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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Kalalau-Ke'e Beach. 071015.

Sunday, July 7, 2015
I woke up at 5:20am so I can pack my gear evenly in my pack.  Troy cooked up breakfast: saimin with spam and sausage.  Everyone took apart their tents and deflated their sleeping pads.  Soon after, we were all ready to go.  We made sure we had everything we needed as we checked our campsite for a bit.  Knowing Anthony is like a goat, we told him we'll all meet at the Hanakoa shelter.  I know I won't be able to hike fast especially going up the red dirt hill leading to the Kalalau sign.

The red dirt hill killed me, I had to take breaks.  What’s worse is it was only about 1 mile in.  It was passing showers and somewhat overcast heading to Hanakoa.  Half of the time was socked in whereas that latter half to Hanakoa was clear.  I was going at a steady slow pace, my shoulders and lower back was sore even if I tried to readjust my pack.  The humidity was KILLER; I was sweating without even trying.  It made me so grouchy, my arms just kept beading with sweat and the tip of my hat constantly dripped with sweat down my face.  I felt bad for Erik since he was behind me as I complained.  From Kalalau to Hanakoa was  pretty easy.  The part that I hated was going uphill was the switchbacks after the Z trail.  It was a mega cardio switchback.

As soon as we know it, we hit crawler's ledge.  Troy was funny; when we rested at Hanakoa's shelter, Troy told us that he didn't believe we passed crawler's ledge because of how short it was.  Crawler's ledge was just a short bend that lasted about 2-3 minutes to walk on.  It’s seriously not as bad as everyone says.  When we hit the stream before Hanakoa's shelter, we refilled our bladders.  I drank 2.5 liters of water just to get to Hanakoa.  It was crazy hot!!  Troy drank 2.5, Alli did too.

Anthony told us how he saw a pod of dolphins in the ocean jumping and swimming.  Too bad I wasn't able to see them.   During our 5-10 minute break, we were able to see the infamous black cat named "Muky" that the writings on the shelter said to feed.  We fed the tiny famined black cat beef jerky and granola.  One of the backpackers that we bumped into going the opposite way from us told us she saw the black cat kill a small bird with its hands and swallowed it whole, bones and everything.  She said it was the most graphic thing she's seen.  Muky is one strong wilderness cat.


From Hanakoa to Hanakapiai, the views were pretty clear.  The cliffs in the valleys were socked in though and no waterfalls.  I was very appreciative that we were able to see waterfalls on Friday.  Hankoa valley had ENDLESS ups and downs to get out of.  I had to take breaks due to my back and shoulders still; I ended up taking 2 pills of Advil and a shot block.

PC: Erik.  After a bend and into another valley slowly making our way to Hanakapiai stream.

One foot in front of the other, we finally was able to reach the forest reserve fence.  That’s when we knew we were close to the switchbacks down to Hanakapiai stream.  Going downhill hurt due to the spikes I wore putting pressure on the front end of my shoe and toes.  When we reached the stream, the stream was actually higher than Friday! Knowing I was only 2 miles away from the trailhead I used my pole to test the depth of the stream and see if there were any rocks I could put my feet on.  The water was just about past my waist, the lower part of my pack getting wet.  The stream was strong, but I managed to safely cross it.  All the tourist hikers stared at me crossing the stream since they weren't able to crossover.  Many who just got to the stream from the trailhead turned around or waited to see if others would cross it.  A few minutes later, Alli and Troy caught up to me and Erik on the other side of the stream.

The last 2 miles was actually brutal.  The fact that it was a tourist short trail made me more irritated because it’s supposed to be somewhat an easy trek.  I guess after hiking for about 6 hours in sweat/rain with a heavy pack totally drained the energy out of me.  My strides were so short going up the switchbacks, I felt like an old granny dragging.  1 hour and 15 minutes later, I finally reached Ke'e state park.  I shouted out a "fuck yeah!" as Anthony greeted Erik and me with a congrats for finishing.  Anthony was fresh and clean and said he was done an hour ago and got a sweet parking spot.  Alli and Troy followed us after, it was a huge success that we finished before our predicted time.  We thought we'd finish late, but it took us 7.5 hours to get out, originally thinking 9.  If it wasn't humid, I honestly think we could've finished it in less than 7 hours.

