I seized a rare opportunity to see some hidden waterfalls tucked away in a remote valley on the island.
When Cory Yap invited us to go with him to repair weather and stream monitoring equipment in a remote stream, we jumped at the chance. Cory works for the Hawaii Stream Research Center at the University of Hawaii where he assesses the water quality of some of the most pristine streams in the Hawaiian Islands. Since none of us — neither Pete Clines, August Smith, Ryan Chang nor I — had ever hiked up this stream before, we eagerly accompanied Cory on his mission.
Near constant winds made the stream valley cold as we rock hopped on slippery moss and algae covered rocks. Due to the recent winter rains there was lots of water in the stream and the water was cold and clear.
We saw several rare endemic plants along the stream such as this haha or cyanea 6 feet tall. Its leaves made me suspect it might be Cyanea lanceolata.
We also saw a number of olona (Touchardia lattifolia) and haiwale (Cyrtandra spp.) along the edge of the stream.
The purpose of the trek was for Cory to repair the remote sensors that measure the stream’s water temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen, pH, etc.
The sensors are powered by a solar panel and transmits data to servers at the University of Hawaii. Cory maintains dozens of these remote sensing stations throughout the islands which allow researchers to monitor the streams every half hour.
Once Cory repaired the device, his mission was complete we were free to explore upstream. It did not take long for us to reach a point where the walls of the stream narrowed to a choke point.
The narrowest part had a small waterfall nearly 8 feet tall with a deep pool. The mid-day rays of the sun struck and penetrated the water from directly overhead giving the pool an incredible blue glow.
Pete was first one into the water. The pool was deep — we could not touch bottom — and the water was COLD — by Hawaii standards anyway. I shivered as I swam to the far end of the pool and climbed up the short waterfall.
The walls opened up after the choke point in the stream. One of the more amazing sights was a large oha wai tree 20 feet tall which might possibly be Clermontia persicafolia.
While hiking under some large trees growing over the stream the faint sound of falling water grew louder and the walls of the valley stream opened up into an amphitheater terminated by a waterfall!
The waterfall was about 35 feet high with a nice deep pool at its base. The water was frigid and we could not stay in the pool for very long. It felt good to warm up in the sunlight as we relaxed, ate lunch, and enjoyed the waterfall.
After swimming to the other side of the pool, Ryan pulled himself up the slippery wall covered with algae, liverworts and mosses.
Time passed quickly as we soon it was time to leave — Ryan had so much fun he was sad when it was time to leave.
We made our way downstream hopping from rock to rock. As we returned the way we had come, I could not help but reflect on the great time we had hiking up a pristine mountain stream, seeing rare native plants, and swimming in pools at the base of cool waterfalls. Many thanks to Cory for taking us to such a great place!