Backpacking --- 10/9/1999 - 10/23/1999 --- Hawaii

Trip to Hawaii

Not once. Definitely not even once. Never during the planning stages of my Hawaii vacation did I think I'd be doing this. Hiking I expected. Snorkeling was in the plans from day one. Even surfing seemed like a possibility. But before this vacation started I never expected that I would be standing on a beach wrapped only in a bed sheet holding a toilet brush over my head ("It isn't a toilet brush!" yells June). Ok, focus. Get your motivation. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled... Ugh, do I ever itch! This sand gets in the worst places. A quick scratch probably won't be caught on film.

"Cut! What is this crap?! We can't use this!"

Oops, I've pissed off the director. "Sorry, I'll do better next time. I promise." Must focus on my acting. Can't be distracted by thinking about how it all began...

It all began with an airplane flight from Washington DC to Kauai, Hawaii. Kauai is known as the "Garden Island." It is the oldest of Hawaii's inhabited islands and the farthest north. At the center of the island is the wettest place on earth, Mt. Waialeale, which receives over 480 inches of rain a year. Over the 30 mile diameter of the island there is every environment from tropical rain forests in the North to deserts in the South, from a high altitude swamp to an arid canyon. Kauai has it all.

The plan was to spend one week on Kauai with the Rice Skigroup (would they survive the lack of snow? would they even notice?) The skigroup was wonderfully augmented by the Sharon-Audrey axis which brought along Neil, Joanne, and Stephen in its wake. Did they know what joining the ski group would do to their sanity? Not likely. The day the skigroupers left was the same day that Marci arrived for three full days of Kauai madness. Kauai was just a stop on her world tour of Samoa, Hawaii, Salt Lake City, and Canada. Just a stop, but destined to be the best stop of the entire tour... or at least in the top five.

Three days before departing a slight twist was thrown in the plans. IBM needed some work done in Maui (really, they did) and I was begged to extend my trip by a few days to help upgrade some systems at the Maui High Performance Computer Center. An upgrade, I might add, which made the front page of the Hawaii Daily News.

So the plans are set. The two small bags are packed. And I'm off on vacation.

For the record, this journal is entirely factual. If it describes things which did not actually happen then reality is in error. Any similarity to past trip journals is simply because I'm lazy and my computer supports cut-and-paste. For you skigroup members, this is my personal journal, not the group epic that Steve is producing. Of course, Steve may feel free to borrow liberally from this tome.


A very early flight out of DC was destined to place me in Kauai at the same time as the rest of the skigroup. Alas it was not to be as my connecting flight in Chicago had a broken switch in the cockpit. A scant seven hours later a new switch had been flown in from Los Angles and we were on our way. It reminded me of the time I spent three hours in Newark because of a broken trash can lid in the plane's galley (really, I don't think I could make something like that up). Actually, it reminded me of almost every other flight I've ever taken. It seems to be my destiny.

But everything worked out. I caught the last island shuttle from Oahu to Kauai and Larry was good enough to pick me up at the airport. We drove to our nearby condo at the Aston Kauai Beach Villas. The condos were expensive but an excellent place to stay for a week or more (with a nice floorplan too, right Audrey?). The small washer/dryer was very convenient. You could spend a month in Kauai and pack nothing more than a small carryon; just do laundry every few days (I'm a big fan of traveling light, so my bias shows here). The grounds were amazing. The artificial lagoon, stocked with fish and designed to attract birds, had more wildlife than I saw on the rest of the island. Just be careful if you stay at Aston: the camouflaged screen doors took their toll on several members of the skigroup -- save your pride and look before you step out the door.

I got my first view of the large number of feral cats and chicken which roam the island. They will be seen everywhere for the rest of the trip. I'm guessing that they do best on Kauai because it is the only island in Hawaii which is not inhabited by mongoose. The story goes that the mongoose was imported to the islands to control the rat population (a bad idea since they aren't active at the same time of the day). When the crate arrived at Kauai a mongoose bit the dock worker and he dropped the entire crate in the ocean. As a result the mongoose that has decimated bird populations on other islands (preying on eggs) has not has as much of an impact on Kauai.

Interestingly enough, we were not the only Rice group on Hawaii that day. It seems the Rice Owls were playing football in Hawaii. We were sorry to have missed the opportunity to see them play. Especially since they won, a very rare occurrence during our undergrad days.


