We set off for the upper manoa falls and everything went exceedingly fast on this climb up upper manoa falls. In no time we had reached the waterfall directly above Manoa falls. There is a big beautiful pool (all though it was a little murky looking on this day from all the rain) below the falls that's about five to six feet in depth. From here we continued our climb and met the first two opsticals, which I was already aware of from future experiences on this trail. There is a ledge with drops straight down, that must be negotiated and you have to link your arms into banyan roots and simultaneously pull yourself over to get by. Everyone completed this part fairly easily. Almost instantly after this part there is a near vertical rock face that must be climbed with the aid of some ropes that don't look very inviting to use. My friend went first and installed yet another rope, and then using all three ropes, we all commenced the climb over the rock face one at a time. Three out of the five us had an extremely tough time negotiating this part. I have no problem admitting that I was one of them. There is virtually no footholds and the ones that are there are incredibly small. My feet were wet and kept wanting to slip. I had numerous of negative thoughts sprinting through my head but I managed to block everything out and listen to my friend that was spotting me. I got myself to a tree trunk that had fallen next to the rock face and I positioned my back against this for a short rest and then successfully made my way the rest of the way up.
I didn't look back once. I just kept climbing and pulling myself up the muddy and slippery slope until I had finally reached a point where I could stop and rest. As I was taking a breather another member of our group installed a rope for what would be our climb down a sheer eighty foot rock face to the next waterfall. There is some foot holds and everyone was in the mode of preparing to climb down. This is where our whole day changed instantly. When you hike in groups, there will be instances where one and sometimes more than one, people in your group are not comfortable and you have to switch your plans. One of the members of our group wasn't sure if he would be able to hold his own weight, and was really apprehensive of this climb down. He also did not want to go back down where he had just come from so he started making his own trail going up the mountain. We all decided to follow him and see if we could find another way out. This did not bother me one bit. I was ready to go down to the next waterfall but was not all that upset when we didn't. Another option would have been to just backtrack from where we had just come from but that was an option that I just was not willing to embrace at this time.
Our new plan was to climb up the mountainside until we reached the top and from there we would find a way down. I couldn't stop laughing about all of this but at the same time I was just praying that we would find a trail upon reaching the top (if we even make it to the top, I recall thinking). So off we went up the side of a muddy, almost non existent trail on a mountainside. It seemed like it would never end. At points the climb became increasingly steep and excessively muddy and incredibly hard to gain further progress, so I would go ahead of the rest of the group and install ropes in the parts that were tough to climb with the ropes I had brought with me for all of us to use. These were a huge help for the group on this day and I was now happy that I had brought them. We could tell that we were not far from the top. My buddy and I reached the top first, installing a rope yet again, and the rest of the group made a quick climb up right behind us.
Reaching the top we looked around to assess what little options we had. The ridge terminate behind us so our only option was to go straight ahead. We saw the highest mountain peak in the koo'lau mountain range, Konahuanui, in the distance. Our plan would be to to connect our ridge to another ridge that would connect us to Konahuanui and then we would take a contour trail down to the puaoa flats trail and back to Manoa falls where we started. I had my doubts that this would work but I accepted the idea and in the back of my mind was preparing for what might ultimately be a overnight stay in the mountains if our plan didn't work. Others in the group talked about calling rescue a few hours before dark if we couldn't make it out but i'm still not sure if they were serious or not. If I only knew one thing, it was that I was not getting helicopter rescued off this mountain today.
Upon starting off on the ridge I couldn't help but think how overgrown this trail was. Uluhe ferns and tree branches were scraping and cutting my body up everywhere. I wondered to myself if anyone had ever even been on this ridge before us. We continued+
our further progress, at points having to dig into the mud and grab nothing but grass to pull us further up the mountain. After a few hours we finally had reached the top of the ridge that would take us to Konahuanui.
Beautiful views opened up to our right from Mt. Olympus to Makapuu and the mokolua islands could be seen off in the distance to our left. Behind us (where we just came from) the clouds that had been smothering us for the past hour had now receeded and views of Lanihuli, Bowman and pearl Harbor opened up in that direction. It was at this point that I knew we were gonna make it off this mountain. It was also at this point that I knew that we would be hiking in the dark for a good portion of the last part of the hike. This is why you always bring a head lamp or flashlight with you. You never know when something like this can happen. What is the one thing I didn't bring with me on this day? My headlamp of course. Luckily two others had theirs.
Konahuanui was in our sights now. We pushed forward and summited K2 and then took the connector trail to the left and were finally on our way back to civilization. We reached the Nuu'anu valley overlook right at dusk and those of us who had flash lights pulled them out and headed down the puaoa flats trail. This entire trail but especially this part was like the energizer bunny, it just kept going and going and going. We were closing in on fourteen hours and were incredibly tired but we finally arrived back at Manoa falls. We were overcome with happiness. We knew it was just a short twenty or thirty minute walk now and we would be back to our cars and headed home. This was a very exciting loop to have finished but I can honestly say that I do not think I will be doing it again any time soon, if ever. The initial trail to upper manoa falls isn't to dangerous but once you get to the second waterfall it can become very tricky and very dangerous in spots. If you are gonna try going to the waterfalls above Manoa falls, my suggestion would be to go with someone that has been, who can help you find your way up. The rest of our route consisted of us trailblazing more than anything else so there would not be much of a point to me posting directions. We did put pink ribbons up so if you see them you will know you are on our route. For now I am just glad to be off this trail and am looking forward to the waterfall hikes that are soon to come with the rain we have recieved this past week.