After our failed attempt at hiking the Napali coast earlier in the week, we decided to try our luck again. We hit the trail at about 9:30am and found it open (red danger tape still up, but not blocking the way). We knew this was going to be tough (especially not having done a strenuous hike in a LONG time), but we underestimated how challenging the terrain would be with the wet weather. For those of you who do not know, I injured my knee about a year ago, and since that time, I have had to be gentle with any high impact activities in order to allow the cartilage to heal. I am happy to say that I did not injure my knee at all on the hike, but due to the slippery and tough terrain, we had to take it very slow. Our 8 mile round trip hike ended up taking about 7 hours.
The trail on the Napali coast is split into different sections. The first 2 miles is the hike to Hanakapi’ai beach, with a 2 mile side trip up the canyon to reach the Hananakapi’ai waterfall. In order to get to the beach though, you have to cross the stream, which is one of the main reasons why the trail closes – when the stream swells, hikers can easily be washed away out to sea trying to cross chest-deep water. Luckily for us, the stream wasn’t too deep, but I did have to wade through hip-height water which was a bit scary. Even a low level of water can have enough force to push you down if you don’t have a good foothold. Luckily, I had Doug to guide me through the water and to grab on to when I felt wobbly.
After a quick snack break, we decided to try the hike up to the waterfall even though it started raining. We thought the trail into the beach was muddy, but boy were we mistaken. We were hiking through ankle-deep mud puddles at certain points on the trail to the waterfall. This trail also required crisscrossing the river 3 more times with the third time being the most dangerous. We finally got to about a quarter mile from the waterfall and were able to take some pictures – although it was very foggy, it was still stunning. By this time, I was feeling a pretty tired and shaky and the last leg of the hike required scrambling up a rock face that had turned into a small waterfall due to the pouring rain. Doug and I looked at each other with the same expression of “no thank you, I would like to survive this hike.” So, we turned around and hiked back, crossing our fingers that the stream levels hadn’t risen more. It was a huge relief to get back to the beach and could see that the river was still crossable (if it closes, you have to stay the night on the trail which we were NOT prepared for). We took a break to snap some pictures of two rough looking cats hanging out on the beach and enjoyed the beauty and power of the crashing waves. Then, we mustered up the energy to hike the last two miles in the mud.
If you are reading this and are thinking this sounds miserable – yeah, we didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into. This is an absolutely beautiful hike in the summer and maybe I would have taken a few more risks if my knee was up for the challenge. However, we accomplished something that not many people have and were rewarded with stunning views. In the end, I am really glad we did it.
We were starving once we made it back to the car and went directly to Sushi Girl Kauai for the best spicy tuna roll I have ever had in my life. I may be over exaggerating, but the relief of being in a dry car with the hike behind us added to the whole experience.
Since this was our last night and we figured we had some calories to make up (I logged 35,000 steps on the Fitbit), we headed to the Lava Lava Beach Club just down the street. We enjoyed our last Mai Tais, some other tropical drinks, coconut shrimp, and an awesome banana-chocolate desert. With our toes in the sand, we listened to the live Hawaiian music, watched the moon rise and sparkle on the waves, and had a perfect ending to our last night in Kauai.