March 03, 2010

Hawaii - Part I

Looking into Pololu Valley

I just returned from a two week trip to the Big Island of Hawaii. How does a jobless bum like myself afford such a trip? It's pretty easy, really. All you need is to have some time off. It also doesn't hurt to have a wealthy father spending time over there who wants some company - and a hiking partner.

We spent the first several days hiking and backpacking before heading to the beach to act like more traditional tourists. Part I of my posts will cover hiking in the Kohala Mountains in the northwest part of the island, and Part II will shed some light on our trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the south side of the island. I might even add a Part III, covering the few days we spent in the Kona area.

My first three days on the island were spent hiking in the Kohala Mountains, which stretch east to west on the northernmost tip of the island. Roads along the coast lead in from each side but are abruptly halted by rugged, picturesque canyons. On one trip, we hiked in from the west and crossed about three canyons (Pololu, Honokane Nui, and Honokane Iki) before turning around.

The coast line near Honokane Nui Valley

Part of the trail, quite steep with poor footing, was laced with ropes to aid both in ascent and descent (hand-over-hand style).

Dad, wondering if he can get back up the rope system if he goes down it

The views were great but caused me some confusion as I couldn't tell if I was in Jurrasic Park or Lost. There were no dinosaurs, but at the same time I knew where I was.

An additional short hike/bushwhack on the way home lead to this waterfall

Our second trip was a two-day backpacking trip that started and finished on the east side of the mountains at the famous Waipio Valley.

Looking across Waipio Valley to the start of the hike at the top of the obvious road cut

Waipio Valley

We hiked through a dozen smaller valleys to arrive and camp at Waimanu Valley, which is much like Waipio with the benefit of being more secluded - except for the ever-present helicopters above carrying an endless stream of tourists into the valley on a 30-minute, gas-wasting tour.

Our first views of Waimanu Valley

Looking up Waimanu Valley

The steep, rugged, and beautiful jungle terrain of Waimanu Valley

We encountered a few locals in Waimanu who were "living" there, hunting wild pigs, fishing, and gathering fruit for their subsistence. We asked how long they had been there, to which they replied, "two days." This was obviously a well practiced lie as camping in the valley is highly regulated (but with little to no enforcement, I'm sure they rarely encountered problems).

Future Ideas
I'm pretty sure a through hike between the two trailheads could be completed. We could find no literature on a complete traverse, but it would only be about a 25 mile hike (combining our two hikes, we did a total of about half the traverse). I'd recommend bringing a machete if you plan to attempt this.

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