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Hiking the Hills--and Mountains and Giants--of Hawaii
When I think of hiking, I think of trees and hills and the great outdoors. I think of national parks and wildlife and scenic views. I don't think of beaches. I don't think of urban settings. But that's the thing about Hawaii. There's hiking along coastlines. There's hiking in urban settings. And, of course, there are hiking trails on mountain ridges, along cliffsides, and through canyons and valleys. As well, there is hiking with giants and kings and demi-gods. There's even a hike through the highest-elevation swamp in the world. Talk about variety.
So, lace up your hiking shoes and hit the trails.
Some Things To Think about--and Pack--Before Hitting Hawaii's Trails
One of the great things about hiking in Hawaii is the diversity of trails and eco-systems in which those trails take you. That’s also the most challenging thing about hiking in Hawaii. Because you must be prepared for everything. Rain. Wind. Blistering hot sun. And stream crossings, rock-hopping and mud.
So, what do you pack? What do you wear? Most importantly, what kind of shoes do you lace up? Or, would it be slip on? Or cinch down? Hopefully, this will help.
On the subject of footwear, you’ll see all kinds on the trail. Anything from slippers (flip-flops) to waterproof hiking boots and everything in between. And by “in between,” we mean running shoes, sport sandals and fishing socks. Oh, and don’t be surprised to see some people hiking barefoot. Unless you were born and raised hiking Hawaii’s trails we don’t recommend heading out barefoot or in slippers. Here is what we do recommend: either waterproof hiking shoes/boots or self-bailing “water” shoes/sandals. The former will keep your feet dry and your socks white (well, maybe semi-white) for those patches of muddy trail and shallow stream crossings. Or ditch the socks and go au natural inside a pair of shoes/sandals made for getting wet.
Also, pack more water than you think you will need.
The same goes for snacks. Choose a combination of sugar (for the quick high) and protein (for the longer one). Believe it or not, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are excellent choices. Or the standby—trail mix—is always good to have in your pack.
Speaking of packs, a waist-pack or backpack should do it. One with a built-in hydration system comes in handy.
You’ll want a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen for protection against the sun—even if it’s cloudy when you head out. Weather can change on a dime in Hawaii.
Speaking of weather, some sort of rain gear—a jacket, a plastic poncho—is always good to have stashed in your bag, because you just never know. Some trails will take you through scorching, hot sun and into rain forests.
In case of emergencies, you should always carry a first-aid kit, even if at minimum, it only contains band-aids and duct tape. Blisters are a hiker’s worst friend. You might want to throw in bug repellent while you’re at it.
By now, we all should know not to wear cotton—cotton t-shirts, cotton socks, cotton shorts/pants; but, instead, wicking, fast-drying clothing.
Of course, you don’t want to go anywhere in Hawaii without your camera for capturing those scenic vistas and a mobile phone for emergencies, although many of Hawaii’s more remote hiking trails lead you to one and zero-bar service coverage. Still.
Finally, it’s always a good idea to hike with a buddy and to let someone else know where you’re going and when you expect to return.