OHE September 13, 1999 (Na Pali kayak trip)



Date: Mon, 13 Sep 1999 20:28:16 -1000
From: Georgina Oka (Ribayka@aol.com)
Subject: belated Na Pali write up

Hey! Okay, it's really really late, and really long and not too good, but this is my version of our trip. I probably got a bunch of things wrong so if anyone catches anything, just help me out, please, 'cause i have a really bad memory. Enjoy! Georgina

ps this was carmen's idea

Na Pali Coast August 22-August 29, 1999

Aug/22 Haena

I woke up at around four in the morning to catch the 6:15 flight from Honolulu to Lihue, Kauai. Kim provided us with a bit of entertainment when his carry-on was detained at the x-ray counter. After about 10 minutes of searching and putting Kim's bag back through the machine, the security guards finally explained that they were looking for a file shaped object. Kim promptly pulled out his file which he had forgotten to take out of his pack. Larry, Kris, Ellyn, Robb, Ralph (wearing a large straw hat), Grant, and I were boarded onto the flight with the five other people who were crazy enough to take the first flight out. Kim, Judy, Dusty, and Sandy were flying a different airline.

At the Lihue airport we were met by Pat and Carmen who had been on Kauai for the past few days. The next 15 or so minutes were spent as the men of our party attempted to fit as many bags as possible on top of the van, disregarding all attempts to help by the women. All that was missing was the rocking chair. It was so strange that as we passed over a bridge, later on, a tourist scrambled for his camera to take a picture of the van. We fit five people into Carmen's mini car and eight people into the seven person van. Grant, who was driving the van, for some reason kept trying to lose Carmen as he made numerous U-turns and backtracked, looking for a breakfast place. After breakfast and a stop at the supermarket, we headed to Haena beach park where we would camp the first and last nights.

After setting up camp, Grant and Carmen left to return the van. Kayak Kauai dropped off the kayaks. One of the seals on the hatches had split and the guy fixed it with a little glue. Er, yeah, that makes ya'feel really secure.

Ellyn, Robb, Kris, Larry, Ralph, Pat, and I decided to hike up the Kalalau trail to Honakapi'ai. At one point, overlooking the ocean a few hundred feet up, where there was a wonderful breeze, similar to the Ko'olau summit on a windy day, Robb thoughtfully suggested that if you had a running start, you could probably jump into the water from here. Uh-huh.

It was a hot hike and all the way back, I could hear children complaining to their parents that they were thirsty. However, even we were dehydrated since most of us hadn't brought near enough water. When we returned, it was getting dark and the flies were finally beginning to disperse. Kris and Larry probably had the best dinner, if you happen to be carnivore. They had two huge steaks, that Larry grilled, supplemented by the beers that had been picked up earlier that day.

Later that night, with everyone only mildly drunk, we all went to bed, except Kris who went to call home. She came back with the incredible news that the two Danish girls had been found! And Ken had been there! Everyone felt very overjoyed with the news except for Grant who kept repeating, "Now Ken will get all the blonde Danish girls too, he'll get a free round trip to Denmark and a statue and be a hero!"

Around 11:00 that night, a very drunk man crashed into Grant and my double, then proceed to curse about how the fuckin' kayaks should be in the sea, not on land, and knock on just about all of our tents asking if we had a corkscrew. We all said no, and he cursed a bit more, wondering why there are all these kayakers and no corkscrew, turned the lights in the pavilion on and off, threw garbage lids around and played with the pig he had on a leash. The funny part about this is that we all had corkscrews, but you do not want to give a crack addict like that something sharp. And he was drunk and probably on drugs too.

In the morning, he tried to pick a fight with Robb, but Robb was very nice and we made sure to head out very early.

Aug/23 Haena to Kalalau

A miracle has happened today. We were, omigod, it's so weird, but we were actually on time! We shoved off at our pre appointed time of eight or was it nine? This is what happens when you spend to much time with people that are losing their memory! (just joking) Anyway, the ocean was wonderfully calm, the weather was beautiful, interrupted only by a brief blessing shower as we finished packing up. Most of us started toward Kalalau beach, Grant thought it might be more fun to head off to Japan or California first. Eventually I managed to convince him to follow the rest of the gang. Judy and Kim were the only other people with a double.

