Hiking: Waimanu Valley May 8-10 2015
Hike in: 7.5 hrs
Hike Out: 6:45 hrs
Friday May 8 2015 -
The Hike in started off bright and early, or dark and late depending on how you look at it with a 4:00 AM wake up. Daichi and I took quick showers to wake up and to start the day off clean. We then dashed off to pick up our friend, Alan at his house. We made the 1.5 hour drive up through Hilo and up the Hamakua Coast along highway 19. Near Honoakaa we saw 3 baby piglets that got ran over crossing the road. ;-( We made it to the top of the Waipio Valley access road at 7:00 am. It is a real 4 x 4 access road and is the steepest road in the U.S.. We made plans to drive down and park at the Wailoa Stream and hike up the Z trail and then Alan was going to head back and return the jeep to my home.
We made it to the Wailoa stream at 7:30 AM. Brrr! A somewhat chilly waist deep crossing. We made it across without too much trouble but we planned ahead for being wet and went with swim trunks to keep things simple. We hiked about a 1/2 mile across the Waipio valley to the start of the Z Trail (Muliwai Trail). It took us a little over an hour to make the climb up the 5 switch backs to the top of the z trail. Daichi wasn't happy to make the climb and he complained a lot about being tired, but I kept him moving and we finally made it to the top. We took a protein bar break and said goodbye to Alan at 8:50 AM as he headed back down the z trail. It was nice and quiet at the top, almost eerily quiet with the winds rustling the trees and cooling us off.
We crossed through 12 gulches, some of which were dry, amazingly and many ups and downs along the way. There was an impressive stand of Albezia trees that people have carved over the years. One had to be like 10-12 feet in diameter, maybe even larger. It was a monster for sure. I saw one carving dated '92 about 15 feet up. Crazy! I resisted the urge to make my mark, not wanting to waste any time and not to be one of "those people." The winds sure was gusting all day long and we even spotted a large broken top of an Albezia that caused Daichi and I to run underneath for fear that it could dislodge and squish us. About half way through the hike I got some good quad cramps. Ouch! Nothing that lasted too long but long enough to know I was working them really hard.
Daichi and I slowly made our way down the Waimanu z trail without calfs and toes screaming. The trail is very step descending 1000' feet or so without so many switch backs and lots of loose rock and tons of Hala leaves litter the trail making it very hazardous. In my opinion this trail is way steeper than the Waipio trail but luckily it doesn't have the stone staircases that the Waipio z trail does. The Hala leaves also have lots of small thorns along the edges. Make sure you don't let them wrap around your legs as you are making your way down the trail like I did or you will end up with really small thorns in you. We managed to reach the Waimanu stream at 3:00 pm on Friday May 8th 2015 at a 7 1/2 hour hiking pace.
There is a rope strung across the Waimanu Stream to help you keep your balance or if it has been raining a good bit you will need it just to safely cross. The whole valley is pretty much a large wet land and the water filters through the grasses / reeds and then forms the river. The river was waist deep when Daichi and I made the crossing. Watch out for the scattered rocks along the bottom. You don't want to stub your toes just as your camping stay starts. Some people at the campsite brought cheap inflatable boats to move their packs across, but we chanced it and it worked for the most part until our departure where Daichi didn't listen to wait and stumbled and partially fell soaking his backpack. We meet some other campers at the river who thankfully gave us some ideas on how to conquer the crossing. Brr again!!!! The water sure was breath taking after being so hot and sweaty from the hiking.
We reserved campsite #2 and we found it empty, although there was a bit of rubbish left over from previous campers who didn't hike it out like they should have. Boy was it windy, howling even with 30+ mph winds right off the ocean with its crashing surf. I brought along a set of cheap one person pup tents and I managed to get one set up as it started to lightly rain. Daichi was kind enough to let everyone within earshot, in a very loud excited voice that the tent was leaking. Not just a little bit of a drip, but dripping everywhere. The wind and the tent flapping was extreme and then a securing guy rope fastening point ripped off and the pup tent idea was doomed. I panicked a bit but I came up with an lean-to that worked pretty well and is the way to go with a bigger tarp to give you protection from rain. Campsite #2 has a stone stacked wall that will provide some protection from the relentless wind.
Saturday May 9 2015 -
Overnight it got down to 65F or so and Daichi and I found out the 55F sleeping bags we brought were too much. Another lesson learned. Wow, what a perfect day we woke up to! Well I should clarify that I was awoken @ 5:30 AM by Daichi screaming that the fish in the Waimanu stream were jumping all over. Boy was he excited! We decided to stick around the camp and recover our strength as we are going to be hiking out the next day and my quads, lats and calfs were still crampish, so we skipped the hike out to visit the waterfalls. I also wanted to save something for a reason to return other than the awesomeness of the location. We walked the beach, swam in the Waimanu stream and I watched Daichi chase crabs around.
Sunday May 10 2015 -
I woke up somewhat wet Sunday morning due to the rain that moved in overnight and the tarp was a bit too small to cover us. Not really a big deal but I wanted to try to keep everything as dry as possible so to save some weight. The hike out was faster than the hike in. I did notice that it is mostly downhill heading out and our packs were lighter than when we headed in, maybe that helped. It could also be that I promised Daichi a ForReal shake when we finished? Who knows? We got up early and broke down the camp site and had a start time of 7:00 AM at the Waimanu stream. It had risen over night and now was about 4 1/2' deep. Wow! Tough to get across without getting my pack soaked. Daichi didn't listen to wait for me to help him and he managed to fall, dunking his pack. We made it to Wailoa stream @ 1:45 PM and then proceeded to hike up Waipio Valley access road as Yuko hasn't driven the Jeep to the bottom of the valley yet. Whoa, tired!
- Pack light! Might catch some fresh water prawns / fish or fish in the ocean.
- Ditch the tents and go instead with 10' X 12' tarp.
- The 55 degree sleeping backs are way too warm. We could have used fleece bag liners and saved a bunch of wieght and space
- Don't pack any extra clothes. Maybe an extra pair of clean socks.
- You will need a permit
Waipio Valley from the Waipio Valley z trail
Waipio Valley from the Waipio Valley z trail view 2
Daichi and I winded at the top of the z trail
Our first view of Waimanu Valley
The improvised leanto
A tree at campsite #2
Looking back in Waimanu Valley from the Campsite #2
My morning coffee
The view from the camp trail
Swimming in Waimanu stream
The rope across Waimanu stream
The front of Camp #2 and the stacked rock wall
Campsite #2 sign
I got hungry so I ate a coconut
I wonder if anyone is coming down the z trail
The weather is moving in
Sunset May 9th 2015