Showing posts with label oahu. Show all posts
Showing posts with label oahu. Show all posts

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Koko Crater Arch Hike + Eternity Beach

One of the things I love about living on Oahu is the hiking. We don't hike as often as I would like, but when we do it is never a disappointment.

The Koko Crater Arch trail is located in East Honolulu, near Hawaii Kai. We picked this one because it isn't far from our neighborhood and is rated as moderate in the All Trails app. Plus, I love hikes that have an interesting feature. In this case, the arch.

Even though we did this hike on a beautiful Saturday morning, we had no trouble finding a parking spot at the Halona Blowhole parking lot. All Trails did not have trailhead information, but I found a couple blog posts that did and it seemed pretty easy and straightforward. We just had to walk along a narrow busy road about 100 feet to mile marker 15, cross the road and start climbing. 

So we walked, first past the beach we would go to later, and then the Japanese Fishing Shrine. I admit that I'm a terrible judge of distance, but it felt like more than 100 feet and we didn't see a mile marker. 

After crossing the road and walking back and forth, we found the broken mile marker. Thanks Hawaii DOT. We also found two was on the All Trails map and the other looked easier. We went with easy.

We had to climb up some rocks to get to the trail, but then it was pretty easy walking across the lava rock. It was very windy, but we didn't mind and the views were spectacular. Soon enough we saw the trail we were supposed to be on when some hikers started making their way down. We weren't too far off, but we had a steep climb and some brush to get through until we were able to merge.

Looking up to the arch and beyond to the ridge

Once we were on the main trail, we took our time, carefully making our way up the steeper and steeper trail until we were eventually standing below the arch. As mrC said, we're not billy goats, so we opted to climb off to the left and go under rather than over the arch.

Loose gravel combined with the steepness and the wind made this the hardest part of the hike, but it was worth it. It was awesome to sit under the arch and take in the ocean views. 

More adventurous hikers continued past the arch and up to the ridge, but we had a beach to get to (and we are happy to stick with moderate climbs). To get back down to the trail, we had to scoot on our bums or fear slipping on the gravel, but then we just took our time going down the lava rock trail.

We stayed on the proper trail on the way down. The alternate entrance we took at the start was pretty easy for climbing up, but super steep to go down. When we got to the end of the trail, we had to climb down a much bigger section of rocks. Only one slip on the gravel (me!) and now I can say I've had lava burn.

mrC got us safely back to the car, where we grabbed our beach bag and hiked down to Halona Cove Beach, aka Eternity Beach. If you’ve seen the movie From Here to Eternity, this is where they filmed the beach kissing scene.

People more courageous than us were jumping off the rocks into the water, but we were quite happy to sit on our towel and watch. We respect the water and have no intention of needing a rescue (and for the record, this beach has no lifeguards and is technically off limits).

The cool thing about this beach, is that you can't see it from the road when you're driving past. I guess that's why it is also called Secret Beach!

We counted this hike as our leg day, although I think we could've done our regular workout, too. We didn't beat ourselves up over it though.

Let me know if you have any questions!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Hiking: Pu'u Ma'eli'eli Trail (Digging Hill)

Our first attempt at doing this hike was postponed when mrC got an unexpected work trip. We did it a few days later under not so perfect conditions, but you can't wait for conditions to be perfect!

So, once again we headed to the trail even though the skies were cloudy and rain was in the forecast (same thing happened when we hiked Aiea Loop Trail). We parked at the Ko'olau Shopping Center and then followed the guardrail on Kahekili Highway to get to the trailhead. It was super easy to find.

After two climbs to get our legs warmed up right off the bat, I looked behind us at the Ko'olau Mountains topped with clouds. We see them in the distance every day, but I will never get tired of taking in their beauty. 

The reviews of this trail warned that it would not be easy or fun to hike it in the rain, so we crossed our fingers that the rain would hold off and the trail stay dry.

Hiking Pu'u Ma'eli'eli was fitting for a Monday hike because the trail ascended in intervals (we do HIIT workouts on Mondays in the FASTer Way community). Just when our legs were tiring from the climb, it leveled out. It's become our routine to have me lead us on the way out and mrC takes over on the way back.

