Thursday, August 31, 2006

Week 2 continued
So that evening I get back to the hostel and I meet Marc. Marc was a 6'1" 250lb Swiss dude that was pure muscle. Marc was a mechanical technician, and part time bouncer at a club. For fun, he was a professional swiss wrestler, and for his job, he was in the UFC. I never understood his logic. He didn't like ultimate fighting, but he thought it was best to keep his skills sharp for when he got into fights at work. I had a hard time believing anybody was gonna give him trouble. Well, Marc and I clicked right away. I would always make fun of his size, and when he'd eat a pound of steak, I'd smirk and ask him if he enjoyed his snack. It was funny because this guy that could kill me in a split second, would just laugh, and shyly reply "Shut ahp" in his strong german accent. He had only spent 3 months learning the language, and I often had to define things or rephrase things.

So for the weekend I chilled at the hostel because I couldn't get a camping permit until Monday. Went to the beach and relaxed. With only a couple notable events. One night Marc, Nikki, Carolyn, and I make it out for some drinks, and happen across a bar with karaoke night. (There were only 2 bars in town. Kauai is country.) Every time I leave Karaoke, I swear to myself that I will never do it again. I make the most awful racket known to man, but somehow I convince myself that I actually had fun. Anyways, Nikki and I dueted 4 different songs, and one of the songs, we wrote down the wrong number so neither one of us had ever even heard the song. Somehow, Nikki did quite well. I, on the other hand, was actually told to stop singing. Pretty embarrassing, but I didn't stop.

Sunday evening, Maikiki, the general manager of the hostel, put on a cooking show. Maikiki was a 40 year old hippy/recovering alcoholic. His goal was to turn the hostel into a place where artists/musicians come to travel, but he had a really weird way of going about. Whenever he would check people into the hostel, he would be a complete stiff to them, and tell them they could go to the other hostel if they want. Then, the rest of their stay, he's the nicest guy, willing to help out with any problem. Nikki worked for him for a month, and now she hates his guts. Anyways one of the guys staying/working at the hostel was a very talented chef. So Maikiki decides they should start a live streaming internet cooking show. He envisioned relatives of the travelers tuning in, but at this point, it was just Maikiki recording the videos and watching them himself. It was a real trip. They invited a group of four travelers to be guests on the show, and the guy actually had all the different cooking steps prepared just like in a real cooking show. And Maikiki was real detail-oriented. He would position people and their plates in just the right spot for his shot. He encouraged people to talk and ask questions. Everybody there just wanted to crack up laughing at the absurdity of the whole thing.

So that Monday I get a camping permit, bus out to the west side of the island, but I still have a 20 mile walk ahead of me. I wanted to do the Honopu ridge hike, and get a view of the beach from the Kalalau valley. I also wanted to check out the forboding Alakai swam and determine how realistic it would be to make it to Wai'ale'ale, the worlds wettest spot. I've been before on the boardwalk, and I know it's not realistic, but I wanted to at least experience walking in the mud before giving up. Well, anyways, I stick my thumb up with 20 miles to go, and after an hour, I get no help. So I'm sitting there, hips still soar, cuts and scratches on my feet, and I decide to just give up. It would have been a great 5 days, but my body just didn't want anymore of it.

So I bus back to the main city, and I catch the movie, Pirates of the Carribean II. I decide not to go back to the hostel, and stay at a campsite that's less than a mile from the airport. I figured I could make an earlier flight. I've got a 2-3 mile walk from the theatre to the airport which I originally thought wouldn't be a problem. But I was BEAT, and it was night, and I was on a main road. I had to jump across this little ditch every time a car passed by. It sucked. I finally get to the airport, and I have to keep walking a mile to make it to the camp site. Well it starts raining, and I find the first secluded place I can find, and pitch my tent. I wish I would have just passed out, but all the aches, pains and scratches kept me up for a good hour.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Week 2
[a little vocab.
Haole - white kid.
Kalalau Trail- 11 mile hike on the northern coast of Kauai, also known as the Na Pali Coast. When I say "2 mile" or "6 mile" I'm referring to how far I'm in the hike]

After a good day's rest at the hostel, I left for Lihue to get a camping permit for the Kalalau Valley. After getting the permit I ate plenty of junk food, bought 10 cans of beans, and bussed to the North shore where I was left to hitchhike another 7 miles. This road is prolly the easiest place in the world to hitch hike. I got picked up by this crazy old dude who was playing the beach boys, and he threw the shaka after every sentence that was spoken. He drops me off and his crazy old friend strikes up a conversation with us. This two toothed, white frizz-haired hippy was so fried by the sun that folds of his skin hung from his body. I told him I was going to Kalalau, and he wide-eyed replied, "Stay for a month!" I was just like hmmm, byby now. That day I make it out to the 2 mile point, meet some campers and find a dude to stagger the trail with.

Next day, me and that dude start at 7:00 a.m., not as early as I wanted, but I was pretty tired. We went our own pace, and I make it to the 10 mile point first, sit down on a rock next to the river, wave to some big fat dude sitting across the river. And I am staring straight at him, but it must have been a good minute before I realize that he was completely naked. Yeah, Kalalau is full of hippies who live in the valley, and clothing is completely optional.

