Peak(s):  Kalalau trail, Hawaii - 5,000 feet
Date Posted:  11/10/2010
Date Climbed:   11/01/2010
Author:  PDavis
 Kalalau trail, Hawaii  

In Memory of Scott

Last year my soon to be mother-in-law Terri and her brother Scott had a trip planned to go to Hawaii. Scott was wanting to take Terri to his favorite place to be in the world, Hawaii. He lived and worked in Hawaii for 7 years and he had also hiked the Kalalau trail a few times himself. Even though he wasn't in good enough shape to hike it again he was wanting to take her on a helicopter ride of the Na Pali Coast and show her the beautiful cliffs and valleys that lead to the amazing Kalalau Beach, but before they got the chance to go on this awesome adventure, he passed away. Scott always said that when he was gone he wanted he ashes spread along the Kalalau trail, so Terri decided that she was going to go and for fulfill his wishes. She decided that she was going to hike the trail just as he did in his younger years and she wanted to do it with her daughter Raechel, my fiance. So it was decided that I would also go, except there was just one catch. Our 14 month old daughter would have to come along for the ride. Normally that wouldn't be a big deal, but this trail is supposed to be pretty intense. Backpacker Magazine has it rated as one of America's 10 Most Dangerous Hikes and its 11 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain just to reach Kalalau Beach. Knowing this and having our baby Alexa with us, we just planned on going and making it as far as we felt comfortable and where ever we decided to turn around that it would still be an amazing trip.

We flew out there Halloween night, got the rental car and some dinner and headed for the trailhead to set up camp. We came across a local that said that there was a nice beach about a mile from the trailhead that would be a good place to camp for the night. It was right off the water and we could hear the crashing waves of the ocean all night. We woke up early in the morning to check out the view and to give Alexa some time to play in the ocean for the first time.

Alexa's first steps in the ocean

We hung out there for a little while longer and then finished packing up and were off to the trailhead.

View from near the start.

The first two miles are fairly easy. We made good time as we soaked up all the views around us.

At the two mile mark we came to Hanakapiai Beach. Here we took off our shoes to go across the first of many river crossings.

Hanakapiai Beach from the trail above

We only stayed Hanakapiai for a short time. We got back on the trail heading towards Hanakoa valley making sure we would have enough daylight to set up camp.

This is what the trail was like for a good portion of the hike, but there are a few places that are quite a bit steeper and more narrow.


We were going to camp near the Hanakoa stream which is 6 miles from the start, so once we entered Hanakoa valley we all got pretty excited knowing that we had less then a half mile left.

It was morning before we knew it and we were anxious to get on the trail and make the last 5 miles to Kalalau Beach, but we knew that the most dangerous part of the trip was just around the corner. After about a mile and half or so we came to our turn around point. The trail here was extremely narrow, high up on the steep and rocky cliffs. If we didn't have Alexa with us I'm sure we would have just taken our time and made it across, but we felt that it wasn't worth the risk. The next day it was made clear that we made the right call as it started to rain and continued to on and off for two days making the trail extremely slick.

Pic of the turn around point. You can see the trail on the middle left as it raps around the cliff

Terri decided that she would spread part of his ashes here Image

Since we weren't going to continue on we decided just to head back to where we camped the night before and set up camp again and have a relaxing day, resting and exploring the area near by.

Taking it easy at camp

Hanakoa Stream


That night we went to bed with clear skys to be woken up in the middle of the night in a down pour. Bad night for Raechel to decide to sleep in the hammock. It rained until 8am and our plan was to hike back out to Hanakapiai Beach and camp there for the night, but as soon as we reached Hanakoa Stream we discovered that through the night it turned into a rushing river. It took us a long time to find a place that we could safely cross with Alexa.

We safely crossed the river and were on our way back to the beach. All the rain made the trail really slick in spots, but we took our time and everyone made it out safely.

Alexa hanging out in her full rain gear

Our veiw from our camp spot on Hanakapiai Beach

Even though the rain continued we still had a fun time hanging out at camp.

No worries, I can take over the navigation from here

Cool cave on the beach

The next morning we got up and decided to head back out to the car. We only had two more miles left so we took our time packing up. Terri spread the rest of Scotts ashes at the beach and we headed out.

Nice and wet

And we made it out

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

11/10/2010 13:19
I'm officially jealous!


11/10/2010 14:59
Picture 23 is awesome! I can't wait to have kids! Nice trip report.


11/10/2010 17:40
Great Trip report. I did the day hiker portion of this trail a few years, I still think it's my most favorite hike, wish I could have done the entire trail. I guess it's a good reason to go back. Thanks again, pictures are amazing


Wow is correct
11/10/2010 18:09
What a great trail. another one that goes to my list.


beautiful trip
11/10/2010 19:38
Patrick, thats a nice loop, thanks for the beta and nice shots. Looks like you had a mix of nice and wet weather, just adds to the experience.


Looks Familiar
11/10/2010 20:06
I was there in Kauai early Oct of this year! About 3 weeks before you. A place everyone should visit at least once in their life for sure. Also the helicopter tour of Kauai is a must! It was great!

Were you able to hike inland to Hanakapiai Falls? You were so close! Once you get their you have to swim out to the falls, it's amazing.

Great photos.


So beautiful ...
11/10/2010 22:22
The colors are vibrant and I can hear and smell the ocean just looking at your photos. What a neat looking trail! (Reminds me of some of the Glacier National Park goat paths, but on an island setting). And, what a cute little bunchkin you have! Thanks so much for sharing. Happy trails!


Great TR
11/10/2010 22:42
Im super jealous of you guys!!! I would of really liked to see what was around that cliff face! by the way Alexa is Adorable, your going to have hands full here in a few years! lol


11/11/2010 01:54
Beautiful pictures, P Davis.

We do not see too many trip reports from Hawaii on this site. This is now on my list. Is this the trail the couple in the movie A Perfect Getaway (2009) hikes?


What a tribute!
11/11/2010 15:25
What a tribute to Scott and what an awesome experience for all of you to be part of. Thanks for sharing!


11/11/2010 19:48
Thanks everyone for all the nice commets. It was an awesome trip. One I'll never forget
WillV- No we didn't get a chance to see the falls, but we're hopping to go back one day soon and completing the entire trail, so maybe then.
sad2- Yes that is the trail from A Perfect Getaway


Love it
11/11/2010 20:46
Nice report and some beautiful pics of one of my favorite places on earth. Sorry you couldn't make the beach but it sounds like you made the right choice. When I was there we had great dry weather so it was really interesting to see in your photos how the trail degrades and the river crossings rise with rain. When you go back (be sure that you do) make sure to spend at least a couple days out at the beach. Lots to do and explore out there and a 1 day stay just isn't enough.


11/13/2010 17:51
I love Kauai and will have to try to get back there for some hiking for sure. Great TR!


Very Nice
11/13/2010 21:59
What an awesome thing for Terri to do. I'm sure Scott would be very proud of all of you!
I've been to Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island. Kauai is next on my list! Great trip report and pics.


Loved it
11/16/2010 16:59
Especially the little one with the head lamp

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