|Kauai, HI - Kalalau Trail Expedition
by Martin Kucera
(c) 2004 - www.FloridaLightning.com
|I have to say that the trip to Kauai made me feel like I was very close to finding one of the most beautiful places on Earth. At least
one of the most beautiful places I have ever been, by far. Kauai is just unbelievable. If you like photography as much as I do, this
place will blow you away.
The colors are so vivid, especially the green hills, blue sky and the Hawaiian red dirt. The colors are simply stunning with their
clarity and brightness. At the end it's that old " I wish I could have spent more time here..."
But for sure we will be back soon.
|Kalalau Trail Hike
|Kalalau Trail is a rated strenuous and it is one of the most difficult hikes you can find in Hawaii or anywhere else. Its "only" 11
miles long but on the average it will take you about five days to make it to the end and back. If you are lucky enough to make it.
There are no words I can find to describe the difficulty or the beauty of the trail
so I will follow with some pictures and a few more notes.
|You can divide the Kalalau trail into three parts. The first part is probably the easiest one. It requires you to hike for two miles with
huge elevation gains and drops and it will give you a very rough idea of what is to come. It is quite nice and relatively wide part of
the trail. If you decide to go further than the first two miles you will need a camping permit. Also you will have to carry
considerably heavier backpack, food supply for several days, sleeping bag and of course a tent. Perhaps you choose to hike for just
the two miles, spend a beautiful day and hike back. But for the real beauty this part of the world has to offer, I cannot recommend
enough that you try to make it further than only the initial two miles.
|Trying to accomplish the entire hike is a VERY difficult task. You have to be prepared for a lot of things that you normally would not
expect when hiking. When you leave mile marker II for the rest of the trip you are basically on your own. Its better if you can have
several people hike in case of emergency and also it will be easier to carry all the supplies for several days. I believe the best time is
winter since there are huge waves battering the coast underneath you and scenery has that rugged look and I think its pettier than
during the more calm summer months. But it can also get rough and flash floods, heavy rain or landslides are not uncommon thing.
|"Local" settlers at mile marker 2 where you can take a nice
break after the initial miles of hiking. Very nice people.
|This river at MM 2 can give you a lot of hard time after a rain
for you can not cross it anymore...
|One of the ridges you have to cross offers some exceptional
views of the ocean.
|The jungle is very lush, green, humid and so beautiful. There
are no snakes in Hawaii and most probably you won`t come to
contact with anything else poisonous. Water here may contain
bacteria called Leptospirosis so don`t drink water untreated.
Along the 11 mile hike you can not carry enough water to last
you for the entire trip. I recommend to bring a filter or water
treatment pills. I was always getting water from underneath
the numerous small waterfalls along the way and filtering it.
Then you put several drops of chlorine in it, wait for five
minutes and I promise you it`ll taste better than any other
water you ever had.
Not only water can carry the bacteria so also be careful not to
get scratched or do not swim anywhere with open wounds or
The picture on the right is of the huge ocean waves taken from
the ridge that`s in the picture above it. Sometimes the ocean
is pounding the cliffs so hard that you can feel the ground
shaking underneath your feet. We also experienced some bad
weather along the way. Heavy rain, flash floods and flooded
rivers that became unpassable or 70 mph wind gusts while
exposed on the ridges provided for some unforgettable
|It would seem like eleven miles is nothing but here only hiking
for one mile makes you feel like you have hiked for ten miles.
On every single of these ridges there is so many switch backs
it will make you wanna be in one of those helicopters above.
|After the first two miles the hike becomes real difficult. You have to climb upwards for about two hours on sometimes non-existent
paths. It is very slippery and if it rains it`s almost impossible. Than you are exposed to some open views and pretty strong winds that
make hiking difficult. Here you can find some of the most breathtaking scenery so far. The beauty is very well worth the effort. After
many hours when you think you`ve done some 20 miles you finally reach Hanakoa Valley at Mile Marker VI.
|Napali Coast is a real paradise if you are looking for a truly remote place on earth within limits of the western world. You meet a lot of people during the
initial two miles. But the part where the permits are required is very lonely and you meet people on a very few occasions. Everybody is very nice and
friendly and notice conversations spark between you and complete strangers without an effort. Everybody shares one common thing and that is the
toughness of the hike. There is no money interest or other weird goals that fuel today`s society. Just the effort and the beauty. There is something
almost sick about the whole thing. The more you hurt or sweat the more you suffer the more is the entire experience instilled in you. There are places
where you fear for your life. On some of the ridges the path becomes so narrow and the cliff on your side so steep that just one bad step can put you out
of the business.
Many say the trail is way more beautiful in winter months. Thats also when I brought myself here for the hike and I can only agree with this. The scenery
is as unbelievably beautiful as it is difficult. Like I said elsewhere in winter it often rains and the weather can turn real nasty for long periods of time.
When you plan your trip for some five days which is maximum you are allowed camping on the trail the weather is one of the most important factors that
influences the success of your trip.
Unfortunately I was not lucky enough the entire hike. When reaching the MM6 after a whole day of rain the river we had to cross was so rough it made
the crossing impossible. Well, at least I have a reason to come back here and finish the business.
|Helicopter Ride Over The Island Of Kauai
|All Images & Text
|If this is one of your first hiking experiences you soon realize how remotely lost you can feel after some five hours away from your
car. It suddenly feels like you have just travelled a thousand years back in time. Well, the place is so breathtaking that you really
don`t care much anymore. Soon you start to "feel" the nature and become more focused on what`s to come and your surroundings. It
also makes you realize how much everything is going by not how you planned it but by how nature wanted it to be.