This past February Kelly and I absconded to the Islands of Hawaii in search of some unseasonable adventures. Some hiking, biking, kayaking, diving and camping in the warmth of the mid-winter North Pacific, we thought, would add some refreshing variety to the our difficult winter.
We skulked out of Arlington in the wee hours of the morning, took a shuttle to Logan, and began our lengthy transit to paradise: Boston to Phoenix, Phoenix to Kona, Kona to Honolulu, and finally Honolulu to Lihue. After hours of fidgeting in our seats, we dragged ourselves from the airport to our first respite of the trip: Kauai Beach House Hostel. The Hostel was certainly an adequate place to rest our travel-weary bones, but in all honestly the place was essentially a shambles. The original building was hardly discernable beneath the array of DIY addons and makeshift weather-proofing and it was hard to say at times whether you were inside or simply under some hastily erected awning. The clientele were a diverse collection of hippies, stoners, drifters, surf bums and people like us – thrifty travelers. Not that we minded too much – all we were really after were hot showers and firm mattresses, both of which were found to be available as advertised. We eagerly hit the sack so as not to waste a second of the upcoming days!
As luck would have it, the endemic rooster population was even more determined than we were that we not waste a second more than necessary in bed. They wake up bright and early, and apparently do not see fit to stop crowing until the late afternoon. We were good and awake each day.
For our first two days in Kauai, we planned to see the sites – mountains, jungles, and the coast – by way of mountain bike. We had reserved two full suspension bikes from the local shop, so as soon as we had gobbled up a hearty pre-MTB breakfast, we ran straight to the shop to pick our new rides and query the employees regarding the best riding.
We consulted the locals on a few routes Kelly had pulled down from Garmin Connect prior to leaving after which we realized we may have to alter out plans. They informed us that the recent wet weather had probably nixed our top choice but that our back up plan was in fact their top choice for rainy days. The guy even noted that the route we pulled down from the internet seemed to start at his friends house – small world! Thusly encouraged, we got after it, but not before laughing off their brief warnings regarding ‘Hawaiian Ice’ – we just emerged from a frozen tundra replete with studded snow tires, carbide tipped trekking poles, steel edges and 12 point crampons. These guys clearly had no idea what they were talking about…
We parked at a nearby ball field, and warmed up with a steady paved climb into the mountains and toward the trailhead. At the trailhead we continued our climb, which was steep at times. It was among these steeps that we encountered the ‘Hawaiian Ice.’ In low gear and with steady cadence, we lost traction with our knobby tires caked with a clay-like mud and the trail reduced by rain to a slick hard-pack leaving us clinging to rocks and roots at every opportunity.
After what seemed like an eternity of climbing, we emerged at the top of a spectacular ridge-line, marred only by the haze that had beset the islands. We cruised along the ridge peering over deep canyons hoping to catch glimpses of the magnificent jungle we were surrounded by.
The ridgeline trail twisted and slunk through the lush mountains, notched into the sides of slopes which fell precipitously into the mists and foliage.
As the ridge-line gave way to gentler terrain, the trail opened up into a fast if not bumpy double track – we raced out of the mountains on a long and easy descent, back into civilization and toward the second leg of our route.
We exited the mountainous jungle, cruised through some nearby neighborhoods and found our way to the short return leg, a rolly and twisting trail which traversed the lower elevations of a small ridge. The forest was of a distinctly different character than the mountains we had just emerged from. While the elevation change was dramatically less than what we’d just come from, the trail was considerably more challenging with plenty of short, steep and rough climbs.
With our first day of Hawaiian adventure under our belts, we retreated to our camp at Anini Beach for some R&R. For a mere $3/night we had this to watch as we rested and prepared for day two:
For day two we opted for a cruise through the multi-use trails winding along the coast, in and out of the woods and along the beach departing from Anahola Beach. The trails are used primarily by mountain bikers and dirt bikers, but seemingly see some 4×4 action and are used by fishermen on their way to the numerous secret coves along the shore and by hippies making camp amid the tangled mess of trails. Unfortunately the GoPros, having seen plenty of action on day one, were spent. We bore witness to some truly spectacular sights including some supreme ocean views and a hippie camp ornately adorned with drift wood, fishing buoys and sea shells, but were unable to capture any of this on camera. Luckily we had the self control to slow down and bag one nice still with the point and shoot.