I conquered it!! PC: Erik.

We each got rid of our liquids and showered/changed into fresh clothes.  I felt gross because I knew I stank.  From Hankapiai falls to the trailhead, lots of tourists looked at me weird...I was too tired to smell myself.  It was then at the airport I realized how stink my pack was.  I can't imagine how much I reeked with my body showered in sweat during the hike.

We all went to the Feral Pig where Alli's friend worked to eat and drink.  Best burgers ever!!  After that, we filled our rental cars with gas and returned our cars.  At the airport my slipper broke so I looked like a bum dragging my slipper along with the plastic bag that contained my dirty pack along the ground.  I didn't care.  I wanted to go home and sleep in my comfy bed.  Thank God majority of the crew checked in our packs.  It really staaaank.  The airplane ride was fast. Troy and Erik who sat across of me was loud, hearing all their experiences at Kalalau, whom I joined the convo here and there.  The weekend was awesome with the crew we had. We then all said our goodbyes at the baggage terminal and there ended our epic weekend.

The crew and I at PHM (Post Hike Meal)

I'd want to rate this backpack trip a 5 star due to its majestic views and what it offers.  I got to meet hippies, endure traversing a hard trail, see the Hawaiians old historic terraces (Kalalau is an old historic trail that the Hawaiians used to use and live/cultivate in), and literally camp out.  Kalalau is one great paradise spot to separate ourselves from civilization.  All the resources are there: beach, waterfall shower, valleys of fruits- guava, mountain apples, mangos, berries, etc, strong tree leaves, keawe wood for fire, and so much more.  I hope to come back again except with my whole hiking group and spend at least 5 days there.  I now see why it’s rated one the most beautiful trails around the world.

While heading out, we learned that the State closed Haena sate trails a few hours after we went in our first day and the day after (which explains why Kalalau beach the second day felt empty) due to the flash flood from the tropical depression.  We were very blessed to make it in and out safely.  

Time Frame:
Total water drank this day: 4 liters of water
Start: 7:00 am
Hanakoa: 10:00am.  Left 10:45am.
Hanakapiai: 1:15pm.  Left at 1:30pm
Trailhead: 2:45pm.

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Kalalau Beach and Valley. 070915.

Saturday, July 9, 2015.

I woke up at 5:45 am so I could grab my DSLR, phone with Moment wide lens, and gopro in hopes
of catching the sun rising over the fluted cliffs of Kalalau beach.  It was quiet and peaceful at dawn.  There was just one guy staring into the ocean enjoying his surrounding next to his kayak, and a couple on a tall inflated cube mattress talking stories on the beach.  My eyes were fixed on the fluted cliffs, trying to absorb all the beauty this paradise gem has.  Even as I am writing I can't explain how beautiful and unreal it is.  I snapped away with my cameras and started a time lapse.  The sun rose over Hanakoa side but there was too much cloud coverage.  Other than that, the cliffs in front of me was nice and clear.  Erik and Troy came along and also took pictures of the cliffs.


Amazing Na Pali with the two guys gawking and pointing at it.

Our campsite.

I walked with the guys back to the campground so they can start cooking breakfast.  I had to take a dump, so I went on the walkway and headed Hanakoa side to go bathroom.  I actually liked the bathrooms there.  It was clean.  At first the smell was weird, but I got used to it-it’s like a bad version of chorine.  After my business was pau, I threw in some keawe wood that was in a bottom shelf into the toilet to make the smell nicer.  As I walked back towards Kalalau beach to the campground on the walkway, the view in front of me was very scenic.

Walk back to the campground.