The day began with Larry, Beth, and I enjoying the free breakfast that came with our condo rental. Donuts, orange juice, and an hour of presentations about overpriced tourist excursions. A word of advice: Everything is expensive in Hawaii and the free stuff is the most expensive.

And as long as the topic of tourist excursions has come up, I feel the need to hop on a soap box for a bit. Please don't patronize the helicopter tours. Those "Kauai Mosquitos" are a blight on the landscape. From 7am until dark no spot on the island is free from their noise pollution. Many national parks across the United States are placing restrictions on flightseeing tours because of their effect on wildlife and backcountry peace and quiet. Thank you. Now back to our regularly scheduled journal.

All fourteen of us piled into vehicles for our first day on the island. We drove to Poipu beach on the South side. The area around Poipu is like a desert with huge cactus growing in the plains leading to the ocean. Snorkeling at Poipu was excellent with an awesome density of colorful fish. SPF 30+ was the order of the day as the sun was bright and strong in the cloudless sky. The temperature in Kauai is consistent year round. It ranges from highs in the 80s during the day to lows in the 60s at night. But under that strong equatorial sun it feels much hotter.

After a nice lunch we drove to the Spouting Horn. This is a hole in the lava rock right at the ocean. The surf comes in just below the level of the rock and the force of the surf blows a huge plume of water out the hole along with an even more impressive moaning noise as air and water rush through the holes. Decades ago there were two spouts, but sugar cane farmers dynamited the larger spout because the salt water spray was damaging the crops.

That evening thirteen of us went off to a Luau. Larry refused on the grounds that it would be lame. Larry was right, but the food was decent and ended up being no more expensive than some of the other meals we had that week (thanks to Stacy's sharp eye in spotting a promise of 2-for-1 Luau deals in the condo's advertising literature). Even the Poi was pretty good. Poi is mashed taro root. It has the consistency of pudding and is very bland. Poi used to be a main staple of the native's diet since it is high in complex carbohydrates and can be added to most meals the way we would add rice or tofu.

Taboo was the game of the trip. Past trips have featured Monopoly, Cheap Ass Games, and Mafia. This trip Taboo took center stage. Sure there was some Scrabble playing and even one game of Monopoly, but Taboo was king. We played regular Taboo and Celebrity Taboo. Stephen opted out of Celebrity Taboo thinking his six years in the US would not be enough cultural background to participate. He found himself having to jump back in often as the stupid Americans failed to get the most obvious answers.

Taboo produced fine competition and many hilarious moments. Most of those have slipped from my porous brain, but I'll try to intersperse this journal with the few I remember. I have to start with the most pitiful clue of the week, given by me...

Me (reading):  You can't blank blank blank

Team:  Umm... you can't get the answer given stupid clues?

Me:  {Laughs uncontrollably at his own stupid clue until time runs out}


We woke relatively early for a hike of the Na Pali coast. Kauai is the only major Hawaiian island which does not have a road circling the entire island. Along the North coast travel is only possible on foot (with a few beaches accessible to shallow water craft in the summer when the Northern surf is down). The Kalalau trail runs 11 miles along the towering cliffs of the Na Pali coast. This was our destination... after a brief stop at a restored lighthouse... and a not so brief stop at a deli. Finally we started hiking. Many members of the group hiked to Hanakapiai beach about two miles down the trail. The trail gained a total of about 1000 feet over the two miles and was very muddy. Waterproof hiking boots and a staff or trekking pole are appropriate for this hike.

The Na Pali coast is very lush and tropical. Grove after grove of guava trees line the trail and disgorge fruit under hiker's boots where it is crushed into a fragrant pulp. We also passed wild pineapple, bamboo, and something that looked like passion fruit.

Resting on Hanakapiai beach I saw a sight I won't soon forget. It was Steve arriving at the midpoint of the trail carrying his Sir Bently bag. Appropriate for home or office, fits under the seat in front of you, safely carries a laptop computer, and boldly goes where no briefcase has gone before. To the untrained eye it might appear to be a foolish substitute for a small backpack, but we knew better. We knew it would give us something to laugh about for the rest of the trip, and we knew it would earn Steve the proud, dignified nickname -- 'Sir Bently.'

After lunch on Hanakapiai beach a few hardy (foolhardy?) hikers continued up the trail to Hanakapiai falls. The falls were two miles inland on a trail even muddier than the previous trail. Larry, Beth, Danny, Stacy and I slogged on to the falls. With a quick sprint at the end I was able to reach the falls and quickly turned around to suggest to everyone else that they stop at the good falls view about 10 minutes before the end of the trail. It was late in the afternoon and with a four mile hike remaining to return to the car our crew wisely decided to live to hike another day.

