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Rain Forests: The Hippies Can Keep Them

All we need are some monkeysWe’ve been following a guide book to Oahu for a lot of our trip. While it has certainly been useful, I’ve found following around filming locations from ABC’s Lost has actually been the better way to get to know the island. Today we did a hike from the guide book. The book describes it as a mild two mile hike (one mile in, one mile out). They describe it as a hike anyone can do. I suppose this is literally true, if you don’t mind a gentle romp through a fragile, naturally pure and beautiful rain forest, don’t mind getting covered in mud, eaten alive by mosquitos, climbing slippery boulders where a slip could mean a plunge to your doom. Mud and RootsThe only thing missing from this picture were screaming monkeys, which I’m happy about, given that monkeys are evil, and are best dealt with through use of instruments that the State of Hawaii has deemed me too irresponsible to carry.

I’ve hiked enough to know how to deal with muddy, wet conditions, if I’m warned beforehand. But reading it was an improved trail, and we’re in the dry(er) season, I figured my kakis and an Aloha shirt would be fine. Oops. About one third of the way in, I suddenly realize I’m woefully overdressed for the occasion. But not wanting to give up, I trudge on, through the archways made through Banyan tress, slowly becoming more and more soaked with sweat Banyan Tunnelas the air, which is unable to accept any more moisture, fails my cooling system, which is adapted for the dry, african savanna, and not rain forests in Hawaii.

But I continue on, not wanting to give up, and wanting to see this neat, tall waterfall that is the second most popular hike on Oahu. We have to meet Bitter’s grandmother for dinner in a few hours. Surely she won’t mind of I show up with muddy shoes, muddy pants, and dripping enough sweat I’ll look like I went for a dip in the ocean? Maybe I can dip under the waterfall when I get up there. I’ve already swam in one waterfall this week. From a distance I become concerned. Concerned that all I see is a small sliver of water in an awful lot of green. A TrickleBitter is starting to look dehydrated, and is having second thoughts about whether the pain is worth the reward, and decides to hang back and let me continue ahead. I’ve been told it’s been a pretty dry year, but it’s rain forest, right? The ground is wet and muddy! Well, down in the valley maybe it’s raining, but I’m not sure there’s enough rain up high to really get the falls moving. Sure enough, I am disappointed when I get there. My tall, gushing waterfall is so anemic, I think if I climbed to the top and peed in the stream that feeds it, I’d probably double its size. But such is Manoa Falls Tricklenature. I wouldn’t mind so much if the book had prepared me for a muddy, wet, humid, and mosquito infested hike, but it didn’t. I guess the real lesson is don’t trust guide books. And oh yeah, the rain forest sucks. There’s nothing fun, even prepared, hiking in saturated air at 100% relative humidity. I guess that hippy eco tour of Costa Rica I’ve never wanted to take is going to be out then.

Tomorrow is our last day on Oahu. Monday, early, we fly over to the Big Island (Hawaii), and change our itinerary from Lost tours, glider flying, snorkeling, hiking, and historical Hawaii stuff, to astronomy, vulcanology, and coffee farming. It should be an interesting change of pace. It also should be an interesting change of scale. There’s a reason they call it “The Big Island.” Oahu is small. You can generally get anywhere on the island within an hour, not accounting for bad traffic sometimes in Honolulu. But the Big Island would take the better part of a day to circumnavigate. The population density on the Big Island is also much lower, which, after a week in or around Honolulu, I’m looking forward to. Based on lava forecasts, it doesn’t appear I’ll be able to live my dream of poking lava with a stick, but I have to save something for next time. For now I’m happy to be headed to Pele’s playground.

6 Responses to “Rain Forests: The Hippies Can Keep Them”

  1. JSB says:

    Hope you visited Hanauma Bay. Only been to the Islands once, but still daydream about the day spent at the Bay.

  2. This is IDENTICAL to my experience in the “rain forest” in Puerto Rico. However, I did not have to come out of that sauna and head to dinner. Luckily for me, the waterfall was an ice cold mountain stream waterfall and felt great. I did not want to head back into the freaking JUNGLE after that, either.

    Rain forests BLOW.

  3. Sebastian says:

    I did spend some time there. Very neat. I did discover, however, if I float on sea water with my head planted down consistently, I get a little seasick on the rolling waves.

  4. DirtCrashr says:

    The tropics are something else. We stopped ion Hawaii on our way out to India and I always remember it as a bright, shining oasis by comparison to where we ended up. I anticipate taking at least two showers a day especially after *any* kind of exertion – it’s simply not possible to avoid becoming as damp as the relative humidity when it’s up around 98%. Which is why I also don’t like the East Coast in the Summer.

  5. Carl from Chicago says:

    No offense meant by this, but …

    … while rainforests are incredible places, they aren’t for wussies.

    And island rainforests like Puerto Rico and Hawaii are “Rainforest Lite” relative to continental ones (largely because they are relatively depauperate of diversity to marvel at and/or be bothered by).

  6. Alpheus says:

    “… while rainforests are incredible places, they aren’t for wussies.”

    This is certainly true…and I’ve always had a difficult time believing that rainforests are in danger from us, because of this.

    In particular, I remember learning that the capital city of Brazil was placed in the middle of the rainforest in an attempt to get the population to move inward…but it’s just a government outpost, because no one wants to fight the jungle. I also remember learning that vegetation has to be trimmed from the train tracks daily to make sure that trains could go down the tracks, and that many of the large green “hills” are really ruins of ancient civilizations that generally aren’t excavated because it’s too much work to beat back the vegetation.

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