Exploring Kauai's Na Pali Coast
Hitting the reset button
Justin Tade and Brendan McHugh running the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast of Kauai, Hawaii. Photo by Chris Hunter.
My horoscope for the week of March 23, 2009 read: “You hit the reset button in your life this week.” So the next week, I headed to Hawaii to run trails. Sixteen months ago, though, I didn’t know if I would ever run another trail, following a gunshot wound to my leg.
In a jet over the Pacific. Unsettled. Wondering. What’s in store over the course of the next nine days? How will my leg hold up? I’m an open book full of blank pages where unpleasant memories can’t be reached—thanks to dreams of trails bathed in sunlight and shrouded in rainforest canopy.
While most of Hawaii is a paradise, each island is unique in its flora, fauna and vibe. Chris Hunter, 28, a longtime resident of North Shore Oahu, and I had concocted our Hawaiian itinerary over beers after running across the Grand Canyon (Chris took photos). After heatedly discussing Hawaii’s greatest trails, we narrowed it down to two “big ones.” We chose the Na Pali Coast, 22 miles (roundtrip) of narrow, red-dirt trail on the northwest coast of Kauai, and Maui’s Haleakala Crater, the centerpiece of Haleakala National Park, which stretches from the Crater to the pools of Oheo Gulch on the south coast at Hana. And, on a lark (based on an insider tip), we decided to hit the easily accessible rainforest trails just outside of the bustle of Honolulu.