Kauai Day 5 - Ha'ena State Park, Kalalau Trail, Hot Mama Stand, Kalaheo Steak House

Date: 2007-03-20
Location: Hawaii 07

Early in the morning I got a call from work. It was a little after 3:00, I guess they don’t realize the time difference. After that, I felt restless. Once everyone was up, we sat to Ha’ena State Park. It took us more than an hour to arrive Princeville. Once there, we drove through a winding path that threading through many one-lane bridges and finally arrived the park. The park resided in a secluded beach and tucked away in the shades of large lush trees and the shadow of Na Pali. There were a couple of large caves along the path, both containing water and led to some dark chambers that invoked one’s imagination. If wasn’t the warning sign posted around about leptosposise, many people would jump into the water and venture into the dark paths. It was at this moment, I realized that I had forgotten to bring the Off spray which I purchased at Big Sav for nearly ten dollars.

Once we parked in the visitors’ parking, we walked a short distance, passing one of the caves, and arrived the trail head of Kalalau Trail. The whole trail is about 11 miles. It starts from Ke’e Beach. Hanakapi’ai Valley is on its two miles mark. From there and continue for another four miles is Hanakoa, a hanging valley without a beach and where the running stream runs into the ocean from the cliffs at the ocean’s edge. Then another five miles of hiking, the hikers will finally arrive at the Kalalau Beach. The portion of hiking contains a very narrow and dangerous section, where any slip of foot might cause someone to fallen from the cliff and drop into the ocean.

Taking our four years old on our side, it made this whole hike almost impossible. We only dare to attempt to reach the first mile mark. The first twenty minutes was a continuous incline. The vegetation was consisted mostly of junipers and larger trees. Once the road smoothed out the vegetation changed. The path winded through the lush tropical plants. Some area a little sun light was able to filter through the green canopy of trees, while other areas gave the spectacular view of the ocean and the magnificent look of the Na Pali. Along the way, the thunderous crashing sounds of the ocean could be heard. As soon as the road switched back into the depth of the valley, the road soon became intensively muddy. Each step we took made the squishy sound as our feet sank deeply into the mud. Many of the sections were slippery. One section was consisted of rocky path with a thin layer of running water cascading down. Soon enough, my little guy’s tan pants became a color of dark chocolate and very little of the original colors were left from our heavily coated shoes. Asides from the very unpleasant muddy condition, the whole trail was relatively easy, with a few incline and quite a bit of switch backs. Along the trail, we had some awesome spectacular views of the coast and the Na Pali.

We took a short break along the trail. Sitting on a large rock with a view of the ocean in front of us, we each had an apple and drank some water.

A few returning hikers gave us some more motivation and we started up again. As we dragged our wet shoes along, the two miles seemed much longer than we could ever expected. Finally, the trail started to decline, heading toward the lower valley of the mountains. This gave us some hope and we picked up our speed. Soon, we could hear the sound of stream and several “No swimming” warming signs were spotted along the path. One of them actually indicated there were over 60 visitors lost to the current. Once we stepped into the clearing, we found the trail disappeared into a running stream. The stream was over 25 feet wide and some area was about 3 feet deep.

While my husband mapped a path by jumping on top rocks in the stream, I rolled up my caprie, took off my shoes, sling the little guy on my back, and carefully stepped into the stream and started to wade across the water. Soon after I took a few steps, I realized it was a mistake. The bottom was densely packed with slippery fist size rocks and small pit holes. Each step I took, I had to rested my weight on my other foot, while my boy sway on my back. To make this whole acrobatic balancing more difficult was the constantly rush of current, which attempt to carry me away. Several times, I almost lost my footing. I image myself fallen into the water, while my little guy screaming and dropping into the water and was taken into the current. Luckily, none of these really happened. My husband came over and rescued us on the last stretch and took him off my back.

The Hanakapi’ai Valley no longer had a beach. The black giant volcanic boulders pilled along the rocky bank all the way to the ocean front. The waves were not only fearsome but also deadly. Each of the waves pounded to the rocky ground with forces as the thunderous sound shook the earth. We soon realized that in our enthusiasm, we had walked a bit too close to the ocean. We picked up our belongs and backed into a shaded spot to enjoy the magnificent scenery from a safer distance. The view was quite beautiful from this point. We had our break and ate some trail food.

On the way back, we were confronted by the stream once again. This time, we had decided to walk down a bit and found a chain of rocky surfaces that protruding from the stream. We took each step carefully and half carrying and half lifting my little boy to the other side of the stream. Once we were back into the trail, my little boy started to talking about his story. This made him more energized and was able to walk without much assistance.

I noticed several interesting plants along the way. First the guava trees, one of them even had a small green guava hanging on a branch. Then there was Hawaiian wild orchid, a citrus tree, some mango trees, tee leaves… It was quite amazing.

As more and more people passing us, they gave their accolades to my little guy. Seeing the muddy pants he was wearing, one of the elder gentlemen even videotaped him. Fueled by people’s compliment, my little guy picked up the speed and amazingly hiked the whole way back. Once we were back, we took a short walk to Ke’e Beach. As we stood in front of the people in bikinis and coated with sun screen, we noticed how otherworldly we had looked. We looked like some stranded castaways that just were just been washed ashore. We went back to the car and drove to Hot Mama stand, there we had some delicious veggie oriented burritos. They were quite large and we weren’t able to finish them despite the hunger we had. In our current condition, we couldn’t really stop anywhere if we wanted to, so after a brief stop at the Tunnel Beach and ate our burritos, we drove back home.

We sped the rest of the afternoon in the pool and Jacuzzi. After stopping shortly for some grocery, we went to Kalaheo Steak House for dinner. By the time we got there, it was already after 9:00. Tucked between some unnoticeable old buildings, the Kalaheo Steak House looked rather ordinary. The inside was small and cozy, a bit of reminded us those “hole in the wall” type of restaurants. As soon as we opened up the menu; however, we were a bit surprise to find the price was identical to the ones in the Poipu Boiler and Keoki’s Paradise. With regular plate started somewhere in the middle of 20s. I ordered a grilled Mahi Mahi, while my husband had the quail. Perhaps by then we were so tired to really taste anything, we ate our food without much enthusiasm. My little boy curled up on my lap and fall asleep. We wrapped our food in the to-go box and drove back to our place.

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