Not Enough Pretty Pictures

There, fixed that for you:


I really like the names of the peaks on Ha’upu Ridge that is closest to the ocean. From closest to furthest (right to left):

  • Kalanipu’u – The pointy hill in the front (779 feet)
  • Keopaweo – The peak that is reddish on one side (1167 feet)
  • Hokunui – The pointy one in the distance (1608 feet)
  • Hokulei – The rounded one behind it that looks a bit lower (1666 feet)
  • And in the far distance, Mt Kahili (left, 3089 feet) and Kapalaoa (right, 3310 feet)

I’m not sure of the translations for these names, so I won’t attempt it. I do know Hokunui is “big star,” though I don’t know if it references the Hawaiian name of an actual star or just a place name.


On a recent trip back from the mainland, we were flying Alaska and landed around noon. The usual approach takes you past the end of Haupu Ridge and Nawiliwili harbor. With the sun so high this time of year, the light was perfect and the colors just popped. I didn’t even see the boat in the first picture until I downloaded the photos from my camera.

I made the photos wide on purpose, I kinda like them like that. I may have to get rid of those links on the right.

Hanalei Market Re-Opening

Great news: the Hanalei Farmers Market will re-open, not this week but on Saturday, June 16, 2012. So it appears they resolved the permitting issue with only one week of closure. From the same source as before, here is the announcement:

Aloha Kakou,

As you know, the Hanalei Farmers’ Market was closed on June 2, 2012 in order to resolve issues regarding whether the provision of space once a week for local farmers and vendors to sell produce and products was allowed under the current use, zoning and SMA permits.

The sudden closure of the Farmers Market was very unfortunate. The Board of Hale Halawai wishes to express regret at the negative impacts experienced by the market participants, both vendors and customers. The suddenness of closure was in response to threatened litgation and the Board of HHOOH, with the desire to protect the opportunity for the Farmers’ Market to continue and to allow the possibility of re-opening the market in the correct way, made the decision to close pending resolution of the permit issues.

The County of Kauai has determined that the use of the subject permits by Hale Halawai to have a weekly farmers’ market is in conformance with the permits and their corresponding conditions of approval.

Consequently, the Hanalei Farmers’ Market will re-open on June 16, 2012 and will welcome back farmers, food vendors and artisans, all of whom will follow Kauai made guidelines.

The County of Kauai has been extremely responsive to the need to resolve this issue in a timely manner and has provided assistance in clarifying the issues and finding resolution through the Mayor’s Office and its Planning and Parks Departments. There has also been an upwelling of support from the broader community which includes a petition which collected over 1500 signatures in a very short time.

Now that the questions about the permits have been clarified, it is the hope of HHOOH that any remaining issues can be resolved using the energy of the community to address them.

President of the Board of Directors for Hale Halawai ‘Ohana O Hanalei

So it appears that there was some threat of a lawsuit over whether the market was allowed by the zoning for the land. It seems that Hale Halawai ‘Ohana ‘O Hanalei that owns the land cleared up the issues with the county and is clear to operate again. Some other details:

  • My wife used to sell jewelery at this market and remembers that there were threats of closure over 5 years ago. At the time, it was felt that it was the county itself that was trying to avoid having private farmers markets that had different rules than the county farmers markets, in particular, the crafts. Some people feared this was the case again.
  • Hale Halawai went out of their way to communicate that this was definitely not the case this time, as shown in the TGI article about the closure.
  • The big question then is who was threatening the lawsuit. The reader comments on that article hint that it was the other store owners in Hanalei who didn’t like the competition from the market. But then there are some accusations flying the other way against Hale Halawai, so like all comment threads, best to take everything with a grain of salt.
  • From their website: “Hale Halawai ‘Ohana O Hanalei translates as “A house for the coming together of the ‘Ohana (extended family) of Hanalei.” Locally referenced as The Community-Family Center. Dedicated to celebrating and increasing the resources and spirit of the people, the Center serves as a venue for a variety of services, classes, programs and events. […] The non-profit is primarily supported by private donations, grants, in-kind contributions and volunteers.
  • In another message: “For this Saturday ONLY, the Hanalei Farmers Market will take place at the Namahana Market, located at Kauai Mini Golf, 5-2723 Kuhio Hwy, from 9-1pm. Beginning next Saturday, June 16, we will resume operations from 9:30am-noon, at the site of the Hanalei Community Center, located near the Wai’oli Hu’ia Chuch (the beautiful green church).”

