Wednesday, November 19, 2014

{Trekkin' Tips} Backpacking the Na Pali Coast

Backpacking the Na Pali Coast / Kalalau Trail is something that I am fortunate to have done twice now and is a must for anyone into the hiking, camping, or exploring scene. It truly is such an amazing hike and Kalalau Beach is such a special place. I wanted to give a few tips or maybe insights on the trail itself as well as what you really need from my perspective. I know that everyone is different and has different comfort levels, so this really is just a general idea of what to expect and what might be helpful for you to have or not have if you decide to take on this adventure - which you totally should.

Here are my 5 tips to Backpacking the Na Pali Coast

1.) CLOTHING: Depending on the time of year (we hiked it both times in September) you really don't need much clothing. I would suggest: 
  • 1 pair of quick dry/breathable shorts
  • 2 shirts (one to hike in and one to sleep in if needed)
  • 2 pairs of socks (there is something wonderful about putting on a clean pair of socks)
  • Hiking/trail shoes - We both hiked in our Salomon Speedcross trail shoes both times and they were amazing. From drying fast when wet to having great contact on slick surfaces, these shoes were the bomb. Hiking boots are alright but I think they would be much too heavy for this type of hiking. You do cross a few river's so it's nice to have something on your feet that will dry fast and won't weigh you down.
  • Flip flops (optional - but nice to have)
  • 1 swim suit (optional) yes there are nuddies on Kalalau Beach so get comfortable with the uncomfortable.
  • 1 surong (optional) - I basically lived in these things - love them.
  • bandana/headband if that's your style - helps with the dripping sweat you'll for sure encounter.
  • 1 pair undies/bra
  • sunglasses

2.) GEAR
  • Backpack - something that you feel comfortable having on your body for several hours.
  • Tent or tarp - this is kind of an optional thing as there are plenty of tree's for shelter, but it is nice having something fairly clean to crawl into.
  • Light weight sleeping bag or sheet - really a sheet is all you need. We brought a light weight sleeping bag but it was too hot. We used it mostly to lay over our sleeping pads.
  • Sleeping pad - again another optional item. The beach offer a little bit of support but it really just depends on your comfort level. We saw people out there with very minimal gear and seemed to be just fine.
  • Water filter (optional) - There is an amazing waterfall that provides crystal clear, cold water but we didn't want to risk stomach issues being so far from civilization. There were plenty of people that were not filtering their water and seemed to be just fine. We don't like playing Russian Roulette with our water supply so we filtered all of our water.
  • Water bottle or bladder - this one's obvious.
  • Stove/Gas/Bowl/Spoon - We brought a couple of freeze dry meals along with some oatmeal packets and nuts and used our little pocket rocket stove to boil water and make our meals. If you want to jazz up your freeze dry meals bring a little bag a mixed seasonings, it really helps the taste factor.
  • Thin climbing rope (optional) - this comes in handy for making a line to dry wet clothes or swim suits. There were a few permanent lines set in some of the tree's so you can decide if this is something worth packing.
  • Camera (optional) - if you're into documenting shit like I am.
  • First Aid Kit - H made a really great compact first aid kit that had the essentials for wilderness camping (duct tape included - we were fortunate to help several people out that had rips, tares, you name it with the simplicity of duct tape).

3.) Packing/Hauling WATER:
  • There are several different water sources along the Kalalau Trail. At about mile marker's 2, 6, and I think 7 & 8 and of course at the end of the line at Kalalau Beach. There are plenty of opportunities to get water, so don't worry about carrying too much along the way - specially at the beginning of the trail.
4.) Camping/Backpacking PERMITS:
  • In order to camp on Kalalau Beach you need to purchase a camping/backpacking permit from Hawaii State Parks. You can get your permits ahead of time online, which is recommended if planning on backpacking the Kalalau Trail. I would suggest getting your permits at least a month in advance before your trip. {Side note: When you purchase your permits you are helping the State of Hawaii in maintaining the trail systems and making it possible for people like us to see and do the things we love. Don't be a cheapwad and skip out on the permits.}
5.) HIKING the Kalalau Trail:
  • The trail itself is well maintained and is very obvious the whole way. The majority of the trail is in good condition with minimal exposure. You will encounter both a jungle life as well as skimming the edges if the different canyons. It is amazing. If you are in good physical condition and feel comfortable hiking for several hours with a weighted pack then this hike is for you. To make it even more do able you can camp at the 6 mile marker point at Hanakoa and enjoy a fairly secluded resting point for the night with plenty of water all around. Whether doing the Kalalau Trail in one day or multiple days, it's sure to give you a hearty workout as well as beauty for all of the senses. 
  • One suggestion I have is that if you plan on hiking all the way to Kalalau Beach, stay for at least 2 nights. It's so much more enjoyable to soak in the beauty as well as explore the area. We encountered many people who hiked in and got to Kalalau Beach by sunset and then turned around the following morning to hike out. So rushed - no time exploring Honopu Beach or Big Pool or any of the incredible sea caves. Of course not everyone has weeks off for vacation but to me it's worth the extra time out there to explore and really be disconnected from life as we know it. 
  • The second suggestion I have is getting on the trail as early as possible. Once that Kauai sun hits you, I feel like it immediately starts zapping your energy. H & I started hiking at 4:30 am and were at Kalalau Beach just in time for breakfast. We hike fast in the dark.

Hope these tips help. To future adventures....

Happy Trekkin'!