Adventures must be done!

Adventures on Kauai 31st July - 7th August 2010

Koke'e State Park

Day 1

I flew from Honolulu to Lihue on Kauai. Here I rented a bomb of a car and made my way westwards to Koke'e State Park.

Waimea Canyon: the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

To my surprise, Dani had made it up to here as well (we were supposed to meet at the airport, but my flight had been delayed by 4 hrs).
The air temperature was quite lower than at sea level and there was quite often a drizzle and a smell that reminded me of the New Zealand Northland.

Gear preps

The night turned out somewhat bizarre: there was a rowdy party going on nearby, Dani had gone for a stroll (of course without a torch) and just when I was about to fall asleep, a girl from Quebec asked me to stay in my tarp because she was afraid of the rowdies "I think they killed a rooster!'

Day 2

We combined the Nu'alolo trail with Nu'alolo Cliff trail and Awa'awapuhi trail to form a big loop. The trail commenced in lush rain forest and descended through a mesic zone till the semi-arid cliffs were reached. Here we stood a good 600m above the sea, the crumbly walls offering no way of descending to the shore of the famous Na Pali coast.
In the valleys below, vegetation covered the bottom while white tropic birds soared along the sheers walls.

Clearing in the rain forest.

Looking towards the cliff, mesic-semiarid zone.

Vegetation at the cliff edge

Valley of the Na Pali Coast

Day 3

The day seemed pretty fine when I got up; I therefore decided to take my car up to the lookout and get a glimpse of the Kalalau Valley. Indeed, for once the coast was clear of the usual fog and drizzle!

The Kalalau Valley as seen from the lookout.

I then packed my gear, left the car at a trailhead and started with the Halemanu-Koke'e trail, which took me eventually via Black Pipe trail to the Waimea Canyon.

Fruit of a broadleaf along the way.

Leaves of a tree common in the mesic to semiarid zones.

I at the edge of Waipo'o Falls.

Some type of freshwater crayfish trying to look frightening at Waipo'o Falls.

From here I followed the Canyon trail, which offered grand views of the landscape and then continued on the no longer maintained Ditch trail. This proved to be some adventure, as largely unmarked the lack of topographic maps became soon apparent.
I once strayed of the beaten path, just to find me on some pasture and scarying away a couple of goats. A fine spot for a lunch break before trying to find the trail again.
As I continued I got into more arid parts where the erosion had claimed the original path. I found myself crawling an all fours up some dusty crumbly hillside; luckily there were some Hawai'ian trail markers, i.e. parts of gaily coloured cloth strips tied to roots and branches.

Some type of peppermint like shrub, aromatic but thorny!

Hawai'ian trail markings along the Ditch trail.

Arid place near the cliff edge along the unmaintained Ditch trail.

Eroded hillside and high waterfall emerging from the wet highlands.

Sign near a lookout on an exposed ridge.

Cascade at the edge of the Alaka'i Swamp.

'Ohi'a lehua (Metrosideros polymorpha) - a flowering tree very similar to Pohutukawa (Metrosideros excelsa) found in NZ.

Banana Passion fruit found along the trail, tasting nicely refreshing.

Kawaikinana Stream

I arrived at Sugi Grove Camp in the later afternoon and looked around for a passable campsite.
There was only one likely spot, which was pretty dry, all the rest was wet and rooty.
Still, I was not entirely satisfied with the camp. Sometimes you can't put your finger on it, but you just know something's fishy alright.

My camp at Sugi Grove

The closeness to the Alaka'i swamp meant that there was a nearly constant drizzle and I had to retire into the tent for tea. As I set up my sleeping bag, I noticed there was a funny smell hanging around one particular edge of the tent; there was an ominously wet looking spot on the ground, reeking like a pig farm. I concluded that some feral pig had relieved itself just right there. Bugger that! After having sworn my head off, just for my own pleasure as there was no one else listing to me expressing my discomfort, I pushed some dry dirt over the spot; that seemed to work.
There was quite some precipitation all night.

Day 4

I woke early in the morning, finding that I was lying in a puddle about a deep as my matress was thick.

"*#&^ that!!!!! God dammit!!!!"

As so often happens under adverse conditions, my brain had already made the connection that the swine pee must have washed into the general mixture of water and dirt. Arrrhhh!

I got up and dragged my bedding out of the tarp and hung it in the nearby lunch shelter. Luckily, only the outside of the sleeping bag was wet at the bottom. The matress looked like having lain in a pigpen for a week!
Back at the tarp I tried to sweep the water out; it was here that I discovered the special properties of Sugi Grove ground: the water did not penetrate the ground at all but was just sitting there!
I tried to dig some drainage, but the ground was full of roots and the channels kept blocking up; that water was just behaving very sluggish and the dust I threw up while digging furiously settled on the water and kept floating.
Nasty, nasty!