I suppose this is a relief for a lot of people, and I hope any remaining issues can be settled without such drastic measures.

Hanalei Farmers Market Closing

Not that anyone reads this blog for the breaking news, but apparently this was just announced today by the organization that runs the market. Worse, it is effective immediately, meaning that yesterday’s market (June 2, 2012) was possibly the last for the foreseeable future. Hopefully, if the parking issue can be resolved, it can reopen–but who knows how long that will take.

I heard about this in a thread on Trip Advisor. Here is the text of the email in question:

Dear Hale Halawai ‘Ohana O Hanalei Farmers’ Market Vendors,

We have traveled a long road together and we offer the following information with sadness.

The Hanalei Farmers’ Market will be discontinued as of today, June 2, 2012. After extensive meetings and attempts to implement other solutions to unresolved parking and permit issues, this is what we have to do.

If the parking and use permit situations can be resolved, the Hanalei Farmers’ Market with Kauai grown produce and Kauai made products may reopen at some time in the future. However, it is not possible to make promises that this will happen.

Please make sure we have updated contact information so we can keep you informed as steps are taken.

You have created an amazing success with lots of hard work and caring for one another, staff and customers.

Aloha and Mahalo for all of your positive contributions.

Hale Halawai ‘Ohana O Hanalei Board of Directors

I’m not familiar with Hale Halawai, but I imagine it is the privately owned center and land where the market is held. The Hanalei Market is not one of the “Sunshine” markets that are organized by the county (on county property), thus it did not have the farmers-only rule that the county imposes. Some would say that it was the mix of produce, crafts, art, and prepared food that made the market so successful. But, as with many things on a limited island, the market may have been a victim of its success.

Several other details surfaced in that thread:

  • The vendors were notified after the end of the market, so it was totally unexpected, or at least unannounced. Obviously, they have reason to be upset, as their livelyhoods are at stake.
  • The small market at the Kilauea mini-golf will be expanding to welcome vendors that want to make the move. Still, that’s a much smaller area, and it will have a parking problem sooner or later as well, if this continues.
  • The problem seems to be the damage to the soccer fields there they park the cars. I’m not sure who owns the field, but seeing as how a decent turf playing surface is expensive, I can understand how parking hundreds of cars on it each week could be an issue.
  • There is a FaceBook page to Save the Hanalei Farmers Market.

Given that, it seems that parking in the field is not going to be possible anymore. I assume the organizers need to find adequate parking elsewhere to receive some sort of event permit from the county. Hopefully, the other businesses that benefit from the traffic generated by the market can share their parking, or make it available so the market can continue.

Cynically, I could believe that there is much more to this story than a simple parking and permit issue. The market obviously draws visitors, but does that help or compete with the other businesses in town? Who owns what land, and who could authorize parking on it? If I had more time to be a journalist, these are the issues I would look into.

Sadly, the loss of the market is more than just business and economics. I happened to be in Hanalei this weekend for the Ha’ena to Hanalei run, and I stopped by the market afterwards. I phoned a friend in Princeville that I hadn’t seen in a while, but didn’t reach him so left a message. Not 5 minutes later, he spotted me wandering around at the market, even before he checked his voicemail. So it’s also a place where residents go to shop, hang out, and meet people. Let’s hope it reopens soon, preferrably next week.

Storm Follow-up

The last storm was Friday almost exactly a week ago, but this time I think everyone was prepared. We had our buckets in the attic under the leaks, all the potted plants were safely inside and the windows shut against the wind and rain. After the storm, with no further rain in the forecast, everybody was ready to move on and forget it all. But curious about the cumulative rainfall, I did want to give a recap of the storms and their effects.

