My friend, Sue, and I are off on another adventure, this time in Kauai. The weather forecast is grim, rainy. Surprisingly, it turns out to be spectacularly sunny, allowing us to hike, kayak, and bike with joy.
Due to the fact that it rains a great deal in Kauai, trails are often muddy and slippery. This is something we experience on two successive hikes. This is the brief story about one of them.
We drive to Waimea Canyon on the western side of the island to hike the Pihea Trail. I have explored the Canyon on foot during previous trips but this trail is very different. It overlooks the breathtaking Kalalau Valley on the Na Pali Coast. The trail map warns that while it is scenic, “sections can be very dangerous due to slick mud.” Good shoes and walking sticks are recommended and “there are many sprained ankles due to the trail’s conditions.” The Pihea Overlook, the highest point on the rim of the Valley, is described as a “short but grueling climb.” Frankly, we expect the mud. But “grueling”? Good grief!
The description turns out to be entirely accurate. It is necessary to focus on my footing every step of the way, constantly having to figure out the least unsafe place to put my feet and my poles. The path undulates steeply up and down, and almost everywhere, there are deep gooey ruts to be avoided. This can only be done at times by leaping over the puddles, or clinging to tree roots or limbs to hoist oneself around or above them. This is exhausting, yet somehow exhilarating.
The views are sublime.
Three hours later, we arrive safely back at the trailhead where we understand why there are a screw driver, a pick, and some brushes to dig out the accumulated mud from the treads of our boots. The only cure for the mud on our bodies and shorts, however, is a long shower and some strong detergent!