Exit Beach Right…
In the morning, our alarms go off and we get up to a somewhat clearing sky. As we got ready and got our packing strategy started, we noticed that the couple next to us are also up and doing the same. We got everything ready, stripped down to bathing suits and are on the beach before 6:30am, dragging our garbage bags, and ready for pick-up! The pickup time came … and went. There was no pickup. Then, 7:00am came and went and no boat. We’re thinking that it’s “Island Time” and people here don’t always stick to schedules. OK, we wait. Now, 7:30a comes around and we see that a queue is building further down on the beach. We guess that it’s for that other guy that typically does this service. We are starting to get nervous and are scanning the horizon for boats that are coming from the East. The weather is also a mix of clouds, some sprinkles, and still relatively cool morning weather. Then, 8:00am comes and the couple we told about the boats has abandoned our queue and gone over to the other queue. Ouch. Do we do the same and salvage the situation or stick with our “planned departure”? It’s now 8:30a and the other boat is here, picking up people from the water. Argh!!
Our boat is still nowhere in sight. Well, decision made, we stand our ground and now the other somewhat more “established” boat ride has picked people up and is heading back to town and we’re here feeling nervous and silly. Wait a minute … that blue bikini on that boat leaving … no way! That couple from last night that we filled in on the boat situation got on that other boat and now they’re gone and we’re still here on the beach! Now, we continue to scan the horizon for boats and have a number of false starts thinking that our guy has showed up, when he hasn’t. The hours pass, 9am, 10am, 11am and we are still stripped down to bathing suits, it’s sunny, it’s cloud and windy, it’s raining and we’re just standing there. No food, no water, everything is packed away. So that we aren’t (overly) sunburned, we run a couple of hundred yards to shade, when there are no boats. Then, when a promising boat shows on the horizon, we run back to the water. This routine continues … for hours.
We finally give up, conceded defeat, and rain curses our boat captain. He said “no problem, brah! But, it’ll be early, 6:30am.” Damn you! Realizing now that we have lost precious hours and have to get on the tough trail and walk out of here, we realize that we have to rearrange all of our packing to get into hiking mode and not in swimming/boat mode. As we do this, one member of our group with the knee problem makes us aware that walking out isn’t just undesirable — it’s impossible! Now what? Should everyone hike back except him and call search & rescue for him, if he can’t somehow get passage on a boat tomorrow morning? OK, that’s the plan, we rearrange our packing so four of us have light packs for a day hike and we leave him with everything that can float and he can take those out on the boat. More discussion and as we prep to do that, we agree that leaving him alone isn’t what we want to do. We rearrange our packs again because three will stay and Julie and I will go. We’ll go with light packs and go for speed to cover the 11 miles before dark and hope that the rain hasn’t made the trail even more treacherous.
We’re also taking inventory of food because we weren’t planning on another night out here and gave away some extra food earlier to people. Now three people need food for another night and two need food for a day hike back to civilization. The team has tensions rise and frustrated conversations ensue. At this point, our friend with the bad knee (but also an amazing swimmer) walks off because a boat, that is hanging around offshore, catches his eye. As Julie and I are (again) all packed and dressed for a hike back, we our friend says that the boat he swam out to said that our captain had something come up and he can take us himself later tonight at 5:30p.
It’s almost 1:00p now and the hike back isn’t going to be a picnic, especially after all of the rain on the trail overnight. We’re running out of daylight. We’ve been cold, hot, sunburned, not fed, barely watered since 6:00am and not happy. We don’t believe this guy, but eventually decide that we should take him up on his offer, but that we’re not willing to wait. Our friend swims out again and asks if he’s willing to take all five of us, right now! Jeff swims out again to the boat and the answer is yes — hooray! Now, we strip off all of the hiking clothes, repack everything again for flotation and not for hiking, and get ready to swim. By the way, thank God we didn’t tear our garbage bags when we thought that the boat ride wasn’t going to happen! We go to the water, drop our bags in and after a couple of trips back and forth, the little boat has all of our junk in a pile of garbage bags in the center. Now, the five of us (plus the captain) are on this rigid inflatable boat and we leave Kalalau Beach to head back to Ke’e Beach and where we started this adventure!
Continue reading: Part Eight – The Extraction