Eventually Doug and Sandy left us behind to speed to Kalalau. Robb thought that the eight miles to Kalalau wasn't enough so he decided to double it by going ahead, coming back, paddling a large circle around us, then going ahead again. We went into a couple of the sea caves. Grant would yell every time we got into one, I think he was trying to see if he could bring any of the precariously hanging mountainside down on us.

The Horseshoe cave is very pretty, it has a waterfall coming down into it and you can go all the way around. I think Robb added on an extra mile going through the cave six or seven times. There was also another place, that wasn't a cave, but rather a small arch that also had waterfalls in it that you could go through. All along the coast to Kalalau there were tiny waterfalls that fell into the sea. However, it was a little too rough to go near the walls. Unless of course you are Robb and have never been in a kayak before.

Birds, all of which Ellyn identified for us, flew with us for a great deal of the way. Almost the entire way to Kalalau, Larry could be seen putting his bilge pump to work. He didn't seem to grasp the idea that the ocean water is supposed to be in the ocean, not in his kayak.

We arrived at beautiful Kalalau around lunch time. Most of us chickened out and walked our kayaks in, Pat surfed in, but didn't huli. We all camped up in the trees, except for Doug and Sandy who camped nearer the waterfall and out in the open, and Pat, who camped where the trees began and close to the kayaks. We set up tents. There was a man who called himself Lunchmeat but whose real name is Scott. He came to Kalalau for the day and will paddle back to Hanalei, I believe, around eight at night in his dory.

Scott took Ralph and Pat to Honopu. Ellyn and Larry went spear fishing and caught two Kumus which were later cooked and eaten as pupus. When they found out where Ralph and Pat had gone, Robb and Kim kayaked over to Honopu, but the two groups missed each other. Pat, apparently not yet tired enough, went on a pau hana hike in the valley.

The Kalalau waterfall is beautiful and where people bath, wash dishes and get drinking water. Answer me this: If you purify water to drink and cook with, then wash your dishes in water that is probably full of goat piss and therefor leptospyrosis, not to mention the environmentally harmful soaps that people use to wash with, does that cancel out the effect of the purified water?

Ralph and Robb tried to find a way up the cliffs behind us by following the goats with flashlights. I suppose it was a bit more interesting in the dark. They never did make it, I don't think. The Nene that live at Kalalau begged for food as we cooked dinner. The flies that had followed us from Haena disappeared. Everybody slept well after the disrupted night in Haena. Well, okay, the liquor might have helped in that, too.

Aug/24 Kalalau Cleanup

Just as we had decided that the state guys were arriving tomorrow and were leaving to hike in the valley, a helicopter flew in the guys that were supposed to tell us what to do on our service trip. Yes, we had to work! The helicopter flew back and forth a few more times, bringing in mostly the most essential of all things. Beer and the ice to keep it cold in.

Today, we had to simply drag trash bags full of old campsites of the outlaws, or hippies, the people who illegally live in the valley, either to Smoke Rock or to the ranger station. Some of the guys, Kim, Ralph, Larry, and Robb went to break up newer or still lived in campsites while the rest of us just carried out trash. Robb scored an unopened bag of oatmeal and a sleeping pad. They said that many of the things that were being thrown away were good tents and unopened food.

Ellyn and I were wading across a stream instead of rock hopping when one of the state guys informed us that the stream was full of staph and lepto and that a lot of people come into Kalalau to die. Yeah, thanks for that bit of after the fact news. Our spirits were not that broken up, however, as we did end up swimming several times that day.

Near the stream, was a rock, under which was hidden a very old tarp and even older soda cans made of tin and labeled Pepsi-Cola, glass bottles and batteries. Not to mention the bones. Chicken, I think. It is terrible what all these people leave behind, all the while claiming that they are trying to get back to nature.

For lunch, we all met at a place called Tom's Garden, a short walk from Smoke Rock. Apparently, up until a short while ago, Tom's Garden had been a beautiful place but it had been chopped down in a effort to cut of the hippies food supply. There is a stream running near there where we went swimming.

