From the Hanakapi’ai Beach we continued up the valley for another 2 miles. Hiking Hanakapi’ai Falls was even more difficult than the Kalalau Trail. The area is extremely beautiful, with fresh water streams and waterfalls, but the hike is strenuous and challenging. The road is totally unmaintained and difficult to navigate.
Some parts of the trail have very narrow passages on high cliffs, which I found very scary. What is particularly challenging is the stream crossing and bolder jumping. It is really hard to keep your balance on those loose rocks moving under your feet. Also, there are long stretches of the trail that go
through slippery and muddy areas. The only compensation for that is that you you’ll find a lot of guava trees on the way that will quench your thirst.
On the Kalalau Trail the trekking poles come in very handy, but on this road they are of no use. Here you rather need to hang on to tree branches or roots, or to crawl. One important thing to remember is that this road can be hiked only in good weather conditions. Heavy rainfalls may cause dangerous flash floods and falling rocks from the waterfall, so this hike is safe only in summer.
The trail may be tough, but the payoff is definitely worth it. Once you reach the 300 foot tall Hanakapi’ai Falls, you’ll feel rewarded: the fresh, clear water of the falls looks so inviting after the 4 mile sweat. Finally, you can wash the mud and cool off, unless you forgot to bring a swim suit like we did!
But even if you just soak your feet in the cold water and eat a little snack it will make you feel refreshed. The greatest danger during these hikes is the dehydration. Not drinking enough and sweating abundantly can make you dizzy and even delirious.
On the way back, Laszlo had the bad idea to follow the river bed instead of the trail, jumping from bolder to bolder. He thought it would take him down faster, but that proved to be a bad decision. The pleasant rock to rock jumping was possible only for a short while, after which the moss covered rocks and deeper water forced him to scramble back to the trail.
We hiked for about 9 hours that day – from the starting point at Ke’e Beach to the Hanakapi’ai Falls (8 miles). Initially we didn’t plan to stay this long, so we didn’t take enough water. When we got back to the car we were completely dehydrated and exhausted. The lesson that we’ve learned that day is that when you go into the wilderness you can never be over prepared. Here is what you should carry with you if you want to attempt this hike:
- take plenty of water; it’s better to carry some extra weight than thirst;
- get the best hiking shoes; I usually check out the reviews at GearWeAre to make sure I have the best;
- a backpack with some snacks and a first aid kit;
- hat, sunglasses and long pants to protect your legs from scratches;
- sunscreen and insect repellent.