Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Waimano Valley Hike

This afternoon, we made another try at the Waimano Valley hike.

I mentioned in a previous post that we had attempted this hike, but aborted it based on getting devoured by mosquitoes. This afternoon, we went armed with lots of bug spray, and I lathered up the boys with the bug spray before we left the parking lot. The good news is the bug spray worked wonders. We still had clouds of mosquitoes buzzing around us, but they didn't seem to land on our skin at all - just our faces (and YS's thigh when he pulled down his pants to go pee along the side of the trail).

My two little environmentalists opening a
trash bag to pick up litter in the parking lot.

While this was a very beautiful area and overall an enjoyable hike, I severely underestimated the difficulty of this hike. Friends had told us they did the hike with their two small children and that they enjoyed it. According to Ball Chapter 20, it's a "2-mile loop" with "400 feet" of elevation gain suitable for "novice" hikers. To quote Sir Robin in Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "Thaaat's EASY!!!" Since we just did over 5 miles with 600 feet of elevation gain at the Makapuu Ridge hike a couple of weeks ago, I figured this 2-mile loop would be a breeze for us. ...Boy was I wrong.

This is the trail heading down into the valley.

Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived down in the bottom of the valley by the stream, I tried to turn the camera on and found the batteries were dead, so that's the last photo you get of our hike today.

The parking lot is at 530 feet of elevation, and we hiked down a moderate slope (pictured above, and note the slope of the descent in the altitude profile) into the valley, bottoming out at 350 feet.

Down in the valley it was really pretty along the stream, and we grabbed a geocache. Then it started to rain. Since the batteries were dead in the camera anyway, I put the camera away in my camelbak and pulled out our rain parkas. The trails got really muddy and slippery. Then we tried to climb up the hill. Note the difference in slope from the descent into the valley versus the climb out of the valley on the altitude profile below. It was very slow going with the boys.

When we got to the top of that hill and joined the Upper Waimano Trail, I figured we had maxed out on our elevation at 660 feet (310 feet gain from the bottom of the valley) and it would be an easy hike back down to the parking lot from there. There was still another hill to go up and over where we eventually maxed out at 700 feet. All the while, we were getting soaked and slipping and sliding in the mud.

We enjoyed a spectacular view of the valley and a very nice sunset from the top of the ridge, but as the sun set, it got VERY dark. We were pretty isolated with no street lights around. I broke out my flashlight and ES led the way. He was a very good point man showing YS roots to step over and centipedes to watch out for. He later told me he was scared in the dark part of our hike, but he was a real trooper and did a great job helping YS through.

Altitude Profile from my GPS
Mileage in 0.2 mile increments on X-Axis,
Altitude in 25 foot increments on Y-Axis.
Note the mileage here says it was 2.9 miles.

We were some messy muddy boys when we came home very late for dinner tonight. I wish I could show you a picture of the expression on YS's face as he laid floating in his bathtub water. His smile was one of pure bliss.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the boys said this was not as fun as Lego Star Wars. So if I were to draw a "fun meter", it would have muddy, slippery, after dark hiking on the left, sunny, dry paved path hiking on the right, and Lego Star Wars somewhere in the middle.

WAIMANO VALLEY HIKE SUMMARY: I know when I'm trying to decide on a new hike location, I search for an overview about the hike that will help me judge if it's doable with two little boys. For anyone else looking to do this hike, here's a quick summary:
Map: This hike is covered by Ball Chapter 20 (see this post for explanation).
Mileage: My GPS trip odometer said 1.6 miles, but reviewing the track history in my GPS after I got home, it says the total trek was 2.9 miles. Maybe I accidentally hit the reset button on the GPS while it was in my pocket.
Elevation Gain: From the bottom of the valley to the max elevation was approximately 350 feet of elevation gain.
Terrain: Mostly hard-pack dirt, but lots of tree roots and rocks to step over. Very slippery mud in the rain. There are some VERY steep drop-offs along the sides on the Upper Waimano Trail, so watch your children carefully.
Time: It took us 3 1/2 hours, but that was complicated by (a) the rain making the trails muddy and slippery and slowing us down, and (b) the sun went down and we were watching our footing very carefully for the last mile or so. My GPS said our average speed was 0.7 miles per hour.
Facilities: There were NONE - no bathrooms, no drinking fountains, nor any other sort of facilities anywhere in the parking lot or along the trail. (Luckily, having two boys, we watered a couple of bushes along the way).

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