OHE March 28, 1998 (c)

Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 12:46:32 -1000
From: Patrick Rorie (prorie@hekili.k12.hi.us>
Subject: A Visit to the Garden Isle - The Complete Story Part 1

DKT gave a bare bones summary of our trip to Kauai. Allow me to fill in some of the details...

== Wednesday, March 25th

Departed work at 2 p.m. and drove to DKT's home in Kaneohe. Dayle's mother drove us to the airport and we were Kauai bound at approx. 3:30 p.m.

Upon arrival I took care of the rental car details while Dayle picked up our baggage. We rendezvoused in the rental car parking lot and headed west toward Waimea to purchase propane.

Along the way we spocked Haupu Ridge on the left with max elevation of 1500 feet. It had a section which reminded us of Pohakea Pass. Later, on the right, Dayle and I gazed at the mountain range containing Mount Wai'ale'ale, "the highest mountain on Kaua'i and the wettest spot on earth"*.

When the two of us reached Waimea "Big Save" grocery store we were disappointed not to find any propane. We searched the mini-marts in Kekaha but to no avail.

The afternoon was slowly coming to an end and Dayle and I needed to set up camp before darkness; therefore, we decided to head for Polihale, a pleasant beach park on the western coast of Kauai. Arrived there at approx. 6 p.m. and parked at the first camp site.

After setting up our tents on a nearby bluff I walked toward the ocean and enjoyed the wide white sand beach, the waves breaking just off the coast and crashing onto the shore. Half a mile behind the beach was a massive mountain range similar in composition and color to those of the Makaha/Waianae area on Oahu. It provided an outstanding backdrop for the region. I watched the sunset then returned to our tents.

As twilight gave way to darkness the stars and planets really stood out. Dayle sat and I laid down on my back both of us looking heavenward enjoying the excellent star "action". Only on Oahu's north shore near Mokuleia had I witnessed such a sight.

Some Canadian dudes came and went and came again during the night using a nearby pavilion. Otherwise it was a comfortable evening free of disturbance.

== Thursday, March 26th

Got up at 6:30 a.m. and started breaking camp soon after. Loaded up the car and proceeded to Hanapepe in search of propane. Finding none the two of us backtracked all the way to Lihue. A steady rain was falling so we didn't feel too badly about the time lost.

We finally found some propane at Star Market in Lihue and upon purchasing a bottle took off for Koke'e to do some hiking. Turned right just past a spired church in Waimea onto Waimea Canyon Road. A gradual ascent of this thoroughfare took us to the Kukui trailhead. Dayle and I stopped briefly and walked part of the Kukui Trail which eventually ends up down in Waimea Canyon. We had a permit for Waimea Canyon but decided not to go there. Instead we opted for Koke'e rolling the dice that a camp site would be available and a ranger would not come along to check for permits.

Pulled into Koke'e State Park (elevation in excess of 3000 feet). While I used the rest room Dayle found an ideal camp site and the two of us set up our tents there.

At 11:03 a.m. Dayle and I commenced hiking toward Sugi Grove (a type of pine tree) using the Camp 10-Mohihi Road. We endured an initial ascent over it. At 11:46 a.m. at the end of a descent we came across a gushing waterfall. Crossed a bridge with a healthy flowing stream below it then ascended, crossing a second bridge over a smaller stream.

Shortly before 12:15 p.m. the two of us reached a junction with the Pihea Trail/Kawaikoi Camp Ground. Next Dayle and I forded Kawaikoi Stream, a chilly tea colored gently flowing body of water originating from the Alakai Swamp. Entered the Sugi Grove camping area which featured many beautiful tall Sugi trees and a nice spot consisting of a picnic bench adjacent to a large plunge pool.

Dayle and I began hiking the Kawaikoi Stream Trail, "perhaps the most lovely and serene stream hike in Hawai'i"*, at 12:38 p.m. Dayle pointed out a group of tall siamese twim Sugis to me as we moved along the trail and we both stopped to observe a deep mysterious pool in the stream. There were many nice simming holes (spots) in the river but the water was very cold.

At 12:56 p.m. the two of us arrived at a junction (stream crossing) with the Pihea Trail but continued on the Kawaikoi Trail. Whenever I saw small boulders in the stream I was reminded of the Kawainui Trail above Haleiwa on Oahu.

We watched a black cat leap from rock to rock as it crossed the waterway at a fork in the trail and we named this place Black Cat Crossing. Dayle and I went left (down) and crossed the stream ourselves. Once on the other side I couldn't help but notice the lush vegetation which bordered the river consisting mainly of ginger and fern (not uluhe). Above them were many tall Ohia trees. Occasionally we were blessed with blue sky/sunny periods.

Further on I spotted an unusually large black pool on the right. Dayle commented that the trail was in great shape (well maintained) and I agreed with him. We also concluded that Kawaikoi Stream was "wide and wonderful". The two of us spocked a lone duck with black feathers and a white bill floating on the surface underneath a lapalapa tree. Forded yet another stream crossing and saw two more ducks in a large pool up stream.

The trail looped back and took us twenty feet above the waterway so that we were looking down on it. The trail then went away from the river through a forest of guava trees, lots of ginger, and Ohia trees. Eventually we ended up back at the fork near Black Cat Crossing reaching it at 1:37 p.m. The temperature was perfect for hiking. As a result neither Dayle nor I consumed much water.

Pressing on the two of us went straight and some distance later crossed the stream at the Pihea Trail junction. I managed to keep my feet dry but Dayle got his okole wet! Sweet okole? You'd better ask a female about that? :) We ate lunch after crossing the body of water at 1:48 p.m.