Last Friday’s storm felt like the worst. It was the 4th in a row, and as I mentioned, everyone was talking about it and preparing for it. Once we were ready, I went to bed thinking the rain wasn’t so bad. But even though I slept through the night, my wife said the rain came down in solid sheets, waking her up and drawing her outside to watch. This last storm was the most intense, with huge amounts of rain in a short time, creating lots of runoff. In the morning, I found my thick, heavy rubber doormat swept down the walkway from my door—so the runoff from the street must’ve been deep and strong.

There were again reports of some serious weather:

  • A friend in Kapahi reported macademia-nut sized hail, which was later confirmed by a photo in the newspaper.
  • The Kealia stream rose so much, it covered Haua’ala Road in the Keapana valley area just north of Kapa’a. Because it’s the only road into the valley, residents were trapped until the river went down.
  • The newspaper also reported another funnel cloud that apparently touched down near Lihu’e. It did rip some shingles off a roof, and led to the best quote in a long time:
  • The small twister left the Steins’ children’s toys strewn about the neighborhood “much more than they normally are,” her husband chided.

  • There was a report of water flowing over the main Wailua bridge, leading the police to close the bridge, just as in Hanalei.
    At first I thought this meant the river rose so much it covered the bridge. But then I had a look at the bridge, and I won’t say it’s impossible, but for the river to go that high, it would have to flood the marina and Kuamo’o road nearby, not to mention a few houses and businesses by the river. Since I saw no evidence of this, I think what happened is that runoff from the hill and road nearby washed onto the bridge and couldn’t drain fast enough, creating water on the bridge.
  • Finally, someone heard from someone that there was snow in Koke’e.
    Given the hail, it seems plausible at least. I asked for more information (pics, or it didn’t happen), but I haven’t heard any further details. What seems more likely is that it hailed in Koke’e as well. So I’m still looking for first-hand witnesses and/or photographic evidence of snow on Kaua’i.

Everyone was saying how this last storm was the worst of the 4, and even worse than the “30 days of rain” back in 2006. It certainly seemed like there was more rain and more runoff in a shorter period this time. But looking at the rain gauge totals for the past 21 days, the 2nd and 3rd storms (March 4th and 5th-6th), were generally the wettest in most areas. I think the difference was the general saturation of the ground, meaning that the 4th storm created more impressive runoff everywhere.

In order to add up the rain gauge totals, I downloaded all the data from the National Weather Service and created a spreadsheet (click to download) and some graphs. This first graph (click to see the full frame) shows the cumulative rain every 12 hours for each gauge that had data the whole period:


What still impresses me about the first storm is how it was so uniformly significant over the entire island. In my experience observing the rain gauge maps, that is very unusual. Typically, some areas receive more and others less, such as how the Westside stayed dry through the rest of these storms. You can see other trends, such as how Hanalei and Wainiha (the North Shore) dwarfed Wai’ale’ale at times, but how a minor rain on Feb 29 really affected the summit. However, this second graph shows the 21-day cumulative total for each of the gauges, and Wai’ale’ale still dominates:


After all the rain, my daughter was anxious to get outside and play. Unfortunately, the main part of Lydgate Park is still closed. The roads are open, but the beach is washed out and pools are full of silt (as I reported earlier). On top of that, there was a sewage spill around the Kamalani playground, so it is closed and roped off. The good news is that the play-bridge structure at the south end of the park is open:


The dirt road that goes under the bridge and out to the beach has turned back into a stream. This was a natural channel I believe, and with all the runoff from the golf course nearby, it connects to the ocean again for now.


The water in the ocean is still brown, so there is no swimming on the east side for another week or so. The beach is covered in drift wood as well:


The newspaper had a photo of runoff damange at Ke’e beach that caused a deep gully in the sand. The same thing happened at the picnic area at the south end of Lydgate park as well. This channel is 4-6 feet deep and the flow washed sand from under the boulder, causing it to sink about 4 feet:


This is what happens when you build roads and parking lots without proper drainage near the beach. In heavy rain, they turn into an artificial stream that takes the shortest path to the beach (the human path), and it carries all the sand along with it.

