Whenever I tell someone that I'm going to the beautiful island of Kauai they usually ask me "Are you hiking the Na Pali coast?!" On my first trip to Kauai I ran out of time and never got to do the hike along the Na Pali coast. Going back a second time, I made sure to do all the things I didn't have time for before, and hiking to Hanakapi'ai Falls was towards the top of the list!
The Kalalau Trail starts at the end of the road at Ke'e Beach and goes up-hill and then down hill for 2 miles until you hit Hanakapi'ai Beach. This is the point at which if you want to keep hiking the Na Pali coast you need to get a permit and backpacking is recommended. From the beach it's 2 miles inland to the waterfalls. Once you hit the falls, you turn back and retrace your steps until you get back to Ke'e Beach.
Originally we wanted to plan our hike along the Kalalau Trail so that it would coincide with a dry day before, giving enough time for the wet trail to dry out a bit. Unfortunately we packed to much in and had to do the hike on a specific day. We set out early and immediately began wondering what we were getting ourselves into: the very beginning of the hike was already slippery. About a mile into the hike it started to POUR on us. Luckily my ClikElite camera bag had a rain cover or my gear might have been completely soaked/ruined. For a couple minutes we thought about taking cover under some trees but realized quickly it was useless and we kept hiking in the rain. In typical Hawaii fashion the rain stopped about 15 minutes later and eventually we made our way across the river and down to Hanakapi'ai Beach. After a short break we started the 2 mile trek inland.
We hadn't gone more than 200 feet when the trail turned from hard packed dirt to wet slushy mud. At one point we gave up trying to find dry land and just started trudging through the mud. The rest of the trail includes crossing a stream another half a dozen times and eventually my friends gave up completely on trying to keep their feet dry and just trudged through everything (I might add that my feet stayed completely dry on this hike!)
Tired, wet, cold, and frustrated we finally made it to Hanakapi'ai Falls! And man is it a beauty! The waterfall drops 300 feet down, and bounced off numerous cliff rocks as it falls -- some of which you can see here. I took a few quick photos, took a group shot of us, and then scarfed down some lunch before we hit the trail to return home.
Nikon D700 w/Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S:
70mm, f/20, 0.4 sec, ISO 100
B+W Circular Polarizer
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Beyond the 48