The path to the falls has several stream crossings. Tevas or other water sandals are appropriate for this part of the trip. I had mine in my backpack but was too lazy to put them on, so rock hopping was the plan that day. It worked well for some, less well for others. Stacy managed a face flop in the river. It looked bad enough to break a bone or two. Luckily she ended up with only a gash on her chin. Still, it was bad enough that I broke out my first aid kit (and some of you know how reluctant I am to waste first aid supplies on people who can be described as "not me"). Stacy is as tough as nails, and after a quick patching she hiked the rest of the way to the car. That night at the local emergency room a long continuous stitch closed the wound permanently.

Steve (reading): Oh... how's the timer doing?

{Steve then spends 10 seconds watching the timer run out instead of reading
the next card.}


A more relaxing day while recuperating from the long hike. Dan and Phil went scuba diving (being the only two scuba certified members of the crew). Adam, Steve and I decided to give surfing a try. We signed up for lessons down at Poipu beach. After a brief introduction on land we paddled out into the surf for what we hoped would not be a thrashing.

Now Adam and I are both experienced snowboarders, so it goes without saying that Steve was the best surfer among us. He actually got up on his first try and most every try thereafter. This earned Steve yet another proud, dignified nickname -- 'Surfer Steve.' Adam did well too, though not well enough to earn any nicknames. I was not so successful. I found standing up to be very difficult. Once up I had no problem riding a wave all the way into the beach, but that only happened once or twice. I also discovered something I didn't know about myself... lying down in the surf makes me very seasick. This is surprising because I generally don't get seasick -- not once during hundreds of hours in a whitewater kayak. Sitting on the surfboard I was fine, but the moment I settled on to my stomach my stomach became very unsettled. This presented a problem because it is difficult to paddle a surfboard while sitting... or while heaving.

So it was an interesting adventure, but not something I plan to do on a regular basis. After about 45 minutes our instructor took off with his girlfriend, Bambi. "Keep at it, Dudes! Just leave the boards when you are done." We kept at it for a while, then decided it was time for lunch. We walked back to the beach and set the surfboards by the other rental boards our instructor had brought. Adam and I were ready to eat, but Steve was reluctant.

  "Do you think it is safe to just leave these boards?  Maybe we should wait
   for our instructor to return."

  "Umm, Steve, he left these six other identical boards.  I don't think our
   three will be stolen."

  "Yeah, but just think about what could happen..."

At this point Steve started imagining a worst case scenario.

The sun was blasting down its radiation on the beach. The surfboard, catching a ray of light and deflecting it, sent a glimmer directly to the retina of the grunge-dude from Oahu.

"Rad board, man", he remarked to his buddy, who was standing next to him.

Giving the cigarette a final puff, the buddy replied, "It's a keeper, let's go."

The buddy-leader calmly put his cigarette out on a nearby set of skis^H^H^H^H beach chairs while his partner lifted the board from the sand.

They were off, to sell their newly found possessions on Oahu. Altogether they had scored three boards in a quick sweep of Kauai. To gather any more would be too risky. They could sell them for a hundred fifty or so each in Oahu. Then do the same trick in reverse at Waikiki beach.

Adam returned from lunch, and looked around. No board. "Oh dear God! Not again! Noooooo!!" he cried. Adam sunk to his knees and started pounding sand. "You maniacs! You stole another one. Damn you all... damn you all to hell!"

"Oh, the humanity," remarked Jeff with sympathy.

"It does appear to be his destiny," observed Steve.

The three friends looked out to see and saw a figure emerging from the surf. It was scuba Phil. He must have sensed their distress. Phil calmly adjusted his oxygen valve, removed his regulator, and lifted his mask. "I'm going the tackle and beat the crap out of any surfer with a gray board," commented Phil. He then replaced his scuba gear and returned to the ocean from whence he came. "You are a legend, Phillip!" shouted Steve at the departing figure.

Steve awoke from his daydream to find Jeff and Adam rummaging through his stuff looking for car keys. "Ha, you'll never find them. I have tied them into my swim trunks." said Steve smugly. Adam stood up straight, looked Steve square in the eye, and said, "I want lunch now. I'll do whatever it takes." Steve, knowing he was beaten, handed over the keys and gave a last wistful glance back at the boards. "I do hope they will be ok," he muttered.

