September 1, 2013

Kalalau Trail: 'Most beautiful place,' even in the rain

Hikers leave the Kalalau Trail on Kauai happy they made the strenuous and muddy 22-mile round trip.

By PAIGE DONNELLY Special to The Washington Post

(Continued from page 2)

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The Kalalau Trail on Kauai, the oldest of Hawaii’s major islands, passes through the Kalalau Valley as well as rainforests.

Photos by Tim DeLaVega

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At one end of the 11-mile trail is Kalalau Beach.


STAYING on the Kalalau Trail costs $20 per night. Apply for a permit online at

TO LEARN MORE, go to kauai/kalalau.cfm

Mid-sentence, we had run into three naked people strolling down the path. It was then that we realized that the beach to our right was not as quiet and deserted as we had thought. Nudists were frolicking in the ocean, throwing Frisbees across the beach, doing yoga in the sand and shrieking with joy.

Recovered from our initial shock, we agreed that this was great. Everyone seemed so naturally in his or her element. Keeping our distance so as not to intrude, we slipped into the ocean along the edge of the beach.

After a while in the sun, we headed back to the trail. We stopped by a stream to fill up on water. A man bathed naked in a pool behind us. He hummed a tune; we didn't bat an eye. That night we camped along the trail. We didn't talk much.

The sunset, the stars, the quiet -- it was all extraordinary.

On our last day, the rain came down on the Na Pali Coast with a vengeance. Sam would still hop across the streams, from slippery rock to rock. I waded right through. It didn't make a difference; we both ended up drenched.

We emerged from the trail looking as if we had walked through days of rain.

We thought about calling a cab to give us a ride back to Hanalei, a town a little way down the road on the north shore, but we were still ready to roll. So we decided to hitchhike.

A couple from Los Angeles in a sleek Jeep Wrangler picked us up. The husband told us he had just recovered from cancer and was living big.

"I usually wouldn't pick up hitchhikers," he told us, "but I saw you two and said to hell with it. I usually wouldn't rent a big fancy car, but I liked this one and I said to hell with it. I usually wouldn't spend a week at the St. Regis Resort. ..."

Tired and wet in his spotless car, we were grateful he was living big. We told him that once he was up for it, he needed to come back and do the Kalalau Trail.

"Why?" he asked.

I said: "Just look at us!"


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