Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Tale Of Two Hikes

By Murph

So it’s been really nice out again (sunny and between 76-80 every day), and I’ve decided to take full advantage. On Saturday I got up at the crack of dawn and headed up to the Kalalau Trail to take on a nice little day hike (~8 miles total) to Hanakapia'i Beach and Hanakapia'i Falls. I was the first one on the trail (for better or worse) which allowed me to get a great parking spot at the trailhead. It was 2 miles in to Hanakapaia'i Beach and here are a couple sites I saw along the way:

The trail was quite light, a little messy in areas due to all the recent rain, but very manageable. You end up going up, then down, ~800 ft. on this 2 mile trek. Right before I got to the beach I ran across this sign, it really gave me that “warm fuzzy feeling” that I’d been looking for all morning:

Anyway, the seas were still rather rough, and I sat by myself on the rocky beach (no exposed sand in the winter with the large surf). Here are a few pictures from the beach:

The next two miles into the valley “jungle” were supposedly real messy. The trail was also, as I was told prior to the hike, not very well marked, so I was hoping somebody else would show so I could join up with them on the hike out. I sat for 30mins or so, but just couldn’t wait anymore and wanted to head out to the Falls. Thinking back on it, I SHOULD have waited for somebody else! It was rather dark in the valley at this time of day as the sun hadn’t exposed itself to the valley yet. About a mile or so into the hike I came across the first of 4 stream crossings that I had to make. The stream was close to waist high and had quite an associated current (which was a good sign for the falls that was feeding it). I had flip-flops for this occasion and put them on after removing my hiking shoes. While putting my hiking shoes back on after getting across I felt a pretty sharp pain on the back of my Achilles. The shoes are pretty new so my feet were still adjusting, but rather than wait for my feet to fully adjust I decided to use a knife I had in my pack (stolen steak knife from the condo I’m in…) to make a shoe “edit”. After cutting a nice chunk of the back of the shoes I put the shoes back on and forged ahead (problem solved, for the time being….). Well me forging ahead happened to be “off-trail” and soon found myself in the middle of the woods with NO idea where I was. I had accidently followed a pig trail rather than the real trail and was now lost. I had to do some serious back-tracking to refind my way, but it was a weird feeling. Part of me thought I’d have to break out my best “Don Fendler” routine, but another part of me was pretty excited to try and find my way back- there is something pretty exhilarating about praying to see somebody else’s footprints other than your own! Anyway, I finally found my way back on trail, and continued on, crossing a few more streams before eventually getting to the falls. It was amazing! Roughly 300 feet high, and ROARING due to all the recent rain. It was actually COLD and I decided to put my jacket on. The falls was giving off a SERIOUS cold mist along with quite a breeze. It was hard just to stand within 30 feet of the thing. Here are a couple of pictures that I got when I got there:

It was really hard to get any good pics as there was a constant mist being driven into the camera lens, and most photos didn’t come out, which kind of stinks, but oh well. I really wanted to swim in the bad boy, but decided that I’d wait for somebody else to show prior to venturing into the falls. I sat down, ate my lunch, and after about an hour or so a young couple from Durango, CO showed up (and I found out they had to back track too, but at a different point in the trail). First off it was VERY cool to have the falls to myself for an hour or so, but it was also awesome to see the look on people’s faces as they showed up at the falls. The young couple was also looking to go swimming in the falls so we headed on in. Again, NO photos of this came out due to all the mist (I also tried to take a sick video while IN the falls, but maybe I’ll get another chance to do something like this AND take video…maybe, just maybe…), and also I went in and the power of the water coming down knocked the camera right off my hand! It was a little more powerful than I originally thought. We were swimming underneath the falls, behind the falls in a little cave (by this time about 4-5 others had shown up and were swimming around), and all around in the little pool the falls had created, it was COLD. After drying off and getting my sh!t together I had somebody take a picture of me with the falls behind me:

