Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mo'ole Valley and falls

For the past three months we have not experienced very heavy rains here on Oahu, so I have been staying away from the waterfalls as of late.  However a few nights ago we had a flash flood warning and I prepared myself to hike into a little valley tucked away in nuu'anu named Mo'ole valley.  This would not be my first trip back into the area so I didn't have to do any research but I was a little worried about time.  Me and my wife had scool the next day at one o'clock so I was just keeping my fingers crossed that we would make it to the last waterfall and back in time.

The morning started around 6am.  I had stayed up all night the night before finishing papers for school that I had been procastinating on, so I knew this was going to be an insanely long day.  My wife and I headed out for nuu'anu.  We parked in the same spot as we did for the Lulumahu Falls hike (see directions at the bottom of the page).  Once parked at the hunter check-in-station off of nuu'anu pali drive, we gathered our backpacks and cameras and commenced running across the highway to where there is a roadside drainage ditch and a fence just beyond that.  We crossed the drainage ditch and took a right at the fenceline and a few seconds later we were at our starting point for the hike.  Our starting point was a gate that is always unlocked.  We merely opened the gate and then closed it back behind us and off we went.  Upon entering the gate we were transported into the beauty that is mo'ole valley.  Mo'ole valley is quite different from most valley hikes that i've been on here in Oahu.  The trees are diverse and the hau thickets and paperbark trees dominate a lot of the hike up until the ditch portion.  At first the trail looks a little confusing but there are plenty of ribbons and markings on the trees to lead the way.  I will go back in the next few weeks so I can give a detailed trail description, but on this day I did not have the time to keep track of a route description that would be worthy of putting on this blog.  While the trail was very confusing at one point a long time ago, it is now very manageable even without directions.  Ribbons and spray paint cover the trees and trail and should be more than adequate in helping you find your way.

Next up we reached the ditch system, where we came upon a tunnel.  Pull out your flashlights and head into the tunnel (you can contour and go over the hill from what i've heard but i've never done it).  Going through the tunnel is a lot more fun than you would imagine at first glance, so don't be put off by it.  If there is no water in the tunnel as you are walking through it, you may want to consider turning around and trying this hike at another time.  Like I stated in the beginningof this write up, these falls only flow in flash flood conditions and just shortly after, or after a few days of continuous heavy rains.  The water in the tunnel well be an indicator of if the falls are going or not. 

After exiting the tunnel we took a right and followed the stream upwards (there will be little trails marked with yellow ribbons for you to follow) and within a few minutes we reached the first falls.  The first waterfall is a very small waterfall but it splits at the bottom and is very appealing to the eyes.  There is a shallow and typically clear pool at the bottom of the falls that one can take a dip in to get a little wet.  Next, we headed up to the right, (there will be a black rope to aid you in the little climb) and followed the obvious trail.  After a few minutes we came to a tree with a big yellow ribbon and a black arrow on it pointing up and to the right.  For anyone hiking this trail do not follow this ribbon just yet.  Take the trail past this marker and when it ends walk briefly through the stream (heading upstream) and within a few minutes you will come to the biggest waterfall that you are going to see on this hike.  My guess would be that it is about sixty to eighty feet in height but I could be wrong in that estimation.  Just like the first waterfall, there is a little pool under the falls for you to get wet but it doesn't get much deeper than four or five feet.  Also, be careful of falling rocks if you do decide to get in the pool.  From here backtrack to the junction with the yellow ribbon and the black arrow pointing up and this time take that junction.  This trail will go on for fifteen to thrity minutes (depending on your pace) until you eventually see a nice little waterfall on your left hand side.  There is a little trail you can take down to see it but there is no pool at its base.  The waterfall itself is definetly worthy of a few pictures, so take the opportunity to walk down and see it if you have the time.  If you do not choose to go down to this waterfall you will just continue straight ahead and keep following the trail. 

After following the trail and ribbons for just a little bit longer you will end up on the left side of the stream and come upon yet another waterfall.  This waterfall is my least favorite and unlike some of the other falls on the stream this one really takes an enormous amount of rain to get it going.  It is also tough to get a good picture of this waterfall due to all the tree limbs that are hanging in front of the falls.  At this point you will climb up a little trail to the left of the falls and then scramble a little bit around a some what wide ledge and end up at the top of the before mentioned falls.  Once again, just follow the well beaten path and ribbons and just keep heading upstream.  In my opinion, all of the waterfalls seem to be about the same distance apart on this hike.  They seem to all be about ten to twenty five minutes from one waterfall to the next.  When you come upon the next waterfall you will see that it has two tiny tiers to it.  This entire hike is fairly easy but if you find one part hard it will be this next part.  You will find some rope on your right side and will begin climbing upwards to continue further progress.  The climb is some what steep and in parts there is not much room for error but overall the climb is not that difficult.  Be very careful on this part and watch your footing because the rocks are very slippery and a fall here would almost certainly cause you some serious injuries and pain.  After making it up this part and venturing a little farther on the the trail you will see a few small falls and a bigger one above it.  The bigger waterfall was probably my favorite waterfall that we saw on this day and it had the nicest and deepest pool of all the pools on this hike.  Also if it is a clear day, look behind you and you will get some views of downtown honolulu.  We went a litlle further up the trail and then, since my wife and I both had to get to school we turned around and high tailed it back to the start of the trailhead.  There is another waterfall past where we turned around but is a little harder to find than the previous ones.  Also this trail does lead to Lanihuli but I have not personally completed this feat.

If you are planning on hiking this trail be conscious of the fact that you need heavy rains over the last few days or a flash flood to have just happened or there will be no waterfalls.  This valley is on the board of water supplies property, however they no longer use this land so you will be perfectly fine hiking back here and will not encounter any problems.  This is yet another trail in which people have been stingy in giving directions to and have been very protective over like a lot of the other trails and places in nuu'anu.

To get here (coming from Waikiki) act like you are going to the pali lookout by taking the pali highway.  Before the pali lookout turnoff there will be a street on the right hand side named nuu'anu pali drive.  Veer right and get on to this street and just follow it all the way until it ends.  Upon ending, Nuu'anu Pali drive while intersect back with the pali highway.  Do not get back on the pali highway.  Instead pull off to your right and park in the open area that you will see in front of a gate.  This parking is mostly used by hunters but you will be perfectly fine parking here.  However, just like everywhere else you go in this world, do not leave any valuables in your car.  Once parked, grab your stuff and run straight across the highway (be careful and make sure the coast is clear before taking off) and go over the roadside drainage ditch and to the fenceline.  Take a right at the fenceline and about 20 yards down you will see a gate that will be unlocked.  Open the gate, closing it behind you, and you will be in mo'ole valley and at the starting point of the hike.  Good luck and have a great hike.

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