Thursday, December 23, 2010

December 23, 2010: Kaua'i - Kalalau Trail, Ke'e Beach, Tunnels Beach, 'Anini Beach, Turtle, BBQ

We didn't get up quite as early as recommended for hiking the Kalalau Trail - we (Mark, myself and Sara) headed out in the car at 6:45, rather than 5:30. The drive was the same route as we'd taken to our luau dinner - just a little further along the north shore, with a few more one-lane bridges and narrow hairpin turns, until the highway's end at Ke'e Beach. Happily, we still got there early enough to get a parking spot near the lifeguard (safest from vandalism according to our taxi driver friend), and so we headed into the rain forest.

Just as we started up the trail, Mark found a walking stick that someone had left behind. I had my hiking pole, and all three of us were wearing reasonable hiking gear. We were glad of it before very long - the trail was slick and muddy from recent rains, and it zigzagged up and down the mountainsides that plunged down into the ocean.

When we reached the fork in the trail, we had to decide: Hanakapi'ai waterfall or beach? We wouldn't have time to do both. Although I really love waterfalls we opted for the beach - a shorter, easier hike. There were only a few people at the beach when we got there - we sat at a quiet end of it by ourselves, watching a sandpiper dashing about to avoid the waves and crabs popping in and out of their holes. Apart from a surfer there was no one in the water - scary signs warning about the high number of people drowned at the beach had scared us off.

By the time we got up to leave the beach had filled in with more visitors, and starting back along the trail we passed numerous hikers, making us even more glad that we'd headed out early enough to feel like we had this beautiful wilderness to ourselves. More than one of them commented enviously on our walking sticks. The closer we got to the trail head the more inadequate footwear we saw - surely these people would not make it to the beach without injury or great unhappiness. My hiking pants had become red from the knees down with splashed mud - Mark thinks the sight of them was striking fear in the hearts of those who were just starting out.

We sat down at Ke'e Beach to eat our lunch, watching the wild chickens run about, then rinsed off our shoes and pants at the freshwater tap. Then we drove back along the north shore, looking for a less crowded beach to relax at.

We pulled in at Tunnels Beach. Although I've read that this is a great beach for snorkeling it wasn't possible that day - the waves were much too big and strong. After going in the water I realized that I had no real idea of what ocean waves could be like - I was determined to stand up against them and promptly got knocked down and swept up toward the beach, skidding along on my backside. I hung onto Mark's hand as tightly as possible, swallowed a bit of salt water, and more or less managed to enjoy being buffeted about.

Tunnels Beach was a bit crowded, so we continued along the north shore to revisit 'Anini Beach, which we'd seen the day before was far less busy. The waves weren't as strong there, but I still opted for a nap on the sand rather than going in the water again. I'm not much of a lying in the sun kind of person, but the weather really was perfect for it - warm enough to be perfectly comfortable, but with a gentle breeze so that you never got overheated. I actually nodded off to sleep - when Mark and Sara got back they told me how they'd seen a giant sea turtle come up from the depths - an amazing sight I was sorry to have missed.

We headed for home, stopping in at the grocery store along the way. Getting out of the car Sara mentioned that she was so relaxed she felt drunk, and I realized that was just how I felt too. I may never have felt so mellow in my life - all our wedding tasks were successfully out of the way, we'd had a great workout with the hike, been massaged by the waves, and then I'd had a blissful nap on the beach. I've never before wandered about in a grocery store in a bikini top, but it felt totally normal under the circumstances.

We reunited with the rest of our families, who'd enjoyed touring around the island, visiting an historical plantation and taking the river cruise to the famous Fern Grotto. The men tackled barbecuing meat and vegetable shishkabobs (no lights to see by and no surfaces to set anything down - the resort needs to rethink its barbecue facilities) and we feasted: chicken, shrimp, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini and mushrooms.

After dinner I quickly pulled up our wedding photos, picked one to post and wrote up a wedding announcement message so that we could share our surprise.

 Mark and Sara start the climb up the trail. We climbed up and down over and over again.

Beautiful morning light along the Na Pali coast.

Clouds over a peaceful ocean - later on it was much rougher.

Do you think there's anyone officially recording on this sign how many visitors are killed?

Mark and Sara cross the river. And where am I while taking this photo? Standing in the water - I gave up on trying to ford it over the rocks.

This poor little sandpiper kept running, trying to avoid the waves.

Crab burrowing in the sand - it was very difficult to get close enough for a good shot.

The surfer finally makes it on top of the wave.

The trail, criss-crossing up the side of the ridge.

No comments:

Post a Comment