Saturday, November 12, 2011

Puu ManaMana

I had been putting this hike off for some time now.  A friend of mine, who had recently gotten lost on this trail, asked me if I wanted to go with him and I finally jumped at the opportunity.  Stuart Balls book "The Hikers Guide to Oahu" ranks this as an expert hike and puts the danger level at high.  To be honest, I did not see this hike as being for experts only or as being as dangerous of a hike as many have said.  In saying that though, there are some rock climbing parts that can be a little tricky and there are more than a few narrow sections on the ridge where footing and comfortability with exposure is vital.  The narrow portions have been made out to be legendarily narrow but in reality you have a good amount of room and it really isn't that scary or very hard if you take your time.  You do need to respect this trail and keep focused, for a fall could result in serious injury or death on this trail but if you are a good hiker and focus you should have no problem with this hike.  If you are affraid of heights this is definetly not the trail for you.  I would suggest starting by doing some other hikes on the island and getting use to the exposure and height factor and then coming to manamana only after you have a good comfortability level with these things.  If you are not familiar with the Hawaii trails and ridges, I probably would not attempt this hike.

We started this day by meeting up with our hiking partners for the day at a close by beach.  Everyone followed us as we made our way to the Puu manamana trailhead.  We parked at around 9am off of trout farm road, which is situated on the left side of the road just after the Crouching Lion inn and adjacent from kahana bay beach park.  We gathered all of our stuff and headed back to the main highway and took a right.  After walking back down the highway for a few minutes we came upon a faint trail heading up.  We took this trail and in no time some serious climbing ensued.  It seemed as quick as we had started we had reached the ridgeline.  There was a little side trail veering off to our left (the manamana trail went straight up the ridge) and heading to the crouching lion formation, so a few of us decided to take this trail and check this area out before heading up the puu o mahie ridge to manamana.  At this point we realized that one of the members in our group was already a little flustered and not feeling comfortable with the exposure.  We discussed the situation as a group and since the hard part of the trail had not even begun yet, we all came to conclusion that it was best that one of us turn around with our friend who was timid about continuing.  When we returned to the ridgeline three of us headed up the ridge for manamana and our other two friends turned around and headed back the other way to their car.  I felt bad but in retrospect I know this was the right decision.

We pushed ourselves up the ridge as every step we took became harder and the ridge became steeper and steeper.  We climbed over a couple of rock faces and then at last, everything leveled off and we were greated by clear views of Kahana bay and the windward coast behind us.  Directly in front of us were the legendary knife edge ridges that we had heard so much about.  This part was a lot safer than what I expected and I found it extremely fun.  The ridge walk was one of the most beautiful and relaxing I have had here on Oahu.  I fell in love with this ridge.  The mountains in front of us were being lit up by the sun and the views of the ocean to my left were gorgeous, as I couldn't stop glancing at the clear aqua waters.  The ridge was narrow but not narrow enough to cause any real hesitation.  We calmly made it past this part and shortly afterwards we were greeted with a rock face that we would have to negotiate to get to the next part of the ridge.  There were plenty of footholds but this section requires concentration and there is no room for error.  If you fall, you will be seriously injured or most likely killed.  However this is easily doable if you focus.  Whoever is most comfortable in the group should go down this part first and then guide the rest of the group as they proceed down the rock face.  This is exactly what we did on this day and everything went perfectly.  There is a cable to aid in the climb down but be careful if you decide to use it.  It did not look very inviting to me and I am sure it will snap at some point in the future.

I know there were more rock sections that were dangerous on this day but this was the only one that I remembered to be honest. After this part the ridge narrowed and then widened only to narrow again. The climbing was steep over many tiny rock sections on an often narrow ridgeline.  We reached what seemed to be knob after knob taking breaks at each one we reached.  After maybe four of five knobs, amazing views of Makaua valley (hidden valley), Kahana bay, and Kahana valley presented themselves and the trail finally leveled off a little for us (all though we were still climbing) and the ridge broadened, putting all of our minds at ease knowing that the toughest parts were behind us.  We walked through what was now an overly vegetated trail for some time and eventually reached a wide open grassy knoll, known as turnover.  This is where the trail ends.  There is a side trail to the left (I believe that leads in to Makaua valley), and a fairly ovbious trail straight ahead.  The obvious trail directly in front of you is the true manamana trailhead and only a number of people have ever completed this trail, beginning with Laredo Muredo and Pete Clines back in 2010.  It is imperative that you stop at this grassy knoll and do not continue further, for if you do, what you will encounter will be one of the craziest and scariest ridge lines that you have ever seen.

From the open grassy knoll turn around and backtrack for about one or two minutes and you will see a juction to the left.  Take this side ridge and you will slowly start contouring down.  This is the return route and will complete this hike as a loop for you bringing you out right at your car.  This ridge is known as cemetary ridge due to the fact that at the end of the ridge there is a very old and small cemetary you will briefly pass through before reaching your car.  The trail is very obvious the whole way down this ridge and all though it does become extremely narrow in parts, there are tons of trees and vegetation on both sides to obscure your views and to prevent you from falling.  You still need to be careful on this part but you are safer than before and your hike is now almost over.  As we got further and further down the ridge stunning views of Kahana bay directly in front of us and the amazing backdrop of Kahana valley just to our left was ever so present as we constantly looked up in awe of what was another amazing day for us here in Hawaii.  We eventually entered a wooded area and came upon the old cemetary and within minutes of this were back to our car and headed for 7-eleven to get our postgame slurpee session on.

No comments:

Post a Comment