Ten minutes later we started traveling on Pihea which also had sections featuring the very pleasant gently flowing stream. The two of us recognized boar rootings in the trail. We passed the 3 mile marker shelter (a nice place to camp) and arrived at a point where the stream was flowing rapidly. Dayle and I descended to the river and then gained elevation via two switchbacks through truly wild country.

Dayle brought to my attention the presence of an Olapa tree (leaves not as circular as the lapalapa variety), a Mokihana tree (Kauai's flower which has a licorice smell to it), and big leaf maile vines used for making leis. I noticed some very healthy looking lapalapa trees as well. The area we were in was a botonist's dream come true!

Continued to climb using two more switchbacks. The trail then contoured for a stretch followed by two additional switchbacks. At the 2.25 mile marker a nice natural rock wall bordered the trail on the left. I paused briefly looking out at the miles and miles of pristine forest. Reached the top of the ridge beyond two more switchbacks. A short distance later the trail became a wooden boardwalk (BW).

Dayle and I came to a junction and went right onto the Alakai Swamp Trail at 2:40 p.m. The BW took us thru a forest of mostly native vegetation. We descended over stairs in the BW and departed it hiking on slippery grey clay-like material (I slipped and almost fell because of the clay).

Next the two of us forded a stream and exchanged greetings with a middle aged couple who had come from Kilohana Lookout where clouds obscured views. We traveled over another BW, left the BW and ascended. The trail leveled off briefly then continued to ascend thru a switchback. Got to a point where a small stream ran thru the middle of the trail. Reached another BW (third), a level section which went directly over the swamp. I was reminded of the Mount Ka'ala summit walkway.

For the most part Dayle and I were fogged in with a drizzle coming down. Many Ohia trees and some lapalapa lined the BW. Occasionally the clouds opened up revealing blue sky and sunshine.

Inevitably the improved (permanent) section of BW gave way to boards laid out one after another (unattached with gaps in between). One wrong step and it would have been mud city! Much to our relief we made it to a permanent BW section which followed. Unfortunately another set of unattached planks came next. At one point Dayle and I teeter-tottered on each end of a plank to continue making progress. We were majorly fogged in and as I took notes Dayle moved out ahead of me. He was definitely the "hiker in the mist". Some of the boards were so narrow and the soil so unstable that it was like going over a tight rope!

The two of us descended briefly then ascended over permanent BW crossing a small stream in the process. There was a very short section where no BW existed. "When is this thing going to end?" we kept asking ourselves.

After a lengthy relatively level curvy stretch of permanent BW Dayle and I passed the wooden 3.25 mileage sign at 3:36 p.m. A couple minutes later we arrived at the terminal point (Kilohana Lookout) which was clouded in. The spectacular views below of Hanalei Valley and Bay were not ours. :(

The two of us departed the end of the BW at 3:43 p.m. and retraced our steps to the junction with the Pihea Trail. On the way back at the teeter-totter spot Dayle lost his balance and sank part way into a small muddy pool. He was up to his waist in guk! After he got out we both took a detour to the right.

As we descended toward the stream where we had encountered the man and woman the sun came out (partial clearing) warming us up and lighting up the area providing excellent views of the green rolling hills. Dayle reached the stream first and washed himself off in it. I arrived at 4:27 p.m. Just as Dayle was exiting the stream he fell almost face first into it. His pack got wet but fortunately none of the contents were damaged.

At 4:40 p.m. Dayle and I came to the junction and turned right onto the Pihea Trail. The sun continued to shine on us briefly thru a hole in the clouds. The level BW of the Pihea Trail went on for a distance then came to an end. It was followed by a brief gradual muddy ascent.

Arrived at another junction at 4:58 p.m. This time with the Pu'u O'Kila Trail. I thought of Mike Uslan and exclaimed,"Killah! Killah!". Dayle led the way as the two of us turned left. We descended gradually and carefully over more muddy trail. I slipped several times but did not fall and went thru deep ruts in the foot path. Two short level BW segments were successfully traversed.

Made it to an eroded view spot of Kalalau Valley at 5:11 p.m. but we couldn't see a thing because of the clouds. A tour helicopter was audible below us, however.

After a level muddy section Dayle and I successfully negotiated the final half mile of the trail. During the stretch the clouds thinned for a few seconds such that we could see the ocean (the shore break) in the distance and some of Kalalau Valley. Reached another eroded area with nice vista possibilities on both sides. The Kalalau side was fogged in but the Koke'e side was a delight to the eyes. At yet another eroded view spot of Kalalau the clouds opended up briefly revealing some of the gorgeous sheer cliffs and the valley floor. Passed a huge rock outcrop (knob) on the right and ascended over a large eroded area to the tourist Kalalau lookout.

Came to the Pihea trailhead at 5:36 p.m. just below the lookout. Walked down a paved road for a short distance until two tourists from New York offered us a ride at 5:41 p.m. Dayle and I gladly accepted their offer and got dropped off at the Koke'e camp site at 5:49 p.m.

Sometime after 6 p.m. dinner was prepared using Dayle's stove and the propane we had such a difficult time finding. The kau kau and hot cocoa brought much needed refreshment. We were entertained by Dayle's transistor radio but as darkness set in the stars could not be seen due to overcast skies.

The two of us retired to our tents for the evening around 9 p.m. but my sleep was interrupted at 1 a.m. by rain (rain drops seeped into my tent because the fly wasn't tight enough) and again at 4:30 a.m. by the cocka-doodle-doos of two nearby feral chickens.


* Ball Jr., Stuart M. THE BACKPACKERS GUIDE TO HAWAI'I. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1996.

Read about days 3 & 4 on Kauai.
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