Monday, March 17, 2014

Oahu Hike: The Judd Trail

  The last few days have been windy and rainy here in the Hawaiian Islands. I have seen numerous waterfalls cascading off the cliffs deep within the Ko'olau mountain range thanks to the heavy rainfall. I've also been in an exploratory and adventurous mindset recently. So with the afternoon off I set out to find some waterfalls close to home.
  I had my sights set on a trail heading deep into Nuuanu Valley, the next valley over from my home valley of Pauoa. As I drove on the outskirts of the jungle towards the trail head I passed a few parked cars on the side of the road. I saw a trail leading into the jungle and a official trail sign as well. So I pulled over and decided to check it out.

The Judd trail, which this turned out to be, connects to a ridge line hike that can lead past Manoa. But it also provides a short forty-five minute loop hike through very interesting forest. I actually liked the very beginning part next to the road the most. Here a running stream tumbled down small waterfalls, past huge banyan trees, and around boulders. Next you enter a bamboo grove, followed by hillsides monocultured with cook island pines and other non native trees. 
  The monocultures made it very interesting, especially as you transferred from one tree to the next. It looked like a reforestation had occurred at some point. Most likely these trees were all brought in and planted in the early 1900's when the Hawaii Sugar Planters Association began revegetating the watersheds to save their precious ground water used in irrigation. Until then free ranging cows had eaten down the understory so much that erosion, floods, and sedimentation had really taken its toll.

  I did branch off from the main trail to follow a small hunters trail up a ridge. It got so steep at a few points that I had to hold onto bamboo to help climb farther up. I could hear what sounded like cars whizzing by up ahead so I thought I must be near the Pali Highway, but when I crested the hill I realized it was actually updrafts whooshing up the hill at 50 to 60 miles per hour. I am sure glad it wasn't blowing the other direction or I would have flown off the cliff.
  It was worth the climb for the incredible view of Nuuanu valley all the way back to where the Pali Highway enters the tunnel through the Ko'olau Range. There were no buildings, no people, just little trails that hunters and ancient Hawaiians' have used and new sights waiting to be explored. Unfortunately I didn't have all day, so after taking in this picture and making sure my sunglasses didn't fly off my head I slid back down the mountain and regained the Judd trail.

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