Wild Chickens and Muddy Hikes

Let me just get this out of the way: wild chickens play almost no role in this blog entry.  They are, however, prevalent on Kauai, and make for a nice title.  Chicken also featured heavily on our first evening on the island.  Short story: not a single restaurant we wanted was open after 5:00 on Saturday night, so we ended up at KFC (which I dubbed Kauai Fried Chicken).  Going to bed full of grease, we resolved the next day would be better.  I also resolved to give KFC a wide berth for a while.

On day one we drove all the way to the end of the road at the Northern end of Kauai.  The beautiful Na Pali coast prevents the road from going all the way around the island.  Nothing, however, prevents rain from falling, and there was a lot of it.  We tried to share the gorgeous views along the drive with Ann since it was her first time on this island, but many places were fogged in.  We were unable to hike even the first few miles of the trail that connects one end of the Na Pali coast to the other; the trail was so muddy it was closed.  Undaunted, we headed to northernmost Ke’e beach as well as renowned Tunnels Beach for some snorkeling.  The rain stopped by the time we got there, and we even got to see some of the more elusive fish of Hawaii.

Before leaving the area, we played in a “rainfall” and Ann checked out one of the small caves.  Driving back the way we came, it rained off and on, and we could now barely see the carefully laid out taro fields and the town and bay of Hanalei.  Stephanie and Ann hiked down a muddy, steep (but luckily short) trail to check out the beach featured in the old musical, South Pacific.

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“Rain” fall

Our next big stop was Princeville, a very high-end resort area that attracts the rich and famous.  Our goal was not to see resorts but rather to make it to a place called Queen’s Bath.  The short hike to this tide pool was made more treacherous by the rain which turned the entire path to mud.  Barry remained safely in the car while we ended up hiking barefoot with Ann!  It was probably the muddiest hike we’ve done to date, and there was no escaping this hike in a clean manner.  It was well worth it though.  Queen’s Bath is a round “pool” created by the huge lava rocks surrounding it and protecting it from the ocean, but it can be unsafe, and the last time we were there, we could not swim in it.  This time, despite the fact that the storm off the coast had set the water to churning, we could tell it was calmer, and locals told us it was very safe as long as one used common sense.  While Ann picked her way down to the edge of the pool, Stephanie and I opted for the mid-air leap.  Once in the pool, we’d get close to the ocean, and let the waves sweep us off our little shelf and back into the pool.  This place was a blast, and Stephanie wanted to stay all day.

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One more plunge

VIDEO: Getting washed away at Queen’s Bath

Our last stop of the day was to get some views of the beautiful peninsula housing Kilauea Lighthouse, and as a bonus, we had a nene following us around.

The outdoor fun never ends in Kauai, and the next day found us kayaking up the Wailua River with Ann.  Ann was worried that we would out-kayak her in our double kayak, so she headed off a few minutes before us. Ann, however, is apparently some kind of kayaking powerhouse, because we didn’t catch up with her until it was time to dock our boats and hike to Secret Falls.  Last time Stephanie and I were here was in the off season, so the falls were barely a trickle, and there was no one there.  Today however, the entire kayaking population of Kauai was at this one spot.  Some secret!  Seriously, I have never seen so many kayaks in one place.

In keeping with the theme of our Kauai hikes so far, he trail was a muddy mess.  Once again, we set off sans shoes.  Our usual 25 minute hike took almost an hour as we picked our way through muddy trails, and across one swift river. This hike now took first place as the muddiest hike we had ever been on.  Our reward, however was that Secret Falls was flowing at full speed.  It wouldn’t do to pass up an opportunity to swim in the falls, so swim we did before heading back to continue kayaking.

We paid a quick visit to Kauai’s famous Fern Grotto, before paddling back to our starting point.

Day 3 was Waimea Canyon. We had visited this briefly with the New Jersey Contingent while we were on our cruise; now it was time to get some serious hiking in (with Ann, of course).  Canyon Trail started off in the woods, but soon took us to the ridge on the “back” edge of the canyon. Stay on this trail long enough and you reach that Hawaiian-hiker’s reward: a waterfall, this time Waipo’o Falls.  This one was waaaaay too cold to swim in.  That is, unless you’re Stephanie.  That girl will swim anywhere!  After she froze her extremities for a bit, we took a steep little spur to the top of the giant part of the same waterfall that you can see from the viewpoint across the way. This one is something like 1400 feet to the bottom, so there was no swimming at the top, but the view was pretty remarkable.

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Jumping bug

After catching up with Barry, we decided that since we had driven as far as possible to the north on our first day, we should drive as far as possible to the south.  Barking Sands Beach didn’t appear accessible thanks to a military tracking station, but Polihale State Park is. This beach is at the end of about four miles of unmaintained, and badly rutted road. Our four miles took us a good 30 minutes, during which I was stressed that I would damage our rental car on this rutted road.  We took a quick peek at the beach, and then doubled back a bit to Queen’s Pond.  (We learned that any place a Queen swam was dubbed Queen’s Pond.  Boy, this queen sure swims a lot.)  I’m not quite sure where the “Pond” came from, since this stretch of ocean is not a pond. It’s not even a cove.  But it does have some huge sand dunes that you have to descend to get to the water. It was supposedly much calmer than other parts of the beach in this park, but the water got deep fairly quickly and there was a strong sideways current, so we didn’t swim too long before heading out.

Our next day featured one of the most fabulous Hawaiian adventures we’d had to date, but I see you’ve had enough Hawaii for one day, so you’ll just have to come back for our next installment. Instead, we will leave you with a picture of wild chickens and some hibiscus flowers – both of which are all over Kauai.

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