After a rejuvenating lunch the intrepid surfers drove to Wailua falls. This 80' waterfall graced the opening scene of the old Fantasy Island TV show. We were suitably impressed by the falls and very glad that of all the tourists at the overlook, not one felt compelled to say "da plane, da plane".

That night the entire group ate at Roy's. An excellent restaurant discovered by Sharon and Audrey on a previous trip. The food was great and the waitstaff was superb (though several of our waiter's stories ended up with people being naked in the ocean -- I wonder if he has stories with a different theme).

Dan: So we count all passes after the first as a negative point, but don't
     count a buzz as a negative point?  Then when I want to pass I'll just
     say a taboo word and get buzzed.

Neil: How about a buzz counts as a negative point for Dan and nothing for the
      rest of us?

All: Sounds good to us.


Today we planned an all day driving tour of the Waimea Canyon. Known as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific", Waimea is a 15 mile long canyon with several side canyons. It is as deep as 3500' from rim to river. We drove to all the overlooks and gave the requisite "oohs and ahhhs" at the scenery. We also had several excellent views of the island of Niihau. Just off the coast of Kauai, Niihau is the only private island in Hawaii. It was bought around the turn of the century for $10,000. Today it is populated by 200 to 300 native Hawaiians who maintain much of the culture and speak Hawaiian as their primary language. Niihau is the "forbidden island" and only those born on Niihau or invited by residents are allowed to set foot on the island.

At the end of our driving tour we reached the Puu o Kila lookout. The view from this lookout is a once-in-a-lifetime gem according to our favorite guidebook, "Ultimate Kauai" (did I get the name of the book right? anyhow, get a guidebook before you go; Lonely Planet guides are also very good). The book recommends arriving early in the morning to avoid the fog. Our 3pm arrival was not the best choice. We looked out on a wall of white.

"It's a f___ing whiteout." The poetry of these three... no, four... four simple words, uttered by a nearby tourist, was not lost on him. Perched high on Waimea Canyon, Danny wept uncontrollably. "It's true, man... completely and utterly true," he sobbed. His party van buddy this afternoon was Steve, who could only look on in bemusement as the once proud Dan-man threw his inhibitions into the 4-mph winds and bawled like Clark Snider, or Clark Thomson, or some other young Clark. As he watched this display of raw emotion, Steve admitted silently to himself that Danny and the tourist were right on target with their observations -- the weather was bad and getting worse. No once-in-a-lifetime gem here.

Although the sun trippers had been blessed with clear skies most of the week, Mother Nature had reasserted herself today. Now it was nearing nightfall and Steve had had enough. "This is my last overlook of the day," Steve announced. "I'm smack-daddy done for, home slice," he rapped to Dan. Dan nodded knowingly. Composing himself, vainly attempting to preserve a trace of dignity (too late), Danny sniffed, "Not for me. I'll wait here with the Nene until the fog lifts." And so Dan sat with the Nene (the native Hawaiian goose that is the state bird) until Stacy yelled, "Danny! Get your butt in the car. I want to go to dinner."

Me (instantly after flipping the card): Ascorbic Acid

Team (instantly after hearing clue): Vitamin C

Adam (after the round): I can't believe ascorbic acid wasn't a taboo word.

All: They weren't expecting a bunch of Rice Engineers to play this game.


Neil and Joanne departed this moring for some additional vacation time on Maui. They were the closest thing to half-weekers we had on this trip and as such they were sorely missed.

My plan this day was to try some kayaking. Others in the group had paddled up the Wailua river earlier. They saw the Fern Grotto, a waterfall, and a swimming hole. It sounded nice (the drawback being that motor traffic is allowed on the river including constant tour boats to the Fern Grotto and waterskiiers). Anyhow, I had to pick a different river if I wanted people who had already paddled Wailua to accompany me. We rented some sit-on-top sea kayaks and paddled up the Hanalei river. This river passes through a wildlife preserve and along the only commercial taro plantation in all of Hawaii. We saw lots of waterfowl and many flowering plants. After an hour of paddling the river became too shallow to continue. We turned around and paddled all the way down to the Hanalei bay and out into the ocean. The kayaks are wide, so they are stable but slow. They have no thigh or hip control, so they are relatively unresponsive. But with a bit of effort they can be made to surf ocean waves. We spent some time in the ocean until our three hour rental was up (a three hour tour, a three hour tour) and we had to return the boats.

