Awa’awa’puhi, the name says it all…
Mahalo to Kokee National park which is an enchanted land pearched above 1500 m on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Kokee is home to giant Japanese Sugi Cedars cloaked in tropical mists which can drop down to freezing overnight. It’s a mysterious land where Brazilian Cardinals forage among bizarre volcanic cliffs that plummet down to the sea along the Napali Coast and are haunted by the long tailed white tropical birds. These valleys we’re once home to polynesians who were hidden away from the rest of Kauai.
This was our first hike on Kauai and it turned out to be one of the best.
We departed the Kokee campground around 10 am (far too late to beat the clouds at the end of the Awa’awa’phui ridge). The trail took us out along a ridge trail into a outlandish tropical subalpine forest where ferns in the shape of your hand cloaked the Ohia trees and wild ginger was as common as buffalo berry back home. We emerged to a clearing where the pacific ocean could be glimpsed through the clouds and red grey cliffs dropped off into a cloudy abyss on either side.
At the Nu’alolo cliff connector junction was closed because of a landslide but, taking our lives in our hands, we explored past the closure anyway. The trail was horrible overgrown and our path was clogged by wild ginger as we approached the waterfall swimming hole, never made it to the cliffs. A trip best to be avoided. When open, the connector ford a fantastic loop with Nu’alolo Ridge (best done clockwise).
We marched on and arrived at the viewpoint where long tailed white tropical birds road the updrafts and goats pined along the cliff edges. The knife edge ridge is doable but not for the acrophobic! And beware of the wet greasy mud that could send you catapulting to your death thousands of feet below.
If it’s cloudy or rainy at the viewpoint, throw up the tarp and have a picnic because the view is worth a couple hours of waiting. Chickens are everywhere and iridescent blue/green beetles crawl around. A storm hit as we left the viewpoint and our trail back turned into a red creek as a flash flood. No major stream crossings thankfully!
An absolutely enchanting place, a ridge walk to to revel in. An experience that will be sure to send your minds eye cartwheeling into a tropical ocean of imagination. Aloha – KK
Kokee Trail Map at Info Centre
Nu’alolo Trail Closure notice