Date: Wed, 1 Jul 1998 17:23:06 -1000 From: Patrick Rorie (firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Kalalau Service Trip - Day 1
HTMC vet Doug "Dusty" Klein, Ralph Valentino and I payed a visit to the magnificent Na Pali Coast this past weekend and had a wonderful time. Because summer camping permits for Kalalau are so hard to come by, Doug arranged a service trip to the area via Wayne Souza, DLNR parks district superintendent on Kauai.
On Friday, June 26, my clock radio went off at 3:20 a.m. An early start but the three of us (three amigos) wanted to catch the first flight to Kauai in order to reach Kalalau that same day. After loading the pat-mobile with my heavy Kelty backpack I headed to Ralph Valentino's home in Nuuanu. I got there late (4:30 a.m.) but he and his wife (Beverly) were ready to go. We picked Doug up at Tripler fifteen minutes later and arrived at the interisland terminal at 5 a.m.
Reuben Mateo (Kaena Point Ambassador) met with us before we checked in for our Aloha Air flight. He was also bound for Kalalau that morning by way of a helicopter and offered to take one of Doug's Army duffle bags filled with some of our gear to lighten our loads. Each of us removed a few items (for me it was bags of clothing and food) from our packs and stuffed them into the Army duffle.
Doug, Ralph and I caught the 5:30 a.m. flight and touched down in Lihue around 6 a.m. At 6:30 a.m. Sierra Club member Rob Kolbertson picked us up and, following a couple of stops to get breakfast for Doug and fuel for Ralph, drove us 53 miles through Princeville and Hanalei to Ha'ena State Park (Ke'e Beach elev. 18 feet).
Final preps ensued then a few minutes after 8 a.m. we three amigos put on our backpacks and began our Na Pali Coast journey as a light rain fell. For the first half mile of the Kalalau Trail (an 11 mile contour) we endured a steady climb over a wide, rocky, muddy (slippery) footpath.
Once the initial ascent was completed the three of us worked into and out of a couple of ravines and gulches then the trail straightened out for a while. Next, we descended into and climbed out of a larger gulch which had twin cascading waterfalls. The streams they produced crossed the trail. We also encountered a few tourist day hikers and the rain tappered off to an occasional drizzle.
Although far from a flora expert, I did observe many hala trees, ginger plants, plenty of ti leaf trees, kukui trees, ironwood groves and some patches of uluhe fern but no palms. Unfortunately, a handful of clidemia weeds were located beside the trail.
After moving downward into Hanakapi'ai Valley on two switchbacks, Doug continued straight ahead crossing the official ford of broad Hanakapi'ai Stream while Ralph and I, in an attempt to keep our feet dry, walked toward the beach. All of us successfully spanned the waterway and regrouped at the 2 mile marker not far from a compost toilet and campsites.
Pressing on, Doug, Ralph and I skipped the Hanakapi'ai Falls Trail (a 2 mile trail to the falls in the back of the valley) and worked our way out of the valley on 11 switchbacks. It was a tough climb but nice views of the beach and valley were available. Six more switchbacks followed; then, as the trail contoured, we passed a small pool right in the middle of the footpath. The sheer cliffs above resembled those of Mokuleia (on Oahu) where rock climbers train.
Following an ascent on four additional switchbacks, the three of us reached "Space" rock, a huge boulder and the highest point on the trail in excess of 800 feet, at 10 a.m. The drop off in front of the rock toward the ocean was near-vertical (it was kind of spookie bending over to look down). We observed a giant sea cave directly below on the left, a catamaran filled with tourists just off the coast, about a dozen double kayaks approaching from the right and choppers circling high over head.
Doug resumed the hike and several minutes later, at 10:23 a.m., Ralph and I did like-wise. As a result, "Dusty" left Ralph and I behind creating a sizeable gap between he and the two of us.
We three amigos descended into Ho'olulu Valley where we recognized Pohakea, the prominent sharp peak of Ho'olulu, and noticed a superb vertical waterfall proceeding down the steep wall at the end of the valley. After fording Ho'olulu Stream and a few of its tributaries we passed the 4 mile marker. While Ralph and I were on our way out of the valley, an immense boulder came crashing down near the stream crossing from a cliff right where we had been a minute or two earlier. Whoa! Scary!
Traveled under another section of Mokuleia type cliffs.
From an overlook before dropping down into Waiahuakua Valley, Ralph and I gazed at an incredible 1000 foot vertical waterfall flowing down the steep wall in the back of the valley. The two of us descended to the valley floor where we crossed Waiahuakua Stream and several of its tributaries. An abundance of ti leaf trees were growing on both sides of the footpath. Went by mile marker 5 and eventually left Waiahuakua Valley behind climbing steadily along sheer sea cliffs.
There was an ironwood grove toward the deep blue ocean below the trail and lots of hala trees between mileage signs 5 and 6.
Arrived at an overlook of Hanakoa Valley and Falls. I was wowed by the awesomeness of the vertical cascade as it poured down the massive pali. It was the most impressive waterfall we'd seen all day. Entered Hanakoa Valley and descended gradually, at one point along the bottom area of a large landslide. The drizzle returned followed by steady rain. As Ralph and I approached the first fork of Hanakoa Stream, we exchanged greetings with a young male and two of his female companions. Forded the two forks of the stream and passed the sign indicating the start of the Hanakoa Falls Trail deciding to check it out on another day. Two more attractive young females in bikinis ran past us as we commenced the gradual climb out of the valley. There were many ti leaf trees above and below the trail. Upon exiting the valley the rain was replaced by an occasional drizzle.
