24 miles of hiking • 10000' elevation gain • 4 nights
There exists a mile-long, deep, sandy beach on the northwestern shore of Kauai far removed from civillization. There's only two ways in—sea kayak or an 11-mile, 5000' EG hike up and down repeatedly along the sheer cliffs of the coast.
Four of us spent four nights at Kalalau Beach, sleeping in the sand and tucked barely into the bushes. Wild cherry tomatoes grew all around camp and were easily added to each meal. In addition to tomatoes, we found fresh lime, guava, mint, watercress, and a few other edibles growing in the forest of the valley set behind the beach.
A good many folks live in the valley semi-permanently, against regulation and without permit but with what appears to be much ease and happiness. Bronze skinned, thin, and with an extremely slow walking pace—they've gone full aloha.
This was perhaps one of the most satisfying backpacking trips I've ever been on. It was beautiful weather every day. There were incredible views and happy people. When anyone got too warm, they stripped their clothes off and ran into the ocean to play in the waves. Some of the regulars had a party one night and invited us, allowing us to witness fire dancing to drums in the middle of a dark-skied night at what felt like the edge of the world.