I'm new to BPL, and this is my first Trip Report. For everyone who is tired of winter, and would like a little sun, here's a few words and photos that might lift your spirits.
I lived in Honolulu last year, and had the free time to sample about 25 different trails on O'ahu. Hiking in Hawaii is pretty different than what I was used to on the mainland, and it was a lot of fun. First off, several of the trails were created by the Civilian Conservation Corps back during the depression, others were created as part of large irrigation projects, a handful are ancient Hawaiian routes, and two were created by a legendary local bushwhacker, Richard Davis. Trail maintenance is usually less than is truly necessary, considering the ecological and geological challenges of trail building in the region: erosion prone volcanic soils, really wet weather in the mountains, and plant life that practically grows while you watch it! Flat trails seem to do okay, but if there's a steep grade, it's likely either eroded and in danger of washing away, or overgrown and in danger of disappearing.
A Potential mudslide on the Mau'mae Ridge trail (photo by E. Mathis).
An overgrown section of the Mau'mae Ridge Trail (photo by E. Mathis).
Another fun part of hiking the mountains is the rope assisted sections! Sometimes the rope is old and rotting, sometimes I've even climbed up knotted computer cables.
Climbing Mt. Ka'ala (photo by E. Mathis).
On to my little backpacking trip:
A friend and I walked the Waimano Trail last April. This trail climbs a ridge behind Pearl City, and for much of its length the trailbed is an old irrigation ditch. These were dug to transport water from the wet side of the island to the dry side, for the pineapple and sugar plantations.
Here I am at the trailhead. Note the clothing: hot weather and sporadic rain is the norm. Oh, and behind that fence is the island's primary mental hospital!
All photos from now on taken by H. Sholar.
On the trail is a nice view back into the middle of the island, with Pearl City and Mililani in the middle and the Wai'anae mountain range in the background. The little tree on the right is an imported Japanese Formosa tree (some are also seen in the valley).
Soon after, we start getting into some wild country. This land will never be developed- it would be impossible, given the quality of soil and steepness of the terrain. Furthermore, it's all part of the watershed reserve of Honolulu, so it's protected.
It's hard to find good backcountry campsites on O'ahu (though I keep a few secret sites locked away in my head!). A windy ridge with no level ground will suffice for one night. By the way, don't try this Kelty rainfly without stakes or the body of the tent inside- I had to hang my backpack from the poles to keep it from flying away! We set up our shelters and shouldered our packs to hike to the end of the trail and then head back at nightfall.
Further into the interior, we spot the crest of the Ko'olau Range, which is the roughly 30 mile long eastern spine of the island. The crest is perpetually windy (the trade winds) and rainy (ocean air pushed over the crest loses its moisture on top of these mountains, making the rest of the island relatively dry).
Finally, we reached the end of the trail (see the sign!), and got the great views of the Windward side of the Island we'd hoped for (sometimes it's totally socked in). In the distance is the town of Kaneohe, as well as Marine Corps Base Hawaii, and Kaneohe Bay.
It was real windy at the top, and the foliage overgrowing the trail shredded that cheap poncho to bits!
On the way back, the sun sets. In the islands, being in the tropics, the sun sets between 17:45 (in the "winter") and about 19:30 (in the summer), and also, being in the tropics, there's very little dusk. The sun sets, and the lights go right out.
I hope you've enjoyed this trip in the tropics, and I hope this post wasn't too long!