After eating breakfast, everyone gathered their things needed since today's agenda was to explore Kalalau valley.  Alli had a pad lock that can be used to lock a tent.  I suggest bringing one just in case no one is able to watch our belongings.  Everyone put their packs in my tent, locked it up, and went to the trailhead.  Because we thought we were going to camp to Hanakoa in the afternoon we figure we just explore and not go all the way to the end of the valley.  The beginning of the trail had a red dirt section that revealed the left view of the cliffs another beautiful sight.  A hippy guy went in the trail before us with a bottle and pan.  When we hit a stream junction, we went straight but the trail ended.  So we crossed the stream, and turned out there was a rock that said "main trail" with an arrow pointed up.  We followed the trail and passed a bunch of terraces, later meeting up with another stream.  We were introduced with an awesome swimming pool, which was so inviting, followed by an upstream that can be hiked on the right of it.  There was many mini waterfalls that we climbed parallel to, that it reminded me somewhat of Laie 18.  There was a lot of swimming holes and there was some tarps/tents nearby, that can explain they hippy guy walking in at the beginning.

The water was nice and cool that we even filtered our waters here.  The guys jumped into the pool whereas Alli and I just swam a bit.  It was super refreshing!  Not to mention the backdrop of more cliffs in sight.  While heading out, we all made some points about just staying in another night here at Kalalau.  We wanted to just relax and rest, and also at least we can make our packs lighter for the next day coming out.  If the group scout told us they made it out in 5 hours, then we'll have ample time to get out on our third day.  We all agreed to just stay and made a plan to start hiking out around 7am the next morning.

Kalalau Valley Trailhead.

Going up a short red dirt section.

You won't miss it!

We hiked on the right side of the long stream into the valley.  The stream was nice cold and fresh.  Erik just finished filtering his water and instantly drank the refreshing water.

After exploring, Anthony chose this awesome swimming pool to chill at.  Perfect choice!


Heading back out.

People on the tour boats would wave at us.  Of course, we would share the aloha too.

When we got back to our campsite, nothing was stolen, thankfully.  Everyone just ate a snack and then headed to see the beach caves.  While walking on the sand, it was cool to see the wavy lines that the wind would create on the beach.  It took a while to walk across the whole beach from one end to the other.  When we reached the cave, there was sand dune on the left of it creating a whirlpool wind of sand.  Thankfully, it wasn't hitting us.  The cave was really cool due to the freshwater streaming out into the ocean.  Once Anthony entered the cave, some birds started screeching and flew briskly out of the dark cave.  The water was only knee deep which allowed us to bring our DSLRs in without water protection.  To left of it was a cool mini cave with weird slimy gunk on the wall.  Erik and Troy called it the alien in one section of it.  Heading back to the campsite, gusts of wind blew the sand towards us. Luckily Alli and I had sunglasses whereas the guys had to cover their eyes.

Walking to the beach cave.

The sand was beautiful with its wavy lines that the wind would create.

Prior to entering the cave was a cool windy sand dune.

Inside the cave of fresh water.

Alli's silouhette from inside the cave.

We then went to the waterfall shower to get more water for us.  Erik had has 10L base camp filter which was awesome.  Troy and Erik decided to explore the top of the waterfall shower.  I was nervous as they scrambled knowing if something bad happens, it'll be hard to enjoy the rest of our trip.  Thankfully they managed. 

The waterfall shower was nice, at the top of the falls had taro growing on the edge.  Troy and Erik said there wasn't much to see at the top of the falls.

Heading to the waterfall shower.

Two monkeys scrambling up.  I was nervous for them.  *Don't attempt if you're not capable!
For the rest of the afternoon, we just talked stories and chilled at our campsite.  The guys were dishing out on how the DOE system sucks, Alli napping, and I just listening with the guys.  I put in crystal light raspberry lemonade into my empty gatorade bottle of water with 7 caps full of vodka.  It was pretty good, I was buzzed for awhile.

It was only 7 caps of vodka...

I went across of the walkway, onto the rocks right before the beach hits and soaked in the views at the cliffs.  I took some pictures and did another time lapse.  As I look towards Kalalau beach with the ocean on the right, the view reminded me of Inception where Leonardo DiCaprio would be washed ashore in his fantasy beach.  I continued soaking in all the money views.  A bunch of tour boats passed by, sometimes waving at me while I waved back.  I wished tour boats would be able to drop off campers to Kalalau beach instead of hiking/kayaking to it.  But then again, Kalalau beach would no longer be a secluded paradise gem and be a trashy abused place.  And you would need to hike/kayak to make the place worth super worth it in the first place.

