Hawaii - Kalalau Trail Backpacking
Recent rains left much of the trail (especially the first 4-5 miles) puddled and muddy.
Amy crossing the creek at Hanakapi'ai Beach, a popular 2-mile day hike. On the hike out, the creek was at least a foot higher from a night of heavy rain, and so we waded across where it fans out on the beach rather than here.
On Hanakapi'ai Beach.
Amy looking out on Hoolulu Valley (I think).
Brendan. We went pretty light on this trip, my pack probably weighed around 30 pounds, but about 7 pounds of that was camera gear; Amy's pack probably weighed around 20 pounds. Still, after our experience on the trail this time we probably would go even lighter next time.
Amy on a typical segment of the trail: wide enough to be comfortable with the steep vegetated slopes, and great views.
There are some impressive drop-offs along the way.
Hanakoa Valley. The mile six camping area is in the center of the valley at the confluence of the two major streams.
Cooking shelter at Hanakoa.
It turns out you can make a great foam if you mix up powdered milk by shaking in a water bottle; top your drink by tapping it out as if it was a ketchup bottle. This would look much more appetizing in a real mug rather than the dirty-looking plastic bowl, but it was a tasty addition to our usual hot chocolate and instant coffee blend.
Stream near the campground.
Amy by the pool at the base of Hanakoa falls.
Not a great picture, but it shows one of the many stone terraces built by the ancient Hawaiian inhabitants of the coast.
Brendan (small red dot) returning from the far high point. This spot, on the southwest side of Hanakoa valley, offers the best panoramic views of the whole hike. You can see Ke'e beach (where the trail begins) looking northeast, and a sliver of Kalalau beach looking the other way. It's a bit of a scramble with a touch of exposure to get out there, but well worth it for those with sure footing. Amy took this from a spot on the trail where we had lunch, and then we went back out to enjoy the view together. The next few pictures were all taken from the viewpoint.
Looking back to our lunch spot from the viewpoint.
Looking northeast; Ke'e beach is just visible below the horizion.
Looking back into Hanakoa Valley.
Looking towards the Kalalau valley. The lush grassy promontory marks the beginning of the valley, with Kalalau beach barely peeking out behind it.
The trail switchbacks below the viewpoint, then heads out around "crawler's corner," the most exposed section of the trail. It was in good shape when we were there, some of the clay sections would likely be nastier if they weren't well maintained. But really the trail was about as good and the exposure not much worse than many other parts of the trail, it's just much more noticeable here because of the lack of vegetation.
Hiker on "crawler's corner."
Amy on "Red Hill," an eroded red clay ridge that leads down to Kalalau Valley.
Our first real view of the beach, from Red Hill.
Looking back from the grassy slopes; I believe the viewpoint is the tiny grey-colored far left high point on the horizon.
Making dinner on the beach. Our camp was about 25 feet behind us, under a tree.
The far end of the beach; the waterfall provides fresh water for drinking and showering (I'd definitely recommend getting drinking water directly from the falls rather than the pool). Many campsites can be found in the trees to the left of the falls.
A tour boat. A handful of these came by every day; much more annoying were the near-constant helicopter tours. I would guess we saw more than 40 flights most days; once we counted 5 in the air simultaneously.
End of the line; based on some other pictures online, in summer at low tide the beach often extends further. In these conditions, the ambitious should consider swimming around the point to Honopu Beach (definitely on my to-do list for a return visit). More info here: http://www.great-hikes.com/blog/index.php?s=haole
Our campsite for nights two and three.
I walked barefoot from our campsite to the Kalalau river so I could walk on the beach without getting my shoes all sandy, and then rinse my feet in the river before starting our hike up the valley; there was some nice mud on the trail in between. We saw one woman walking the full 11 miles barefoot; I suspect she was an "outlaw," one of the mysterious semi-permanent residents of the valley.
At a beautiful small waterfall in the Kalalau valley. There is an official two-mile trail that seems to mostly stay a ways south of the stream; but the valley is full of use trails, and I highly recommend trying to stay close to the stream which is dotted with wonderful cascades and swimming holes.
Near our high-point on the northeastern slopes of the Kalalau Valley.
We stopped for a swim in this beautiful pool on the way back to camp.
A last look at the beach as we begin the hike back. I'm already looking forward to seeing this view again.
It rained heavily our last night, and drizzled some in the morning, so we started the hike out with pack covers on. This proved a good decision, as a true tropical deluge caught us about three miles from the trail head.
We spent New Year's Eve in Hanalei, enjoying long showers and clean clothes; but as we were leaving the valley a frequent visitor told us we would be missing a huge celebratory bonfire on the beach --- I'm sorry I missed that experience. On New Year's Day we enjoyed a delicious leisurely breakfast and then hitch-hiked back to the airport. A few rain showers threatened but never materialized, and it proved to be a perfect day for riding through tropical paradise in the back of a pickup truck.