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Now That Is A Hardy Family

January 29, 2011
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This post is EXTREMELY overdue. I started writing it on Jan 11th but got distracted until now …

I had so much fun in Hawaii. This was technically my fourth trip to Honolulu. I’ve flown into Honolulu three times – but only left by sea. As a result, I’m usually so busy preparing for a cruise that I have hardly any time to actually explore the island.

I went to Honolulu for the first time for SEA Semester. I camped out for a couple days on the windy side of the island with a friend and spent a little time wandering around and chilling in Waikiki before we set sail. I’ve driven to the North Shore but never touched the beaches there. This time, I managed to get away long enough to go on a long hike and visit my cousin. It’s nice to end a cruise in Hawaii – I’m always more motivated to get out and do stuff after being cooped up on the ship.

Our hike was epic. We had a guidebook from 1982 with a description of a trail rated for “Hardy Family”. We carefully followed the directions from the book and dutifully hopped onto the #53 bus at the Ala Moana Shopping Center in Downtown Honolulu. About 45 minutes later we got off at the Pearl City Shopping Center. Here is where our adventure began to go awry. The guidebook (a.k.a. the almost 30-year-old guidebook we were trusting completely) said there was a shuttle bus at this shopping center that would take us to the heard of the Manana Trail. Not shockingly, we couldn’t find it. But the book made it seem like it wasn’t that far so we figured we would just walk the rest of the way to the trail …

After four miles of uphill urban trekking along residential roads with no sidewalks, we came to a group consensus that maybe we needed a new plan. To make matters worse, the #53 bus had passed us several times … including once with the same driver who had dropped us off. Clearly, we were doing it wrong.

After consulting the smart phones (which, in retrospect, might have been useful earlier in the day), we got back onto the #53 and rode it all the way to the start of the trail. Funny how things have changed since 1982 …

However, after all that, the trail was worth it. There were gorgeous views from the ridge down into the lush, green valley. Now that we had found the trailhead, our next goal was to find the waterfall and swimming hole that was off of an unmarked trail that veered off the regular trail. According to our guidebook, the trail veered off at a eucalyptus grove immediately following a water tower and a patch of strawberry guava bushes. First we passed the water tower, which was more of a giant water tank sitting on the ground than a tower per se. It seemed like there was eucalyptus everywhere … so we ignored that part. We passed some bushes with red fruit – after pausing to consider whether it was strawberry guava or not, one person in our group stuck it into his mouth despite everyone else’s protests. From this, we learned that it was a very bitter fruit and he spit it out. (Later research indicates that this probably was strawberry guava and not some random poisonous fruit – apparently it has a bitter rind and you are only supposed to eat the fleshy, inside part.) In any case, we decided that this was enough indication that we were close to the unmarked trail. So, we veered off on the first unmarked trail we saw.

As it turned out, that was the wrong trail. Before we knew it, we were sliding down a mountain on an impossibly steep trail. Halfway down, we decided that we had almost certainly gone the wrong way and headed back to the main trail. Tired of wrong turns, we finally gave in and asked the next people we ran into for directions. We were soon pointed in the right direction and clambering over giant tree-roots. Again, we started to question whether we had really gone the right direction this time. I mean, this trail seemed a little intense for “hardy family”. However, right at that moment, a family came climbing up the trail. There was a girl in a bikini carrying a small dog, followed by three fit middle-aged people, and an older man with bad knees who wasn’t wearing any shoes. “Keep going! You’re almost there. This is my favorite place in Oahu – it’s totally worth it!” That was a hardy family.

We did eventually find the swimming hole and it was gorgeous … even if everyone left out the mention that it was filled with mosquitoes.

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