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Discovering The Napali (Part 2: The Trail)

The Kalalau Trail

Well I have to tell you, Secret's Beach is nice, even in winter. In total I spent 5 days on that beautiful beach until finally I decided that even though already in paradise, I owed it to myself to check out this Kalalau Valley that I had so carefully researched.

I stocked up on a few consumables and hitch-hiked to Ke'e beach and the trailhead. As we crossed the Hanalei Bridge it started to rain. And not just any rain, it was a tropical downpour. I had a serviceable poncho, which kept me mostly dry as I began the hike.

The rain was drumming and I trudged on in my big black rubber fireman's boots. You can only get so wet after all. My fingers were all wrinkly, but the water was warm. At the 5 mile stream crossing (in Waihuakua Valley) I met up with this guy Jim, who was also from California. We hiked on until we came to the Hanakoa Shack, a welcome respite from the deluge. Someone had built a fire and there were a few other hikers huddled around the fire like drowned rats trying to keep warm.

I thought back wistfully to the wonderful 5 days I had just spent on Secrets Beach working on my all-around tan. I didn't want to be stranded in a tent in the pouring rain, 11 miles from civilization, so decided that I'd hike back out the next morning.

It was still early in the day, and the rain stopped, or at least slowed down a bit. I hiked up the stream to the Hanakoa Falls, which are fairly impressive and only about 3/4 of a mile up the stream from the trail. There is not much of a pool, and the rather large number of rocks strewn at the base of the falls convinced me not too linger to long. In any case, the rain had become harder and steadier as I headed back to the shack.

Next morning, I had resolved to hike out, but the weather today was warm sunny, so I hung out at the pool near the stream crossing. Throughout the course of the morning several hikers came by, with a glow in their eyes. They were out of food and I gladly shared what I had since I planned on returning to Secrets Beach that night. The hikers said Kalalau was beyond their wildest dreams, but the trail had washed out and they had barely made it.

The Kalalau Trail, looking down on New Beach

Later more hikers came by and we shared some more of my food. They said the trail was fine and basically convinced me that I really should go on in. So early afternoon, I started in on the final 5 miles. I was geared up for an exhausting hike much like the day before. But as I climbed out of Hanakoa Valley the terrain changed before my eyes from a lush guava and Java plum forest with ferns and coffee plants to a dry grassland dotted with sisal plants. Sisal looks very much like it's cousin, the century plant... however it seems to bloom every 100 days, not 100 years. It was originally introduced to create a rope industry to compete with the manila rope made in the Philippines.

This dry portion of the trail was on the leeward side of the island. As a result, the valleys are smaller and the in and out and up and down is nowhere near as severe as the first 6 miles. within a couple of hours I had made my way across the mouth of the Kalalau Valley and was dipping into the stream. Apparently, the stream crossing is at the 10 mile mark, and the last mile is from the stream to the waterfall affectionately known as the shower.

I made my way to the shower, met up with my hiking mate from the Hanakoa shack and we set up camp together, had an uneventful dinner and went to bed... my first night in Kalalau! (to be continued)

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North Shore Kauai LInks

North Shore Grindz
Great brick oven pizza at a reasonable price... good burgers, salads, coffee and breakfast too.

Good Mexican food with a decided Brazilian flair... Good Prices and they serve a variety of ice cold beer, perfect just coming off the trail.

Kalalau Spirit

Taylor Camp Movie
John Wehrheim's movie on Kauai's hippie commune of the '70s.

Aaron takes stunning photos of the beauty of the Napali Coast and Kauai's north shore.

Heartbeat of Kauai
Richard Diamond has been publishing the Museletter online since 2002, bringing together Kauai's community.

Athena Grace
Athena paints wonderful tapestries with words, soaking in life's wonder in a Zen manner.

More Napali Websites

Na Pali Coast Ohana
A non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage and natural treasures of the Na Pali.

Kalalau Trail Guide
More good information on hiking the Napali Coast Trail.

Cool Links

The Tenth Dimension
A great movie on visualizing the 10th dimension.

The Story of Stuff
Dramatic video on where stuff comes from and where it goes. should be required watching for all consumers.