A few months ago my wife and I were planning our belated honeymoon. I said “we should go backpacking in Hawaii.” she replied, “OK” After asking if she was serious I looked up backpacking trails in Kauai. I found one called the Kalalau trail. I discovered I needed a permit. We bought some permits a few months out and booked our flight. With permits and airfare acquired I began researching the hike. Turns out if you google Kalalau trail the 3rd search option is “kalalau trail deaths” and the 3rd result returned is “Should You Hike the Dangerous Kalalau Trail? – Kalalau Trail”
Although dangerous, I discovered I had signed up for one of the most amazing hikes North America has to offer. Breathtaking views and stunning scenery are around every corner. But to enjoy all the beauty of “backcountry” Hawaii. You need to accept the challenges that come along with it. The trail crawls along the coast for 11 miles. It hugs 300 ft cliff edges, slides down slippery slopes, and crosses 3 rivers. Eventually the trail lands at the hanakapiai beach. A secluded beach only accessible by the kalalau trail. It is illegal for boats to land on this beach.
I realized I needed to prepare for this hike. Many months have transpired since I last loaded my backpack and headed into the mountains. This past weekend we loaded our bags and headed to a high mountain lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah. We loaded our packs with gear and began hiking in the snow. We climbed up the mountain wandering through snow dusted trees. The sun lit filtered through the canopy causing the white blanket to sparkle. Eventually we left the treeline behind us and crawled up the rocky path to the summit. With delightful exhaustion we looked down on the lake and rested. After eating an inadequate lunch we started back down the mountain. When we got to the car we realized its a good thing we did some preparation. The 11 miles to hanakapiai beach will be tough.
Who would have preparing for a vacation to Hawaii would require an 8 mile climb up 2400 ft of mountain in the snow? I know I didn’t see it coming. We are excited to go have an adventure and see a corner of the world that many never get to see. We also get to explore the Napali coast in a way many don’t get the opportunity to enjoy. Stay tuned for updates from our newest adventure.