Anthony on the rocks with the amazing view.
Right before the sun had set, all of us took turns one by one in taking a shower at the waterfall.  When I went, I had the falls to myself.  Walking to the waterfall, I noticed that the campground was somewhat empty.  No groups came/arrived in Kalalau that day.  As much as I want to say thats a good thing, it could be a pretty bad thing.  But all I know is my crew and I are here safe, and just praying the next day's weather is doable.  I don't want to reschedule and pay a charge fee for my flight departure.

The shower was awesome, I shampoo'd, conditioner'd, and scrubbed myself with body soap with a loofah :)  As soon as I came back, the guys headed out to shower and Alli went to take sunset shots.  I begun to boil up water for our dinner MREs.  The sunset sky was very thick with clouds, and to our surprise the sky came very magenta red.  Alli got some great captures.

Alli's and the sunset.

During chow time, it drizzled hard and all of us had to bring our packs in our tent in case there was a downpour.  With the humidity, I was praying hard to not have it rain since it was hot as it is.  The hippies were gone and there was only 3 campsites set up by us but empty.  The night was much quiet without the hippies and all I heard was ocean noise.  With the waves crashing on shore, I imagined myself going down wet and wild tube slides, that led to a deep sleep.

Time Frame:
Start Kalalau valley trail: 9:30am
Back to campsite: ~12:30pm
Explore Kalalau caves for 2 hours
Total Miles: ~3-4 miles

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Ke'e-Kalalau Backpacking. 070815.

Friday, July 8, 2015

Ahhhhhhh....I don't know how to write this entry...

First off, Kalalau is AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL.  
I finally got to check out one trail that is listed of the top 10 most beautiful trails around the world: The Na Pali Coast, Ke'e beach to Kalalau beach in Kauai.

Distance:11 Miles in
Difficulty in Hiking: Advanced Intermediate due to high (may vary) stream level crossings, elevation gain with ocean drops contouring the cliffs, and its endless ups and downs.
Elevation gain: 2,000 ft.
Elevation loss: 2,400 ft
Stuart Ball in Backpackers Guide to Hawaii)
Views: Northern ocean side of Kauai, the majestic Na Pali (In hawaiian, Pali means "cliffs"), deep luscious green valleys with massive waterfall chutes, waterfall streams, a black cat named Muky, a nice open highway at each bend entering the next valley, goats, hippies, terraces, cliff caves, and a beautiful beach.

There are MANY DANGERS when hiking Na Pali.  Please use good judgment and hike SAFELY.  It’s not worth it to risk your life being swept away by flash flooding streams, misplacing foot/losing balance off vertical sea cliffs that drop hundreds of feet into the ocean, or even being severely dehydrated.  The crew and I did make smart decisions, although the conditions was pretty harsh.  But we had the RIGHT hiking gear, experience, and focus by looking out for each other to push through.  So please, only proceed if you ABSOLUTELY can.  Not even a little doubt.

Preparation for the trip:
Circuit training for 4 weeks, healthy diet (to lose weight)
1 Backpacking Trip (Laie-Schofield Waikane)
Watching many Kalalau videos on youtube and reading many Kalalau blog entries
Making sure I have the right camping gear

Dry Bags and Ziplocks
Pocket Rocket Stove, spork, stainless can
Zzz pad, and Tent
Body glide for chafing of shoulders and legs
Hiking pole-MUST HAVE
Spikes/Tabis.  Wearing thin socks under Wool sock is recommended, very comfortable.
Rain jacket, hat, 1 extra pair of clothing, 1 pair of swim wear, shammy towel, slippers
Lantern, headlamp, flashlight
MRE's- Erik and Anthony brought Backpacker's Pantry.  We ate GOOD.
2 cans of Sausage, Troy brought 3 cans of spam, and a bunch saimin.  We ate really GOOD.
Crystal Light Refresher powder, Gatorade, Water filter
First Aid, Emergency Blanket
Portable battery charger for phone/gopro
DSLR, Polaroid, and Gopro camera
Carabiners, string, rope, ponytail bands (help to secure cords)
Floaty -swimming, chair at campground
State ID, cash, hiking permit
I was able to experience this backpacking trip with Troy (coordinator), Allison (who also helped us with our airfare), and with Erik and Anthony.  The crew was just awesome by looking out for each other and the vibes that we brought on the trip, which made it fun.

