Thursday, November 22, 2012

True Manamana

Nick recently asked me to do True Manamana. I had only done part of the trail once before and didn't really finish it due to bad weather. This time we hoped it would be different but weren't expecting what we ran into when we did the hike.

I've also been making some progress on a new project I started: my own electric skateboard. After seeing the boosted boards prototypes and the way they function, I decided to try to save money and have fun in the process of making an electric skateboard powered by brushless motors.

First, the hike: We arrived on a Saturday a couple weeks ago when the sky was clear and the sun was glaring. Nick, Aaron, Mark, and I were going on the hike, and Aaron and Mark decided to stop and wait at the turnaround. We parked on Trout Farm Road around 11:00 and walked along the highway to the trail entrance marked by a pink ribbon. The regular Manamana trail has a reputation of being one of the more difficult trails in the island, but if you're good at balancing and not afraid of heights, the trail will be quite easy and relaxing. It's the True Manamana trail that has an even bigger reputation of being dangerous and challenging.

If there is anything you need to know about this trail, it's that you need to bring lots of water, especially if you plan to do it in the day and if you plan to go to True Manamana. We ran out of water just before getting back to the turnaround from True Manamana, and the return trip from the turnaround point is another hour or so. It wasn't fun going back down without water, but it's better and faster than going back the way you came, assuming you started from the highway. The main reason we drank all of our water early on was because of the sun. You have hardly any shade until later on in the trail, and by that point, you would probably go through about 2 liters of water. When we reached the turnaround point, our 70 ounce camelbaks were about 1/3-1/4 full. Still, we decided to try True Manamana and turn around where it got too dangerous or where we felt we wouldn't be able to go on without water.

If you'd like to find out about the regular Manamana trail, a google search will probably give you better details than what I can give you because the main focus of the hike for us was not the Manamana trail but True Manamana and gauging its difficulty. There is a turn around point that will take you down through what's known as the "graveyard," and this turn around is the point where most people stop. Some have started the trail from the graveyard, but we chose the other route to ascend the mountain. After trudging on past the turn around point, you realize how rarely the True Manamana trail is hiked. Overgrown uluhe ferns infest the trail between the turn around and True Manamana, and they'll cut you up if you don't have a machete or protective clothing. I had neither and only wore board shorts and a t-shirt, but Nick had long hiking pants, so his legs were unscathed. The trade off between long pants, though, is that it will make you hotter and make you drink more water; something you'll need to consider when doing this hike unless you can find an overcast day that's dry. With the length of the hike, the only time you'll be able to go without losing sunlight would be during the hottest times of the day. We move at a reasonable pace, and the entire hike including the parts of True Manamana we went on, which was about 2/3-3/4 of the way until the end, took us 6 hours. I'd expect that most people will average 4-6 hours for the regular Manamana trail alone, so if you are planning on doing the True Manamana trail, plan to take at least 6 hours and up to 8 or 10 hours. The True Manamana trail isn't easy, and if you want to see the end of the trail, you'll need to be careful or you could slip and fall on the crumbly rocks and very narrow ridges. A slightly damp trail also seems to be the most ideal because a wet trail is too slippery and a completely dry trail is also slippery due to the crumbling rocks and dirt.

There are a couple parts of True Manamana where you need to use a rope when both going up and down. As much as you don't want to rely too heavily on the rope, there is really no other way because the sections are steep and quite tall. If you fall off, there is nothing to catch you except for sharp jutting rocks on the steep cliff faces and few trees, if any, that are weakly anchored onto the mountain. True Manamana is not a trail that should be attempted by people who have little experience, and we didn't even get to the end. Kevin's friend, Laredo, was one of the first known hikers to finish the trail, and he's been an avid hiker for pretty much all of his life. He's almost 70 and can move at a pretty fast pace for his age. Kevin and I hiked with him a bunch of times, the most recent I remember being this trail down the old pali road that has a crashed airplane deep in the valley.

Laredo told us about Manamana and True Manamana, which helped us to determine where everything was and how far we had to go. This was only my second time to the trail, and now that I've learned what we need to prepare for the hike, I'll be ready in the future when Kevin has time to check out the trail. True Manamana is a fun trail if you aren't afraid of heights, and it challenges you to think about foot placement especially when climbing down the steep mountain faces where all that's on either side of you are drop offs. Next time, I'll be sure to pack enough water to make the hike enjoyable, and I may invest in a machete to get rid of all those ferns.

When I get a chance to hike with Kevin, we're gonna try to finish True Manamana, and I'll bring my camera along for some good pictures. Up next: the skateboard.

See you later.