Readying to Kayak Napali Coast

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Readying to Kayak Napali Coast

Posted by: Kim Steutermann Rogers
Destination: Kauai
May 21, 2013

One month from today, I will spend five days kayak-camping along Napali Coast. That means, I have 30 days to get in shape.

The trek will involve kayaking 17 miles along the majestic Napali Coast, one of Hawaii's most scenic vistas. We will explore sea caves and dip into waterfalls. We will gawk at the line-up of cliffs that gives this coastline its name--Napali translates to English as "the cliffs." At the start, these cliffs look like a series of dominoes set up one after the other, some father apart than others. As we paddle closer, we will realize the areas "farther apart" are really valleys, some with beaches at their mouths, some not. We will camp for two nights each at Kalalalu and Milolii.

On our non-kayaking days, we will explore these valleys, swim in streams, shower in waterfalls, pick wild fruit, and whenever possible, stop and smell the ginger. I will pack a waterproof camera and take underwater photos of turtles, colorful sunsets and those waterfalls I've mentioned a couple times. Who knows. I may even find a sunrise shell.

I remind myself of all these points--Kauai Visitors Bureau selling points, if you will--because it's been eight years since I "took a break" from paddling to help my husband build our house. Eight years since I held a paddle in my hands. Eight years since I stroked the water again and again and again and again. Eight years since I used my core body and shoulder muscles to move a boat across the water.

I sure hope the wind and waves are favorable on the day we disembark.

Not that I've been a complete slug in those eight years. I started and finished a graduate degree in creative writing. I started a full-time (great) job that takes me around the Hawaiian Islands doing what I love, writing and photographing. And we built that house. (Technically, it's 98.5% complete.)

But most of my physical activity these days involves wresting my wrists on a keyboard and exercising my finger muscles. It involves bending over a tripod to peer in a camera's viewfinder and depress a shutter button again and again and again.

And, then, earlier this year, I had a birthday. That birthday. The big one.

At my age, the body isn't the same. The muscle memory from the half-dozen years of paddling outrigger canoes--crossing even the Ka Iwi Channel from Molokai to Oahu--has left with the other memory--the one that cannot remember what I did with my sunglasses. Oh, yes, they're on top of my head.

I've started my sit-ups and push-ups. Next, I will get back in the water with a paddle in hand. Tomorrow. Yes. Tomorrow. I will. Really.


Jill McIntire | May 22, 2013 12:37 PM

I've also done it a few times. Last time I slept in a hammock and loved it. I slung a space blanket under the hammock to ward of the wind, though, and had a tarp over it at Kalalau. Therre was no need at Milolili. I always take seasickness meds for the first day! You will live in a swim suit, of course. The last two times I have gone my group has had problems in Kalalau with other campers "borrowing" gear and food, so be forewarned.

Susan | May 23, 2013 03:45 PM

Besides training there are lots of other things to attend to, namely securing those kayaks. Hopefully that will seem easy next to getting these ol' bodies in shape. It's not the paddling I'm worried about so much as the launches and landings, that's when things can get pretty challenging. But, oh, what fun!

Gay | May 23, 2013 10:19 PM

Don't forget to arrange for Eric to hike in to Kalalau with steaks and wine and cook your dinner! Oh, make it easy on him and kayak the heavy stuff in! Have lots of fun! The one think I wouldn't forget is sunscreen on the tops of my feet if you will be in a "sit upon" kayak.

Kim | Jun 11, 2013 08:25 AM

Good tips, all. It's getting close, and I'm a mix of excited and nervous;-)

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