Mother Nature is a bitch. On one hand, she takes eons to sculpt and refine some of the most beautiful and precious natural wonders on our planet. On the other, however, she can erase that beauty in the blink of an eye, geologically speaking. While earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes seem to get the most attention in terms of natural disasters, floods, specifically flash-floods, are among the most devastating and have the longest-lasting impact on the landscape. The former is no-less terrifying – wiping the earth bare, or bringing down buildings and causing fires – but flash floods forever change the landscape and strike with a suddenness only matched by earthquakes. They can also catch you off-guard because they can occur even if it isn’t raining where you are as the water can travel from miles away.
If you read our last post (thank you!), you’ll know that one of our all-time favorite travel destinations was struck with a massive weather system. On April 14th and 15th, the North Shore of the island of Kauai received 28 inches of rain in a 24-hour period. River water rose 4 – 6 feet and overflowed into the postcard-perfect surf village of Hanalei; flooding homes and businesses and causing several landslides that destroyed bridges and roads along the Na Pali Coast. As if that news isn’t horrible in-and-of-itself, there came news that the rain had also destroyed sections of what has often been claimed as one of the world’s most beautiful hiking trails – The Kalalau Trail.
Below is a very short video of the aftermath of destruction shot by hikers as they fled from the Kalalau Trail and had to hike 20 miles over 2 days in horrible conditions. Click here to read a short write-up of their experience.
In response to the devastation, the State Parks Service has closed the Kalalau Trail indefinitely. This was especially sad news to hear as we were fortunate to be able to hike this marvelous trail a few years back for RJ’s 30th birthday. Nostalgia had us digging out the series of videos RJ shot and edited of our time spent on the Kalalau. We realized they were hidden on a computer hard drive instead of us sharing them with others who may enjoy them.
After our first night at Kalalau, we explore the beach and caves and go for a swim. We then hike back into Kalalau Valley to find Big Pool – a pristine swimming hole tucked deep in one of Kauai’s most isolated valleys. We get lost several times and have to find our way onto the correct trail. But the stunning scenery and variety of terrain and plants make it a thoroughly enjoyable adventure! Be sure to watch until the end to see how we finish our day.
Our perfect day! As if this experience couldn’t get any better, Kalalau continues to surprise us with her secrets and beauty. We hike back into the valley, once again, to find a Garden of Eden. Described to us by hikers in-the-know, the garden is project maintained by people who (illegally) live within the valley year-round and use the garden to grow food. Afterward, we hike even deeper into the denser rainforest to bathe in a waterfall. We finish the day with another perfect sunset and bask in a magical moment that transcends explanation.
Our time here is over. The three of us wake up early to pack up camp and hit the trail back to Hanakoa (the half-way camp). More surprises await us as we finish our day in a place totally different from where we imagined we would be.