Ellyn, Judy, Kim, and I went up stream and found a nice, deep, though narrow pool. Then wanting to go still further up, but still in sight and hearing of the rest of our group, we found a trail that appeared to go on beside the stream. We saw a girl there that had earlier been through our campsite. Going around the bend, we saw a large campsite. A bamboo frame was covered by a large white tarp that sheltered several people. We stood stunned for a moment, then turned and headed back down the stream. We slid down a small waterfall on the way back as well.

Can you get lepto by inhaling it?

After lunch, Pat took us to a place called Outlaw Pools. By now, it was getting late. Ellyn and Larry turned around to go spear fishing. The rest of us continued on. The whole way up to Outlaw Pools was beautiful with very clear water. Two waterfalls came down into out final destination. The water was ice cold and the small falls created a current so that you could float out of the pool and down a narrow, shallow part of the stream, down a smaller waterfall, into a second pool. Then Robb got the brilliant idea to jump into the water, which is, depending on where you are, ankle to almost chest deep. Fortunately, there were no major injuries.

We got back to camp late. Ralph the pyro made a fire and the Palani that Ellyn and Larry caught was burned to a crisp. Surprisingly, the fish was deemed very good by those carnivores that ate it. Ralph had brought all the makings for s'mores, but we only roasted marshmallows on sticks of questionable origin. (There are several poisonous plants in Kalalau. "So, Ralph, where did you get the stick from?" "Over there." Liquor was, surprise, surprise, passed around again. And our second hot but beautiful day at Kalalau passed.

Aug/25 Honopu

A zodiac came early this morning to take out some of the trash. Kim and another man who is a guide for Kayak Kauai ferried it out to the zodiac on doubles. Coming back in, Kim flipped over in the rough surf, and one of the hatches was lost. The guide was being mister show off and didn't wait for any lull in the waves, just went right in. On one of his runs, he tipped over just off shore, losing the bags of trash, none of which were tied down. Several people swam out to help him, but before they could reach him, he had already righted the kayak, gotten in, and rescued the bags.

After that, we finally got going to Honopu. Robb and Sandy took one of the doubles and used Larry's anchor to anchor offshore as there is no landing allowed on Honopu. Ellyn and Larry swam, looking for fish. Judy decided to stay and watch camp. The rest of us were forced to walk. We had brought no shoes, they were all on the kayak with our bags, and so we walked barefoot across newly fallen landslides. Some of the rock appeared, or rather, felt to be a'a. Plus the treat of loosely attached rocks, as though they were attached by Velcro. There was only a short swim after that to the beach. We explored the beach and the waterfall. Some of us went swimming, but no one tried to climb up the arch.

Meanwhile, Kim and Robb did something complicated with the kayak that involved going back and forth between Kalalau and Honopu. The current had picked up since we had arrived at Honopu so everyone walked back. Grant claims to have gotten sea sick as he was wearing his life jacket and bobbing helplessly up and down on the waves. Everyone had tied their tevas to his jacket since no one wanted to walk back barefoot.

Behind some rubble at the small rock beach where we start to walk, there was a cave full of fresh water. Ralph, Larry, Kris, Grant, and Pat swam to the end of the cave with one tiny, dim flashlight to guide them. I stayed out as the water was dark and murky. Ellyn decided to stay with me. She caught a native Hawaiian shrimp and showed it to the gang when they returned, reporting that the cave curved and went on for a bit of the way, narrowing and then simply ending in a wall.

Then we walked back to Kalalau, which is not as simple as it sounds. After passing the landslide area, you have to count the waves and run through the waves into a shallow cave and onto a small rocky beach. Then you go through a place where you are smashed against rocks on either side when the waves come. Kris and I happened to get stuck just as the waves came in and stayed in that most lovely place for several minutes. After this death defying place (can't you just see Pat standing in the frothy waves with his arms raised?) you scramble over the rocks and across a few small sandy beaches that you can sink in up to your knees, counting the waves again before you scramble over a few more rocky beaches. Then, at last, Kalalau! The wind chose this moment to speed up, flinging sand against us like a thousand tiny needles. We all took refuge in the kukui nut trees.

