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.


  1. Nathan and Valerie here (a couple of your trail buddies). Glad you guys made it out safely, hopefully catching your flight to the next island on time. We thought we might have spotted you leaving on a boat one evening as we walked down to the beach, were we correct?

    You guys got some great shots capturing the suspense of the ledge, the tranquility of the beach, and majesty of the night sky.

    Enjoy the rest of the awesomemoon adventure. What a great way to begin your marriage! I am sure there will be many great memories along the way. We will pray for the Lord's blessing on your marriage. It isn't an easy undertaking, but is a well worth the effort!


    1. Hi Nathan and Valerie

      Thanks for finding us! We did indeed leave by boat on the same day at around 5.30pm.
      I hope you enjoyed the rest of your stay at Kalalau and your hike back out.

      It was great to meet you guys.

      Phillippa and Ty