The Barefoot Hikers all met up around 8 a.m. to meet with Bob at TwoGood Kayaks for our rentals and disclaimers. As we got out of the car, we noticed our fellow hikers Michelle, Kara, and Shanda parking in front of us along the side of the road as well. We crossed the street and headed into the shop to find the place packed with both All Things Oahu and Barefoot Hikers gearing up with their tandem kayaks. We all got our safety brief on how to avoid imminent death from crashing into coral or worse, the dreaded tide flip. As we made our way down to the beach, all forty of the Meetup.com members grabbed their kayaks and began to practice in the channel leading out to the ocean. No one seeming to have too much problems on the shallow, calm waters, we beached our kayaks and dragged them up to the surf crashing along the Kailua Beach.
Setting into the water was a little more complicated than throwing a big two-seater kayak into the water and floating it out into the ocean. The back person would need to get situated in thigh high water. After they have control of both partners oars, then the first person must mount up and maintain balance while the kayak is rocking under their weight and the rolling effect of the ocean. Don’t forget the waves. No one flipped on the way out, but several BFH’s would bite the water on the exit from the more difficult entry point at the island. After the ten kayaks of our group made it out with the help of John J. and myself, we both boarded our singles and made our way up to the rest of the group.
The wind was rough. High gusts caused splashing waves and a drag on the kayaks causing a whole lot of fatigue for everyone early on in the day. We were slowly being pushed into the surf to the beach, often struggling to remain out of the Swim Area marked with red and white floating buoys. After some heavy paddling, we all veered around the sharp rocks of Lanikai Point and out to the Lanikai beach section. Turtles were popping up from the coral caps of rock formations tucked just below the water’s edge. Not paying attention would have been one sure way of running aground and ending a trip soon. The winds persisted and controlling the kayaks were still even more complicated as the nose of the craft constantly fought to gain way into the direction it would rather us go. More often than not, that was back to the beach we worked so hard to leave.
As we crossed over the coral, time felt as if it was moving faster than we were noting that any time someone would stop for rest we would be drifting back. One step forward, as the saying goes.
We eventually began to trickle into the surf of Moku Nui, the bigger and human-accessible portion of the two islands named Mokuluas, “Twin Islands” in Hawaiian. The surf here broke more at a tip in the center of the beach portion located in the calmer section on the coastline side of the island. Approaching it meant you had to paddle hard, get a good wave, and hop out of your kayaks in time to grab your rocketing watercraft before it blasted into the impenetrable beach sand wall that met you. The kayak would be coasted up and along the edge of the beach and grabbed for a tow until we could line it up alongside the rest of our group to make room on the small section of beach.
We had made the whole windy trip in about an hour and fifteen minutes from the launch to landing of our first kayaks. We wouldn’t see the end of the stream of weary travelers until two and a half hours into it. The worst part about the last group was the fact that within the next half hour they would have to rest and recuperate for the much easier, but still tiresome trip back.
We gathered most of the arriving group together for a quick hike to the Queen’s Bath. This mineral-rich tide pool sits high enough above the shore break and ocean to only get the spray and occasional big wave to topple in and fill it with all the salt and minerals the ocean didn’t have room for. Several of the ATO/BFH decided to hop in and soak up this rejuvenating water as we played and frolicked among the lava rocks. I had forgotten my shoes for this portion, so did end up completing the hike with only my bare feet. True barefoot hiking.
We finished up with the tide pool and made our way back to the beach. By now, more of the stragglers had beached their kayaks and were ready to begin the hike up to the hidden cove on the backside. While we waited for the last two kayaks to come in, we went to the edge of the second hike and watched some of the shearwaters, the native, protected, and cave-dwelling birds of the island. These little water birds sat beside one another outside of their little holes in the cliffs enjoying the sun or relaxing under the cover of the dry brush and trees scattered around the hillside. We had a small portion of the hike to cross into their territory before we moved against the rocky shoreline amidst the crash of waves and warm, hot sun.
The lava rocks were too sharp here to not wear shoes, though one crazy local seemed to have surpassed all physical limitations as he broke past the group almost leaping and bounding through the more jagged sections. One by one, we filed down through breaks in the rocky landscape, watching for waves battering the coast, and attempting not to be caught on a wet patch of rock if a wave did decide to come tumble onto the platforms we were occupying. After some precarious tiptoeing and maneuvering, we edged out onto the shelf.
The cove proved to be too difficult to reach. Waves had engulfed a portion of the hike we needed to cross and the better part of the group had already opted out of the climbing portion. We decided to just enjoy the view of the cove from a distance for another five minutes, then made our way back through the rough, rocky section to the landing spot.
We had all stopped to take a group pic before the hike, so it was a good thing since the some of the other guys had taken the initiative to head back out and over to the return spot for the rentals. John J. and myself again chose to help the ten or so kayaks still left on the beach to the water’s edge and sent them out instead of having them deal with high waves that had come up and onto the beach since we had landed. After launching the single kayak, the rest was a “breeze”; winds had kicked up and sent all the Barefoot Hikers pushing out and back to the Kailua Beach drop-off so much quicker than on the way there. We beached our rentals and dropped the kayaks off.
Thanks to all the Barefoot Hikers, All Things Oahu and the people who showed up for the National Trails Day event.