*Surviving the Na Pali Coast*
Things to remember to get back home
By: Fairplay
31 October 2006

My wife and I had the opportunity to escape to Hawaii for a few weeks for our anniversary and jumped at the chance. We took our camping gear and intended to explore Kauai (say Kow eye). There is a trail that runs along the Na Pali coast that is worth at least a day trip to experience parts of the trail.

At one end of the trail is a parking lot and the trail starts off like this.

Yep, that is the trail. Not the usual paved walking trail but maybe it is not too hard. It is slow going because it is steep and in many places footing is unsure and falls are likely. Large bounders of weathered lava provide nice resting places along the way.

I needed frequent stops to take water and rest because in several place the trail is quite steep.

The trail eases up a bit.

Breathtaking views along the way.


We made it this far and stopped for lunch.


We decided to return after lunch instead of pushing to go farther.

On the way back after lunch I stood and rested, looking out over the Pacific. Note my muddy behind. The trail was muddy and slippery.

Plus I enjoyed a refreshing unplanned dip wading across a river just before lunch.


As a survival story this is mostly a non event because of several things, the most important is that we were prepared for many things that could have but didnít happen. The point of having an emphasis and mindset on survival is to avoid getting into a difficult threatening scenario in the first place. Let me explainÖ We saw many people along the trail that were woefully unprepared. We saw people walking in little flimsy sandals, definitely inappropriate footgear for this trail. We saw people walking barefoot and lava rock can be sharp and abrasive. We saw people that had beet red faces and working on dreadful sunburns. We saw people that were overheated and dehydrated that had taken off on a hike with no water. We saw people with no hat, no walking stick, no water or provisions literally stumbling along. I want to enjoy things not do a death march. My wife and I smiled at each other and commented on how difficult it was going to be to evacuate this person or that person that we passed on the trail. We whispered jokingly to each other, labeling the extreme cases: heatstroke, heart attack, blister, sunburn, etc. We enjoyed the beautiful scenery and each other.


It took us all day to hike probably no more than the few miles in and out to where we decided to stop for lunch. We stopped frequently. We rested in the shade and we hydrated. We were realistic with our limits. We started very early in the day to avoid the mid day heat. The really amazing thing is that if you look closely you can see that I have a cast on my right leg. I hiked this with a broken leg! I was able to do so because we planned ahead. We took things slow and I had a beautiful patient companion to share the adventure who urged me on.

Here are some of the things that we always carry in each day pack even when it is just planned as a short trek.

Plenty of water, this day we took 2 liters of water each,

Food, this day we took sandwich fixings for our lunch and some fruit for snacks in addition to the energy bars we usually have,

First aid kits in each pack,

A water filter to resupply our water,

A compass to find our way,

A lightweight space blanket,

An extra pair of socks, which I needed after slipping and falling in the river (a change of socks probably kept me from getting severe blisters) ,

Walking sticks, hat and rain gear,

Communication devices at a minimum consisting of our FRS radios and cell phones,

Our pocket knives,

A rescue whistle attached to each packís zipper,

Several feet of duct tape rolled around a stubby pencil and a small writing pad,

Small LED flashlight in addition to our LED headlights.

We intended to make this trek in the daylight but if we not been able to do so it would have been impossible to negotiate this trail in the dark without a light.

The point of this survival story is to think ahead, plan for the unexpected, and operate within your limits to avoid a survival scenario. Donít become a statistic.

We drove the rented 4x4 to the other end of this trail the next day to see what was there and found this beautiful remote beach.


Enjoy your adventures, be safe, and plan for the unexpected.

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