At the end of the Maakua Gulch Trail is a delightful pool with a small waterfall behind it. There is also a rope along the waterfall which allows for continued progress. Atleast 6 more ropes can be found going up the steep waterfalls that follow. I have only been up 4 of the 7. Near the top of the fifth you run out of footholds so you have to be strong enough to pull yourself up the rest of the way. A military friend of mine did it and made it past two more ropes/falls.
On April 28, 1996 while ascending the second rope section a flash flood hit! The water came crashing down from above the waterfall I was ascending. I didn't panic. Instead I carefully went back down the rope, climbed along the edge of the pool below (the pool was too rough to swim in) and made it to higher ground. I have never been more afraid.
Three marines weren't so lucky. They had been on one of the upper falls when the flood came about. When they got to the top of the falls that I had only partically ascended they took out some rope they had brought and made another way down. Once they got to me we formed a chain to get to the first falls behind the pool. One of the marines was hurt so we had to assist him. It was no longer safe to use the first rope so we had to slide off a rock ledge above the pool. You could tell the ledge was used for this purpose. I went first and the others followed. They told me some others were trapped on one of the upper falls above where they had been when the flash flood occurred. As soon as I got out I called fire rescue. They arrived soon after and the sargent asked me for all the details. He said under his breath that he wished someone would cut the ropes.
The next day in the morning paper there was a small article about the flash flood in Maakua Valley. A military chopper rescued the people trapped on the upper falls.
The Maakua Gulch Ropes is one of my favorite hikes/climbs and I look forward to doing it again (and did on August 18, 1996). However, if it looks like it might be raining further inland when I arrive at the trailhead I will go elsewhere.
I doubt that there was a flash flood on sunday but someone might have fallen from one of the steep rope sections. Hopefully it was only a twisted knee or sprained ankle while attempting a stream crossing as was the case the previous sunday in Kahana Valley.