At the kayak rental shop was a small farmers market. The fruit was amazing. I bought a large bunch of apple bananas, a type of banana grown on the island which has a mellow flavor and excellent texture. The farmers markets are not to be missed. We had a list of markets on the island and their operating times. I regret not having more of a chance to sample the local produce.

Larry (reading): Oh... Ha... Ok... Dave Holloway used to tell me to turn
                 this down.

Adam: Dave's not here man.

Larry: Yeah, but on the last ski trip Dave always used to tell me to turn
       this down.

Me: Banff was the last ski trip.  You weren't there.

Larry: Well the last trip I was on then.

Adam: Dave's not here man.

The answer, apparently, was "fireplace"


This day was a designated rest day in preparation for my upcoming backpacking trip. I slept late. But not late enough. I woke before dinner and had to find something to do for a few hours. A few of us went snorkeling at Anini beach. This is supposed to be the nicest snorkeling spot on the entire island, but it wasn't for me. My problem is that I can't wear my glasses with my snorkel mask, so I need the fish to be close. The fish at Anini stay in the deep channel and past the ocean ledge about 60' from shore. As a result I couldn't see much.

Dan (reading for team A):  Ummm....   ummm....  I'm drawing a blank here....

Me (manning the Taboo buzzer for team B):  Eye patch, makes people
                                             walk the plank

Team A: Pirate

Dan: Thanks.  You want to do the next one too?


A long day planned today. Up bright and early at 7am to pick up Marci at the airport. She arrived surprisingly alert after flying all night from Samoa.

All of the other skigroup members were departing for home today, but they had a few adventures planned for their remaining hours. Sharon, Audrey, Danny, Beth, Phil, Marci and I all went for a short hike on the Sleeping Giant trail. Sleeping Giant is a rock ridge which looks something like a sleeping giant (go figure). The legend behind the Sleeping Giant is that the Menehune were under attack by their enemies. They tried to to wake the Sleeping Giant so that he could help them fight. The Menehune bounced rocks off the giant's stomach so that he would wake. The rocks crashed into the ocean destroying their enemy. Unfortunately, one rock bounced into the giant's mouth and caused him to choke to death. So now I guess the rock ridge should be called the Dead Giant.

And since I've mentioned the Menehune -- they are a race of tiny people who figure prominently into many Hawaiian legends. The word is thought to trace back to the Tahitian word for outcast. It is thought that the original polynesians to land on Hawaii arrived between 500AD and 700AD. They were conquered in 1000AD by the first Tahitians to arrive. A second wave of Tahitians in 1200AD established the Hawaiian society which would survive until Europeans arrived. So it is believed that the legends of the Menehune came from the descendents of the original polynesians as they were driven into extinction by the Tahitians.

Anyhow, that's the story. So there we are hiking up Dead Giant. The trail is very muddy and very slippery. Probably the worst of any trail we have encountered this trip. We had to return to the condos to pack and didn't finish the trail. But several of us did crest the ridge and got a fantastic panoramic view of Eastern Kauai from the ocean to the Hanalei valley. At the top of the ridge we saw an absolutely spectacular rainbow. After gawking for a minute everyone pulled out cameras only to have the rainbow disappear. This one was destined to be recorded in neurons only, not on film.

Returning to the condo, I was needed on the set for my big screen debut. Perhaps I should explain... Recently some cable TV station held a Planet of the Apes film festival. Danny made the mistake of watching all of the films (yes, there were something like five of them made). Poor Dan has been obsessed by Apes ever since. Throughout our entire vacation Dan had planned to recreate the final scene of the first movie. The beaches of Kauai were perfect for that scene where Charlton Heston sees the Statue of Liberty and realizes he has been on the Earth the entire time (I hate to ruin the ending for anyone who hasn't seen the film... oh well).

I'm playing the part of the Statue of Liberty. A pivotal role. Since it has no spoken lines, my acting ability is key. It is a role that I own, having stolen the part from June. Actually, June departed from the cast after suffering from creative differences with the director. "I was afraid they would try to bury me in the sand," she would say later during an interview with an industry rag. "Also, the whole thing seemed pretty stupid." June has denied this last quote, but the reporter who conducted the interview stands by it and attributes June's attitude to her jealousy at the commercial success of the film.

