OHE December 4, 1999 (Tour de Manoa)

Date: Sat, 4 Dec 1999 19:09:15 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Tour de Manoa

In an OHE post the other day, Wing mentioned a trail that starts on Dole Street near the UH Law School and climbs a ridge to Waahila State Park. I've never hiked that ridge all the way to the park, so with some time to spend in the mountains today, I figured I'd give it a go. As things transpired, I had a longer day on the trail than I originally planned.

I left home around 9 and arrived at Dole Street about twenty minutes later. While driving over, I was skeptical about finding a parking spot near the trailhead since the UH campus and dorms are right there and available spaces on Dole Street are few. I suppose if it were a weekday, I'd be out of luck, but since it was a Saturday with few or no classes in session, a spot was waiting for me right across the street from the driveway for the fairly new Hawaiian Studies building. Good deal.

In my pack I had two liters of water, a powerbar, some coldcuts, and cheese. My plan at the outset was to hike all the way to Olympus and return the same way. That'd make for a four to five hour day, a good Saturday workout hike.

As Wing mentioned, the trail is well-worn and is located between the bridge over Manoa Stream and the driveway to the UH faculty apartment complex. A yellow fire hydrant sits directly by the trailhead.

Although I saw no one on the trail on my way to Waahila Park, I imagine that the path is used frequently by UH dormies, among others, for afternoon workouts since the route is distinct and well tramped down. It seems that someone is even conducting experiments on trailside flora and fauna, evidenced by small marker flags and glue traps I saw.

Based on tire tracks and small mogul ramps made of tree stumps and mounds of dirt on the trail, mountain bikers also frequent this ridge. I even saw a couple encampments, probably used by homeless people, in clearings off to the side.

I got to Waahila Park and was surprised that not a single car was in the lot. "Is the park closed?" I thought, and a few seconds later a van came rumbling up the access road and parked. Today was quite windy, with gusts in the 30 mph range, and the additional threat of rain seems to have kept folks away from the park, which is usually well-used on weekends.

Without stopping, I continued mauka through the park, following the trail up Waahila Ridge. The ridge rolls up and down a few times, and on three different occasions I had to stop to adjust the sock on the my left foot because I felt the beginnings of a blister on my left heel. I was bugged by this since my shoes are well broken in and I'm only prone to blisters when wearing new shoes. What the heck's up with this blister?

About an hour later, when the damage was already done, I found out that the insole in my left shoe had slid too far forward, creating some play under my left heel where there usually is none. This situation led to the irritation and resulting blister. A lesson learned.

See a map of the first segment of the route.

With the heel problem, I decided against climbing all the way to Olympus, thinking the uphill segments would lead to some major rubbing and irritation. Instead, I veered left onto the Kolowalu Trail and followed it down to the Woodlawn area of Manoa Valley. I figured I'd walk out through Manoa Valley via residential streets, not an ideal route to get back to Dole Street, but at least it'd be a way to avoid covering the same ground I'd already hiked.

I went down Kolowalu, somewhat gingerly, trying not to irritate the blister. Thanks to my hiking poles and the better-late-than-never adjustment of the left foot insole, I made it down feeling pretty good. When I reached the bottom of Kolowalu, I made a decision to scrap the plan to walk out through Manoa Valley.

The new plan was to head over to the Manoa Falls and Aihualama trails to get to Tantalus. Once up on Tantalus, I'd hike the Kalawahine trail to get to the Nahuina, Makiki Valley, and Kanealole trails to descend to the Nature Center in Makiki Valley. From the NC, I'd walk back to Dole Street via Wilder.

See a map of the second segment of the route.

At the bottom of Kolowalu, I had the option of heading left to exit onto Alani Drive. Thereafter, I'd have a thirty-minute road walk to get to the start of the Manoa Falls trail by the Lyon Arboretum. The second option (the one I decided on) was to head right and follow the trail to Pu'u Pia. At a point where the Pia trail swings left to climb up to the peak, I could take a little-used trail down a steep slope to get to the trail along Waiakeakua Stream. The stream trail eventually exits onto Waaloa Way, which is much closer to the end of Manoa Road and would cut down the amount of road walking needed to get to the start of the Manoa Falls trail.

I had no difficulty finding the trail down to Waiakeakua Stream. A landmark at the spot on the Pia Trail is a black tree stump, about five-foot high. The trail was visible but not nearly as well-used as Pia. I took my time going down since it was steep and slightly slick because of rain earlier in the week, and the take-it-slow approach paid off since I avoided a flop.

The stream trail was muddy and included a descent of a concrete stairway. The trail eventually yielded to a gravel road and then a semi-paved one and then Waaloa Way. There are farms along the dirt and gravel roads and I was concerned about being yelled at. But I experienced no problems as I quickly and quietly hiked out of the area.

From Waaloa Way, I continued to Waaloa Place and then Waakaua Street, the last street on the right when heading mauka on Manoa Road. Once I reached Manoa Road, I followed it up to the former Paradise Park. There were plenty of cars parked in the lot by it but I couldn't determine if the folks who drove them were at Manoa Falls or at the FPP restaurant, whatever its real name is.

I exchanged greetings with the handful of folks I saw heading back down the falls trail. However, instead of hiking the falls trail all the way, I veered left to follow the shortcut route through the bamboo to get to the Aihualama trail quicker.

On Aihualama, I encountered three mountain bikers heading down from Pauoa Flats. I gave thought to questioning their presence on the trail but wasn't sure if the mountain bike ban is still in effect for the Tantalus complex and the Manoa Falls trail. Does anybody know?

Fatigue paid a visit as I climbed the fourteen switchbacks of Aihualama, but using the put-one-foot-in-front-of-the-other approach, I made it up okay. I felt much better after taking a break at the top to eat a powerbar and drink plenty of water.

The fuel helped, and I enjoyed some newfound energy as I hiked along the Pauoa Flats and Kalawahine trails en route to Tantalus Drive. I saw some folks hiking outbound along Kalawahine and was glad to see that others were out enjoying the mountains.

The pain in my left foot was no longer present as I hiked along Kalawahine and for the remainder of the hike. Come to find out, a sizable blister had formed and the resulting bubble eliminated the friction and pain. I'd pay later at home when I popped the buggah, but some antibiotic ointment and a night of rest is usually all I need for a blister to heal properly. We'll see.

The rest of the hike was pretty routine. I saw no one while I descended the Nahuina and Makiki Valley trails, both which weren't as muddy as I expected. I saw one gentleman on the Kanealole Trail, and he thanked me profusely when I stepped aside to let him jog by.

See a map of the final segment of the route.

A couple hours earlier, I had planned to stop at the Nature Center to refill my water supply, but once there, I still had ample H20 and felt fine, so I just kept on walking.

The road walk back to my car on Dole Street took forty minutes, and I shaved a bit of time by taking shortcuts through the campuses of Punahou [wave to Buffanblu alums on the list] and UH-Manoa (where I had flashbacks of my vagabond years as a UH undergrad). I even passed a Taco Time/Texaco convenience store without stopping. Now that's will power.

In all, it was a good hike. Elapsed time: six hours and change door to door. Hope everyone had a pleasant Saturday.

Hike on,


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