We make the next mile, and set up camp. My buddy seemed to have some kind of method for picking out campsites. He was looking at a bunch of different places. I didn't really understand it. I threw my stuff down at the first clearing, and pitched my tent. Walked out to the beach, and to my surprise, I came across Aaron, a friend of mine from Maui. I felt popular. Aaron filled me in on some things to do in the valley, and he always used the word "cats" to describe people, like he was from the 20's or something.

I was deadly exhausted, but after 9 miles and about 4000 feet in elevation changes, I wasn't quite yet done. So I walk to where the beach ends and there's a huge 1000 foot cliff coming straight out of the ocean that is blocking further passage. However, peering around the corner of the cliff, there's a 100 yard swim to another beach. At this point I have to decide how safe it is. The waves are crashing onto the corner of the cliff, so I decide to swim out just a little bit, and then swim back in. Now, I'm not afraid of the ocean, but that might be from ignorance, because I've heard that Hawaii's currents can be really strong, and I'm swimming in a place that gets 30-40 foot waves pounding the shore during the winter. That said, it was an easy swim, but it was quite scary to only be 20 feet away from the cliffs, and see nothing but deep blue depths of the ocean. After that I walked along the beach, and under this massive 100 foot archway in the mountains. After that, I was in my own secluded beach with 1000 foot inward cliffs on all three sides. I jumped in the ocean and just floated, letting the waves bounce me up and down, back and forth, all the while staring up at the cliffs on all sides.

I made it back and that night my ankle was killing me. I wondered how long it had been neglected because it didn't hurt until I finally stopped and relaxed for a bit. I had 4 small cuts on my feet that made walking really painful, especially in sand. I really didn't want to get an infection 11 miles from civilization, so I pulled out the water purifying tablets (Iodine), and I rubbed them on all my cuts. How do you like that, Survivor Man! Actually Survivor Man would live like a king in the Kalalau valley. The whole episode would be about how to enslave hippies and make a castle out of bamboo.

Well, I wish I could have stayed forever, but I didn't want to stretch my food situation. I hike out to big pools, and there were these huge moss covered stone walls that must have been placed there by the original Hawaiians. I was pretty sure a hobbit was going to jump out at any time. I make it out to big pools, which was a nice site to go for a bath. At one point I'm standing completely still, enjoying the serenity, and all of a sudden, BAM, my feet slip straight out from underneath me and the side of my hip slams straight into the rocks. Ohhh, the pain.

That day I made it back to 6 mile, which has a campsite at the halfway point. I make a half mile out to a 1000 foot waterfall surrounded by cliffs on all sides. When I get back, I come across a couple haole hawaiian kids, a dude and his girlfriend. I found this kid to be a little odd. He kept asking me stuff like if I know Kung Fu. Real nice though. He literally offered me every single piece of food that he brought with him, but my donuts would suffice. He reminded me of Heidi.

Running out of time, I camp out for one more night. The next day, I do another 2 mile side hike to another waterfall. Get back to the trailhead. Back to civilization. Change into my last set of clean clothes, and stick my thumb out. I don't even care if I never get picked up, but I'm not moving another foot today. Total I had done over 2 miles of elevation changes and 30 miles of hiking - 10 miles of them done that day. Luckily it wasn't 5 minutes until I get picked up by a family of three. The mom had done some hitchhiking in her youth and was glad to pay it forward. I made it back to the hostel, and had some good and interesting times there, but that will be continued on my next post.

Here's my first view of Kalalau Beach. A beautiful site to see after 8 miles of walking.

A closer view of the beach. I don't know if you can see it with this resolution, but there is waterfall that flows onto the beach.

A waterfall I went to.

And another one.

Me after 30 miles. You can see my tooth is falling out, and I had to put the towel under my backpack straps because the rubbing had caused some nasty breakouts.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Week 1
So I lost the journal, so you can expect this rendition of my month in Hawaii to be similiar to James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. (He's the dude that pissed Oprah off by lying about rehab).

All right so I get Honolulu and spend a couple days buying camping gear and chillin with Scott. Nothing special. But I did buy the most awesome backpack and Teva hiking sandals. And I did go to Ala Moana Beach, the place that I couldn't swim thanks to the raw sewage.

After that, it was off to Kauai. I left on the 5:25 a.m. flight with my 40 lb. backpack packed and ready. I decide to walk a mile to Walmart to see how this thing is gonna ride. Then I bussed to Kapaa, stuck my thumb up, and started walking 8 miles straight towards the trailhead of the secret tunnels. Yeah, I'm compulsive, but there was nothing I wanted more than to get through that 3rd tunnel. I got picked up by some surfer dude for a couple miles who had recently dropped everything to move to Kauai. He had actually completed the hike himself.

Here's a reservoir I stopped at for lunch along the way. And by lunch I mean a can of beans.