The wardrobe department put the finishing touches on my costume -- "Don't you rip this sheet. And be sure it gets back to our condo so we don't get charged," admonished Stacy. I was in favor of 'borrowing' a tiki torch from the condo's entrance, but that idea didn't go over well with the law-abiding members of the film crew. Instead, June blew the film's entire budget ($2.99) on my torch. It was a sponge shaped like a pineapple on a stick. We called it the toilet brush, but June insisted that it was a dish brush. Everyone stopped eating at June's condo, not wanting to take the risk that the brush was in fact being used for both purposes.

There were jitters as filming began, but Director Dan and Star Steve held the cast and crew together. "Work with me people. Work with me," said Dan calmly. Like the great films Cleopatra and Titanic, our Ape movie took longer to film than anticipated. Finally, an unprecedented 15 minutes after filming began, the raw footage was in the can and off to the editing department. In a brilliant bit of work that will be studied by film students for millennia, the editing department rewound the tape before playing it back to a rapt audience. "That was the key to not seeing 15 minutes of static," said chief editor Dan years later during an interview with Newsweek Magazine just after receiving his lifetime achievement award from the Academy.

The Movie


You probably won't believe what you see. You certainly won't understand it. Neither do I. It is just that deep.

An interesting story related to the filming. Earlier in the week Sharon, Beth, and June had been on a horseback ride at the Princeville Ranch. As one of the local beaches came into view their guide said, "This beach is very popular with tourists trying to recreate the final scene of the Planet of the Apes movie." They didn't stop to think that others in the skigroup had been out with that very same guide earlier in the day. His line was so well delivered that, as Beth put it, "we were shocked to learn that there were that many other geeks in the world." When the guide started talking about the miniature Statue of Liberty models for sale in the ranch gift shop Sharon and Beth realized they were being taken for a ride (so to speak). But June was still lost in thought wondering if she should buy a statue for Danny.

Following the celebratory cast party (it consisted of Audrey saying, "You guys can finish this bag of chips, we will just throw it out otherwise.") everyone returned to their condos to pack.

I was running a bit late and ended up tossing all of my junk into the trunk of the rental car so that I could be out of the condo by check out time. Then after saying goodbye to the remaining skigroup members, Marci and I were off on part II of my vacation.

We drove to the local Safeway and prepared a shopping list. We purchased food for our backpacking trip, then drove to Waimea Canyon. Having planned a route through the canyon we first drove to an overlook that gave us a good view of most of the places we would be hiking. It was a wall of white. "Umm... we'll be in that fog bank there, maybe," I said with confidence. Not to be deterred we drove to the trailhead and began packing our gear. This took a while as my stuff was strewn about the trunk of the car. Given enough time I did finally come up with a backpack full of gear to take to the canyon and a pile of junk to leave in the car. "Will this snorkel be useful down there?" I asked. "I sure hope not," replied Marci.

By the time I was done packing the skies were blue again. We drove back to the overlook and got an excellent view of the Canyon. Then back to the trailhead to begin our hike. As you might guess it was getting rather late. By the time we reached the bottom of the canyon (and our first campsite) it was quite dark and we were hiking by headlamp. It was pretty amazing that we were able to stay on the correct trail in the dark. Especially considering the number of detours we took in broad daylight the next day.


Morning comes early in Kauai, even in October. Luckily, when you are at the bottom of a canyon you can sleep late. As we looked at the sun gleaming brilliantly off the canyon walls, I suggested, "Let's not get up until the sun hits our bug bivy." Marci was quickly convinced and we drifted back to sleep. Eventually we decided to rise and shine. The local feral chickens were wandering around making noise. My Outdoor Research Double Bug Bivy protected us well from bugs (which did come out after dark) and from chickens and frogs. I'm going to suggest to OR that they market it as a chicken bivy. That should increase sales considerably. The frogs weren't as much of a problem. They didn't come near us. You really don't want to know where they hung out.

After finally eating breakfast and breaking camp we started down the trail. Soon we found a wonderful spot for that night's camp and we stashed most of our gear nearby. Unencumbered with heavy packs we strolled down the trail in the Koaie Canyon, one of Waimea's side canyons. We saw lots of plant life and various birds. There were lots of prickly pear cactus and some huge century plants -- desert plants that grow for 23 years, then sprout a huge stalk, spray seeds, and die.

