Here’s a link to the pics for all 3 reports: Use slide show / Full Screen for better viewing
I hadn’t trekked along the Kalalau trail on my last couple of trips to Kauai. So I was due. A couple of things fell in my favor; 1st the weather was great again and I parked my car in the best spot in the lot – right in front of the Do not park on Pavement sign. The outer wheels couldn’t avoid the pavement; ditto for the other cars in the vicinity. The maintenance guy told me I had a million dollar parking spot. I initially drove by it without seeing it and then I realized that the only available spot in the lot was the best one possible.
1 major improvement since the last I was here: a full service clean bathroom.
Setting out on the trail I was struck by how dry the initial section was. In the past there had always been enough moisture on the initial rocky climb and descent to take care with your footing. If you’re not careful even when it is totally dry as it was for me it would be easy to slip and twist an ankle. Up to this point on this trip hikers had been in scarce supply. On this day the Kalalau trail was like Grand Central Hiker’s station.
The goal for today was to advance beyond Hanakapiai beach to Hanakapiai falls which I had never been to. In the past I had hiked nearly halfway to Kalalau beach; a trip that has its own merits. The initial 2/3 of the way to the falls from Hanakapiai Beach was like a mellow walk in the woods except for a grove of teetering bamboo(?) trees which seemed to be held up only by Pele’s whim. However the rest of the hike was tougher than I expected.
The hike really began at the 1st stream crossing where 1 rock refused to allow my boot to stay on it. The path became progressively more rugged after this. By the time I reached the 2nd tough stream crossing I decided to go ahead with Plan 9. This called for removing my boots, replacing them with water shoes and hiking with these the rest of the way. So instead of boulder hopping I casually forded the streams. The water shoes hugged the rocky surfaces rather well as compared to the hiking shoes which by now had become caked with mud. Since I didn’t sprain my ankle along the way I have to consider this move a success. After questioning whether the abuse I was taking getting there was worth it, the great view of the falls and pool at the base at the end made the question academic.
Upon returning to the trail head at Kee beach I made my contribution to Pele. In the midst of moving some items in the rental car I placed the hiking pole in front of the Do not Park on Pavement sign. I drove off without retrieving it. So if you’re the fortunate hiker who liberated this stick on this Monday at the end of June, Enjoy! The next stop was to the traditional post Kalalau watering hole – the Hanalei Gourmet for a couple of Gordon Biersch Marzens and some grub.
The next hike was the Canyon trail in Kokee. On the way I stopped at the Wal-Mart to pick up a couple of hiking poles for $20. Then I was surprised to see puddles of water in Waimea. An unusual rogue downpour must have passed through. In Kokee though, the weather was a bit cloudy with cool conditions but once again there was zero precipitation. The hike to Waipoo Falls is moderately strenuous and tends to be drier when it rains elsewhere in Kokee park. There were a fair number of cars in the lot when I arrived for an afternoon start.
Some of the guide books and Trip Advisor postings lead one to erroneously believe that the Canyon trail ends at Waipoo falls. The views from the rest of the trail are just as impressive as what you encountered on your way to the falls. A few months ago someone reported on TR that he wanted to continue on the trail but couldn’t locate the next part of the trail. Here’s the definitive answer: Make a right at the T intersection where a left takes you 50 yards to Waipoo Falls. So from the falls you can back track to this intersection and go ahead for another 30 or 40 ft to where the trail appears to abruptly stop. The trail actually crosses the rocks to the left. This is couple of feet away from where the falls takes a major plunge down to the right. Fortunately this crossing was easy to skip over when I did it. The next question is where is that confounded trail? The trail continues to the left and up a little bit of grade. Eventually it becomes clear where the trail is.
Next the trail makes a sharp right and proceeds up the other side of the canyon wall along a narrow path littered with leaves. Trees and vegetation on the downward side protect you for the most part from a major dive if you misstep here. My original intention was to go the top and make my way back along the same route. However I acted more like the cat who wouldn’t come down from the tree since there were apparently no other hikers in the vicinity and I didn’t want to deal with a mishap while going downhill. So it was now a circular hike and my late start gave me perhaps just enough time to get to my vehicle before dark. You can see from the pictures how nice the view is from this part of the trail. Eventually the trail moved inland through an area with many blow downs.
After walking on Mohihi road at the end of the Canyon trail, I started on the Kumuela trail. This really had a real jungle feel to it. One of the hiking guidebooks which must not have been updated in years stated this trail was “well maintained”. In reality a machete would have come in handy. This only added to the sense of wading through dense tropical thickets. After another woods road I was poised to embark on the Halemanu-Kokee trail. A stroke of good fortune would unfold when a SUV pulled up in this remote area near Camp Sloggett. I thumbed a ride from a local couple from Kapaa who were hanging out in Kokee to escape the big city. They gave me a ride to the Canyon parking lot with plenty of time left in the day.
The final hike of the trip was up the Hanalei Okolehao trail. This was the 2nd trail on this trip that I hadn’t been on before; 3rd if you include Hanakapiai Falls. The Okolehao trail was consistently steep though 4 days of hiking put me in shape to handle the ascent without too much of a problem. The 1st third was on a nondescript road. Then the path became progressively more rugged, rutted and narrow with roots poking up from the ground. A couple of people coming down described it as gnarly. From the descriptions I had read about the trail, I expected it to be more exposed than it was. You know you’re at end when you encounter the end of trail sign. Just before this is a little platform with a view of the “Vesuvius mountain” and a view of Hanalei. There were ropes leading down to another area but I didn’t want to chance it. Hopefully the pictures give you some idea of what the scenery was like. Prior to this hike I had seen hardly any photos from it.
Well it’s a wrap until I return. Hopefully there is some useful information you may glean from these reports.