back in April we spent a few nights in the jungles of Kauai....here is a little of what we saw.
Within thirty seconds of hopping out of the Jeep I was soaked. We grabbed our packs, hoisted them up onto our backs (praying the rain covers would work), and walked our first few steps on the red muddy trail. I felt like I was walking underneath a waterfall (which later I found out felt nothing like this). It was a constant wall of water streaming down that soaked my clothes, pooled on my skin, and drip drip dropped off the brim of my hat making it almost impossible for me to see. The rocks were slippery, the roots were reaching up and grabbing my ankles, and my pack was wiggling in every direction that I wasn't.
This was a great idea…..(?)
this photo makes me laugh. we hadn't even gone a mile but we were completely SOAKED.....we look like we've been on the trail for weeks.
A couple miles in, we reached our first river crossing. Small rocks marked our way across—a fairly easy hop skip and jump for anybody who wasn’t wearing a few days worth of belongings on their back. I hadn’t found my groove yet and still felt like my pack was working against me, so I cautiously stepped on the first rock to cross.....very unsure of how this was all going to work. I hopped to the next, wobbled over a few more, and on my very last leap to the safety of stable ground, my body went forward and my pack did not cooperate, so only one of my feet made it to shore while the other flailed mid air and landed me half way in the river.
We added our mark to the beach full of cairns and hit the trail again. Without even realizing it, I'd found my rhythm. My pack had finally molded to my hips and shoulders, I felt my stride lengthening and my feet becoming more sure. The sun even came out to dry our wet bones. We became familiar with the pattern of the trail--as we'd head deep into the jungle the rain would pour down, and we'd slip and slide our way through blurry vision knowing that the sun would come as we climbed out of the trees. When we'd get back to the edge of the island--the sunshine and ocean breeze would greet us as we looked out over towering cliffs....down down down to the ocean below. In and out, in and out.
This trail was grueling with a loaded pack. Up and down and down and up--but not only that--it was ROUGH. Rocky and rooty--I had to pay careful attention to each step. It was completely exhausting on my brain and my body. At about 10 miles in, we saw it--the beach we would call home for the next few days. The last mile seemed impossibly long, but the thought that I could take my pack off--and KEEP my pack off for a while, gave me some pep in my step and we quickly made our way to set up camp.
Everyone told us about the hippies we would meet on the end beach. We knew they lived there, we knew they'd be naked, we were ready for it. What we didn't know about was all the activities you could do while nude--you know--like naked hula-hooping, naked yoga, naked sword fighting (with sticks, thank goodness!) We were party poopers and didn't partake in any of the day's nude activities, and instead set up our camp in the trees, away from the naked village. We ate burritos for dinner, and washed ourselves up and filled our bottles from a waterfall that reached up so high up I actually think it was falling from the clouds. We sat on the beach and watched the sun melt into the ocean. We fell asleep to the sound of some guy playing a flute (I'm assuming that was also done in the nude.)
The next morning we left camp and headed up river to explore. We winded through the jungle, we swam in warm pools, we napped on the rocks and let the sun bake our winter skin (this was April--it snowed in Utah while we were gone!) We found moss covered totems, and each took a turn in the old prayer labyrinth that we stumbled upon. If you're thinking this all sounds so perfect and charming and magical, I'll bring it back down a notch by letting you know we also saw a man that looked like homeless Santa Claus jump into the water naked....so not all the views were equally incredible. But yes, for the most part is was all purely magical and felt like paradise.
The Way Out.
We woke the next morning, packed up our belongings and loaded them onto our backs (WHY did our packs seem heavier.....we'd eaten so much food!) We quickly found our pace and talked and laughed and tried to take it all in (impossible.) We got to a river crossing and stashed our stuff in the trees and set out to find another waterfall. I felt so light and bouncy without my pack, I practically ran up the trail, anxious to get in the water and let it restore my aching limbs. I was chilled from our quick swim, but I knew I wanted to climb up under the waterfall--when would I get a chance like this again? The closer I got to the fall, the more I realized how ridiculous this was going to be. Rather than the gentle mist I'd imagined myself gracefully standing in, looking wild and natural like a local jungle queen, the weight of the water barely let me lift my head. I choked and sputtered as buckets of water dumped over me, threatening to drown me as I stood there. I looked less like a queen, and more like a soggy idiot. Those soap commercials sure are misleading.
much more painful than it looks like it would be...
The Burgers and The Coke
Even though my pack felt like a big awkward extension of my body, I was having so much fun exploring, I decided right then I wanted to live like this--out of a pack--with just my few belongings and my feet to get me everywhere. I would eat jerky and peanut butter forever, grow gardens with the naked locals, and learn how to carve my own flute to play through the late evening hours. But as we followed the trail out for the last few miles, the sun beat down and we kept waiting for those familiar rain clouds when we'd head back into the jungle....they never came. Just the hot, hot heat and the dust from the trail filling our mouths.....I soon found myself dreaming of ice. Ice cold.....anything. I wanted an ice cold Coke and a burger. TWO burgers. and fries. and iccceeeee. So the last hot mile of the trail I found myself abandoning the idea of living in the wild, and chanting with each step, "burgers and coke, burgers and coke, burgers and coke." It set my pace and helped me push through the last mile. The trail spat us out at a beach, and we dumped our packs and ran (no really, you should have seen us running) straight INto the ocean--diving in head first to wash away the dust and pains of the trail.
And then we headed to town for burgers and a Coke.
just a few extras for those of you that are curious
-Find a rice and beans mix that will cook up quickly in water and bring some tortillas, cheese and avocado and it will be the best tasting burrito you've ever had after a long day on the trail. add hot sauce for a bonus.
-Bagels + smoked salmon + cream cheese
-Kodiak Power Cakes ALWAYS a favorite around here. top with nut butter or syrup (sometimes you can find teeny tiny bottles in the store. worth the weight if you ask me:)
-Good 2 Go Bars (a new favorite--these are awesome!)
-Epic Bars bars. of. meat. Initially they tripped me out but when you are starving after being out ALL day long they taste soooooo good and really fill you up.
-Justin's Nut Butter great for bagels, tortillas, oatmeal, pancakes, or just eating!
-Barney Butter Packets I found these and love their unique flavors for spreading or just eating plain for some extra calories.
-Honey Stinger Waffles and Chews always good for a quick energy boost
-Nuun I add this to my water when things get hot and sweaty. It has all the good stuff you need to put back into your body when you sweat it out.
Prana Asha Shorts These shorts were the best! Kept the water off my skin. super comfortable, super tough.
Patagonia Undies : You need good undies when you are out for days and constantly getting soaked. These are comfy and dry quickly. Check out their Barely Bra too--so comfortable!
Backpacking Towel : Loved this little towel--it packed away small in my pack and soaks up so much water after a waterfall bath. I have a ton of hair that stays wet forever (seriously I don't think my hair was ever 100% dry the whole time we were in Kauai) but this towel would pull a lot of moisture out of my hair. It also dries quickly.
Smartwool Socks : Good socks are a must for days on the trail--especially when your feet are getting wet.
LifeProof Phone Case: I would only have a few photos if I didn't have this waterproof case on my phone. Its AWESOME for rain and underwater photos (those coming next post)
Patagonia Trucker Hats our favorites
A stick....which will help with balance sometimes....but you may still fall in the river.
all photos were taken with my iPhone.
more Hawaii to come!