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  1. #1
    Senior Member SteelToe's Avatar
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    Napali Coast Trail, Kauai

    I'm back and (mostly) finally recovered from my Grand Adventure in Kauai! It was a 14 day trip, the 2nd-5th days being spent hiking the Napali Coast trail into the Kalalau Valley.

    My brother and I were carrying ~45lbs of mostly useless, but fun to have, stuff on our backs, so we weren't really in the mood to day hike the trail like most of the other folks . 2 days in, 2 days out (would've liked to have spent more time at the finish point, but there weren't many folks out there this time of year). We hung up for the first night at a campground just shy of the Hanakoa Valley at the halfway point.

    Towards the end of the second day, we began descending the (in)famous Red Hill that marks the final leg of the trail. We arrived about an hour after sunset, and were very relieved to be at the end (for now) of a very long day. After a restful sleep lulled by the nearby crashing waves, we woke up, refilled the water, chatted with the locals for a while, and were on our way. This photo was taken on the way out near the top of Red Hill

    We both felt tons better the third day; psyched up from the wonderful folks at the trails' end, and finally getting our "trail legs," we were able to power our way back to the first nights' campsite past the halfway point just before dusk. I had a way cooler campsite set up, involving two trees jutting off opposite sides of a narrow "rib" of land in the valley about 50ft up; but alas, wind of all things picked up and forced us to move the shelters back to our original locations. At 9:30 after a long day's hike, I was all out of creativity . No photo

    Fourth day was all business. I've found the last day usually is on an in-and-out multiday trek . We had been fortunate enough to not experience a single drop of rain up to this point. Extremely strange for the time of year on the wet side of the island. But the weather began to turn slightly on the last day, and intermittent sprinkles gradually began to make the trip slipperier and more treacherous. Our pace slowed down greatly, and we ended up back at the trailhead around 9pm, an hour or so after dark. Exhausted and elated, we dined at the extremely delicious Mediterranean Cafe; a completely unexpected Greek Restaurant, the quality of which I have never experienced.

    Days later in the trip, when we were tooling around Waimea Canyon on the opposite side of the Island, we got the chance to look back down on where we had been, what we had accomplished:

    From this distance, the trail is indiscernable. The last leg of the trail is down the shallower portion of the red dirt hill at the base of the ridge on the right. Kalalau Beach proper is another mile or so beyond. The entire trail smelled of guavas.

    Given the difficulty of the terrain, the weight on our backs, and the incomprehensible beauty of the place bearing down on us, this was by far the most trying hike we've ever undertaken. I'm still incredulous we pulled this trip off; like coming back from the moon, or something. Truly a trip of a lifetime (so far...)

    My brother ^^ and Me ^^
    Sporting our Adventure Beards

    TCB
    "We sit together, the mountain and I, until only the mountain remains."
    -Li Po

  2. #2
    Boulderman's Avatar
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    Great report! We went to Kauai earlier this year and were really sad we didn't get the required permits to camp along Napali. We did do the dayhike to the falls, which was gorgeous. Next time...
    Potential is nothing without hard work.

  3. #3
    Senior Member SteelToe's Avatar
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    Equipment (some--there was a lot of it )

    HH Asym Zip (my bro's pad)
    HH Asym Velcro (I wasn't sure which was better early on, so we got both )
    2 Homemade Hex-Cat Rainflys (which kicked *** if I do say so myself)
    2 Homemade Bishop-style hammock bags
    REI Crestrail 70 Pack (my brother's)
    REI XT 85 Pack (with the fitted cover I made for it)
    -10" Belt knife MOLLE'd on right side of the pack (Yeah, I know, but how often am I in the jungle--it's totally justified )
    -Homemade fishing rod/pole case MOLLE'd on the left side (didn't catch anything )
    We both wore Danner's excellent USAF Temperate Military Boots. Not a single blister or sore ankle betwixt the two of us.
    Hat's were those awesome REI Vented Explorer wide-brim cotton jobs with a couple rain shields I sewed up for 'em (my brother's always copying me...)



    I'd like to thank all the good folks here who have given me awesome DIY advice and inspiration. Much of our important gear was homespun, and the trip would have been untenable without it. Thank you all

    TCB
    "We sit together, the mountain and I, until only the mountain remains."
    -Li Po

  4. #4
    Dos's Avatar
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    very inspiring! thank you
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~
    In some mysterious way woods have never
    seemed to me to be static things.
    In physical terms, I move through them;
    yet in metaphysical ones,
    they seem to move through me. -
    John Fowles


    GA --> ME '12

  5. #5
    bundy71's Avatar
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    I was in Kauai in 2004, and I so badly wanted to hike the Napali Coast, but I was there with my wife. So it didn't happen. Someday...
    Scout Master Troop 303, Carneys Point, NJ

  6. #6
    Member pixelgator's Avatar
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    Terrific Trail Tale! Enjoyed it very much.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
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    Awesome!

    I dream of this trip every since I went to Kauai. Are there many places to hang at the camp sites?

    Thanks for the report. I may PM you someday to get more info. Want to do this trip in the next few years.

    S

  8. #8
    Senior Member SteelToe's Avatar
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    There are lots of trees to hang off of, if that's what you mean . I can get you the name of the awesome B&B we stayed at before & after we left (cheaper than a room in Hanalei)

    The trail basically wanders along the coastal clifs, switchbacking up and down each side of the ravines to get above the steepest cliffs (sometimes). All the campsites are near the streams at the back of the ravines where it's flatter. As we all know, it can be hard to find the right two trees at the right distance, and have a good spot to stake to. My lack of hammock-foo limited my flexibility, but there were still a half dozen or so places we felt comfortable setting up in case we had to stop early.

    Though you might be tempted by sturdy looking trees and ocean view, you don't really want to camp on a steep slope; the rock is just too crumbly and goats/chickens are always knocking stuff loose. The trees were either "woody" like the trees we have on here on the mainland and sturdy, or obviously flimsy tropical things like hollow palms and mushy plantains (you can crush their trunks with your hands). We did find one coconut palm 500ft up a cliffside. Aside from the designated campsites, most other areas were boulder strewn, so anything but hammocks are a no go there.

    FWIW, every hippie living in Kalalau Valley (we met a couple who'd been residents for 2 years) sleeps in hammocks if not on the beach; most looked like the ENO gathered-end type (but cheaper noname brands), and no one appeared to have rainflies or bug nets. Which I found odd because there were definitely mosquitos around (not as bad at Kalalau, but hellish in one or two of the smaller valleys). Rainflies would probably show up in a few weeks as the monsoons set in for the winter. My brother and I were, oddly, the only tourists using hammocks, that I could see.

    TCB
    "We sit together, the mountain and I, until only the mountain remains."
    -Li Po

  9. #9
    Senior Member Chris K's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing. This trail has been added to my bucket list.

  10. #10
    designer@quickdata.com's Avatar
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    What was daily mileage?

    Could you please note the miles per day. Also, someone mentioned a permit. Is that something you must obtain way ahead of time or can it be picked up on the spot.

    In other words, like the Obsidian Trail near Sisters Oregon, you need a permit AND they only issue a limited number per day. But you don't have to get it a month in advance. If you pick a weekday, rather than the weekend, usually there isn't a problem.

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