"Sugi Grove?!? Sucking Grove would be more apt a name!!!"

In any case, I had a plan for the day: visiting the Alaka'i swamp. I postponed any decision what I might do when being back at camp and set off upstream along the Kawaikoi Stream. It was an exellent stroll, there was some sunshine and the sweet smell of the flowering ginger hung in the air.

Kawaikoi Stream

A first excitement was provided by the river crossing. I balanced over some of the most slippery rocks I had ever tried to stand on while the current was surprisingly strong.
Having accomplished the crossing I followed the Pihea trail uphill to the trail junction, where I turned eastward towards the Kilohana lookout, a good 2 miles with some up and downs.

Lichen hung trees on the Pihea trail.

I on the Alaka'i Swamp trail with some tree fern.

The swamp was a misty, drizzly, cold and windy place. I kept moving to keep warm and marvelled at the unique vegetation up here.
At some point I rounded up a group of nene, they seemed surprised to see me and flew off into the mist after complaining loudly.

Dodgy boardwalk and dwarf vegetation in the Alaka'i Swamp.

Shrub in the swamp.

Another Metrosideros flower.

Flock of Nene in the Alaka'i Swamp - Hawaii's state birds

The Kilohana Lookout vista was fairly limited on this day, I suppose about 10 metres would be a good mean visibility. I spent some minutes locating a geocache, then headed back along the Alaka'i Swamp trail till I reached the Alaka'i Picnic Area where I had a latish snack or early lunch.

Leaving the swamp behind.

The WX was much nicer here, but I was wet to the bones after that swamp and decided that I'd had it with rain for a while. Back in the camp I packed all the gear (the ground under the tarp was as wet as in the morning), then tramped back along the Mohihi Camp road for 1.5 hrs till I reached my car. Along the way I had a good yarn with some elderly ladies.
I chucked all the wet gear and boots (stink!) into the car and was off to the beach in Polihale State Park!

Polihale State Park

My camp on the beach.

Drying and sorting gear.

Excellent drying conditions and such an irradiance that I was happy to stay in the shade of a big, thorny Kiawe tree.
Marvelous having a tea with cookies and fresh bananas instead of freezing your butt off in a swamp without a view or sleeping in a stinking puddle!

Polihale Beach.

Looking toward Makaha Point.

Day 5

Rooster visiting my 'water hole'.

Next day I drove to Ha'ena Beach, stopping in Lihue on the way to sort out some nasty credit card business which prevented me from getting cash out of the ATM!

The Kalalau Trail

Camp at Ha'ena Beach

Day 6

Next morning I tramped off towards the famous Kalalau Valley, leaving early in the morning to avoid the day hikers visiting Hanakapi'ai Beach.

Trail info post

Lush forest along the Coast en route to Hanakapi'ai.

Orchid type of plant.

Surf at Hanakapi'ai Beach.

At Hanakapi'ai Beach during a short shower.

Hanakapi'ai Valley.

Ho'olulu Valley

Coast line looking back to Ke'e Beach.

'The Misty Mountains'

Some extreme type of flax like plant.

Welcome stream for a bit of a cool down.

Kalalau Valley lies beyond the flat cliff section.

Here we are, but the camp is another good mile!

At the camp after a 6hr tramp in tropical conditions.

Another perspective

Juicy passion fruit

Cheeky bird (Hwa Mei?)

The acclaimed Flute Cliffs above the camp site.

Brown or Black Noddy (Anous minutus or stolidus)

Huge toad close to the water hole of the camp.

That night I had a decidedly unpleasant contact with an unknown creature. All I know is that I rolled over and came to lie on some animal which bit me in my upper arm. It hurt devilishly!
I grabbed by torch and look around. Nothing. There were two punctures on my arm though, oozing some blood!
The pain was amazingly persistent and strong; it easily kept me awake for a while and I took the time to note down the facts, taking a pulse once in a while but there was nothing out of the order there. Finally, content that I would most likely wake up in the morning, I tried to fall asleep, ignoring the stinging pain.
Most likely possibility seems a spider bite.

Day 7

Looking back towards the Flute Cliffs.

Some more 'flax' along the way

The ever-present mist moves in again.

Rain forest vegetation along the trail.

I spent another night at Ha'ena Beach, then it was time to return the car and catch a flight to the Big Island for more adventures!


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