Arrival at Kalalau Beach
We arrived at Kalalau Beach in the late afternoon with a good amount of time to get our camp set up, get refreshed at “the shower” and leisurely get our kitchen together and ready for dinner. The beach was such a wonderful welcome sight after 11 miles of challenging terrain and tired hikers. The scenery all along and here was outstanding. Again, we are spoiled with having amazing outdoor adventures in California. So, I wouldn’t say we had our jaws on the ground all day with the awe-inspiring sights. But, many views and times through the day encompassed incredible beauty and abundance of life. Yet, there are contradictions. As the morning wears on and for several hours into the afternoon, there is a constant stream of helicopters touring the area overhead. Here you are in a remote area that very few people travel through and yet you are brought to the “real world” with the sound and sights of tourist choppers throughout the day.
Our expectation of this adventure was to pay our dues on the tough 11 mile hike-in and then enjoy the reward with others that have done the same in a large beach and surrounding tree-covered camping areas and enjoy a couple of days of “going native”. Warrrroooooop! That’s the sound of the needle being dragged across the record. We didn’t verbalize it to each other as we walked toward the beach and give any indication of the disappointment seeping into our disposition at the time. But, somehow our research missed some obvious things in front of us that we’re seeing. Do you remember that percentage of backpackers to hippies? Now, add in a 3rd group; locals that come by boat and have items that horrify us — drink coolers, music boom boxes, pool toys, etc. Only later in the trip do we talk about this, but there is some blown expectations here and an unpleasant surprise.
Don’t misunderstand. You’re still on a large and very pretty beach. Yet, there are more than just a few backpackers here and it’s not as lightly used as imagined. We also walk past a pavilion area and helicopter landing area (official use, not tourism) that has dozens of large plastic garbage bags ready to be removed from the area. I had read about caves on the beach and not to camp in them, but we observe that people living in them and others that are taking some liberties with this place as their home. Note that much of what we’re seeing is all strictly spelled out on our permits as prohibited activities. We were pretty naïve. We thought that we reach an idyllic beach and get to play “Survivor” for a few days and instead at a developing country’s beach full of squatters.
Continue reading: Part Five – Evening on Kalalau Beach