It didn't take us long at all to reach the first pillbox (underground), but it was at the top of a final big climb. Fortunately there were ropes in place to help us get up.

About 20 yards beyond the first pillbox, was the pillbox with the view. The view was still pretty awesome, even on this really cloud covered day. To me, Kaneohe Bay looked like it might if Hawaii actually had a winter, like it was frozen.

We only hung out on the pillbox for a short period because the sprinkles started getting heavier. We are getting better at our selfie game.

mrC took the lead on the way back and it was slow going. The rain came down hard enough that we actually broke out the rain jackets. Any chance of getting off the trail with mud-free shoes went out the window, but at least no one slipped and fell.

Taking in one more view of Kaneohe Bay and mrC points out Coconut Island - a marine research facility for University of Hawaii.

We are happy to cross another new hike off our list, but this is one we will do again on a better weather day to get those amazing views of Kaneohe Bay in the sun.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Hiking: Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail

Moderately hard = hard work, but totally worth it!

That's what we would say about the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail. This hike went on our list because it has amazing views.

This trail is popular, but because the trail head is located inside an affluent Honolulu community, it probably never really gets crowded. Which is good because it's an out and back. We decided to go on a Friday morning to avoid the weekenders and I think it worked. We checked in with the friendly guard at the gate to Waialae Iki, who took down our license plate number and gave us a parking pass, and made our way through the neighborhood to the trail head parking area.

They have some amazing views in this community!

We were the 6th car to arrive. It was a short walk down the street to the trail which starts off as the access road for the water department. It quickly turned to gravel, which is actually hard to walk on and then the typical Hawaiian red dirt. 

Although there were clouds lingering on the ridge that we hoped would scatter by the time we made it up that far, it didn't take long for us to get some views of what was to come. I'm pretty sure those clouds were also keeping all the humidity packed in on us. We were sweating!

The first part of the hike is best described as a slow and steady climb. Fortunately, there were plenty of places to stop and take peeks at the views that continued to get better and better.

We knew that the real fun began when we made it to the first of a series of steps - created to help hikers and erosion prevention.

I tried to count how many different sets of steps we came to but lost track. The trail would dip and rise in between and eventually the steps became a little more intimidating. 

Every so often we made it to electrical towers. The openings here were a great space to take a break and take in the views.

We used the All Trails app to track ourselves, but that didn't stop us from looking up and thinking we were almost there several times. The clouds blocking our view of the summit kept playing tricks on us.

The higher we got, the more it looked like the clouds were going to cooperate and make their move out of the valley.

Some spots along the trail were challenging and required using a rope to pull ourselves up. The ladders were convenient, but a little scary climbing up on the side of the ridge.

The closer we got to the top, the more the clouds cleared, which was good news for us. We didn't want to climb all the way up and miss out on the views.

After a final push to the top, we were at a tower but not quite at the summit with the 360 degree views. We had to walk to the left of the tower and follow the trail just a little bit more. Finally we spotted the end of trail sign and a single bench to sit on. We took a break there and waited for the clouds to finish blowing by.

Once the clouds cleared, we took our time taking in the views. We spotted Kailua in the distance, Bellows AFB, Flat Island where we swim to and the Mokes. Right before heading back down, we decided to take a selfie on a timer and got swarmed by a bunch of gnats!

Going down wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, thanks to mrC helping me. Even though the clouds lingered just above us, the views were even more amazing on the way down. I loved seeing Diamond Head and Waikiki in the distance. 

Other than my knee getting a little cranky, there was no trail first aid administered on this hike unlike when we did the Aiea Loop Trail. A few hamstring stretches were all I needed to finish.

And just like that, we crossed off another hike from our bucket list. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Hiking: Aiea Loop Trail

I would have loved to explore a little on the Big Island or return to Kauai for our anniversary this year, but since inter-island travel in Hawaii is still subject to COVID quarantine, we decided to go for a hike. We have actually been checking hikes off our list, I just haven't blogged about it...until now. 

