Exploring Kauai's Na Pali Coast - Page 4
Escaping the bustle of Honolulu, Julie Ng and Cindy Gibson are on their way to savor an afternoon in the lush Honolulu Forest Reserve. Photo by Chris Hunter.
On Oahu we take a rest day on the North Shore, then Chris and I part ways with Brendan. The North Shore of Oahu is surfing’s Mecca. Watching surfers challenge 20-foot waves is exhilarating, and there are miles of beach to run. But, acting on a tip about some cool trails close to Honolulu from Honolulu-based trail runners Julie Ng and Cindy Gibson, we pack up and head to the city. Julie, a 41-year-old software-applications engineer, and Cindy, 27, a reporter for the Pacific Business News, have both run the Honolulu and Volcano marathons numerous times. The Volcano Marathon, held on the Big Island, is a trail marathon over lava flows and through rainforests.
Just minutes from the concrete jungle of Honolulu, we meet up with Julie and Cindy at parking area #2 of the Honolulu Mauka Trail System. This 14-mile system snakes through the Honolulu Watershed Preserve, which overlooks Honolulu, and is the venue for the renowned HURT 100. Limited to 100 entrants, the HURT 100, which includes 100-mile and 100-kilometer events over a 20-mile loop, is held in January and is 99-percent singletrack on rainforest trails. The total elevation gain for the 100-miler is 24,935 feet.
“How often do you get out here?” I ask, as we take off through the trees.
“We’re out here all the time,” Julie replies.
“These trails are so easy to get to from downtown,” Cindy chimes in, “and offer such great variety, with bamboo forests, great city views and guava and ginger along the trail in the summer.”
The trails weave in and out of the valleys and are moderately hilly. So if you’re ever stuck in a Waikiki hotel and need a mud fix, the bird song and skittering of lizards offer a peaceful respite from the bustle of Honolulu.
Chris, Julie, Cindy and I finish our day at an open-air bar in downtown Honolulu. Then, racing to the airport, I change out of my running clothes in the back of Chris’s minivan, and he pours me onto the plane for an overnight flight to San Francisco. Typically I would dread returning to the real-world rat race. But, I am grateful—this trip has made me realize is that no matter what life dishes out I know there is a trail I haven’t run (several in Hawaii as a matter of fact), but, more importantly, can run.
NA PALI COAST, HAWAII
From the airport in Lihue, take Highway 56 to the end of the road. On the way, stock up in Hanalei, where there is a market, well-stocked backpacking shop and a natural-foods store.
Hydration system, water treatment (iodine or filter), sunscreen, mosquito repellent, first-aid kit, light rain gear.
Winter (October through April) is wetter, while summer (May through September) is dryer. Temperatures range from upper-50s to mid-80s year round.
Falling rocks, dangerous surf (primarily in winter), steep drop-offs, rough trail
and a citation if you don’t have a permit from the Hawaii State Parks Department
The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed, by Andrew Doughty; On the Na Pali Coast: A Guide for Hikers and Boaters, by Kathy Valier.
This article originally appeared in our May 2010 issue.