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[TR] Kauai, HI - Hawaiian Alpine 9/12/2009

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Trip: Kauai, HI - Hawaiian Alpine


Date: 9/12/2009


Trip Report:

Hawaiian Alpine Epic

This is not your typical mai-tai on the beach Hawaii TR (If there has ever been a typical Hawaii TR on this forum for that matter), though we did indeed enjoy mai-tais on the beach eventually.


I played hooky from work to get a 4 day vacation to HI for a family reunion celebrating my grandfather’s 90th, and I was determined to get my money’s worth. My uncle who lives on Kauai informed us there was an amazing, hidden hike that ascended one of the knife edge ridges


on the north shore using fixed ropes. 9 of us, about half being experienced climbers/hikers/outdoorsy-people and the other half rather urban types, got a vague description of the hike, with the advice to take plenty of water, but, my cousin was coming and had done the “hike” before and knew the route so we all piled in the proverbial family wagon for a hike.

The first 1.5 miles was an uneventful, if hot, hike on maintained trail to a nice viewpoint of Hanalei Bay.


We stopped for a water break, and I thought to myself that we were already running a bit low for what I had thought was an adequate amount of water. Immediately after the viewpoint we descended several fixed ropes on short muddy slopes that, though steep, were quite manageable without ropes.


“No problem” I thought, “this’ll be over in no time if it’s all like this. What fun!” We did that up and down an extremely sharp ridge for a half mile.


Our large group was moving slowly (as they do) but we weren’t that far behind schedule. And (as large groups do) we were getting spread out, making communication difficult between the fast and slow people. The climbing (note that it isn’t hiking anymore, but climbing) and ropes were becoming longer and steeper. Several sections of old rope on the steepest sections had been replaced with knotted, maybe quarter inch cable in a plastic sheath.


That plus sunscreen on the palms made things downright dangerous. Why we didn’t turn around at this point; I dunno. It was damn near the top and I guess no one wanted to cry uncle and be the first to turn around. Or we were all delirious from the heat and dehydration.

I came over a ridge and simultaneously saw: the summit a quarter mile away up a few easy ropes, and the rest of the group piled on the ground in an exhausted, overheated heap. I was asked if I had any water left in my pack, so I handed the last 16 oz water bottle to the 6 people sitting there. Someone foolishly asked if I thought we had enough water to make it down. I answered truthfully “Probably not!” and set out towards the summit. The lack of water was not helped by my dad’s insistence that beer was as good as water (he brought 4 beers and no water I found out), and the addition of an extra family member who signed on last minute, and assumed we had brought water for him.

Myself and two others made the final dehydrated, woozy push along the razor sharp ridge to the summit,


where we enjoyed a beer (it did noticeably rehydrate us, and also made the deleriousness a little more fun to deal with) and then headed down.

I had a plane to catch that evening, and thus couldn’t afford to stop and wait out the heat, so my cousin and I hiked out in the heat of the day, with no water and one beer to split for 3 hrs.

I found out he and another cousin later hiked back in, each with 2 gal of water for the rest of the bunch waiting on the ridge. That probably kept the situation from becoming news worthy.

I was told this trip was a few ropes and 4-6 hrs round trip. It ended up being 30+ ropes and 8 hrs for me, 12+ hrs for the rest of the group who waited out the heat. Everyone safely made it down at sunset when things cooled off. Fun trip eh!

I think this was one hell of a wakeup call for the 3 new inlaws/girlfriends who came along, as to what, exactly, they were signing up for (or had already signed up for) with this family! It was great to share an epic with the family. You know what they say, “A family that epics together ______ together!” (interactive post, fill in the blank…)

Those of us who were used to adventures such as this agreed it was an amazing hike, that unfortunately was not a beginner, or intermediate hike, as we were led to believe. Moral of the story, when hiking in high heat and humidity, BRING MORE WATER.


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Awesome! Don't get many family-epics-in-Hawaii trip reports around here...cheers to the dad who brought the beers instead of water :brew: Sounds like something you'd read about in the Rope Up TR's! :laf:

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oh, I forgot, I also did the whole hike up in Chaco flip-flops and hiked out in scuba booties. I didnt have any proper shoes.

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When I worked on Maui for U of RI we were almost coerced into setting up some high research rigging on those highly vegetated cliffs with the use of ice climbing gear and old-fashion solid ice screws. Fortunately we were able to dodge that bullet.

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Bad ass photos and video Ian!!! Nice work epicing with the family, good to see things haven't changed in the last few years

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