We choose the Aiea Loop Trail from the list of popular hikes for a couple of reasons: 

  • it's a loop - which I prefer over an out and back 
  • it's rated moderate - so not easy but also not hard
  • it can be muddy and since we've been in a bit of a drought on Oahu, it was good timing
It was about a 20 minute drive to Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area for us. As we headed up the hill through the Aiea Heights neighborhood to the parking area, it started to rain. Ha! The weather app on my phone claimed it would only last about 30 minutes, so we went for it. I admit that I was in full hiking mindset and excited to be in my hiking shoes and hiking shorts again, so a little rain wasn't going to stop me.

It was our first time to this park and we were unfamiliar with the different parking areas in relation to the trail head, so we grabbed a spot in the first lot we came to. There were public restrooms and covered picnic areas under the massive trees. mrC spoke to a nice gentleman who had just finished his trail run who pointed us in the right direction and gave us his best tips.

Our hike began with a half mile warm-up walk UP the road to the trailhead. We passed camping areas and more parking before finally seeing the start. Starting at this trail head sign takes you counter clockwise around the loop, which at the time we didn't realize made that big of a difference.

The first thing we noticed was the beautiful Hawaii red dirt. mrC explained to me that is is a result of the island being created from volcanic activity and the soil has high iron content. 

It rained lightly off and on during the beginning, so by the time we made it to the first overlook, the benches were too wet to sit on. We got a great pic of the roots before moving on. When it was raining, I was in keep it moving mode, as if that would help us stay dry! 

Even though a ton of cars drove by us when we were making our way up the road to the trailhead, we weren't seeing many people on the trail at all. 

I had read a tip on the AllTrails app to explore the short side trails when we came upon them. The first one we had to climb up a short ways, but it gave us a great view over Aiea and all the way to Pearl Harbor. You can see a tiny bit of a rainbow.

The trail at this point was mostly flat. In some places it was very wide and others it narrowed quite a bit. The drop off could be pretty steep along the edge, so I liked to hug the inside. My knee did not like that.

This hike definitely had great views of the valley. If you wondered what fall looks like in Hawaii, here it is! Not being a plant expert, I can't tell you what we saw or what we smelled but the aromas were amazing!

Great background for a selfie with my hiking buddy!

Eventually we made it to another seating area that opened up to a large view of the Halawa Valley. 

It was occupied by some young hikers and their dads having a snack, so we didn't get to sit. They did help us get a pic though.

At this point, we were trying to take in all the nature around us and stay dry between the showers. 

Right after these steps, the trail became muddier and my toes started rebelling at being in normal shoes (not flip flops) for such along period.

The highlight of the trail is the amazing view overlooking the H3 Highway. This was the turning point of the hike. We got several glimpses that kept getting better and better until we came to the main overlook.

Another highlight along this trail is the wreckage of a B-24J. We weren't sure we would be able to see it, but it was right below the trail and easy to spot.

The rest of the hike, we took in the more of the nature surrounding us. I loved seeing all the Norfolk trees and can't wait to get one for our Christmas tree this year.

We kept things moving at this point. We stopped a couple times to take in the beauty and twice for me to administer a little first aid to my toes. Hiking lesson of the day: trim toenails and apply vaseline before putting on socks. Also, carry bandaids in backpack.

A little over a mile from the end of the hike, we realized that we should have gone clockwise on the loop to avoid some major uphills at the end on super tired legs and a cranky knee. The cherry on top was the steps we had to climb to get back up to the road and walk down to where the car was parked.

Back at the car we cleaned up at the rest rooms and changed into dry clothes. I carried a lot of mud with me off the trail.

Even though I enjoyed the hike, it felt really good to take my hiking shoes off and put my flip flops on. We were both impressed that my leaf band-aid held up so well. I wish I had thought to do it sooner than I did.

Overall, this was a great hike!

Maybe this will show our age, but we were a little achey, so we sat in the hot tub for about 30 minutes after dinner, haha! 

Have you hiked the Aiea Loop Trail?