We flew into Kauai right before 6:30am and expected to start hiking around 8:30 am.   Unfortunately, our rental car service was so slow that it took us about an hour to receive our cars (never use Advantage Rental Car).  Alli flew in the day before, when she bought all our fluids like Powerade and fuel cans for us already. Parking at the state park was rare, as Haena state park is a popular tourist spot.  Erik and Troy dropped us off with all our packs by the trailhead as they parked somewhere near the caves.  It was already raining and we knew that it was going to be a wet trek.  We filled up our water bladders and did our final check in storing our packs evenly and having everything.

The thing about planning a trip is you don't know if you'll have good weather in advance.  For some reason the weekend we decided to hike was the weekend of a tropical storm coming in which later downgraded to a tropical depression.  We booked our flight and reserved our permits 6 months ago.  We knew summer was the best time to go to get dry conditions of the beautiful Na Pali coast.  However, we hiked through very humid conditions, lots of passing showers, and overcast skies.  Our conditions... wasn’t really ideal.  Going in was wet and socked in.  It was not till we reached Hanakoa-Kalalau beach we got views of the Na Pali coast.

We started our journey at 9:30 am.  We were flying in the beginning to get to Hankapiai stream because of the constant shower, hoping we can cross over safely.  Many tourists moved to the side and let us pass since they knew we had about 30-40 lb packs on us and had a long way to go.  Once we hit Hankapiai stream, it was ugly brown waters and raging.  Many tourists stopped and just watched the stream rage, forcing them to turn around. At this point the crew and I looked at each other with dejected faces.  We decided to wait it out for at least half an hour.  It was not till a group of 20-30 people came down from the other side and we went to help them cross the stream.  We had hiking poles and the proper gear to grip unto the rocks in the water.  After another half and hour of helping the scout group safely cross the river and after asking them how the conditions were coming back, we decided to go.  The scout group told us that it’s completely dry from Kalalau beach to Hanakoa, then the later half being wet but doable.  The group consisted a few small high schoolers too, which convinced us to do it more since they were able to cross the stream and endure the hike in these conditions.  With our hiking experience and right gear/right mindset we went forth up the switchbacks and began to contour Na Pali.

Hanakapiai stream from afar-brown waters.

The crew and I at Hanakapiai stream before the crossing.

It was white curtain views for the most part and HUMID.  After we hit a bend to enter the valleys, it felt like entering a wall of still sticky air.  Bunch of the valleys had beautiful waterfalls flowing in massive chutes; it was a sight to see.  Troy scoffed at how Oahu is nowhere beautiful to Kauai.  Kauai had all the money; very deep and tall green valley back drops with massive waterfalls flowing gracefully seen from afar and non stop majestic cliffs to contour on.  Oahu hardly has deep valleys besides Windward side.  Troy kept laughing and felt ashamed to how Oahu is nothing compared to Kauai's beauty.  We all certainly agreed.

Usually once we hit the Ke'e side of bends entering the valley, we'd be going down the steep contour then after coming out of the valley to get to the Kalalau side of bends is uphill.  We were all dripping with sweat.  We passed about 5 groups heading back to the trailhead.  1 group going our way passed us and another, who stayed at the Hanakoa campgrounds.

One of the earlier valleys before Hanakoa.

Beautiful valleys.

Hanakoa valley had a nice shelter to take a break at, with a bathroom right across of it.  We took a quick break and left Hanakoa around 3pm.  We wanted to get to Kalalau before sundown because with the wet weather, the sky will get dark earlier.  Right after a stream crossing, we began going down switchbacks which led to the Z looking trail engulfed with the vertical sea cliffs with the ocean right below us.  Soon as we know it, we hit mile 7 and crawler's ledge.  Crawler's ledge is really overrated.  It only took us 3-4 minutes to go past it, very short.  However, I understand how dangerous it can be since it is a vertical drop to the ocean and pretty slippery when wet.

