Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Magical Na Pali Coast Trail: mean rangers, naked hippies, and killer trails

I've been saving the best for last: the Na Pali Coast Trail!  This was also my last run on the island of Kauai and is arguably the most scenic trail in Hawaii.  It is an 11 mile run to Kalalau on the Na Pali Coast Trail, then another 11 miles back. All in all, it's a 22 mile route (23.5 miles for us as we had our stuff stashed in the woods 3/4 of a mile from the trail head).

The day started out by getting kicked out of a campground and almost ticketed. James and I were planning to set up a tent at the campground near the start of the Na Pali Coast Trail, but as it turned out, the campground didn't open until 11am and we were there at 9am.  We thought if we set up our tent before we ran the arduous 22 mile Na Pali Coast Trail, we could collapse into it when we were done.  The ranger was rather unfriendly and threatening at 9am and after James walked away from him in a huff, the ranger really turned mean. I tried to reason with him, but clearly he'd made up his mind that we were tourists with no respect for the local customs.
James with all the gear he managed to hide in the jungle
The combination of the ranger kicking us out with our tent already 3/4 of the way set up and the homeless man watching from the bathrooms convinced us  that we'd better stash all our belongings in the jungle up the road (and out of sight) from the campground to ensure that nothing would be stolen when we got back 8 hours later.  We weren't willing to wait until 11am to set up our tent.  Plus, we were told we weren't allowed at that campground at all after the ranger blew up about James' walking off.  We hit the trail by 10am with all our belongings covered by a very conveniently brown colored tarp in the jungle.

The trail begins very crowded with hikers, muddy, and uphill.  It almost immediately offers incredible views of the impossibly blue ocean with vegetation that appears to have been planted from a sci-fi movie or the era of dinosaurs (at least to a native Washingtonian like me).  After 2 miles, tourists became fewer and farther between (thank god) and we crossed a few streams that can be incredibly dangerous when the area gets a lot of rain.  Just recently I read an article about 52 hikers who were stranded on one side of the stream when it grew to a river in just a few minutes.  Sadly, one woman died trying to cross the stream.  Today though, the stream was a pleasant knee high and the cool water felt good on the hot, sunny day.

The trail undulates up and down but follows the coast line the entire way out to Kalalau.  All this up-and-down translates to nealy 8,000 ft of climbing in just 22 miles.  For most of the trail, we enjoyed expansive and stunning views of the ocean.  Along the way we passed hikers from time to time who either looked like they'd walked out of a hippy commune complete with in some cases bare feet, tanned bodies, and lots of facial hair (men of course). The other types of hikers looked fresh and relatively clean (and pale skinned) and loaded with their heavy packs ready for a week or two of camping.  One woman heading back on the trail was burned red as a fresh piece of grocery store-dyed salmon, on every visible part of her skin.  Another woman was completely naked talking to an old grey bearded man, her long chestnut hair to her shoulder blades and her plump body, tan by weeks (?) in the sun.  A man headed back on the trail had a big overnighting hiking pack that looked nearly empy and long dreaded hair with tan skin that the dirt blended well with, he said he was headed out as there was too much stealing and drama at the end of the trail.
Beach at the end of the trail
The Na Pali Coast Trail ends at a picturesque white sand beach that smiles into the ocean.  The waves grab hard at the beach as they roll into the shore.  Signs warn that hikers that people should not swim due to strong side currents and after standing in the water where it touches the sand, I believe it!  The waves pull violently back at your legs as they rush into the ocean.  The trail is lined with campsites in the woods just above the beach.  I think of the stories I heard before we hiked this trail, of people who live here more than a few weeks.  Of a hippy community at the end of the trail where the person who brings the most booze, chocolate, and cigarettes is king.  It all seems so perfect. The perfect getaway from our modern living of constant calls, texts, emails, and facebook.  A truly simple life. But I still have 11 miles to run, and if I don't hurry, it will be dark soon.

Me, just barely in the dangerous water

We harnessed the energy of the mountain goat to do the run-- and there were some we saw just up the trail!!

Training Journal 2/18-2/24

Monday, February 18- Sunday, February 24, 2013: Got a cold this week and found myself struggling with tired legs (and lungs) many of the days.  It all culminated in finally taking a day off the next week despite my feeling that I didn't need a day off because my mileage is still not very high, uhhhh I did reach 80 miles this week, which is on the low end of "high" for me. When it comes down to it though, your body dictates the day (s) off and it's really better not to over think it, a common problem of mine.  Stupid brain!
All bundled up for a ride on the road.
Monday: 36 mile bike ride Chuckanut drive, Galbraith. this ride killed me. Oh, yeah--I haven't biked since before HURT I've been traveling so much...
Tuesday: 17 miles total. 10 miles on the Deception Pass 25k course with 1,300 ft/climbing in the AM. 7 miles in the afternoon, easy Sehome road/urban trail loop with 500 ft/climbing
Wednesday: 8 miles: 2 repeats of Pine and Cedar, 3,200 ft/climb 2hr.
Thursday: 7 miles with 650 ft/ft climbing 1:05hr. with BTRC- Urban Trail Run
Friday: 14 miles, 1600 ft/climbing.  Sehome to Interurban to Hemlock. Low energy.
Saturday: 10 miles, interurban, boulevard, Sehome loop. 900 ft/climb. Felt very low energy.  Feeling a cold, but not sure if that's why?
Sunday: 24 miles of hill repeats. Pine and Cedar repeats: 6 reps, 2 mile climb at 1.600 ft/per climb for a total of 9,600 ft/gain.

Running miles: 80 miles
Running Elevation Gain: 17,750 ft/climb
Biking Miles: 36 miles with 2,500 ft/gain
Cross training: 4 days of plank and one legged squats. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cross-Kauai Creek Run

What happened to our rental car??!!!!
AKA: Powerline Trail.  This route is one of those trail runs that is so much more fun after you are done and even more fun to talk about.  The route runs from Ka'pa to Princeville on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai.  I discovered, even in the short 3 days I was on the island that there are many trails to explore and they are all stunning.  I also enjoyed Kauai's quiet atmosphere and small towns.  Compared to the hustle and bustle of many parts of Oahu, it was a nice change.

The Powerline Cross Kauai route ended up being 13 miles point-to-point, due to a 3 mile road section at the end.  The trail would most aptly be called a creek run, rather than a trail run. It was almost entirely in a running creek with some slippery clay trail interspersed. At its deepest, the water reached all the way up to my shorts and oftentimes I'd sink into the mud, making the creek seem much deeper.  I wouldn't really recommend the route over all the other amazing adventures on Kauai, but it was epic!!

James records GPS data for a map.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Most Dangerous Hike on Oahu

 ...And also my favorite! 

Olomana Trail near Kailua on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu is a super steep hike up and over 3 peaks that follows the ridge line as it climbs at times almost vertically and then plummets just as steeply to the next peak.  Using ropes and basic rock climbing, we scrambled up all 3 peaks.  it's only about 2.75 miles to the farthest peak, but it's so steep and treacherous at times that you are moving pretty slowly.  Joe, James, and I did the hike while the others in our group enjoyed a relaxing day on the beach.  At one point I asked Joe if he'd ever do this hike again, to which he matter-of-factually stated, no!  I'm not sure I totally believe him, but I certainly understand how he felt.  At times you wonder if it's worth the risk.  Despite the leg-shaking ascents and descents, we had an amazing time and afterward, we celebrated our survival at a great local restaurant with some happy hour wine.