When we were in high school, a “Great Adventure” meant dressing up in capes and going to Walmart late at night, picking up some ice cream and Kool-Aid, then having a Monty Python movie night at a friend’s house in a blanket fort. As we grew older, the standard for adventure was raised higher and higher — we needed longer road trips, higher mountains to climb, and more exciting achievements to boast. There’s nothing wrong with any of that, but sometimes I wish we could go back to the high school mindset. To find pleasure in the ordinary, to make every day activities exciting.
Some weekends, we have less than a day to enjoy together, and that’s when it’s most important to embrace this mindset and make the most of our time. On this particular day, Curtis had gotten off of Saturday duty on Sunday morning and we had plans to meet family for brunch. After a delightful time meeting Curtis’ relatives that also live on the island, we realized how clear the skies were and that the Ko’olau Mountains were completely unobstructed by clouds, and we just couldn’t go straight home. Instead, we headed for a nearby trail in Pearl City — Manana Ridge.
This trailhead is actually the start for two trails: the Ridge trail which leads to the Ko’olau ridge, and Waimano Falls. It was already noon with the sun high in the sky, so we knew that we wouldn’t be able to hike the entire ridge trail. However, knowing that we don’t always enjoy waterfall hikes here, we didn’t want to hike to the waterfall. I heard that this one has a large pool and is great to jump in and swim, but we’re not really into that sort of thing. We wanted to just go as far as we could on the ridge and enjoy the clear skies and views of the Ko’olaus from a new perspective.
Parking for this trailhead is along a residential street. The trail began paved and partially shaded. There were small vistas on either side of the trail which got better the further we hiked. The fork in the trail for the waterfall was clearly marked, with the falls being another 1 ¾ of a mile away and the end of the ridge trail being over 5 miles away. On the ridge trail, there were several points with paths going in different directions, but there were always signs pointing the way. As many ridge hikes go in the Ko’olaus, this one had its ups and downs, but on this sunny day the path was dry and an enjoyable walk. Altogether we walked 6.6 miles round trip and gained over 1200 feet in elevation.
The Wai’anae Mountain range in the distance
I loved the views of the surrounding ridge lines — there were parts of the trail where we could see across the ridges and valleys and not see a single man-made structure. I love these moments while hiking where we actually feel like we’re removed from the city. The visibility was so great, we were able to see the entire Wai’anae mountain range, with even Ka’ala completely exposed.
There were a few other people hiking, but most were headed for the waterfall. Along the ridge trail, we mostly ran into guys who were mountain biking. Curtis had a lucky find while cleaning up littered bottles: a walkie-talkie, which we brought home and recharged, and now we have a radio for emergencies, just in case.
We ended up hiking the trail about halfway to the point where the rope sections begin before turning around and calling it a day. We may have not finished the trail or had breathtaking views of the Ko’olau ridge or Windward side, but regardless, it was a new adventure and we were making the most of the time we had. And we’re learning to be content with just that. Nothing crazy to boast about, just quality time doing something we love.