23 December 2022
Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi’ai Falls
(8 miles, +3,000/-3,000 feet).
Today we had reservations for the most popular hike on Kauai, the Kalalau Trail. Some people follow this to its end to backpack in a remote valley on the Na Pali Coast, but most turn around either at Hanakapi’ai Beach or at Hanakapi’ai Falls, where we turned around.
Parking is tough, so there is a shuttle system that we used to get to the trailhead. It was still dark when we got on the shuttle, which we almost missed because they forced us to repark our car three times.
Anyhoo, we made it and joined our fellow hikers on the 10 minute trip to Haena State Park.
We got a brief orientation in the dark from a ranger we couldn’t see, and then we started climbing. Soon we were greeted by a Kauai sunrise.
The beach was the quarter-way point for us, and we spent some time searching for a place to cross without taking our shoes off.
And then it was up the stream past big stands of bamboo.
As we got closer to the falls, it started to sprinkle. Then it rained. And then it poured! I was warm from hiking, so I opted not to wear my rain jacket, but Half Cookie got quite cold. When we were pretty close to the falls, she got so frustrated that she told me I should go on by myself. But I told her we were really close, so we decided to press on together to see the falls.
At the falls I climbed up to an alcove that gave a great view of the whole area. And while I was up there, a big rock fell. It missed a swimmer by only about 10 feet!
I was originally planning to swim, too, but I was already quite wet and seeing the rock made me worry a little bit about safety. I was also worried about Half Cookie sitting around getting cold, so we scarfed down a sandwich and then headed back down the trail.
I can see why this hike is so popular. It was amazingly beautiful. But the last quarter of the hike was quite the challenge on narrow muddy rocky trails with lots of traffic going in both directions. We were happy to make it back to the shuttle!
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beautiful! Happy Holiday and Merry New year!
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