That afternoon we met a young man named ?Steve? that had just hiked in to Kalalau that day. He was very brave and hiked with us up to Big Pool. There were a few people there, and a nude man that insisted on swimming in water full of mossy stuff and sticks and sliding down rough waterfall slides bare butt so that he was all red. We swam in Big Pool for awhile. Then we took Larry, Ellyn and Steve to Outlaw Pools for awhile. Robb slid down one of the waterfalls and it looked like he hit his head on the wall, but he said he didn't. Larry picked watercress from the between the waterfalls like Judy had the day before. Can you get lepto from watercress?

This was our last night in Kalalau, so, what else? The liquor was brought out again. I guess that Grant was a little too drunk because let me try some of Southern Comfort, although it was his 80 proof and not Larry's 100 proof. Oh well, tomorrow is another day, and a paddle.

Aug/26 Kalalau to Milolii

Today is supposed to be a fairly short paddle, only about four miles with a stop at Nualolo Kai, which is supposed to have excellent snorkeling.

A group from Kayak Kauai came in by moonlight last night and they brought the missing hatch with them. We started off late again today. Robb and Kim went back Haena way to see horseshoe cave which Kim and Judy had missed due to the fact that they were going at warp speed or somewhere thereabouts. They had left early and returned about 10 I believe. Kim did not put sunscreen on his feet and was bright, fore engine red from him ankles down. Ralph accompanied Robb and Kim and Judy to Milolii since Kim had taken Ralph's single to Horseshoe cave. Yes, the moment you have all been waiting for. This is where Ralph sees the mermaid!

Okay, now this story is second hand since I wasn't actually there, but Judy told me this version:

Right about where they were passing Honopu, the group noticed a head bobbing out of the water, fairly far out. Ralph cried, look there is a mermaid! At that moment the "mermaid dove down exposing a bare backside. She swam over and was identified as our next door neighbour at Kalalau. The "mermaid" jumped onto the back of Ralph's kayak, lying on her stomach and paddling with her hands and legs. She informed the group that she had lost her flippers and had been swimming out because she had seen dolphins and wanted to swim with them. Ralph, unfortunately, had no view, but Kim and Robb repeatedly circled Ralph's kayak, taking pictures. Kim, of course, was in the double with Judy, and told her that he was "helping" Ralph. When, on one trip around, Kim commented on how nice the view of the mountains was from there, the girl agreed and arched her back up, providing a better view of the, uh, mountains. Somebody asked where Ralph was going, he answered, Tahiti. When another person repeated that question, the girl repeated, Tahiti. Eventually, though, the mermaid left Ralph and jumped back into the sea and was shortly thereafter claimed by her boyfriend who had his own kayak.

The only cave we stopped in was Hole in the Roof Cave, a completely open cave that we hung out in for a while. Grant, paddling perilously close to the walls, and then reassuring me that the current was such that we would not hit the wall. Of course, he was also paddling backwards as he said that. Might you understand my concern?

After about an hour or two of leisurely paddling, we stopped for lunch at Nualolo Kai. Kris, Judy, Grant, and I went snorkeling. Ellyn and Larry went spear fishing. Larry had been trolling all morning but had not caught anything. They had similar luck with the spear, only capturing a Triton. Judy and I returned it to the water, hopefully not killing it in the process. Shortly after that, the whole group went to explore the heiau in the small valley. There is a trail being built back there, it is very short, only five or so minutes long. Noni trees grow in abundance there, though, so it smells. Robb said he rather liked the scent. Er, I think he must have hit his head somewhere, or too many boat fumes in those tiny caves. At the end of the existing trail, you can see the huge rock walls extending upwards. Ralph discovered that there are two lines of dikes, extending almost the entire wall, which is spectacular in itself, but these dikes crossed in the middle, forming what Ralph called, "the X-dikes". Y'know, instead of X-files? Anyway...

We hung out a little longer and then continued our kayak to Milolii. Dusty and Sandy, who had left early, had probably already landed. The moment you leave Nualolo Kai, you can see Milolii beach. In only a little while, we made it. Fortunately, the tide was high, otherwise, some of us might have gotten trapped on the rocks.

