Sep 13

The Pihea Trail and Waimea Canyon

Category: Hawaii,Travel

While Rachel and I were in Kauai to attend the wedding of our friends Sara & Joe, we visited Kōkeʻe state park, among other places.  It is one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Of many spectacular sights, there are two main features: the ridge overlooking the north coast of the island, and the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Looking at the pictures, it looks almost fake.  I felt the same way when I was there – “Is this real?” I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

The sweeping panorama overlooks the Kalalau Valley.

The heavily used trail is difficult to negotiate when it rains – which is definitely was doing when we were there.  Judging by the narrowing of the trail, most people turn back long before the end.  The narrow trail turns into a steep mud slalom; requiring some agility and slots of risky dependence upon overhanging trees, it’s not for the faint of heart.  A hiking staff (or two) would have been a big help.  The splorpy volcanic mud was shin-deep in places, and filled with amazing colors. I was concentrating so much on not slipping that I hardly took any pictures at this point.

Looking inward, you have a view of the Alaka’i swamp, quite literally the wettest place on the planet. It is known for amazing birds and other animals; I have been to this spot twice now and not had time to forge into the swamp.  One day I’d like to walk all the way across the island through this area; it would be an epic trek.

Leaving the northern ridge, we spent some time along the ridge of the Waimea canyon, technically in its own park, but basically the same area as the Pihea trail. We took the canyon trail to Waipoo falls, which you see from the top, plunging almost a thousand feet into the gorge.  There are no rails here -nothing to protect you from yourself.  The trail affords numerous opportunities to wind up temporarily airborne before becoming bug splatter at the bottom!  That – and almost constant, breathtaking beauty, wondrous botany, and occasional boar and mountain goat sightings.  We had the place to ourselves.

The jungle reverberates with bird calls not heard in the contiguous 48.

For images from my first trip here, including wildlife, scuba diving and oceanographic flight images, click here and here.

2 comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Rachel September 13th, 2012 7:55 AM

    I think it’s time to go back!

  2. Michelle September 13th, 2012 9:35 AM

    Wow! I can picture dinosaurs running around. Really spectacular.

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