Day 1: DEJA VU
We arrived in Honolulu at around 1pm under sunny skies and seemingly more humid weather than we had felt since our Maui trip just two weeks ago. Having just been in O’ahu a little over a month ago, we had no trouble getting to the rental car kiosk (this time we took the escalators and walked under the road instead of taking the Dollar shuttle). Thereafter, we got the familiar Calibur rental car (we always ask for the Toyota Corolla for fuel-efficiency, but to no avail again) and immediately went to the familiar Ohana Maile Sky Court Hotel.
Although the intention of this trip was to go to the Big Island, we were staying in Hilo and there weren’t any direct flights from LA. So we decided to make a stop in Honolulu and tend to some unfinished business before flying to Hilo tomorrow afternoon.
After getting settled, we immediately headed back out and got to business as we hunted for Kapena Falls (which we somehow missed on the last trip) as well as a brief hike to the Jackass Ginger Pool. First up was the Jackass Ginger Pool.
It was just after 2:45pm when we got to the trailhead for the Judd Trail. There was already a big pickup truck at the pullout which barely had room for two cars. But the way the truck was parked, we had to leave part of the car on the road. So Julie stayed in the car while I battled the mosquitoes and looked for the Jackass Ginger Pool.
The trail was initially easy to follow and the stream crossing was fairly obvious and straight forward. Soon, I took the right fork at a junction and follow and deteriorating trail that eventually became a boulder scramble. I started to doubt whether I was going the right way already, but the voices of some young boys swimming and rope swinging kind of hinted to me that I was going the right way.
Eventually, I got to the Jackass Ginger Pool and its surprisingly short 10ft cascade. It was hardly a waterfall to brag about and really it was an excuse for people to go swimming, I reckon. In a strange juxtaposition, there was some house in a cleared land behind a fence and a sign indicating private property on the other side of the stream. It was kind of strange to see so deep into the jungle.
Back at the pullout on the Pali Highway referred to by the Scenic Overlook sign, there was a viewing area of some temple, but the tombstones around the temple made Julie reluctant to take a photograph thinking it would bring bad karma.
After seeing the broken glass on the ground, both of us suspected that some people who have parked here have had their cars broken into. So Julie opted to stay behind again while I went looking for Kapena Falls.
In a bit of deja vu, I was walking along the highway with fast moving cars whizzing by going the other way. It really reminded me of the time I walked along the highway looking for Kalihiwai Falls on Kaua’i.
Since I forgot to bring any guidebooks with me, I wasn’t quite sure when I was supposed to make a left and scramble over the wall and into the jungle. So the first trail I saw, I went over the wall and into a forested gully. Something already seemed a bit wrong as there was lots of overgrowth even though there was clearly a trail here.
Eventually, I got back to the waterfall and stream that we had mistakenly though was Kapena Falls on the last trip. After crossing the stream, I got onto the trail leaving the cemetary and followed it to its end. And that was when I finally saw the Kapena Falls.
Around the same time, a couple of young boys were running down the hill and immediately towards some apparent rope swings. It was obvious to me that they were going to use it to plunge into the plunge pool beneath the falls. I guess they could provide some scale as to the size of the waterfall, I reckoned.
The views from this side of the trail were OK as there was the highway bridge immediately behind the falls. So I decided to cross the stream again and take some photos from the other side. The views were better from here as it better conveyed the depth of the little gulch as well as the falls.
As I started to make my way back out of the gulch, I passed by someone’s campsite (not sure if it’s illegal to camp here) and then back onto the Pali Highway. In front of me was the Scenic Lookout sign, which I should’ve used as a landmark to indicate when to go left on the way in. Oh well, you live and learn.
It was about 4:30pm when I returned to Julie and the rental car. We immediately headed back to the Ohana Maile Sky Court and got changed so we could have an early dinner at Duke’s Canoe Club. Julie was determined to have the Seven Spice Seared Ahi Tuna, especially after the disappointing dinner at Kimo’s in Lahaina. I was going to have the same thing as well, but we also made sure to leave room for their gargantuan (and guilt-ridden) Hula Pie for dessert.
The dinner went by pretty uneventfully as we beat the rush and only had to wait 10 minutes instead of over an hour like last time to get seated. After the nice dinner and dessert, we were treated to a spectacular sunset over Waikiki Beach. This time however, the clouds made the sun look like a red globe sinking on the horizon. It was quite an unusual sunset, and we wasted no time snapping as many photos as we could to capture this moment.
We would eventually get back to the Ohana Maile Sky Court to rest up for tomorrow’s hike on the La’ie Trail in search of the La’ie Falls. It would be an action-packed day as we had to secure a permit before the hike and then try to get it all in before returning the rental car at 1:30pm back at the Honolulu airport.