Monday, November 17, 2014

Images: Kalalau Trail, Hanakapi'ai Falls

Images: Kalalau Trail

Image:Hiking the Kalalau Trail

Image: Waimea Canyon

Image: Na Pali coast of Kauai from helicopter

Kauai day 5 - hiking part of the Kalalau Trail


The Kalalau Trail is an 11 mile trail that stretches between Ke'e Beach and Kalalau Beach on the Na Pali coast on the north side of the island.  The trail is considered to be very strenuous, with trail that is barely wide enough for your body, hugging cliff edges at miles 6.5 to 8. The Sierra Club rates the trail as a 9 out of 10 for difficulty.

We set out today to hike the first 2 miles to Hanakapai'i Beach and possibly 2 miles inland from there to Hanakapi'ai Falls. 4 miles in and 4 miles out.  Supposed to take 6-8 hours round trip.
The trail lives up to its reputation right from the start - slippery piles of rocks, crossing stream beds, steep inclines and descents. Having said that, the hike in to the beach (2miles) wasn't too bad.  The beach is a nice resting point but swimming is discouraged because of bad rip currents. We actually saw a guy get carried about 500 yards parallel to the beach in less than 2 minutes by the currents. We thought we were about to witness a tragedy, but he apparently is a strong swimmer and familiar with the currents, because he managed to catch a couple of waves cutting back toward shore and was able to get to the beach before he got carried away beyond sight of the beach by the current. We were relieved he made it out!

Hiking the next 2 miles to the falls was actually pretty strenuous, again hiking over slippery rocks, crossing streams and treacherous footing. Lots of climbing over and around rocks, and wondering if you're actually still on the trail because it seems like there is no trail in places, but you just keep slogging along and then you pick it up again. It was not an easy 2 miles, definitely harder than the first 2 miles, but the reward is the beautiful 300 foot high Hanakapi'ai Falls! The sheer height is mesmerizing, and the surrounding cliffs add to the presence of the place.  There is a large pool at the base of the falls for a refreshing dip.

We spent about half an hour at the falls, then started hiking back out.  Sunset is at 6pm and we did not want to be on that trail after dark! We made good time hiking in, but getting back was a bit more difficult.  We were already a little tired from the strenuous hike in, and going downhill over all those slippery rocks was somewhat difficult.  I only fell once :) We made good time though, getting back to the beach in about an hour or so. My knees and quads were starting to scream at me over the mistreatment they were experiencing, but we still had 2 miles to go to get back to Ke'e, so we had a few drinks of water and rested for just a few minutes, then set out again.

Those last 2 miles out were really rough. Not because the trail is that much more difficult, but because all those great big rocks we had to climb up and over now had to climbed down and over. Luckily we made it down without mishap and arrived back at Ke'e 6.5 hours after w started out. Taking half an hour out at the beach and another half hour at the falls, we made the 8 mile trek in about 5.5 hours - not bad! We were dirty, sweaty , tired and sore, but we made it!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Kauai day 4 Kayak/hike

We spent half a day on a kayak/hike tour up the Wailua River to a "secret waterfall". We showed up at Kayak Wailua and met our guide Diana, a friendly young lady with lots of kayaking experience.
We set off from the marina and paddled up the river for about an hour before putting in at the landing area. We then crossed through the water on foot to the opposite bank and used a rock and some tree roots as a ladder to climb the bank. We hiked up a trail for about 45 minutes before arriving at Uluwehi Falls. The trail was quite muddy in places and about ankle deep, which the guides describe as "dry" for that trail.  I've read reviews from people who say they slogged through mud that was almost knee high! The falls were pretty, about 100 feet tall.  We enjoyed the falls and had a snack, then headed back to the kayaks.  The snack, by the way, was a loaf of pineapple-mango-coconut-macadamia nut bread! Delicious! We bought it a church craft fair we saw on the way to Wailua.
The trip back down the river was actually more difficult than the initial trip because there is a headwind that blows up the river from the sea, so you're paddling against the wind the whole time.
We enjoyed the trip and thought it was a great way to spend our afternoon.