Ellyn, Ralph, Grant, and I went for a short hike into the Valley, looking for a fabled spring which, supposedly, you don't have to filter. However, we couldn't find and so used the facets at the beach. We had claimed a pavilion and a small campsite near it for our own where we all stayed, save Dusty and Sandy who camped near the ranger station. Here Kim's poor, puffy, red feet were tenderly cared for by Judy.

Another Palani had been caught and was grilled again and served with a sauce that Grant made up with various odd things that the group had acquired. After dinner and Rum cider with limes, provided by Kris, some card games, and S'mores, provided by Ralph, another peaceful night was spent.

Aug/27 Milolii Valley

This morning we discovered a man who had come in with his son by kayak. Only his kayak was rigged with a sail and severely overloaded. Apparently, they had come in last night, after overshooting Kalalau. Which was where his wife was. Who had hiked in. And had no tent, no food, no water, no nothing. He finally got a ride from a motor boat who agreed to tow him to Kalalau. Where hopefully his wife had not yet turned to the Outlaws.

After breakfast, we decided to go hiking back in Milolii Valley. We followed the stream back, passing large, healthy groups of taro. When we got near the end of the valley, we discovered a medium sized but shallow pool that was being fed my a trickle of water coming from the wall. Behind that, though, was a huge rock slide, and it didn't look too old either. There were huge red rocks scattered about so that you had to climb up a wall that the slide had formed. The rocks still hanging above, like those above the landslide on the way to Honopu, looked none too stable themselves. The slide continued all the way to the back of the valley. There was two dry waterfalls, one in the extreme back and one on the left. Of course, then here come Ralph and Grant yelling and whooping. Uh, hello, landslide?

We stayed in that area for much too long a period of time, considering the risks. After climbing back down, we all took a drink from the trickle which we think is a spring. Anyone feeling sick yet? We also discovered that the bottom of this stream is sticky mud that turns the water very cloudy and threatens to take your shoes. after a snack break there, we headed back, pausing twice to swim.

The second time we paused to swim, was in a nice pool fed by twin waterfalls about five or six feet tall. We all stood beneath the falls. Just as Kris sat underneath one, we noticed a large red centipede on a rock near the water. However, in their usual show of concern for fellow man, no one told Kris this.

Larry and Ellyn fit in a little more spear fishing with Kim as the designated bag boy. Kris, Judy and I also attempted to go snorkeling but the tide was low and we all suffered cuts from the coral. We also hunted for shells.

Larry and Ellyn came back with a few fish and a Tiger Cowry, which Grant and I returned to the sea.

That night, we all enjoyed our gourmet freeze dried food again. Actually, it wasn't that bad. Kris and Larry brought bread that they baked every night in their new stove. The food almost looked edible! Well, okay, it wasn't that bad. But everyone was anticipating tomorrow night when we would have, if not real beds, real food.

There was also another gorgeous sunset, similar to the night previous, that Grant got all excited over because he finally saw the green flash, more aptly named, the green point.

Aug/28 Milolii to Polihale

This morning, or was it yesterday? Today I think, though, our neighbours, a group of local fisherman, decided to chase the goats that come down to feed each morning. I don't know what they would do if they caught the goats, especially since they were unarmed. And barefoot. (ow!) Guess they just thought it would be fun to chase the goats around.

Anyway. Grant miscounted the oatmeal, so we had brownies for breakfast! Every six-year-olds dream come true. We packed up and headed out to Polihale.

Before we left, Ellyn, Judy, and I walked the beach looking for more of those seashells that Milolii is positively overflowing with. By the time we left, I had a fairly hefty supply.

The waves were still pretty calm and the water was gorgeous. We saw a huge turtle that swam beside us for a awhile. It came up once for air beside, Grant and my kayak, then dove down again very quickly since it was so afraid of humans. I believe Larry got out and walked his kayak in, and just about all the rest of us dumped. Ellyn got squashed beneath her kayak, but some claimed the award for the best huli should go to Ralph who flipped but managed to keep his straw hat.

We arrived an hour early for pickup and ate lunch at Polihale. After the Kayak Kauai guys had loaded the kayaks and us into trailer and van, we drove to the airport to pick up our rental. Sometime near the beginning of the journey to the airport, someone noticed that the van had no rearview mirror. Er, not a good thing to know.