I hiked back to the Beach with a few people, including the couple from Durango, and the dude got this pic of me crossing one of the streams (notice the SICK shaka I’m dropping with my right hand):

When we got back to the beach there were 20 people or so hanging around deciding whether or not to head out to the falls. I stayed there and had some water and a snack, and then trekked the 2 miles back to Ke'e Beach (where the trail begins). I got a few good pics on the way back as well:

I got back nice and early, around 3:30pm, and couldn’t wait to head home and shower. Later on that night I met the locals out at Tahiti Nui and we ripped it up. There was a band called “Cherry, Cherry” at a bar in Hanalei called Bouchon’s. And, as you may have guessed, they covered NEIL DIAMOND tunes as well as “60’s and 70’s” hits. There was a ton of dancing (quick sidenote: I’m becoming a pretty good Reggae dancer, they love that stuff over here) and was quite the drunken debacle. Next thing I knew I was watching the football games on Sunday morning/afternoon. It was a blast. Later on in the day on Sunday I hit the beach for a few, but hit the sack rather early as I had to set my alarm for 3:59am the next morning in order to get where I needed to be for hike #2.

Hike #2 was recommended by a few people I had met here, as well as a blog reader, so I decided to take it on. It was in Koke'e State park, and was a ~12 mile loop that brought you right out on top of the ledges that make up part of the Na Pali Coast. I got down there in time for sunrise, and here are a few pics I took from the Pu'u o Kila Lookout (around ~4200 ft. in elevation) at dawn:

The funny thing about these pictures is that it was 41 degrees when I took them! I was in shorts and a jacket (the only one I had with me on this trip) and was pretty cold. Funny story, as I was waiting for the sun to make it’s appearance I was completely alone at the lookout. I thought I had heard a car drive in but then there was nothing so I thought nothing of it. Right after the sun came up (around 7:15am) a pack of 8-10 dogs came running over the crest and were coming right at me! I had NO idea what was going on, and these dogs looked like they meant business! I freaked out, and started “sweet talking” a couple of the dogs, but quickly found out that they were harmless. Then two hunters emerged, apologized for the dog “attack”, and then proceeded to make fun of me in my shorts (real nice guys, seriously…) as they were in full jackets and thermal pants. They evidently were hunting pigs (boars and sows), and maybe even some wild goats, strange. Anyway, that got my heart pumping, what a start to the day.

After a little while I headed down to the trailhead and kicked off my hike. I started right around 9:30am. Again, I was seemingly alone on the path, but this path was well marked (although pretty strenuous) so I was less concerned about getting lost. The first leg is 3.1 miles out to a lookout that I was told was “spectacular”. After around 75mins I was out there, and OH MY LORD! It was ridiculous, unreal views from here. I was on TOP of one of the ledges that I was gawking at from a boat only a week earlier. This lookout was around 2300 feet in elevation and looked out over the Nu’ololo Valley. I sat there, had some water and a snack, and then a couple of ladies from Alberta, CAN showed up. I spoke with them a little, and we spoke about how sharp the ledges were, it was truly amazing. Here are some pictures from there:

The next leg of the trip was around 3 miles and was the Nu'ololo Cliff Trail. I headed out with the Canadians and about 10 minutes into the hike we had this view back into the valley:

Shortly after this we came across this sign:

I thought it was rather meaningless, but as I was taking this picture Clara went around the corner, and immediately started screeching. It was strange. Anyway, I went around the corner, and it was pretty scary. The path was washed out and at this point only 18 muddy inches wide, but was on a CLIFF. So you had a cliff wall, then an 18 inch muddy trail, then a 2000 foot cliff. Clara claimed she wouldn’t pass over it so we all parted ways and I took a moment before heading over it. I think it would have been easier if I was by myself from the start and just went right over it rather than having her freak out and some time to think it over. Anyway, I decided to “hug the cliff” and side step this 30 foot section of the trail. It was a little hairy with a 15 pound pack on my back, but I got over. I felt like I was in a movie sliding along the ledge of a building or whatever. Here’s a look back at the cliff I had to cross from further down the trail:

