Sunday, February 18, 2007

Waimea Canyon: the Kukui Trail

Last Sunday was another perfect day. We set out for the west side of the island, which is the farthest you can drive away from where we live. It’s about 50 miles and takes about an hour and a half to drive there. Once there, we reached the destination for our hike. Waimea Canyon has been called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” because of its resemblance to the larger, more famous Arizona landmark. From the highway, a nausea inducing road winds 20 miles up to the top of the Canyon, with stunning lookout points along the way. But we decided foolishly that it’d be more fun to hike down into the Canyon. We lived to regret it.

We took the Kukui Trail, which we figured would be a moderately difficult hike at 2.5 miles each way. In that distance, you lose 2,300 feet. That doesn’t seem like a lot until the way back, when you have to climb it. On the hike down, we were met with stunning views of the canyon. The last mile was through dense forest, and after what seemed like forever we were rewarded with the Waimea river. Here, you could rest in the sun on the rocks and put your tired feet into the cool rushing water as you anticipate the hell that awaits you on the way back up.

Views from the bottom of the trail at the Waimea river:

The 2.5 miles up were hard, with lots of water breaks. We were smart enough to bring lots of water for the trip, but not smart enough to pack a snack. We huffed and puffed our way back to the top, up what seemed like 90 angle inclines.

View of the trail on the way back up out of the canyon:

Almost to the end, we spotted some of the wild goats that live in the canyon. We weren’t able to get a great picture, because they were pretty far away. We were thankful for that after getting a look at those menacing horns.

All in all, we’d rate this hike as a 7.5/10 on the difficulty scale and by far the hardest hike we’ve done to date. This hike is one of those things that you’re glad you did, but not until after the fact – kind of like giving birth or running marathons.

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