The views are less, the crowds greater, and the trail muckier - so we didn't spend a lot of time dallying on the stretch of trail from Hanakapi'ai back to the trailhead, covering it in about an hour. We finished our backpack to a light sunshower at about 3:20pm.
Leaving Hanakapi'ai Valley
Brian finishes the Kalalau
If you are interested in reading more about our Kalalau Trail backpack, along with lot of extra pictures not in this main narrative, please click here
Interactive trackmap - Kalalau Beach to Kee Beach via Kalalau Trail - Double-click to expand
Kalalau Trail, Kalalau Beach to Ke'e Beach - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet
Last but not least, below is a video presentation highlighting some of the scenes along the Kalalau Trail. Click directly on the image below to start it.
Video, The Kalalau Trail. - Click on video above to start
With our backpack complete, it was time to do two things: the first was to retrieve our stored duffel bags from the Wainiha General Store, and the second was to position ourselves for some dayhiking that we had planned in the Koke'e State Park area of the island.
Back at the Wainiha General Store, we once again met the cheerful lady behind the counter (I can't recall her name), who regaled us with stories of carefree experiences on the Kalalau Trail years ago. We then had a quick bit to eat at the 'Red Hot Mama's' taco stand adjacent to the store (extremely excellent and low-cost food, by the way). We then headed off, because we had a fair bit of driving to do. Nearly seventy-five miles, to be precise - a long distance on an island like Kaua'i.
With the rest of our gear now re-united with us, we started out immediately on the road, bound for a point not far away as the crow flies, but pretty far away as the car drives. Tomorrow we wished to spend time at Koke'e State Park, which is positioned high up on the forested plateau above the Na Pali Coast, very close to where we were right at that moment. However, because there is no true circle auto route around Kaua'i, we have to drive clockwise, all the way around the coast of Kaua'i, until we reach the highway that winds up onto the plateau. We have decided on a camping location on the coast not far from Koke'e, at Polihale State Park, in order to position ourselves for a short drive to Koke'e in the morning. Now knowing how slow the traffic can be on the main (and only practical) route, I knew it was important to get started as soon as possible on our near-circumferential drive. It is always desirable, you see, to try and arrive at your camp before dark.
Idyllic Hanalei Valley
We drove east on the Kuhio highway, stopping to take a couple of pictures of sublime tropical Kaua'i scenery at the Hanalei Valley overlook, then on further east, then southeast, south, past the capital of Lihue, then west along Kaua'i's southern shoreline, and finally bending back north along the western coast of the island. We were entering the leeward side of the island - the side opposite from where the prevailing winds come from - and as a result, much of the moisture in the air has already been wrung out by Kaua'i's central mountains. Sure enough, the landscape around us was now much more open and arid, and above, the sky no longer contained a passing shower every hour or so.
The traffic wasn't horribly bad, but it was still congested enough and slow enough that it took us just over two hours to drive the roughly 70 miles between Hanalei and Polihale State Park. The last 8 miles into Polihale State Park were gravel (note: although we had a Jeep, it was quite passable by ordinary cars).
Polihale State Park
Polihale State Park is essentially a miles-long stretch of beach that butts up against the western end of the Na Pali Coast, which pinches off the coastal plain (and the beach) at the far end of the park. There were very few people around, so we made camp on a grassy mound above the beach not far from the main picnic table area, which itself was deserted except for a somewhat dishevelled-looking man picking up trash and placing it into overfull garbage containers. He soon left after we arrived.
After setting up our tents and cleaning up at the beach showers next to the restrooms, we had a camp dinner by headlamp, then hit the hay underneath a clear, starry sky.
Interactive Trackmap - Drive from Haena SP to Polihale SP - double-click to view