But the worst damage from this last storm is in Kapa’ia, the little valley between Hanamaulu and Lihu’e. You can see how the stream banks were scoured by the high flow, and a week after the storm the stream is still about twice as wide as usual:


The flash flood in this valley carried lots of branches and uprooted trees, and unfortunately, smashed them into the Kapa’ia swinging bridge:


This is sad because the local community was trying to raise awareness and money to get this bridge restored. The wood was rotting, and they had to close the bridge because it was unsafe. I don’t know exactly what it needed, but now I wonder if it can be saved at all. It is one of the 4 swinging bridges on Kaua’i, a relic of an older time. If the cables are still sound, maybe this will encourage the restauration of the bridge.

Not all is gloomy, this lotus flower (at the Coconut Marketplace) looked even nicer with some raindrops:


And my neighbor sent me a great photo of the waterfall on Nounou, the Sleeping Giant, although it was actually from the previous Monday’s storm. So here’s a 300 foot (100 meter) waterfall you don’t see everyday:


Because the east side still has plenty of brown water, there will be no swimming in the ocean for a few more days.

I heard Poipu was sunny early this week when the east side was still overcast, so I took my daughter down there to swim. Sure enough, it was warm and the water safe to swim, so she had a good time at Poipu Beach Park. And we got to see a sunset for the first time in a long time:



The weather island-wide is now definitely turning into spring, with warm sunshine, breezes, and clean fresh air. With all the water and now sunshine, the land is lush and green again. Not having seen the direct sun in so long, I am surprised by how far north it has moved in the sky. Following a typical pattern, these storms are now hitting California, which will soon be all green as well. Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Kalalau for Beginners

I’ve mentioned this before: feel free to send me questions, my email is andy (a) great(dash)hikes (d o t) c o m. It used to be on this website, but I had to take it down due to spam. Eventually, I would like to implement an “Ask me about Kaua’i” button, but email works in the meantime. I try to answer all emails, and if it has a wide appeal, I’ll just publish the answer here.

Janis sent me a question, and I think the answer may interest a lot of people:

My husband and I just returned from a trip to Kauai and we just loved everything about it. We hiked the trail to Hanakapai Falls and are contemplating trying the whole 11 miles to Kalalau Beach. We are in our upper 50’s, in relatively good shape, but have never backpacked before. Would you only recommend this trail for young people?

Also, what is the best way to overcome a possible fear of exposure on the cliff sections? I think I could possibly have a problem, but I really want to overcome my fear and do this hike. It is now on my bucket list.

Any suggestions other than “don’t do it”? ha.

Janis, I think backpacking in general is not a question of age but of experience. I helped my Dad hike the Kalalau trail when he was 65, and there are plenty of people of all ages hiking in Kalalau. In fact, given that experience comes with age, you see lots of old backpackers on trails all over the country. However, by your own admission, I’m not sure you have all the experience to tackle the Kalalau trail yet. It sounds like you have a good fitness level, so I think with some equipment and training, you could do it in a year or two. There is also the issue of sleeping outdoors in a tent or hammock—some people have no problem with it, others will put up with it to be in Kalalau, and yet others just aren’t comfortable with it. Since you’ve already considered this, I’m going to assume you’re not in the last category.

Having never backpacked before, you need some equipment and skills. Hopefully there is a hiking club near where you live that you can join and learn about backpacking skills. Sometimes you can rent or borrow their equipment first, until you buy your own. For Kalalau, you will need to bring the following with you on the airplane:

  • Backpacks
  • Hiking boots and hiking poles (recommended when you have a heavy pack on your back)
  • Shelter (usually a lightweight backpacking tent, but could also be a hammock with rain fly for each)
  • Mats for insulation from the ground (if in tent)
  • Lightweight sleep sack (you don’t need the heavier sleeping bag that’s necessary the mainland, so unless you can afford a down bag, a separate fleece sleep sack is lighter and smaller to pack).
  • Water filter and purifier rated to remove leptospira bacteria
  • Camping food
  • Lightweight hiking clothes (breathable synthetic fabrics)
  • Kalalau map (though it is easier to buy on Kaua’i, see links below)

None of this needs to be expensive, but you should have good quality equipment that fits well and that you’ve practiced packing, carrying, and using. Some of it can be rented on Kaua’i at the backpacking stores, but I really think that bringing an extra suitcase or pack as luggages is a small price to pay for having your own trusted equipment with you.

