Ma'akua Gulch

Ma'akua Gulch
DATE: 15 August, 2010
TOTAL TIME: 3.5 hrs
PARTICIPANTS: “Reef Shoes” Jason, Me

Hmmm… A gulch hike. The last time I remember doing anything resembling a gulch hike was waaaaayyyy back when I was living in Malaysia, which by the way, is a trailblazer’s dream place. Full of rainforests, caves, and mountains… but the mosquitoes are so big that they need co-pilots. Needless to say, I was very excited about this one, even though everyone but Jason bailed on me at short notice (you rock Jason!).

This is as bittersweet as a hike can get. The first two-thirds of it absolutely sucked, but the last mile in was just incredible. The latter portion balances this one out to a 50-50 but the loooooonnnnnggg and boring approach to the turnaround kills it for me. It’s really rare for me to feel so much elation and disappointment in the same outing. Imagine finally scoring a super hot date after months of trying, and that person makes you watch a massively shitty three and a half hour movie in one sitting with no drinks or popcorn. It’s pretty close.

The stream was dry for the bulk of it so it saved us from conducting the millions of stream crossings needed if the water was gushing. Most of the trails were not well maintained, probably because it was a closed hike, so we had to either walk the rocky streambed or track obscure routes through some vegetation and lots of low hanging trees. Jason hit his head on one pretty hard while walking and digging in his snack pack. It was funny.

Screw the trail

Umbrella of green fighting off the sunlight
Then the valley walls closed in. Whoa! With towering cliffs on both sides, getting narrower and narrower, and nowhere to run, it was something else. Indiana Jones would have been proud. There were sections that were literally only about six feet across. We could see clear evidence of multiple 300+ foot waterfalls on these cliffs although they were not pouring. Even though the sight would’ve been intensely fantastic, I would imagine this hike to be extremely dangerous during the hurricane season from possible flash floods and falling rocks so common in gulches.

Evidence of high waterfalls during rainy weather

The gulch narrows to this extreme
The end required us to wade or swim through about two or three deep pools, all flowing from different sized small waterfalls. I didn’t go past the second pool as I was unprepared for a swim. Jason rope climbed to the third pool and said there were more ropes to climb up over another waterfall but didn’t make the attempt as we were short on time.

Like I said, bittersweet. Turn around and walk through crap and awesome in reverse order. I’m interested to venture past the third waterfall and will make a return trip despite the hazards. Or I may use the old Castle trail to get a top down view and avoid the whole flash flood and falling rock possibility altogether. This is a great full day’s outing as you could probably spend hours messing around at the swimming holes. If you’re absolutely comfortable with boulders falling on your head or uncontrollably flailing around and drowning in a sudden rush of water, then do this during hurricane season. By the way, you’ll have zero bars on your cell phone. I wish you well.

Walls close in the deeper we venture
Staring in awe at towering cliff faces
Wading back the way we came
The insignificance of us all

1 comment:

  1. I hiked this trail four times back in the 1990's. I broke my leg climbing down one of the waterfalls in September 1997. A helicopter rescue was required.