Not-so-secret Hamama Falls

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Lots of people make the ostensibly forbidden hike up a steady incline into Waiheʻe Valley in Kahaluʻu to see beautiful Hamama Falls.

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Lots of nice wild orchids along the way.

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At least it says “Aloha.”  That’s what makes Hawaiʻi different.

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Nice, clear, cool water in the swimming hole below the old water supply spillway.

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Wild Butterfly Pea flowers.

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Up, up, up until you’re there.

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No place to swim, but it’s great to look at.

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Waiheʻe Stream is usually pretty mellow.

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Stoner’s paradise?

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Not so pretty.  Why do people always toss their junk near trailheads?  At least somebody saved the cylinder head for something.

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Raggedy Tree Marigold with a bumblebee visitor.

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One more for the road!  Beautiful.

Hawaii’s beauty and danger

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So many beautiful places in Hawaii can also be very dangerous, and sometimes deadly.

It was only a few weeks ago when I wrote about the recent tragedy at Manoa Falls.  A 19-year-old college freshman fell to her death from the top of the main falls.

So I was a little surprised when I visited the falls again yesterday and saw another young woman about her age perched at the same spot from which the freshman fell.

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But I really shouldn’t have been.  Young folks have been climbing to the top of the falls for many, many years.  I’ve done it myself, but not for a long time.

It’s not easy.  You literally have to scramble straight up the face of large rocks by clinging to banyan tree roots.  Don’t attempt it if you’re not in very good shape, are unfamiliar with the area, or have no experienced companions.  It’s just not worth it.

The attraction at the top of the falls is a small and secluded pool, filled with fresh mountain water that cascades from yet another pool even higher up.

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The “infinity pool,” as it’s called by some, offers a great view of Manoa Valley and some privacy, a welcome respite from parents and the hordes of tourists who visit the main falls below.

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It’s a long way down.  And the water below is very shallow.

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Sometimes, the water flowing into the pool is barely a trickle.  Sometimes it’s quite a shower, and that’s when it’s both most beautiful and most dangerous.  Hawaii’s weather can be very unpredictable, especially in the mountains.  Rains can come quickly and turn dry stream beds into raging rapids within minutes, sweeping along rocks, branches and debris that can make waterfalls and pools very, very dangerous.

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But the current generation of young visitors to the infinity pool is definitely the Facebook and selfie generation.  It seems that taking the perfect selfie at the edge of the pool is now the thing to do.

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I guess I can’t really blame them.  It’s a beautiful spot, and I’m sure this visitor took some great pictures.  But it can be very, very dangerous.

I just hope she also made it home safely, and that any who follow her will too.

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Manoa Falls tragedy

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I visited Manoa Falls the other evening and found that friends of 19-year-old Kristi Takanishi had also visited recently and left a lei and a small memorial near the spot at the base of the falls where she was fatally injured in a tragic accident.  It’s a heart-breaking story.  So young, so full of life, just starting out.  Gone so quickly.

She and a friend had apparently climbed to the small pool above the main falls, and she somehow lost her balance and fell to the shallow rock-filled pool below.  Manoa Falls is actually a small cascade of falls, but the upper falls can only be seen from a distance.

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I didn’t know her, but I shed a tear just the same.  I’m sure many people will think of her whenever they visit the falls.  I will too.

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Aloha Kristi.

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Gorgeous Manoa Falls

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It’s a pretty easy hike from the back of Manoa Valley to the beautiful falls, with lots of interesting plants and birds encountered along the way.  Sometimes the falls are just a trickle of water, but during or after a heavy rain they can really flow.

Intrepid hikers sometimes scramble up a tangle of banyan tree roots to reach a hidden pool atop the falls.  There have been some injuries, including among people rappelling down the falls on ropes.

 

But a few days ago a real tragedy struck when a young woman somehow fell to her death from atop the falls.  The story is very, very sad.

Perhaps her spirit will reside there forever amid the beauty.