I was fantasizing about Kauai today, thinking it seems like much, much longer than a month ago I was hiking the Na Pali coastline. It doesn’t just seem like a long time ago. It seems like I was on another planet. Hawaii is dream-like that way.
This is a view of sheltered Hanakapiai Beach, taken from the Kalalau Trail. From Ke’e Beach (road’s end on this side of the island) it’s two miles over spectacular high cliffs to get here. This first stretch of the Kalalau Trail is wide and generally easy but there are a few rugged or sloppy sections. It’s an unforgettable feeling when you catch your first glimpse of Hanakapiai but don’t stand in place too long or else swarms of tiny red ants will crawl up your shoes and engulf your body. I never saw them elsewhere on the island, clearly they were Kalalau Ants. Once you reach Hanakapiai Beach, the rest of the challenging Kalalau Trail is off-limits unless you have a special permit, which can be obtained by swimming naked in a tank full of hungry barracudas while you blow at least ten bubbles with stale Bazooka chewing gum, all under the watchful eye of a certified test administrator. Sans permit, your only option to continue hiking is turn inland and walk slightly uphill for another two miles in the beautiful but sometimes-extremely-muddy woods to Hanakapiai Falls.
And so it was that I did hike the two miles to Hanakapiai Beach, where after a short break on the sandy shore to guzzle a quart of salty vegetable juice and gaze in wonderment at the vicious surf, I turned up-valley and headed another two miles to 200 foot tall Hanakapiai Falls. Holy cow! The falls are amazing. It was well worth it, but exceedingly grueling in the heat at my pace. Mainly because Adam and Diana were hanging out at Ke’e Beach and I didn’t want to keep them waiting all day long, I turned the big-cow-afterburners on. It wasn’t ideal, but it’s a small compromise to make when you have a family willing to put up with your hare-brained adventures. I felt a little guilty the whole time I was hiking because shortly before I left, Diana and I had a heated debate for about a half hour on whether or not Adam should be allowed to go within 1,000 feet (maybe even a mile) of the water. I didn’t want to go on the hike because the surf was really rough (there was no snorkeling allowed on Ke’e Beach that day by order of the lifeguard) and I was panicked about Adam even looking at the water. You do not fuck with the ocean in Hawaii, that’s all I can say. Diana is used to me not trusting anyone else (even her) with Adam but she’d had her fill of me and so we had to call in a Mediator from the Washington D.C. Special Dispute Resolution Center to settle our debate right there on the beach. We never stay mad at each for long and so she whacked me in the head with a frying pan and told me to have a good hike and stop worrying and for the most part I did.
I was stumbling like a clumsy oaf on the way back to Hanakapiai Beach from the big waterfall. I took a wrong left turn through Hanakapiai Creek and fell a few times. I was hot, smelled horrible, nearly dislocated my shoulder when I got stuck between two trees, and to top things off I took a couple divots out of the metal on my tripod which I was using as a walking staff (banged it against rocks when I fell). And then it started raining. I was enormously gratified to finally reach Hanakapiai Beach and then I realized I had another two miles to hike back to Ke’e Beach.
When I returned to Ke’e Beach, I found Adam and Diana studying from a safe distance, a Hawaiian Monk Seal that had crawled onto the beach a hundred feet away from them, presumably to take a nap after a big meal. I felt like plopping down next to the seal. The fat, blubbery thing looked like how I felt……