I no longer recommend taking a stove to Kalalau because it can be a hassle to take on the airplane. They all have different rules about them. Since you’re usually going for 3-4 days, it’s not an ordeal to eat cold foods. If you do want hot foods and are willing to deal with the extra weight, you need to determine if you can take it on your airline (before you buy tickets) and under what conditions, and then buy the gas on Kaua’i.

Once you have borrowed, rented, or bought this equipment, you need practice carrying it long distances and using it. The Kalalau trail has over 2500 feet of elevation gain over 11 miles. You don’t want this unfamiliar trail in an unfamiliar climate to be a surprise and a huge challenge to your abilities. Because you say you’ve never been backpacking, you need to start light and go for a short distance for a single night. Practice setting up camp and making your water and food. As I mentioned, you should find a club or friends who backpack to help you learn about preparing, packing, hiking and camping safely. A lot of other skills such as route-finding (or just following the trail), weather prediction, staying warm, knowing first aid, and just staying safe in general are the same as with day-hiking, though usually require a bit more thought and effort in order to extend over the several days of a typical back-packing trip.

Then work your way up to 10 mile hikes with 30-lb packs. For Kalalau, you can stop at the 6-mile marker, but I actually don’t recommend it because it is a wet and muddy spot. It is much better to go lighter and faster (and longer) all the way to Kalalau (or even to a trail-side stop if you don’t make it all the way). The one difference I have found between backpacking in Hawaii and the mountains of California is the humidity. You must be prepared to drink more, stay cool, and avoid over-exertion. If you come from the eastern or southern states, you may be more prepared for the humid weather.

The fear of heights (acrophobia) is going to be an issue you should consider before you make all this investment in time and equipment. I don’t know if it can be overcome, but perhaps with experience and habit, you can manage it. So before you do the backpacking training, you may want to do “height training.” Find trails that require you to be near cliff edges, and see how you can deal with it. Take the hiking poles to give you more confidence. Start taking a larger pack on these cliff hikes to get a feel for the weight and balance near the edge. Not having such fears myself, I may be way off base here, but there may be mind-calming techniques such as meditation or affirmations you could look into. Nor do I don’t know if traditional psychologists can help, if you feel it is really blocking you.

The Kalalau trail does have some areas that I imagine will trigger a response in people who have fear of heights to some degree. The worst is the cliff section at about 6.5 miles where there is a passage on a narrow dirt trail, and then a rock balcony with a real drop-off. Other sections of the trail aren’t so bad, but there are erosion and overgrowth right next to steep and long slopes that go very far down to the ocean. It is all generally safe (but always exercise your own judgment based on actual trail conditions), but you might not be able to predict your fear-reaction, so the best you can do is to prepare yourself in similar situations.

Here are the most relevant articles I’ve posted, to cover some of what I mention above:

There are now tons of videos of the Kalalau trail on YouTube. Some people may not want to watch too much and keep the surprise and awe for their own hike. But you might want to watch the ones about the cliff section to see if you think you can handle the heights there (but of course, it is totally different in person without the distorting effect of the camera lens).

Finally, if you feel all this preparation and training might keep you from backpacking to Kalalau, another option would be to hire a guide. A competent guide can essentially give you the training you need, right on the trail. The guide should be able to provide most of the equipment, and then probably carry most of it so you only need a full day-pack instead of a backpack. You still need to be able to do 2 long and difficult 11-mile full-day hikes, deal with the humidity, and overcome your fear of heights. And it is probably expensive, but it may be a good way for you to “do” Kalalau, and you’d also be learning backpacking skills that would help you go other places on your own. For guided hikes, I always recommend Eric at Hike Kaua’i With Me (he has a facebook page too).

Best of luck, Janis, whatever you decide. Backpacking is a great way to explore the natural beauty of Kaua’i, the mainland, and all over the world. It might also be an activity that helps you conquer your fear of heights. Feel free to ask additional questions, and let me know when you get to Kalalau.