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Underwater digital photos at sharks cove of rock walking, cave diving, and animal life including dolphins, turtles, eels, sharks, manta rays, fish, coral reef, etc

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Jan 17, 2007        
Entry Submitted by: Clint Davis
Myself, and 3 other brave souls attempted the seven falls hike without knowing where it was exactly and not knowing what to expect. I had talked to a girl months before that said that was her favorite hike on the whole island, so I thought I would give it a shot. All we really knew about the hike was that it started in Hauula off of Homestead Road. We had a hiking guide of Oahu that said something about Maaukua Gulch, which the directions that it gave us sounded exactly of that as seven falls. We found the trailhead at around 10am on the morning of January 15, 2007. We eventually lost the trail (that just weaved back and forth across the creek bed) and just followed the creek bed. We reached the first fall some 2 hours later, after stopping to take pictures of some awesome waterfall chutes. It was just as were expecting. The first waterfall was some 15 feet in height, and we stared at it for some time while eating lunch. It looked quite easy, so we went for it. All four of us made it up easily. We did not have any rappelling equipment or harnesses with us, so everything was done just with our muscles and the trusty rope. As we ascended the first fall, we came into a view of the second fall, which was more intense than the first. The second fall was some 40 feet in heighth, and if we did not have our crazy rockclimber friend Chad with us, we may not have attempted it at all. He made it up with ease. And the rest of us three followed. We were quite proud of ourselves until we saw the third, which was some what bigger than the second, probably 50 feet in height. This third waterfall was actually much easier than the second one, being how it was not as steep of an incline. Again, we climbed up without harnesses or gear, which was probably stupid of us. We were all pretty excited by the time we reached the third one. The fourth waterfall we saw actually didn't have any ropes attached to it, probably because it was some 100 feet in height, and very dangerous. We did find the much smaller 4th waterfall though, after turning left following the creek. This waterfall was some 20 feet tall, and I went for this one first, and made it up with ease. All four of us again made it up safely. We again found two 5th waterfalls, but one only having the rope. The rope was cut half way up the 80 foot waterfall, and there was no way we could do it, without any gear or guts to attempt. So, after staring at the gorgeous 80 foot waterfall that many other people have probably never seen in their life, we headed back down the falls. We only had one slight incident of life or death, where at the second fall, our friend David lost hold and slipped from 15-20 feet while climbing down, and almost hit his head on the side of the fall. Instead, he scraped his back pretty bad, and we were all very grateful it wasn't worse than it could've been. We made it back to Hauula at around 4:30 pm, where we looked back on a very adventurous and amazing day.


Oct 13, 2006        
Entry Submitted by: Merlin
November 12, 2005 - Ma'akua gulch - A Flood, A Deathly Drop, & a Long Night
We had hiked the Ma'akua Gulch before this day. On a previous trek we used a lot of time securing ropes on waterfalls so that we could go further up in future trips. November 12, 2005 was that future day. We got up early, packed up, and headed out Saturday morning. This time it was Jared and his wife (Suzy), Merlin, Jason, Jonathan, and Becca. We took our rope and climbing gear, flashlights, food & water and a couple of cameras. We reached the first waterfall at about 9:30am and began multiple ascents over a series of eleven waterfalls. From the beginning of the trail to the eleventh waterfall we made an elevation gain of 2000 feet (measured by GPS). Anyway, the sky was pretty clear for the first few hours of the morning, but clouds rolled over and it rained off and on throughout most of the rest of the ascent up the stream and waterfalls. The rain wasn't extremely heavy or alarming and didn't have much impact on us other than it made us a bit cold when we weren't moving. After we got up the first three waterfalls we stashed a lot of our extra hiking gear and food and continued with just the ropes and rappelling hardware. We got to the fifth waterfall (86 feet in height) where we placed a rope on our previous trip and climbed up to unexplored (for us anyway) terrain. For the next few hours we continued hiking up the riverbed and climbing another 6 waterfalls ranging from 20 to 40 feet in height. We reached the 11th waterfall around 3:00pm and decided to turn and head back down. By this time the rain was coming down pretty heavily and didn't let up at all for the rest of the night. We started descending back down the river and waterfalls and I could already tell that the stream had risen quite a bit. (We stopped taking photos at this point - mostly worrying about getting down). The falls we were going down would have been nearly impossible to climb up now with the amount of water coming off of them. I was anxious to get down the 5th one as it was the biggest and most dangerous. The sixth waterfall poored into a pool the dumped directly off the fifth waterfall. At the top of the falls the riverbed narrowed to about three feet and the water shot down it like a water cannon. I was pretty worried about the two girls, but they managed to get down safely. Descending that waterfall was actually one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was definitely one of the most "Rambo" moments of my life. I'd get my footing and lunge off of the wall and out of the water then release the rope to rappel down. I did this in a cris-cross pattern along the sides of the big waterfall and sometimes part way into it. (Photo at left is the 5th waterfall and the 6th one directly above it. On the first trip I made to Ma'akua there was no rope on these waterfalls. Jon and I climbed the canyon wall to get to the ridge top and hike past the waterfall then drop back in above it to secure some ropes on each drop. This is the view we had of the two waterfalls.)