Eventually we decided to cross the Koaie Stream and try to crest Kahililoa ridge. After the stream crossing we found ourselves bushwacking through thickets of pricker bushes. We were both wearing pants with zip off legs, and that inspired this discussion: "My legs are getting cut." "Mine too." "We should stop and put on our pants legs." "Yeah." After a good half mile of this we reached a dry stream bed that was void of all pricker bushes. "Ouch. Why didn't we put on our pants legs?" "We must be stupid." "Yeah." A few hours later Marci was able to justify our stupidity by realizing that, "skin heals, but if you tear your pants, that's it." Worked for me. At least we were smart enough to put on our gaiters preventing our boots from filling with the red dust of tons of crushed volcanic rock.

The stream bed went right up the side of the Kahililoa ridge. We followed it up and up and up. After about 1500' we started seeing mountain goats. First just one, then a mother and baby, then another mother and baby. By the end of the day we had seen at least six different mountain goats, some no more than 30' away. Like the rainbow the day before, the goats were camera shy and tended to disappear before they could be captured on film. We also saw doves, eastern cardinals, and south american red crested cardinals -- all non-native species.

We continued to climb the ridge until we were stopped by a large cliff. With no technical climbing gear and being unwilling to free solo 40' or more, we turned back. Hiking back to our campsite we took a refreshing dip in the river just before the sun set. The river was shallow enough that it was more of a wallow than a swim, but it did suffice to clean the day's grime.

Our camp site was on a flat plateau in the center of the canyon. This night our bug/chicken/frog bivy served also as a goat bivy. We heard them roaming in the brush just a few feet from us and occasionally saw one come out in the clearing. It may have been a pig bivy the night before, but we aren't sure about that. Actually, with the local wild pigs weighing from 200 to 400 lbs, I doubt the bivy would have provided much protection.

We had a fantastic view of the cloudless sky all night long. Until about midnight the half-moon brightened the landscape. After the moon set there was no light to be seen other than the stars in the sky. Not a bad way to fall asleep.


Up at dawn. Ugh. But we had a plan. We quickly ate breakfast and packed our gear. The three mile hike to the car climbed about 2700' and we did it in under two hours. Our goal was to drive to the Puu o Kila lookout before it fogged over. As we approached the lookout we drove through a cloud and our spirits sank. But in the parking lot it was blue skies and a clear view. We saw the Kalalau Valley and out to the ocean 4000' below. The valley is surrounded by a perfect arc of cliffs which form a giant, mile wide bowl. A gem of a view indeed.

Again we saw Nene in the area. While they used to inhabit the entire island, pressure from non-native species has forced them out of all but the highest elevations.

At this point I discovered a cost saving tip that I'll share with everyone. Many of the tourist shopping areas sell Red Dirt shirts; t-shirts dyed with the local red (high iron content?) dirt. But you can get one for free. Just spend three days in Waimea Canyon wearing the same shirt. After several washings I still have a red dirt shirt. Such a deal! Another cost savings tip involves having one ticket and getting bumped three times from only two flights thereby picking up $2700 in travel vouchers. I'd like to explain how this is done, but I am merely an apprentice -- picking up first class upgrades and free hotel rooms are my biggest accomplishments -- for true enlightenment you must seek the master and study at her side.

After lingering at Puu o Kila and a brief stop at the Kokee state park museum we departed Waimea. For anyone considering backpacking in the canyon, permits can be obtained for free from the Hawaii DLNR at 808-274-3433 (3060 Eiwa St., Lihue, HI 96766). Obtain permits as soon as your travel plans are firm. Permits are available for three areas: Kawaikoi, Sugi, and Waimea. Kawaikoi and Sugi are next to each other in the upper canyon around 3000'. Waimea consists of four campsites in the lower canyon around 1000' or less. Camping is only allowed at designated sites. The Kalalau trail on the Na Pali coast also has free permits available [As of 12/2000 I've heard these permits are no longer free --Jeff]. These are apparently more scarce. They are required for all overnight hikers and dayhikers planning to go beyond Hanakapiai beach. I have heard that rangers are few and far between in all areas, but backpacking without a permit is still not a good idea. We didn't see a single person in the Canyon and only a few dayhikers on the trail down into the canyon. I bought the Northwestern Kauai Recreation Map (1:31440 scale, 40' topo lines) from Earthwalk Press (800-828-MAPS) and was happy with it during the trip. This map covers all of the areas mentioned above. Car camping is available at some of the county beach parks. I think there is a small fee for these permits. The camps I saw were crowded, but not bad for car camping.

