Saturday 31 August 2013

Crawler's Ledge to Kalalau


Ok, so here comes the EXTREME part. We had spent an extra day in Hanakoa so I felt I had recuperated and was ready to face the next part of our journey. We had to cross a stream to get back onto the trail. The rocks were slippery, my footing unsure and I managed to fall and land heavily on my right hand. It was pretty bruised and swollen, but nothing was broken. I faced the same decision again- to carry on or turn back. I soon realised that everyone doing this hike was either: 1) an extreme adventure type 2) a lunatic 3) a space cadet. I did not fall into any of these. I think Ty fits in somewhere between numbers 1 and 2. I thought at this point that it was not the start to matrimonial bliss and Ty was not in my good books although he was supportive of my decision and looked after me. 

This part of the trail was more spectacular than the the first and not as hard, but petrifying. My fears from my nightmares hit me pretty early on. You can see in the pictures how sheer the drop off was at some points. Carrying my bag and nursing an injured hand and covered in bruises, clinging onto rocks along tracks that were crumbly and unstable on the foot was not my idea of fun. It started to rain and the wind was picking up.  As soon as I had got around Crawler's Ledge, I was relieved and thought I was over the hardest part. Wrong. It carried on and on and on. At this point I broke down and didn't think I would make it. I was furious at Ty, and told him this is not 'extreme moon' this is supposed to be 'awesome moon' and made him promise to take Latin dance classes with me as payback for this (he loathes dancing). 

After what seemed like hours we caught a glimpse of Kalalau beach. I was nearly there. The views were majestic and I felt pretty insignificant in comparison to nature. As we stopped for a bite to eat, a couple passed us who had come all the way from the start in 5 hours. They asked us if we were the first. Clearly they were on an extreme mission! The beach was incredible and we caught a beautiful sunset and spent the evening star gazing. As I spotted 5 shooting stars, all of my fears, aches, upsets, pains passed. I did feel like I was living in the TV programme 'Lost', as there are people who live on the beach who seemed incredibly unfriendly and looked like bronzed gods and goddesses.

I had been told that we could get a boat from the beach back to the main part of the island, so we got up early to see if we could catch one. There was no way I was hiking back out with my injured hand, trying to scramble up rocks. As we waited and waited, and felt like we were stranded in this strange place, more odd people arrived. We felt like misfits. A boat came close to shore and dropped four burly guys off into the sea and we watched them swim back. The surf was very high. Ty decided to swim out to ask the boat driver if we could catch a lift. This was not a wise idea! In the end we managed to get a lift with Ikaika (the strong one) A local dude who made his money taking people in and out on his zodiac boat (an inflatable with an engine). The current was super strong and we had to swim out to the boat with all of our stuff in dry bags, no easy feat! The people who lived on the island helped us out. As we travelled the 30 minutes back to Hanalei bay, Ikaika pointed out Crawler's Ledge and said people had died coming across it. I felt proud to have achieved what I had, and so incredibly relieved to be on a boat back to safety.

Our friend back in civilisation was expecting us to return today.  And being mid-morning, the option of hiking back out with Phillippa's injury was closed.  Getting a boat back that afternoon by hook or by crook was pretty much our only option... Some boats had come and gone earlier, and when a zodiac pulled up in the early afternoon I acted.

To cut to the chase, I am very lucky to have been rescued at sea after stupidly trying to swim out to the boat some 50m off shore to ask for some help getting a lift.  Sure, swimming _out_ wasn't too bad - but I soon realised that I wasn't in control, and I was potentially spiralling into a really bad situation.  There was a north swell coming in and the beach break churning and deadly with a 1.5 knot current sweeping anything touching the sea out to Japan.

Identifying the situation quickly, Ikaika and his friend Crawdad jumped out of the boat and helped me out with life preservers at the ready.  This was not just a pride-wounding issue - it was a reality check.

The warmth and pure support that the surf-bum "locals" of Kalalau beach offered us from then can never be measured or taken for granted. Thank you.  The big guy, the boat captain, reminded me again and again: "never rush a good thing"

Kalalau is beautiful, and the experience coming out here with Phillippa entirely fulfilling, but I left with a renewed respect for the value of being pono and being in tune with the elements.

ANYWAY, around 6pm, Ikaika looked out to the sea from the camp and said "it's time" - and Crawdad helped bag up our stuff and a whole crew of the locals helped get us and our stuff through the surf out to the boat safely.  By this point, we were all in a positive mood again, and it there was some good aloha all around.

Ikaika and his buddies were so at home on the sea it was amazing-  he'd swirl his boat around the shore throwing beers back and forth out to other boats and even gave the lone surfer out there a tow - then a beer.  At one point he remembered "I forgot my slippers!" and sure enough we blasted back surfing the boat along the crests of the waves to perfectly meet up with Crawdad as he'd swim right up alongside to pop the captain's footwear back in the boat.  The ride back was in heavy swell, but punctuated with plenty of local stories and lore about the cliffs and valleys on the way. Amazing day.