We continued heading down stream to the 4th waterfall. It already had a rappelling rope on it so we clipped in and rappelled down without having to set up our own ropes. Jon, Jason and Becca had gone on ahead so Sue Jared and I reached the 4th falls and started rappelling down. When I got to the bottom there was no footing – only a pool and a knot at the end of the rope. I almost drowned trying to get my rappelling device (ATC) disconnected from the rope with the big waterfall shoving me underwater. When I finally got off the current flushed me out of the pool and I climbed out on some rocks. Then I realized Sue was coming down next and would have to get off the rope as I did (as quickly as possible). I could see she was struggling to get down through the water pressure and I knew she was going to have trouble when she hit the knot just a few feet under the water in the pool. Another Rambo moment was needed, actually this was a "pirate" moment. I grabbed by pocket knife, opened it up and put it in my teeth. I ran along the side of the pool and up the wall with as much momentum as I could muster (imagining myself pulling a Matrix stunt) and lunged into the pool. I swam in place against the current but managed to get around it a bit and grab the rope as Sue reached the bottom. I cut the rope just above the knot and Sue slipped off then we both flushed out of the pool.
We all met up near the top of the 3rd waterfall where we had stashed our food and water. Feeling mostly starved we spent about ten minutes stuffing our faces while the rain continued to pound down. I became instantly alarmed when our bags (while we were on higher ground) started floating away. The river was rising pretty fast now and it was getting dark. I put on my head lamp and yelled over to Jason to come with me and to descend down the 3rd waterfall (photo at far left). This photo was taken of us (Merlin at bottom, Jon climbing and Jason at the top) on the way up. The one next to it is the same falls with a little more water (on a different outing), but still quite mild in size. The falls poured into a pool that was laden with boulders that were only a few inches under the water in some places. There was already a rappelling rope on the waterfall so Jason clipped in and started heading down. When Jason started rappelling I noticed that the rock that split the two waterfalls was only 6-10 inches out of the water. The two falls had almost become one. After the first 8 feet he disappeared into the water. At that moment I began to be really afraid for the first time that day. I was hoping he had enough self mastery to just feed the rope through the hardware and get down and off as soon as he could. After what seemed forever but was probably less than a minute I could still feel his weight on the rope. I gave it a good tug and heard a muffled yell barely audible over the sound of the rushing water. I didn't know what to do so I waited a little longer. Was he stuck somewhere? Was he at the bottom? Was there another knot at then end of the rope that he couldn't get released from? Why didn't I check the rope first? Questions and regrets filled my mind. I tugged on the rope again but there was no response. Feelings of horror began to develop as I began imagining what I would have to do and feel if Jason died. I felt helpless to the circumstance. I turned to the other four and asked what I should do. I received blank faces for a reply. The reality of what I had to do, the only thing I could do, struck me with as much terror as Jason drowning. It seemed however to be the most logical and the most likely means of his survival even with possibility of serious injury. I grabbed my pocket knife and began cutting the rappelling rope. With Jason's weight on the rope my sharp knife sliced right through and I instantly jumped up on the rock (that split the two falls) and looked down. I watched his body wash out from the falls then he rolled onto his back and stuck his arms in the air and gave me two thumbs up. When he got to the edge of the pool he crawled out onto higher ground and lay motionless. "He's alive! Jason's ok!" were the first words to escape my mouth. I jumped off the rock and over to the group and repeated that Jason was going to be ok. The horror was replaced with relief. Though our circumstances were still dangerous, I felt that we could manage our situation enough to survive. I knew none of us would go down the waterfall for a while and we would have to wait up there until the river dropped. The rock was now completely submersed and that the two falls had become one massive unforgiving rush of death. I tried to yell down and communicate with Jason, but neither of us could make sense of it over the sound of the water. We both knew that everyone was going to stay put for a while. I turned my attention back to the group. Becca looked at me and, pointing at Jon, mouthed the words "he's freezing". Jon had rolled onto his side and was shaking uncontrollably. All five of us were shivering and I went and huddled with the other four while I thought of what to do and the best way to stay warm. A moment later Jared said somewhat sarcastically "I wish we hard a tarp". Then I remembered that the rope bag had a small tarp built into it. I jumped up, ran over to the bag, pulled the rope out, and then unfolded the small 4x5 foot tarp. I brought it to the group and we put it over our heads. It was just big enough to keep our heads and upper bodies out of the rain. Before getting snug I looked around to see the best escape route if the river rose to the little pad that we were sitting on which, at the time, was only two feet above the water level. One side of the canyon wall was slanted enough that we could climb up a little ways if we had too. We would have to secure our ropes somewhere on it and hang from them, but it would be our only choice if the stream came up. I got under the tarp and with the five of us huddled together we had just enough body heat to stop shivering. We adjusted our position multiple times over then next 30 minutes and finally settled on putting our backs to the center and faced outward. Needless to say it was the most physically uncomfortable evening of my life. There was a small lone palm tree near us – probably the only one in the gulch for hundreds of yards. It was growing on a small