After circumnavigating the island of Kauai, we again fit eight people into a seven person van. Dusty and Sandy rented their own car since they would be staying an extra week on Kauai and Kim and Judy rode with them since they would be flying back that night and Dusty was going to take them to the airport.

We tried to have dinner at a restaurant called Margaritas, (can you guess why), but it didn't serve dinner until six and it was only about four. So we ate at Pizza Hut, across the way. However, Margarita's did serve cocktails from five. So, of course, everyone had to had a margarita. I had a virgin margarita and Pat, who was our designated driver, stuck with a smoothie. More alcohol was bought since they had run out. A large bottle of 100 proof Southern Comfort and a case of beer. Keep this in mind, now. 24 beers.

We arrived at Haena and formed our tents into a circle for protection. Ralph, Ellyn and I played card games, whilst certain members of our group got very very drunk Now, I am not supposed to mention names, so I will just use these vague descriptions, LIM (large Italian man), OUTM (only under thirty male), JCP (Japanese club president) and SF(spear fisherman). It began to rain that night so LIM, OUTM, JCP, SF, Ellyn and I all squeezed into Grant and mine tent. Ralph, Ellyn and I finished our card game. The four men proceeded to finish all but one of the beers and a good half of the economy size Southern Comfort. At this point, I really don't think we had to be afraid of corkscrew man, because the guys were so drunk, they were louder than the residents. OUTM and JCP both plotted on what they would do if anyone so much as came within a fifty foot radius of our tents. JCP shared certain tales from Vietnam which are told a lot differently than when he is sober, and LIM fell asleep.

Eventually everyone got into their own tents, and JCP just about passed out.

Aug/29 Hanalei river

I have just one word for you if you want to do the Hanalei river: don't. Why? well, let me start form the beginning.

Grant woke this morning with a massive headache, mumbling aspirin in his sleep. After administering pain relievers to him and some others, we packed up. We had breakfast at a small cafe, then went to Kayak Kauai, which is where we would enter the river.

Instead of the ocean kayaks we had used for Na Pali, we had river kayaks which are a lot more like canoes than kayaks. They are completely open. And very unstable. They were all doubles. Ellyn and Rob, Pat and Ralph, Sandy and Dusty, Kris and Larry, and Grant and myself were paired up. Kris and Larry were the first to be launched. They promptly hulied right of the dock. The girl who was helping asked dubiously if we had really just done the Na Pali coast. The rest of us managed to stay afloat at least that long.

Now, why do you not do the Hanalei river? Well, we started out going upstream which was fine for about an hour. Well, it would be more like half an hour if you could stay straight. Ellyn and Robb kept crashing into the grass and Hau that lined the river. Then we hit a very shallow section. At least one person had to get out and pull. (Ellyn pulled Robb) Then we could paddle, then there was another shallow section, then...well, you get the picture. It kept on going like this. Eventually we just stopped. Pat and Ralph kept going a little while longer, but eventually, they too turned around.

The fun part was coming back, we decided to try and "shoot the rapids". Grant decided it would be more fun to go through the thick Hau that lined either side of the river. We turned completely around, were dragged through Hau about six inches off the water and a good three or four inches in diameter. This was before we lost our paddles and hulied. Both our paddles, luckily, were caught in the trees. Our kayak was flooded, though. It has to be completely flipped over and drained. A man who was helping his wife and child across, helped us and then tried to reassure us that us was okay. I tried to tell him that we really knew what we were doing, but he looked a bit skeptical.

We then went down to the mouth of the river to the bay, and hung out on the beach for a few minutes. Pretty soon we are loaded back into the cramped kayaks and return to the kayak rental.

There isn't anything else to do since we wanted to return the van as soon as possible so that we wouldn't have to pay for another day. We were at the airport by about 4:00 or 4:30, and our flight wasn't until after six so we decided to catch an earlier flight. Which left about five minutes after we arrived at the airport.

When we arrived back in, sigh, Honolulu, there was a frantic flurry for car rides, and then, after seven days in generic Hawaii, sun, sand, and beaches, we are back in the world of cars, work, school and plain old downtown Honolulu.

Kris has suggested doing another kayaking trip to either North Shore Molokai or North Shore Big Island.


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