I paused at a scenic overlook at the end of Manono Ridge and viewed a sea cave on the right directly below and the Na Pali Coast beyond Kalalau to the west. Descended on 7 switchbacks along the slope of Manono Ridge toward the bottom of a gulch through sisals (plants with dark green swordlike leaves). Low grass bordered the footpath as Ralph and I completed the downward leg into the gulch on three more switchbacks.
At mileage marker 7 "The trail, narrow in spots, hugs the cliff above the ocean."*
Further ahead, the trail went through a severely eroded slope. Wire attached to stakes in the ground formed a barrier below the trench to protect against someone falling or sliding all the way down the cliff if loss of footing occured.
As we traversed a windy mostly open section, Ralph, suffering from fatique, stopped for a short break. During the interlude he observed two goats coming down a ridge just above the trail and brought the event to my attention.
On the way to the 8 mile sign, Ralph and I observed ideal but illegal camp sites in the woods just off the trail; a miniature, delightful, inviting pool fed by a small waterfall just short of a stream crossing; the aqua green ocean about 50 feet above the footpath; a sea arch/sea cave combo well below the trail and best of all, visible in the distance, three prominent pali "shoulders" and the Kalalau rock "towers" as well as the Na Pali Coast as it continued to the west.
Between mileage indicators 8 and 9 we recognized plenty of lantana with their pretty flowers but thorny branches; observed a multitude of sisal plants (some were large); passed a nice waterfall in a gulch; gazed at sheer fluted vertical cliffs up close; halted at a wonderful overlook where 2 holes in the rock of a sheer canyon wall as it ended above the shorebreak could be seen.
The final two miles of the trail were the most spectacular. As I proceeded around a bend in the footpath and got to the 9 mile marker, Ralph began to pull away from me as I slowed to take in the awesome surroundings. The narrow ridges above were near vertical, one of which had a "V" shaped canyon in it. The "rocky, turreted ridges of the Na Pali Coast"* also came into view again.
When I arrived at a grassy eroded overlook which is the top of "Red Hill" I was blown away by the sights. Dead ahead was the massive pali with giant rock towers protruding out of it. To the right, "the broad expanse of Kalalua Beach"* and the rugged Na Pali Coast as it continued to the west, with the lush green lower region of Kalalau Valley in the foreground.
Ralph was standing next to the wooden "Kalalau" sign and I took of photo of him there. As he descended the red eroded slope, I climbed to the area of "Red Hill" closest to the ocean for a better vista and watched him work his way down. Clouds socked in the top of the mountain range but a strong breeze and an abundance of sunshine made my brief stay very enjoyable.
Ultimately, I followed Ralph, descending the pu'u into a forest of Java plum. He crossed the rushing waters of Kalalau Stream well ahead of me. As I approached the stream, Reuben appeared and we talked, fording the waterway together. We parted company when he turned left at a signed junction and headed up the Kalalau Valley Trail.
Emerging from the forest, I turned left along the line of vegetation upon reaching the shore. Waves were crashing onto the white/golden sand beach as I made a triumphant entry into Kalalau along the last half mile of the footpath. I could see the top of Ho'ole'a Falls (the natural shower used for bathing) near the far end of the wide, football field sized beach and passed two DLNR wooden storage buildings as well as a group of elevated compost toilets behind the beach in route to the campsite.
At 2:30 p.m. I stumbled past Doug's spot and dropped my pack. Doug and I chose to set up our tents near the top of a shady wooded locale 20 yards in front of a sheer rock wall while Ralph was situated in the forest tract closer to the beach.
After a brief rest I commenced raising my canvas covering. Because of the hard ground and exhaustion the task seemed to take forever. I bent several stakes so badly that they were rendered useless. Ralph pounded his in only half way and "Dusty" used rocks instead. During the frustrating ordeal a man in a campsite below Ralph's caught my attention. He was buck-ass naked and walked around the grounds that way so in my mind I called him Mr. NOSHAME.
About 4:30 p.m. I headed west and went for a walk on the beach. It was one of those special moments in time with the beautiful blue sky above occupied by white puffy clouds, the unobstructed sun shining down, the pristine golden sand underfoot and the waves breaking onto the shore creating the white foam. "This is paradise!" I thought to myself.
I took a break from my stroll to explore a giant sea cave wading through cool knee deep fresh water to get inside of it. There were calcium deposits on the ceiling but no bats. Further down the coast I crawled on all fours to get inside another cave which opened up and was filled with a pile of large rocks.
Backtracked and took a refreshing shower in Ho'ole'a Falls as the late afternoon was coming to an end.
Shortly before 7 p.m. Reuben, Ralph and I gathered around a table on the porch of the main DLNR building. Some nene geese entertained us as we prepared the evening meal. Unfortunately, the picturesque sunset we had hoped for was blocked by clouds. "Dusty", not to be antisocial, joined us just as night was falling. I consumed some Mountain House lasagna along with a package of ramen while Ralph dined on an MRE. He tried in vain to give one of us his tiny container of tabasco sause but there were no takers.
Once the evening meal was pau and cleanup taken care of, the four of us conversed on a varied of topics. We mainly spoke of Kalalau since Reuben was preparing for the arrival in a couple of days of some FOX mainland journalists whom he would be taking on a tour of the region.
Doug turned in early and I had a very difficult time keeping my eyes open beyond 9 p.m. When Ralph got up to go back to his campsite I joined him. We both gazed at the evening sky and took pleasure from the star action and the cresent moon. As I brushed my teeth I watched it set and then returned to my tent for the night.
Next: Day 2 - Exploring "The Garden Of Eden"
* Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO HAWAI'I. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1996.