Date: Mon, 20 Jul 1998 14:43:41 -1000 From: Patrick Rorie (email@example.com> Subject: Kalalau Service Trip - Day 4
Woke up at 6:30 a.m. with water in my ear (ear canal clogged) but went about the business of preparing for the day's events regardless of the fact that I could not hear out of my right acoustic organ. Exited my canvas covering and took the next half hour to shave and shower.
Ralph and I broke camp at our respective sites from 7 to 8:15 a.m. then watered the dozens of young trees we had weeded, irrigated and/or fenced the previous two days until 9 a.m. Doug was long gone, having packed up and left the area in the wee morning hours just after first light.
My right ear was operational by now and during the final few minutes before our departure from Kalalau, I walked around the region to take one last look at the outstanding topography. Just prior to 10 a.m. Ralph and I became beasts of burden (we put our backpacks on) and met with Reuben in front of the DLNR building thanking him for his help and hospitality.
At 10:05 a.m. the two of us started tramping along the Na Pali Coast-Kalalau Trail bound for Hanakoa Valley where we would set up camp and spend the night (or so we thought). On several occasions while traveling the initial half mile I paused and looked back at Kalalau Beach and the coast beyond enjoying "the stunning view of the blue ocean, white sand, and red, black, and green cliffs"*. Ralph compared getting me to follow him to that of removing the kid from the candy store. Actually, we were both bummed to be leaving such a special place and later in the day began planning a Na Pali Coast kayak trip for the summer of '99. Reluctantly, Ralph and I entered the Java plum forest and crossed Kalalau Stream. Emerging from the woods, the two of us slowly worked our way up "Red Hill". Once again I stopped on numerous occasions to gaze at the valley, the west wall, the rock towers, the beach and the coast beyond.
The plan for the day was to take a much more leisurely pace than day 1 ("smell the roses") and camp in Hanakoa Valley, only five miles away.
Studied the spectacular v-shaped canyon formed from the sheer pali near the 9 mile marker and the incredible rock with a double hole above the shore break a short distance further. Ralph counted more than twenty goats between mile markers 8 and 7 and I was startled by a couple of them when they crossed the footpath only a few feet in front of me.
Eventually, we dropped down into Hanakoa Valley where the periodic drizzle that had commenced after mile indicator 8 was replaced by a steady rain. Ralph and I forded the forks of Hanakoa Stream, ascended to some boulders above the trail and dropped our packs, hiding them near the huge rocks. The two of us then backtracked, crossing the forks again to the Hanakoa Falls trailhead. At 1:15 p.m. we climbed gradually along the trail for twenty minutes to the front of a large circular pool and marveled at the waterfall which featured a 300-400 foot drop. Noticed two Koa'e (white-tailed bird) flying high over head as raindrops gently fell. Returned to our packs at 2:15 p.m. and cleaned up inside an elevated toilet.
With so much time remaining in the day and presence of the steady rain, Ralph and I decided to continue hiking toward Ke'e Beach hoping to camp in Hanakapi'ai Valley. Before exiting Hanakoa Valley we took one final glance at the region and observed four waterfalls, two small cascades in front and two lengthy, vertical rapids descending the massive, sheer, fluted cliffs in the back of the valley.
Upon emerging from Hanakoa (and the rain), the two of us stopped to have a snack (lunch?) and dry off at a point on the footpath where we could look down at the dark blue Pacific Ocean. At 3 p.m. we were moving anew and observed many more waterfalls in route to Hanakapi'ai. Halted at "Space" rock and climbed to the front of it to enjoy the superb vista.
Descended 21 switchbacks (not altogether but spread out over three groups - four, six and eleven) reaching the floor of Hanakapi'ai around 5 p.m. A constant drizzle greeted us and the choice camp spot under a wooden shelter was taken. I commented to Ralph that there was enough time to make it all the way out and if we got a break when it came to hitch hiking, we could catch the last flight to Honolulu.
He was game so the two of us proceeded to search for the best way to cross Hanakapi'ai Stream (now more like a river because of all the day's rain). While Ralph struggled to ford the stream where it met the ocean, I explored other possibilities. Finding none, I returned to the mouth of the river as he successfully completed the crossing. During my turn, Ralph blew his whistle to get my attention so that he could point out the best line for me to take. At one instance I stepped into a hole below the fast moving current and the bottom of my backpack submerged. In due time, I made it to the other side and breathed a sigh of relief.
Pressing on, Ralph and I climbed out of the valley on two switchbacks pausing briefly to watch a young couple attempt to ford the stream. We found it humorous because the male was trying to stay dry. Encountered a handful of tourists and spoke with a few of them during the final two miles and a heavy rain soaked us during the last descent to the trailhead.
Arrived at the Ke'e Beach parking lot at 6:30 p.m. Almost immediately, the two of us cleaned up and started thumming it while walking along the road toward Hanalei. A short time later, a young couple from San Diego was kind enough to give us a lift to Hanalei where they would be eating dinner that night. From there a San Jose school teacher and her adolescent son (one of the tourists we had seen and talked to on the trail) drove us as far as they were going (Princeville).
Unfortunately, our luck appeared to run out. Ralph and I found ourselves walking on the Kuhio Highway for about a mile as darkness set in and more rain threatened. Whenever a car approached I would say out loud "Miracles! Miracles! Please stop! Its getting dark and we're tired and hungry!" with the most pathetic looking facial expression I could manage!
At long last another resident of San Jose pulled over and we were in business again! Although the gentleman (a chiropractor) and his wife were bound for Kapa'a, they very graciously took us to the Lihue Airport. During the ride the doctor asked Ralph and I what we did for a living. Ralph considered telling the man we were serial killers but that might not have gone over too well!
The two of us were dropped off at 8:36 p.m. and while we thought we had plenty of time to catch the 9:30 flight, Ralph was informed as he checked in that we should load our stuff immediately for the last flight out (9:00 p.m.)! We made it, but just by the skin of our teeth!!!
Notes: Kalalau is a "Must Do" backpacking trip. Although summer permits are difficult to obtain, its worth the struggle to get one.
I spoke recently with Bill Gorst (newly retired Oahu DLNR employee) and he told me that the zodiac ban is only temporary. This is unfortunate because, according to Reuben, when they used to land, large numbers of people would get off. Some equipped with coolers. Loud parties would then ensue.
Don't be deceived by the myth that anyone can just hike in and camp. Rangers periodically visit Kalalau checking for permits. If a visitor does not have one, his/her stuff is confiscated and the camper is forced to leave the area.
If possible, tramp the entire 11 miles on the first day. Take your time. Enjoy the trail, hike to Hanakoa Falls and pull into Kalalau in the late afternoon with enough time to set up camp.
A sleeping bag is not necessary during the summer months and bring fins, even if you are a competent swimmer. It will make the trek to isolated Honopu Beach much easier.
There are places to explore in Kalalau Valley other than the areas mentioned in my day 2 and day 3 write-ups. Go for it!
The goats are not aggressive (they will not attack); therefore, do not fear them.
Read ON THE NA PALI COAST by Kathy Valier and trip number 6 (Kalalau) in Stuart Ball's THE BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO HAWAI'I for an introduction to the region. They are excellent resources for trip planning as well.
Mahalo nui loa to Doug Klein for setting up the trip and to Doug and Ralph Valentino for being such terrific dawgs (hip-hop for compadres).
* Ball, Jr., Stuart M. THE BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO HAWAI'I. Honolulu: University Of Hawaii Press, 1996.