Thursday 29 August 2013

Kalalau Trail - Home to Hanakoa


So after the relaxation it was time for hiking and wild camping. I knew it would be intense as I had never done anything like it before, but I was up for the challenge . After leaving the bliss of the Tiki Hut we walked with our packs from Haena Beach Park (where we got married) to the start of the Kalalau Trail at the end of the Road. It was very hot but we were kitted out with our water and lots of snacks to keep us going. As we started the trail there were lots of people who were doing day trips on the first part. Many of them were wearing flip flops or didn't have any water and were badly prepared. After about around 2 hours we came across a couple; the man was dehydrated and feeling poorly so we stopped and gave him some bananas and water.I felt like we had done a good deed. As the trail got steeper and we had to clamber over higher rocks, there were less and less people. Many day trippers wished us luck. 

The views of the beaches and the sea were spectacular and gave me the energy to keep on climbing. The trail climbed higher and higher and around half way we reached a beautiful spot where we stopped to lookout; above us a huge rock jutting into the sky which looked like a gorilla. We thanked the gorilla and continued. On the way a man darted past me. I saw that he had no shoes on and when I looked again he was completely naked apart from a small back pack. What a nutter! The sun was so intense but we kept on going. My back pack got heavier and heavier, so I gave it to Ty who carried both for a while. It didn't seem to affect Ty at all who was carrying most of the heavy gear. 

We finally reached Hanakoa after around 5 and a bit hours. This halfway point was 6 miles but felt more like 20. It was a pretty spot in the jungle and near a large waterfall. Bug heaven. We set up camp and cooked our meal of noodles and wieners. Beige food was to be the staple over 4 days. Whilst at Hanakoa we spotted the Korean/ Japanese mute dude who had been on the beach on our wedding day, at the breakfast place the morning after our wedding and walking down the street as we drove by on another day. It was too many times to be a coincidence, we wondered if he may possibly be some kind of spirit. 

I was proud at what I had achieved on the first day, and didn't ache too much, but the next day it hit me. I couldn't sleep as I had nightmares about the infamous Crawler's Ledge and I had sun stroke and some dehydration. I was not a happy bunny and feeling like I had got myself into something way above my capabilities. Here I was in the jungle, half way. I had to either turn back or carry on...

Beautiful day hiking along the Napali coast in and out of numerous valleys - each more awesome that the last.  We decided to take it easy and relax around the Hanakoa valley campsite for 2 nights instead of missioning on to the beach.  The green valley was a great place to explore, as there were very few people around, and it felt very relaxing to be amidst the jungle and cools streams.

Tuesday 27 August 2013

Exploring the North Shore


Good fun tootling around the north shore today with the aim of checking out three things that seemed worth checking out.

First was the lighthouse at Kiluea point. Well, it's a lighthouse, on a point, and there you go.  It's been restored for its 100th birthday this year, and the area around it is beautiful, with plenty of birdlife.

Next was "Secret Beach" - which is so secret that google maps clearly labels the dirt access road to it as "secret beach access road".  Great wooded trail though down the cliffs, and it was nice and quiet.

Finally, we were excited to take a dip in the "Queen's Bath".  It's a lava rock formation that forms an idyllic blue pool sheltered from the sea - sometimes.  At other times, it is a churning surging deathtrap with a shallow entrance like a nozzle to shoot any foolish bathers out to sea.  Today was one of the other times, and we chose to swim - elsewhere....  (compare my poorly-made pseudo-panorama shot to the clip off youtube. Hmm)

The tide looked pretty rough in the Queen's Bath and there was no way I was going to dip a toe in there. It was surging in and out with lots of foam. We decided to explore some more, further along the rocks there was another area where people were swimming. Many people were jumping from the very high rocks into the water. I watched with dread as they leapt off. Ty jumped in and urged me to come. I hesitated for quite a long time as it was high and the water was not that calm. Eventually I built up the courage and leapt in (lower down). We sculled for a while and then it was time to try and clamber up the slippery lava rocks back to safety. Perhaps this was a mini warm up for what was to come...
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Sunday 25 August 2013

Tiki Hut Times


The start of our awesome moon and time to relax! This time was very much needed after the crazy build up to the wedding. We stayed in the Tiki Hut a small accomodation set in beautiful grounds really close to the beach where we got married. It was awesome to: chill out in the gardens on the hammock, listen to the beautiful bird song, drink beer, eat apple bananas, chat with friends, use the hot tub and star gaze. On one of our lanais there were many coconuts that various guests had painted to leave a reminder of their stay at the hut. I spent one incredibly peaceful and satisfying morning painting our coconut to represent Makua Beach.  In the afternoon we went snorkelling on the reef and saw lots of trigger, parrot and moorish idol fish which was fun.

Aaah. Chill mode.
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