Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kauai - Kalalau Trail

On our second day in Kaua'i we decided to hike the Kalalau trail. It is a strenuous  8 mile hike to some amazing waterfalls.  The hike is steep and very uneven as you can see from the photo above. For the first half of the hike, up to Hanakapiai Beach is the easiest. There are several  look out point from which we could enjoy an elevated view of Ke'e beach, one of the most popular beaches in the island.

The hike was muddy from the beginning, but we weren't deterred and did a good job of avoiding splashing our legs with mud and were able to stay relatively clean by stepping on rocks or going around the perimeter area of the path. 

We also started early enough in the morning that we we avoided the scorching hot sun on some of the most exposed areas of the trail. 

Once we arrived to the river  we had to make the decision of whether to cross it or turn back around. The water level was higher than the other times I've been there and there was no way of crossing the river dry. The only thing to do was to step into the water.

It was a tough choice, we knew from experience that the trail was not going to get any dryer or easier. In the end we decided to cross. 

On the other end of the trail we were rewarded by a beautiful scenery. Since our last time there, tourists have begun to stack the rocks on the beach into pillars. The entire beach is filled with them. There was also a kitten roaming the beach. Someone must have brought him there, because there are no other animals in the area.

Hanakapai Beach is not a swimming beach. The waves crash against the shore with such force that it's intimidating just to sit there and watch. 

The rest of our hike was what I would consider the real adventure. We had to cross several streams, and the same river at least four times. There is a mile marker every .5 miles that reassures you you're on the right path and a pink piece of fabric tied to tree branches once in a while, where the trail is most confusing, or where you must cross the river.

What we didn't know before beginning the hike is that the trail had been closed the day prior because of all the rain in the area. The thick tropical canopy covering the path kept the water from evaporating quickly so the majority of the path was filled with deep mud.

At the beginning of our hike we met a lady from Oregon who became our hiking companion for most of the trail. Her and her husband own a Christmas tree farm at home and her mother works in a garden center. She was knowledgeable about the vegetation around us and pointed out several interesting facts as we went along.

We learn about the religious symbolism of the passion flower (above).  The lower five anthers symbolize the the five wounds of Christ on the cross, while the  three spreading styles represent the three nails on the cross. In Spanish speaking countries the flower is called Espina de Cristo (Christ's Thorn).

In the end, we reached our destination, the 300 ft tall Hanakapiai Falls. The mist from the falls was nature's air conditioning. It was significantly cooler next to the falls. We decided to

Going back was exhausting. The sun was hot on the last part of the trail.  My socks were soaking wet and my shoes were so muddy by the end that I decided to just throw them away. After 5 hours or arduous hiking on uneven rocks, where all we did was look down at the ground to see where we were stepping. We just went to the car, got some lunch and crashed on Ke'e beach.

I'm proud to have done it, but I don't know if it was really worth all the effort.