After another mile or so I came across this 10-15 foot waterfall. Here was my chance to get some good video and take a dip to cool off. I put my flips on and headed in, here’s a a picture of the little waterfall, and a sick video I took heading into the little waterfall (best viewed with Audio on):

From here there were even more spectacular views, and the end point was the Awa-'awapuhi lookout. This view was even MORE spectacular, and here are a couple pics and a video from there (MANY more pictures of all this on the photobucket site which I’ve updated, definitely worth checking out):

In the video do you see the little “dot” flying around? That’s not a bird, that’s a HELICOPTER! That’s how big these ledges were, I thought it was a good video to give you perspective on the whole thing. There were a few people at this lookout- they took the “easy” way in, they didn’t do the entire loop, just the back leg- they went in and out on the same trail, the same trail I’d be heading back on.

It was almost 5 miles back to where my car was parked, so after having lunch at this lookout I decided to head back around 2pm. The first 3 miles of the trek (the Awa-awapuhi Trail) back had an elevation gain of 1500 feet, so it was pretty rough, but I got back to my car in a couple hours and at this point was ready for a nap, or a drink. By the time I got back the sore spots on the back of my Achilles were KILLING me. My left side was bleeding pretty bad, and led me to have a bloody sock. I laughed when I saw it because all I could think of was Curt Schilling and the bloody sock incident from 2004 (I happened to BE at that game as well…oh yah, oh yah…), so I naturally took a picture (on photobucket). It was an AWESOME hike, and the views I had were jaw dropping. I cant really explain it, or talk enough about it, so please check out the photobucket pictures and try to picture what I was surrounded by.

On the way out I checked out the Waimea Canyon (another RIDICULOUS sight) and took a few pictures of this:

The Waimea Canyon is 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and 3600 feet deep. It's a mini-me of the Grand Canyon they seem to say around here.

At this point it was getting close to sunset so I headed to the “famous” Po’ipu Beach for sunset (south shore beach that was sort of on my way back home to the north shore), and here are a couple pictures from there:

Overall the two hikes were amazing and I truly have no words to describe them. I look back at the pictures, which are great, but the feeling of being on top of one of those ledges, one step from making an immediate drop of 2000+ ft, with the ocean and an unreal valley below, defies a truly worthy description. I’ll just leave it at that.

Tuesday morning I got up, and was pretty damn sore. I hit the hot tub and caught a lot of the induction ceremony. By the way, the piece that John Williams composed for Yo-Yo Ma and friends (other ridiculous world-renowned musicians) right before President Obama took his oath made me realize why I love classical music so much. Classical music has the ability to say so much, without actually “saying” anything. The piece was very moving.

As I write this I’m sipping on a Kona coffee (Wednesday morning) preparing for my afternoon of Ziplining amongst the mountain valleys of the North Shore (Note to the Doyle’s: I’ll try and take some notes on how they do the business here, and ways it could be improved, etc). Not sure if I can bring my camera along, but I will make sure I do if I can. Only one more day tomorrow(Thursday) in Kauai before flying to Maui on Friday morning. I will surely come here again.

With Aloha,


Anonymous said...

What a wonderful entry. You describe EVERYTHING so amazingly.I know I will never get to Hawaii in my lifetime so I truly appreciate you giving such a great adventurous description of your trip of a lifetime.
I think Intel should have a contest on the "Best Sabadical and give a bonus month for the winner. I would bet money you'd be the winner...
Keep the adventures coming it gives us "old people" a great thought of what we should have done ... Darlene Cardinal

Anonymous said...

just catching up with these posts...unbelievable pics murph. great stuff. any sign of noah's arc up there?? yeah, didn't think so.
all the best, buddy