When taking this picture, I am on a Z-shaped trail.  At the bend in this picture is crawler's ledge.  You can notice its a vertical drop to the ocean, which is why people say its the most scariest part of the trail.

After crawler's ledge, was a red dirt contour and then back to the ins and outs of the valleys.  We all were sort of dragging in the latter half of the hike due to the humidity and its ups and downs.  We were all stoked once the clouds lifted and was able to see Kalalau beach from afar.  Surprisingly, I stumbled upon 2 situations where a girl was topless.  They had just a pareo wrapped around their waist, flower in their ear, and carrying a tiny backpack going the other way - who knows where she was going.  I was kinda excited that I got to see a REAL hippy who wasn't in civilization mode.  I begun to think of what other hippies I'll run into.

We finally reached the Kalalau sign and was welcomed with the majestic cliffs in front of us.  Going down the red dirt section sucked since our toes were smashing to the front end of our shoes after the endless downhills. After the red dirt, we hit sea level and blitzed it through a beach trail, resting at a nice stream.  We then crossed the stream, hit the Kalalau valley trailhead, took a right and finally entered the walkway towards Kalalau beach.  The walkway felt long even though we could see Kalalau beach so close to us.  Finally after a few minutes, to the left were the campgrounds.  Everyone was welcoming and there was bunch of hippies.  We found a good spot to settle and set up our tents and such.  It was 6:25pm.

Then, Troy, Erik, Alli, and I decided to get to the waterfall/shower to filter water for our food.  I also washed off and took a quick shower.  Walking there was so beautiful.  The cliffs were so majestic, abundant, and tall. Kalalau beach is a gem, a paradise dream come true.  We could see the waterfall flowing nicely on the right, while people laid down on the beach to watch the ocean or enjoy the cliffs.  At the waterfall, Troy and I was in line with a group of people to shower/wash their cooking gear.  There was one lady who was completely naked just showering away and didn't care.  There were 3 or 4 hippies high on weed also in line, one of them was an asian girl laughing away.  It felt surreal to stumble upon a total different living habitat.  I'm glad I got to experience seeing all this happen, haha.

The pressure from the waterfall shower was so awesome, it felt like a massage.  The chute is perfectly shaped for a human being to just lay against the wall shaped like a waterfall tube slide.  It’s so great how Mother Nature works!  Once we arrived back at our campground, Troy, Erik, Anthony, and I all used our mini stoves and boil water for our MREs.  We indulged in fettuccine alfredo, chicken with rice, saimin, and spam for dinner.  It was ONO!

Celebrated our 11 mile journey in with tricky weather conditions with Vodka.

After dinner, we chilled for a bit and took our valuable things that we hung outside to put into our tent. Diagonally to the left across of us turned out to be the hippy's campsite.  The crew and I each took a shot of the vodka that we bought at a mart before the state park and went in our tents to end our night.  As soon as I laid down in my tent, it was HOT.  I had to open my fly window and put my hair in a bun.  It didn't help that the vodka was settling in me and the humidity was a killer.  I had a hard time sleeping because the hippies were banging their drums and all were singing bob marley songs high on weed.  Lol, I feel stupid for writing what I experience, but it’s true!  They were tanned haoles, guys with long beards and dreads, whereas the girls were top naked.  They're all very welcoming though.  The noise of the ocean waves were pretty loud...I kept imagining myself being at crawler's ledge but it being longer, scaring myself when I close my eyes.  I slept good from 3-5:30 am.  I made sure I set my alarm up at 5:45am so I could catch the sun rising above the cliffs.
A lot happened that day.

Time Frame:
Start: 9:30am
Hanakapiai stream: 10:30am.  Left at 11:25am.
Hanakoa: 2:30pm.  Left a little before 3pm.
Kalalau: 6:25pm.

Total miles: 11 miles.  ~9 hours.

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