Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wailua River, Hiking to Bottom of Wailua Falls, Opaekaa Falls

 We drove up to the east side of the island to visit Wailua Falls. Most of the waterfalls on Kauai you have to hike to, but Wailua is one you just drive up and walk out to the guard rail and view. This is the waterfall shown in the opening scene of Fantasy Island. Normally it is two streams of falls, but we had rain the day before on the mountain and it was a large flow of water.
 It falls into a pretty pool of water at the bottom.

 OK, confession time. We had the book that is supposed to be the Holy Guidebook of Kauai and it told how to get to the bottom of the falls. There are two ways. One is past the overlook at the end of the parking lot. That trail is supposed to be more steep and apparently people have put up ropes to help you keep your footing as you climb down and back up. But, the officials have had people hurt so have posted Dangerous, No Trespassing signs and cut the ropes. But, down the street about 3/10 of a mile there is a turn in the road. There is a trail there that is less steep although it is a little farther to hike and requires you to cross the river to get to the falls. This sign was there but we decided to be rebels and do it anyway :)
 This was the first part of the trail. Not too bad. Just after the first little piece it starts going almost straight down for the rest of the hike. As it had rained the day before it was muddy and very slippery. The ground is covered with tree roots and as it gets very steep they create almost a natural staircase in some areas. You have to be very careful because you put your foot down and it slides and since you are going down it is scary at times. Luckily most of that area also has small trees you can grab for a holding. I sat in a couple of areas where I was sliding too much and just inched my way down. So, this photo is very deceiving as we saw we needed to put the camera in the bag and be very careful as we climbed down.
 At the bottom we reached the river which was pretty rapid! What we didn't know is that it had rained and so the falls were a heavy flow and the river was high and more swift than usual. Also, we had read that all the creeks and rivers in the interior of Hawaii have a flesh eating bacteria... nice to know. We did our best to find a way to cross.
 This photo doesn't show how fast the water was running. We ended up wrapping the camera in our rain jacket and putting it in the pack so this is all the photos I got, but we went on quite an adventure trying to cross the river! Most areas around the rocks the water was knee to waist high so we tried to use the rocks as a way to cross. The areas which didn't have rocks were all up to our chest and possibly deeper and we were trying to keep the pack dry. So, Darryl went first and would get about 5 feet and I would follow. When we reached the middle there was an area where the water went between two large rocks. Darryl stepped one foot and said, "Whoa, I almost lost it, one more step and it is so strong a current I would have been sucked in." He finally just plunged himself to the other rock on the other side of that place, which was about 5 feet away, and made it across, so he told me to follow. I got to that area and it was amazing the power of the water there! It was like a vacuum and as soon as you put a foot in that stream an overwhelming suction pulled you between the rocks down stream. So, he held his hand out and I jumped into the water as far across as I could and made it. We were only able to get another 6 feet before the rocks ended and it was another swift current, with no rocks to grab this time. We looked and tried different ways and couldn't find a passable place. We finally had to go back. Darryl got across the "place of suction" and got up on the rock on his belly and held his hand out. I jumped as far as I could into the water again, towards the rock, but this time that rock was a little further upstream than the one I was leaving and the current was so bad there was no way I could get my body to the backside of the rock, even with Darryl helping me. I was holding onto his hand with my body flying downriver, the current ripping my shorts down and I looked up at him and said, "I'm not going to make it." The way I said it was like I was going to die and we both started laughing and then I let go of Darryl and was carried about 20 feet before hitting more rocks where I could get a footing and get out. So much fun! We then had to go back up the mountain, almost straight up. The good thing is you can use the roots along the ground to pull up on. I also found a tree branch to use as a hiking stick. It was very slippery and hard going up. Well, I am not in the best shape, carrying about 70 extra pounds, so I could feel every single step. My legs were on fire and it hurt so bad and Darryl would only say, "Pain is weakness leaving your body" I feel a little less wimpy when reading other hikers accounts of going to the bottom and seeing that experienced hikers say you cannot cross the river after a rain and they say the hike is very strenuous and dangerous. I didn't know the falls were heavy until seeing other's photos and it just being two streams. We didn't even know it had rained the day before, as in the southern Po'ipu area it hardly ever rains. So, I am proud that I did the hike (climb!) and pushed myself past my normal.... I probably wouldn't have if I had known.... so I've learned I am capable of more than I thought. Now, I was extremely sore for three days afterwards!
 We could see this falls while almost back at the top. It is not the same one.
 The Wailua River. You can kayak about 2.5 miles in and then hike 2 miles to a waterfall then kayak 2.5 miles out. I didn't think I could do that.
 Roosters across the street from the overlook. Chickens and roosters are EVERYWHERE on Kauai. Years ago a hurricane destroyed the chicken houses and they all got out and have multiplied and now roam wild all over the island.
 Opaekaa Falls. We were able to drive to this overlook also to view these falls.

1 comment:

Harshal Nicks said...

That trail is supposed to be more steep and apparently people have put up ropes to help you keep your footing.