Arrived at the end of Waiomao Road at approx. 4:30 and started walking toward the trail head at 4:33. Tried to remain as low key as possible as I walked past the homes on the left. I stopped briefly when I saw a wahine in her white bath robe walking along the driveway in front of me. Didn't want to surprise her so I waited until she started heading back inside her home before continuing. As is customary the dogs came out to "greet" me barking and nipping at my body. All bark and no bite !
Pressing on I noticed that the fence which you must go around to get to the trail had been extended to the left toward the stream below. It did not cause much delay however. Next I passed a new Board of Water Supply building on the left.
After descending briefly on a couple switchbacks and crossing Waiomao Stream I quickened my pace. Lots of ginger in the beginning section with tea leave plants becoming noticeable later on.
The trail was muddy but not overgrown. Some sections were masked by vegetation but most of it had good visibility.
I reached the first waterfall in 30 minutes and went down to get a better look. After a few minutes I was climbing up the trail which takes you above the falls. I looked down from the top and then headed for the second waterfall.
When I arrived in front of the second falls I only spent a few minutes examining it because I wanted to spend the majority of the time remaining enjoying the cascades which were up ahead.
After carefully going up and to the right of the second falls I stopped at the top for a look down. The continuous sheeting action was wonderful.
Continuing on I passed a lone tall loulu and more plants which produce the tea leaves. It wasn't long until I reached the bottom of the cascades.
When I first looked up at this magnificent section something was different. After moving up the left side of the cascades for a short distance with the aid of a rope I glanced up and stopped dead in my tracks. "No. It couldn't be." I thought to myself. Much to my surprise and shock I could see that a massive landslide had come crashing down on a section of the fast moving flow of water.
I worked my way up to it and crossed over to the right side of the cascade. Tree stumps, large branches, rocks, small foliage and other debris interupted most of the flow of water. I was bummed but grateful that the famous section coming up (see Ball's stupendous first book page 5 of photo section bottom photo) was undamaged.
Continuing along the right side I eventually crossed over to the left again enjoying the long stretch of fast moving waterfall. The rock was slippery but there were plenty of strong trees/branches along the way which served as handholds.
I made it to the top of the cascade section at 5:37 (1 hour 4 minutes after departing the car) and rested briefly. I decided not to go any further because of time constraints. Instead I descended to the location of an "x" carved into the rock which is just above the famous cascade section. I sat down and watched the water as it rushed past me down the rock surface. The time was 5:50.
At 6:10 I headed down to a location below the famous cascade section and sat down again. This time I looked up at the flow which I found very relaxing and enjoyable. Unfortunately it began to rain 10 minutes later so I decided to begin the return trek back the way I had come.
I reached the houses at 7:15. There were children playing in the drive way but they offered no harassment. By 7:20 I was at my car and departed soon after.
Notes: Tucked away in the back of Palolo Valley, Ka'au Crater is literally only a few miles away from populous Honolulu. It is one of my favorite hikes because it has it all - a gentle flowing stream with a wealth of beautiful vegetation, waterfalls including an outstanding cascade, an interesting tuff crater, and a section to the summit of the Ko'olau Mountain Range which offers nice views of Honolulu and the windward side of Oahu.