otherwise I'd a been in big trouble from you! LOL) In a few of the parts in order to get down them you had to be in the "crab position." Remember this from P.E. in grade school? I guess that a better way for me to describe it is...when Thaddeus looked back at me laughing, I looked like I was in the position to push out a kid! Got the visual? Okay.

Well on a couple of the occasions, one or both of my feet would slip, which landed me flat on my @$$ sliding down the trail! Trying to act calm I remember what my brother did when he was a kid on a tall water slide when he got scared. I spread my arms and my legs out and I think I looked damn near like an X. This move proved to be effective because I was searching for a foot hold with my feet while grasping for roots, branches or clumps of grass with my hands. While I felt like I handled it with grace...each time I "got control" I'd look down to see Thaddeus first with a look of horror which would turn to uncontrollable laughter!

What can I say...even when my life is in danger, I'm out to get a laugh! That's just the kind of guy that I am! :) I'm not sure how long the descent from the summit to the stand of pines took, but it felt like hours! And my legs and arms were all shaky from being tense and scared and using every muscle I had to get me up and down that ridge! Once to the stand of pines we all had a moment to laugh about the spectacle that is Brian. And we snapped a few pictures. The first is what I wish I looked and felt like! The second is how I truly felt! And the third...well that was proof of my "controlled" slides down the trail!

Notice the mud ON MY FACE!
What a mess!
I didn't take any more pictures after this because it was all things seen before. LOL. Mainly me being covered in mud! But we made our descent down the upper falls...and BOY were they slippery! The entire time we were hiking I kept turning around and yelling at Michael, "OMG! Be careful!" But he was honestly in control the entire time! I wish I could say the same for myself!

Once we made it down to the middle falls, we ran into The Yankees again! Apparently they took a wrong turn and ended up on the other side of the valley coming down! They could see us going up and down the entire ridge! I sure hope they didn't see my hiking "skills!" But together we made it down to the lower falls where we got in again. This time fully clothed and with our shoes and socks on! Our feet were soaking wet because of the rain, and covered with mud. So we took this time to clean them off. And well I cleaned off the seat of my board shorts!

After taking a short cleaning break we made our way back to the car. In total were gone about 7 hours. Even though during parts of the hike it seemed like all honesty it didn't feel like we were out there for 7 hours! By the time we got to the car my legs and hands were shot and all I could think about was taking off my socks and shoes! Boy did that feel good! But then I had to look at my pale, white, wrinkly feet! You know the kind I'm talking about, when your feet have been wet inside shoes for too long! Yuck!

Thaddeus took us to a hole-in-the-wall place in Palolo Valley and we had something to eat. What a TREAT! Again I had the Chicken Katsu Plate Lunch and Michael had the Lau lau with Lomi Lomi Salmon! We both ate like Cooper and Puck do! I may or may not have been the first to finish my meal! :)

Even though today was a crazy long, strenuous day...I can honestly say it was a GREAT day! It was so nice to see Thaddeus again, and for him to meet Michael. We shared good laughs, memories and made new ones! Thanks Thad for today, if you are ever in Seattle...we'll take you on a hike! :)

After he dropped us off we both got into our respective showers. (It's so nice having two bathrooms!) And I sat down on the floor to wash my legs and feet off. This proved to be a mistake because I could barely get up! For a moment I contemplated just staying there, the water was warm, the tiles were was the perfect combination for a lovely nap!

What a great day! I just woke up from a power nap before typing this blog. And like the crazy people we are...we are going to meet some of my friends out for drinks at around 10:30! I told Michael tonight that we need a vacation from our vacation! We aren't the type to go on vacation and just lounge around...we do things like go on 7 hour hikes with a crazy Vietnamese guy who goes barefoot! :) But that is what I love about us, we are always up for an adventure! I have a feeling that tomorrow will be spent lounging! Michael mentioned something about massages....**fingers crossed**!

So until next time....Aloha AhiAhi!

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