The original Kalalau Kid

THE ORIGINAL KALALAU KID© Make no mistake, I am the real thing... accept no substitutes. Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about the Napali Coast or Kauai's north shore.

You know, the really important stuff like the best grazing pastures in the valley, optimal ramming techniques, where to find the juiciest guavas, keeping your hoofs clean, avoiding the hunters and of course a perennial favorite... climbing the steepest cliffs, while knocking down lots of loose pebbles and rocks.

Each week I will answer the best Napali question asked. If I don't get any decent questions, I will ask the question that you guys should have asked. Anyway, just fill out the form below and all your questions will be answered... you know, if I feel like it. All kidding aside, I'd really like to hear from you.


Q1: How Hard is the Trail, Really? I mean, the trail guides rate it perilous and strenuous, 9/10 in difficulty... and the trail is only a foot wide in places, with 1000 foot drops and crossing dangerous turbulent streams. Strong experienced hikers can make it in a day, but for most it takes 2 days, if they don't turn around at the scary part.
C.K. California

A1: Short Answer: Depends... Everything you've said about the Kalalau Trail is true. Some clarifications, qualifications, exceptions and recommendations are in order, however. The 3 most important factors regarding the difficulty of the hike are your fitness, the weather and the weight you're carrying. Carefully balancing these factors can make your hike to Kalalau a walk-in-the-park. If even one of these factors is out of control, the trail can become torturous and even deadly.

The Weight of Your Pack
Napali coast time-space operates on a whole different set of principles than what you may be used to. Energy also flows much differently here. But mass is mass. Weight is weight. Every pound on your back adds 4 to 10 pounds of force to your hips, knees, ankles and feet.. for 20,000 steps. That's like 60,000 lbs on each knee! For maximum enjoyment, try your best to keep the weight down. Most people bring in way too much stuff. I recommend keeping it under 20 pounds in the winter and 14 lbs in the summer. To help you decide what to bring, you can check out this website on the Kalalau Trail

Make no mistake, if you are not in reasonable shape, this is not the hike you seek. Of course, the better shape you are in, the more weight you can comfortably carry. Upper body strength is not so important, but strong legs are. Also, there more than a few steep climbs, so aerobic fitness is paramount to your enjoyment of the trail. Ideally, you should have the strength to moderately exert yourself continuously for 4 to 6 hours with a few short rests, snacks and a dip or two into a cool stream along the way.

The weather trumps everything. A strong downpour can leave the stream crossings impassable. It is never a good idea to cross white water that covers your shin. Interestingly enough, perhaps the best time to hike is during a light rainstorm. This is because the rain cools you down and you don't need to rest as much. Also the trail is washed clean of mud, so although you may be hiking down a gurgling stream, you will have good footing. The worst time, other than raging storms, is a day or two after a heavy rain. The water puddles on the trail and dissolves the famous red clay, making a very fine, slippery mud.

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