Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The best and worst of days at the Hanakapiai Falls

Everything hurt. The backs of my calves, my ankles, my lower back, much of my exposed skin from bug bites. How, I asked myself, did I end up in this situation?

It was completely self induced, and it was one of the best of days.

Yesterday we hiked the Kalalau trail on the North shore of Kauai - starting from the end of the road past Hanalei. First leg was the 2 miles to the Hanakapiai Beach up and over about 1000 feet. This beach is stunning with crashing turquoise waves - but a killer. The sign above the beach says the beach is "Deadly" and uses notches to show the number of lives taken by the waves. Over 60 notches. Is that the value of a life - one notch?

Then the hike up to the Hanakapai Falls. Up, up, up, often climbing hand over hand over rocks and dragging our feet through fudge. Walking on a 2 ft wide ledge of red sludge. Crossing the river four times in our hiking shoes and walking on in wet socks and oozing shoes.

And about 1400 feet up I was having to talk myself into finishing. Everything hurt and I had a pounding headache. The "trail" was continuous climbing over boulders and my 20 year old hiking buddy was scampering in front of me with chipper comments like "not far now" and "keep on coming". But I just won't quit. A stubborn witch.

It was, of course, worth it. The falls are indescribably beautiful, the water ice cold (exactly what I needed to cool off) and the water crashing down pulsed and massaged my aching deltoids. Bret arrived 5 minutes after us (taking less than half the time on the way up!) and observed that I had lost my sense of humor - but a bag of Maui chips later and some electrolytes and I was once again smiling.

Down was harder than up! Mud, slick rocks, a dropping sun, mosquitoes, and my lovely husband whistling along with useful comments like "honey, it's like childbirth, you'll forget the pain and want to do it again".

Maybe I'll only remember the spiritual beauty of the Falls and forget the pain by the time the spectacular bruises on my butt fade!

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