Kauai Day 2


Our second day in Kauai started out cold, but clear skies.  We were awoken by roosters, many roosters.  I thought the Pali look out and Haleiwa had chickens but they have few chickens in comparison to Kauai.  I even saw t-shirts that said that the rooster was the mascot.

We ate a breakfast of cheese danish and strawberries and then headed up to the look out points before the clouds had a chance to roll in.  It turned out to be a good move since the clouds roll in every afternoon.

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When I originally planned this trip I looked at the proximity of the Kalalau trail to Koke’e state park figuring we could hike the canyon one day and the Na Pail coast the next.  It would have been a short trip between the two, if there was a road connecting them.  Instead you have to drive completely around the island to reach the Kalalau trail from Koke’e.  Fortunately someone pointed this out to me a couple of weeks before our trip so we knew what we were in for.  Michelle and I both felt like this was a bucket list trip and said we didn’t mind making the drive.  We had an alternate plan but didn’t need it.

Despite our restless night we set off down the long and winding road back to civilization.  Really, I’m not kidding, there is zero cell service up there and even my endomondo GPS couldn’t get a signal.  As we came down the mountain we were able to see the canyon on one side and Ni’ihau on the other.  Ni’ihau is western most of the 7 Hawaiian islands and is privately owned.  It has no hotels or resorts and is largely occupied by people of native Hawaiian ancestry who live off the land and have few amenities.  You have to be invited to Ni’ihau in order to travel there.

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Once we hit the main road we decided to take a ride out to Barking Sands Missel range and see what it was like.  I tried to get a cabin there but they were all booked.  It’s beautiful with cabins right on the beach.  We watched some surfers for a little while before deciding to make our way back to the south and east and head to the Kalalau Trail.  Michelle’s husband is a Marine and if they ever get stationed there I am definitely going to have to visit her!

Along our route to the trail we got to see great coastline views and pass through some quaint little towns.  We stopped and took pictures of Hanalei Bay and explored some caves close to the beach.  The closer we got to our destination the taller the mountains became and the more spectacular the views were.

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We finally reached the trailhead around lunch time and munched some fruit and more granola bars.  Yes, we pretty much lived on them all weekend.  We started the hike around 1 or so and it took us around 4 hours out and back.

The first .5 mile or so is shale type rock and usually wet.  There were lots of places to put your feet because it’s very well-traveled.  There is a lookout only about .25 mile in that many go to.  Beyond that first lookout there were fewer people but still a good number.  We planned to hike to Hanakapi’ai and see how we felt.  The water from the campground that we filled our camelbak’s with didn’t agree with Michelle so she was a little under the weather.  She stuck it out despite my offers to turn back.

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We saw people of all ages on the trail but you could tell the ones that had thought the hike through and the ones that didn’t.  We saw people in slippers, barefoot, backpackers in boots and everything in between.  Slowly though, we saw families that passed us in the beginning turning back.  They were saying it was really muddy and slippery and some just didn’t have the stamina to continue.  But we pushed on because we’ve done mud and muck enough times that we were not concerned.

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The last .75 mile of the trail is downhill to the beach.  Hanakapi’ai beach is the first pit stop on the 11 mile trail.  In order to get to the beach you must cross Hanakapi’ai stream.  Most were stepping from rock to rock trying not to get their feet wet or walking barefoot or both.  I decided to just wade through with my boots on for more traction on slippery rocks and because my balance isn’t all that great.  Michelle decided to do the same.  The day we were there the water was about knee-deep but it can rise quickly and people can be stranded on the far side.  It happens a few times a year usually.  On both sides of the stream are lifeguard floats which seem a bit ominous.  Hanakapi’i beach is rocky and is known to have strong currents.  There are signs at the top of the last flat before the descent to the beach for dangerous shore break, loose rock, and slippery ground.

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We spent a half hour or so among the stilted palms on the rocky beach watching the surf before we turned around and headed back.   The climb back to the ridge above isn’t steep but it’s a good .75 miles and it is definitely a workout.  This was also the first time I used a hiking pole and I was glad to have it several times along the way.  I would definitely recommend them.  I am seeing more and more people using them on the trail.

On the return journey we chatted with a nice young couple and enjoyed talking to them.  They were heading back from their backpacking trip.  At one point they mentioned wanting a “bubba burger”, which I had heard are very good.  So our dinner was planned and were glad it wasn’t granola bars.

When we got back to the trailhead the ocean was calling my name and it was nice to get in the cool water.  We didn’t stay too long since we planned to spend the following day at the beach.  We did, however, take a quick shower since we didn’t want to take a cold shower at the campground when it was only 50 degrees.

The last day we were in Kauai we kept things simple.  We went and got souvenirs and planned to spend some time on the beach before our afternoon flight.  We should have done that in reverse because when our shopping was done it started raining. No wonder they call it the garden isle!  They get rain every day!

But, we were undaunted by the rain and decided to view 2 different waterfalls close to town and viewable from the road.  The first was Opaeka’a falls and it was really gushing.  Michelle said she had never seen a waterfall that big.  I have!  Niagra Falls!  Seriously this sucker was really moving.  The second was Wailua falls which is also viewable from the road and very nice if you just want the view without the hike.

So that’s our trip.  A few pointers for Kauai.  If you want the quiet island feel then Kauai is for you.  If you want night life, bars and restaurants its not for you.  Bubba burger is not very good.  The burgers are a little larger than McDonalds burgers but not much.  Teddy’s Bigger Burger is much, much better.  Along the trail we saw people hiking barefoot on their way in and some pretty grungy people on their way out.  Apparently there are actually quite a few people at the end that live there.  I understand that they like to trade food for a certain plant they have an abundance of if you catch my drift.  Kauai has a real country feel and we observed quite a few people live a nomadic lifestyle.  There were quite a few people living inside Koke’e state park in cabins only accessible with 4 wheel drive.  It has natural beauty and charm written all over it.  I’m so glad I got to experience it before I leave.

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