Nounou Waterfalls

The waterfalls on Nounou mountain, the Sleeping Giant, are so ephemeral because there is so little area on the upper slopes to catch and funnel the rain. It takes a lot of rain and a quick break in the clouds to see them. We had another four inches of rain last night, there were a few showers in the morning, and so I was lucky to see them when I went out around noon today. And they lasted long enough for me to go get my camera and tripod. Here are the very rare Nounou waterfalls:


There are actually two waterfalls, the taller one of about 200′ (60 m) on the large black cliff face, and a shorter one of about 40′ (12 m) on the smaller cliff above to the left. In this picture, the lower one is falling straight, and the upper one is being blown almost upwards by the wind. There is so little water flowing that the wind would sometimes blow both of them sideways.

I bet Nounou has memories of many larger waterfalls, when it was a bigger mountain. When clouds obscure the peak, as they have often recently, the cliffs looked like those of the Na Pali coast or maybe Hanalei, reaching up into the rainy forested uplands. According to Chuck Blay’s book “Kauai’s Geologic History,” Nounou mountain is about 5 million years old and part of the original volcanic island-building stage of Kauai. Long ago, the Sleeping Giant was one of the pali, large cliff or escarpment, with streams from the uplands plunging over his shoulders, perhaps into the sea below.

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