dirt ledge near the top of the falls where we were sitting. Jared used the saw tool on my pocket knife to cut all the palms off the tree and we added them to our shelter to help keep the rain off our legs. The rain continued for about three hours. We waited and hoped the river wouldn't rise anymore. At about 9pm the rain stopped. We saw a light shining up at us from below the waterfalls and we wondered how someone had gotten up to us. Was it search and rescue? We all got out of the shelter and looked down. It was Jason – apparently he had a small high powered flashlight on him. We tried to communicate again, but it was impossible. The stream was still too high to descend the waterfall, but the rain had stopped, the clouds completely cleared from the sky and the moon was directly above us between the two canyon walls. It filled the gulch with light and we could see multiple waterfalls pouring down into the canyon in both directions. It was quite a site and I wished I could have gotten a picture of it all. Out spirits were lifted and there was a little more optimism in the group. It was still chilly so we got back in our shelter and waited. Jared snapped a photo of the shelter before getting in. About four hours later, around 1:00AM Sunday morning, we saw Jason's light again and heard his voice. We could tell that he wanted us to try and come down. We could see the stream had dropped a bit – the rock between the waterfalls was about a foot out of the water now. Jason seemed to be signaling for us to come down the right side of the waterfall. It was obvious that the right side had less water coming off of it, but would take a little more work to keep the rope anchored there. By this time we were warm and dry and getting in the cold water was quite an unwelcome thought. I discussed it with the other four. The idea to stay and wait until morning was brought up and preferred by the girls. We would have light and the water level would be down a little more. I was really tired of being there and was hurting (as were the others) from sitting in awkward positions on the rocks. We had enough flashlights and once we got down and started on the trail we would warm up. I told the group that I would rappel down first and if I thought it was safe enough for the others then I would signal them with my light to follow. We lowered the rope on the far side of the rock at the top of the waterfall and I started the descent. I held my breath as I began dropping into the cold water and carefully planting my feet as I descended over the rock. The water pressure was lighter than I expected and I began rappelling down under the rock between the two waterfalls. When I got down and out of the pool I talked with Jason for a few seconds just to ensure that he was ok. Even if the others didn't come down I was glad to be reunited with him. I felt that the drop was easy enough to rappel for the other four. The placement of the rope made a big difference as it allowed the rappeller to drop between the falls out of the way of the water pressure. I signaled for them to come down and one by one they each made the descent. Jared doubled the rope so we could retrieve it from the bottom and then came down last. By this time I was shivering again and anxious to start moving. Once we packed up the rope we headed to the second waterfall and rappelled down it with out trouble. The top of the falls was wide and we could get out of the way of the water altogether as we dropped down (photo at left – taken that morning). The last waterfall was just the opposite. It was narrow at the top and the water was moving swift, but it was short – a 15-20 foot drop into a pool deep enough to land safely (photo at right). We all jumped down and hiked/swam a few minutes to get out of the narrow portion of the canyon. After we got situated and got as much water as we could out of our bags and gear we started the long hike home. We each had a few slips and falls but we made it back safely just before dawn on Sunday morning (around 5am). One of Becca's roommates knew we were still on the trail during the heavy rain and, when we didn't come back by midnight, she called Search and Rescue. They would have started their search by sunrise so we quickly called them up and reported it as a false emergency. We made a few other calls to people who knew about our predicament to inform them that we were fine. I dropped the others off at home then Jonathan, Jason, and I came home, got cleaned up and went to bed. After we were rested and fed we discussed the story a bit and agreed that it was a positive experience for each of us - even Jason.
On a seperate occasion someone once asked me about the 'falls disaster' and I was confused about what she was refering to. The story could have ended with a deathly disaster, but it didn't. It ended with success. The well-being of my hiking companions - my friends, became more important to me than I ever realized was possible. The emotions and impressions that I experienced have been with me ever since that adventure. The decisions I make in my every outing still reflect a little something of what I felt and learned from that night.
Oct 17, 2006
Reply by: Jared
Not a lot to add to Merlin’s thorough and by all means accurate account of this amusing little outing. I had never thought that while living in Hawaii I would be as cold as I was that night, and Jonathan and Merlin really need to get more body fat before they are going to be able to endure another night like that one. One of the funniest things I remember not covered in Mer’s account was Jonathan’s reaction when the girls wanted to call Search and Rescue to come get us. It was basically; “Hell no…we aren’t about to call them just because there is a 75 % chance that we could die tonight.” I don’t think Jonathan believes in Search and Rescue, and Mer and I weren’t about to admit defeat either. Also not addressed and at the risk of sounding like the spiritual individual I’m not, I attribute the cessation of that night’s rain to the little prayer offered by Mer. He prayed, we “amen-ed” through chattering teeth, and an hour later the rain stopped. In all Mer got the feel and covered everything, it was a crazy/fun trip, and ultimately just another great story of fun times with Merlin and Jonathan.

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