Well, I made it to the trailhead at about 1:00 p.m. I must have walked 6 miles already, and I don't want to bring my gear along so I camp out at the trailhead. A little side note for Scott. I looked for the trail after the first river crossing and got just as lost as we did the first time. Basically you cross, go upstream for a bit before entering the bamboo forest. Then there are a million trails in the forest, but you should see those logs within 20 feet of leaving the bamboo forest. If you don't go upstream and try the next trail.

So the next mourning, I start at 5:30 a.m., and I make it to the third tunnel by 9:00 a.m. I ditch everything but my flashlight, and my bottle of water. Scott's lucky that we didn't find this thing the first time because in one place it was so deep that I was on my tippy toes to avoid getting wet in uncomfortable places, and I was ducking down to try not to hit my head. I wish I had pictures of this place, but unfortunately my camera got wet during the hike. After I get out the third tunnel, I ditch the trail and start running straight for the river and hike upstream (BAD IDEA cause I got crazy lost trying to make my way back, and I was alone in the middle of nowhere with nothing but a flashlight.) Since I don't have a camera I'll just say, basically your dumped out into a piece of terrain that would be virually inaccessible by land if not for these mile long tunnels in the mountain. You come across a huge river water fall surrounded by red inward cliffs that are dripping water. When I went, it was very dry, but a day with rain would turn this cliff into an unbelievable water fall.

So then I make it back to the tunnel, and not to my surprise, my flashlight isn't working, and my backup flashilight is on the other end of that mile long tunnel. I make a go for that small dot on the other end, but after about 10 minutes I realize my only bottle of water fell out of my pocket. I've gotta find this thing. I decide to walk back to the entrance and try my flashlight one more time. After toggling with it a bit, it turns on, and boy, it was a good feeling. I even found my water bottle.

Now I'm on my way back, and for some reason, when I'm hiking, I always think it's a good idea to hop on rocks downstream and find the trailhead. Of course, I got the landmarks between the two rivers confused and ended up spending an hour hopping up and down the river. It really was a great time. Many people in their daily lives get to practice froggers trip across the street, but it's the rare occasion that you get practice his ominous journey across the river to his home. As fun as it was, I could have gone without the empty hoplessness of being lost in the woods, and the awful ankle scratches from slipping on the rocks. It was just one of those falls, where you can get up and keep going, without a problem, but instead you figure that while you are on the ground, you might as well just stay and relax for a bit.

Here's a picture of the trail that I took before my camera broke. I can see the trail only because I've been there, but it's where there is grass instead of ferns. When you're there, it's actually the obvious path to take.

I just Love the views during sunrise. It's my favorite time to hike.

So my third day in the woods, I decide to go on the Jungle hike, which is right next to the secret tunnels hike. BTW, they aren't so secret, but it is nice to go on a trail in Hawaii where you'll only see one other group all day. Anyways, I don't know if I stayed on jungle hike trail, and I don't care. I basically walked through numerous dirt roads with in use water tunnels, empty water tunnels, old ditches, broken bridges, and old bridges. It was good fun to come across all the different man made things. I saw nobody but a couple of hunters skinning a pig. It was just really nice to not have a destination, and just take whatever path I came across. I would stop for a swim. There is nothing better than feeling sore from head to toe and jumping into some freezing cold water. It was also nice to not have to worry about being lost except on the way back it wasn't too easy to remember whether I took a left or a right.

That day I found a broken lighter, and even though I had my own lighter, I decided to try a trick on that I saw on Survivor Man. (Survivor man is a TV show about this CRAZY guy who gets dropped off in some of the most rugged terrains, left to survive for 7 days.) So I tried to get a flame from the flint in the lighter, toilet paper, and lent peeled from my sock. Although it fizzed, after several attempts, it just wasn't flaming. So I put the toilet paper right by the flint, and started ferociously sparking it until the toilet paper combusted. How do you like me now, Survivor Man! I'll do it my own way! Yeah, yeah, three days in the woods. I'm crazy.

So the next day I head out stick the thunb up and make it all the way back to town. The very first truck that passed me on a dirt road took me 8 miles all the way to town, but I could fnot ind a person to take me 2 miles to the hostel on the busiest street in all of Kauai. That day I met Nikki, this skinny tall hippy chick with dreads. This girl was absolutely gorgeous, and she had this ratty head of hair, and a real raspy voice. She would say the craziest stuff, and then just let out this subtle smile and bob her head up and down. She had like diamond shaped eyes. They were pointed at the ends like an asian's, but they were wide open. I just loved hearing her say "Aloha" because she knows what it means and she always said it with that meaning. Anyways, more on her later.

That day I ended up eating a lot of food. I had a three entre meal from Panda Express followed by an entire pint of ice cream. All and all, at least 1600 calories in that one meal. Followed that up with pizza buffet in the evening. At the Hostel, I unsuccessfully surveyed everyone there to get a hiking partner for the Na Pali Coast.

Friday, August 11, 2006

All right, so I'm gunna update some of the Hawaii stuff soon, I've just been too lazy to transcribe the journal.