After departing the canyon we drove back to the Lihue area. We went snorkeling at Lydgate park. Ouch! The salt water stings each little cut on my legs. But the snorkeling is fantastic. Poipu had better fish density and better colors, but Lydgate had the best variety. We saw huge trumpetfish, an eel, puffer fish and lots of fish I couldn't identify including this whole school of huge, fast moving blue fish that zipped right in front of us. The fish were probably 24" tall and 36" long. It was surprising that they were able to enter Lydgate which is surrounded by a man-made reef.

Our plan after snorkeling was to rent a kayak and paddle the Wailua River. But it was getting late and a huge thunderstorm was rolling in. Electrical storms are apparently rare in this part of Hawaii. This one was pretty impressive; a bank of black clouds coming in from the ocean. So Marci and I snuck a shower at the Aston Kauai Villas pool. Then we drove around in the rain trying to find a sheltered area to repack our gear. Finally we found a small underground garage and worked there on getting all of our gear into our small carryon bags. After dinner at the Oki Diner we flew out of Lihue. The flight stopped in Honolulu where Marci changed planes for the mainland. I stayed on board and continued to Maui.


All I did in Maui was work. Getting in very late Monday night I instantly fell asleep at the Kamaole Sands Condos. My condo was spacious and appropriately equipped, but old and not well maintained. I decided to name the place after a favorite climb at Lost City, "Not Mildewey Enough". Of course, the name is sarcastic. Like my condo, that climb has more than enough mildew.

Tuesday night I spent cleaning and drying all my backpacking gear. Wednesday it was raining hard and nearly dark when I left work. Thursday I worked until 8pm when it was time to depart for the airport and my red-eye flight home.

Like most of my flights, the flight home was an adventure. When we reached LA power was out at the airport. It took an hour to get out of the plane then several more hours to get on the next plane. The terminal was a madhouse with the computers and x-ray machines down. They actually brought in the police to manage the unruly crowd (personally I managed to avoid any confrontations with the LA police -- I didn't have a violent cop bivy). We finally boarded the plane several hours late, then sat on the runway for an hour until fog lifted. Needless to say I missed my connection in Chicago. But finally I did reach DC and got home just in time to pick up the dogs before the kennel closed. They were as happy to see me as I was to see them. 

The entire ski group at Roy's.  Clockwise: Stephen, Audrey, Sharon, Larry, Joanne, Neil, Adam, Phil, June, Danny, Stacy, Steve, Beth and me. (Category:  Backpacking)

The entire ski group at Roy's. Clockwise: Stephen, Audrey, Sharon, Larry, Joanne, Neil, Adam, Phil, June, Danny, Stacy, Steve, Beth and me.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Enjoying the Poipu beach.  Neil, Larry, Sharon, Joanne, Stacy, Danny, Audrey, Steve, Stephen, Adam and Beth. (Category:  Backpacking)

Enjoying the Poipu beach. Neil, Larry, Sharon, Joanne, Stacy, Danny, Audrey, Steve, Stephen, Adam and Beth.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

At Wailua falls. (Category:  Backpacking)

At Wailua falls.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Spouting horn. (Category:  Backpacking)

Spouting horn.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Hanakapiai beach on the Na Pali coast.  Stacy, Adam, Phil, Steve, Danny, Neil, Beth, June and me. (Category:  Backpacking)

Hanakapiai beach on the Na Pali coast. Stacy, Adam, Phil, Steve, Danny, Neil, Beth, June and me.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Learning to hula. (Category:  Backpacking)

Learning to hula.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Kings of the surf!  Adam, Steve and me. (Category:  Backpacking)

Kings of the surf! Adam, Steve and me.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Steve doing his best Mary Poppins impersonation. (Category:  Backpacking)

Steve doing his best Mary Poppins impersonation.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Me, Adam and Steve during a break filming Planet of the Apes. (Category:  Backpacking)

Me, Adam and Steve during a break filming Planet of the Apes.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Marci at the Puu o Kila lookout. (Category:  Backpacking)

Marci at the Puu o Kila lookout.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

At the Puu o Kila lookout. (Category:  Backpacking)

At the Puu o Kila lookout.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Nene. (Category:  Backpacking)

Nene.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Niihau (Category:  Backpacking)

Niihau    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Me and Marci backpacking in Waimea Canyon. (Category:  Backpacking)

Me and Marci backpacking in Waimea Canyon.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99

Backpacking in Waimea Canyon. (Category:  Backpacking)

Backpacking in Waimea Canyon.    Kauai, Hawaii -- 10/9/99-10/23/99