Hiking the Napali Coast



Kauai can be a bit spooky.  Most of the year the rain comes down hard, the rivers flow red, and the sharks thrash around on shallow reefs looking for blood.

There’s more ghosts and magic there than on the other islands.

There’s more green.  Steeper mountains.  Vast rivers and waterfalls.


We hiked to Kalalau in the second half of June.  The weather was fine, and the trail was good for the whole 11 miles.

The ocean below us beckoned clear and bright.  We had steady trade winds to keep us cool, and scattered clouds throughout the week.

The weather is extremely important on a long camping trip.  The trail here is dangerous and steep.  And morale could quickly fall to pieces if our bodies were cold and shivery, our supplies soaked and our dehydrated bean soup compromised.

The trick to hiking Kalalau, besides weather, is having a good drop off and pick up.  A friendly face happy to help your adventure.  Ha’ena is way out there, and when you make it back to civilization and cars, you want to have an easy transition back into the overstimulation of this noisy reality.

The majority of people back in Kalalau, whether weekend campers, or yearlong inhabitants, mind their own business and are polite, friendly, and respectful.

It’s a little Wild West, since there’s no police or … rules.  We had one young guy back there (mainland haole) who was a bit annoying, sucking down whiskey before noon.  We shrugged him off pretty easy, he wandered off to another group camping five minutes away from us, and he ended up causing them some headache.

Spending time back there is an escape.  It’s solitude and a rare chance to click out of this futuristic computer world.

When you’re sitting on the beach in the middle of the night, in peace and silence, watching the stars and enjoying the music of the ocean tickling the beach, you become very sensitive to flashlights or noise or anything alien from your quiet meditations.  It’s important to stay calm and patient, shrug and understand that other humans are still doing what other humans do.

The Napali Coast becomes a quiet meditation.  So as you spend your time back there, taking in all the beauty around, you become sensitive to any disturbances.

Helicopter tours throughout the day are one annoyance, and non-stop boat traffic is another.  Dealing with sideways personalities can be a sour experience.

We were lucky that we only had a small taste of that.

The vast majority of our time was lovely and serene.

Hiking allows you to move further from people.  Much of the action and noise on the Napali is boat connected.  The people who walk the trail are usually of a different mind and volume.  The hikers are humble observers.  Explorers.  Humans clicking back into a nomadic mindset, eyes open for fruit and water, ears open to everything.  Watching the afternoon slip away and preparing camp.  Preparing fire.  It’s a sweet hard life that our ancestors knew intamately generation after generation.

Go do it.  It doesn’t really matter where you are.  It’s just nice to sleep outside.

It’s nice to walk away from the noise of cars and weed whackers.  Head into the hills and cover some ground.


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