Wednesday, August 22, 2007

a very long day paddling

The day before yesterday, we took a slow day of it, just hanging around
the beach, partly as recovery from the day-long travel to Waimea canyon,
and partly to get ready for yesterday's activities.

Yesterday was a seventeen mile kayak trip. There's a highway that runs
almost all the way around Kaua'i. The remaining few miles, the part you
can't cross by car, is wonderfully unspoiled, with rugged cliffs and
canyons, wild goats, and vegetation that ranges from lush to beach
scrub. That was the stretch we were kayaking.

The kayak company's about half-way around the island from us, and
check-in was 6 a.m., so we were up at 4 a.m. We drove there, checked
in, and then caught the van to the drop-off point, which was back the
way we'd just come, some distance past the condo. They put us two to a
kayak, gave us a lesson in how to paddle, how to brace to keep yourself
from tippng over, and how to get back in when you do tip over, and we

Most of the early part of the trip covered a stretch of water that, in
the winter, can see 40-60 foot waves. (It's too dangerous to run the
tour in the winter.) Over the years, they'd carved out caves in the
rock. Conditions were mild enough that we were able to explore some of
the caves, which were stunning. One in particular was like paddling
into a cathedral, with brilliant sunlit fountains cascading from a hole
in the ceiling, and a large, round, watery room. Another was a big,
round, open hole with a lava reef in the center, sheltered from the
ocean swells outside.

The usual pattern was paddle for half an hour or so, then take a break,
then paddle some more. After twelve miles or so, we stopped on a beach
for lunch. The beach is a state park accessible only by boat. It has
running water for showers and a sink, fed by a stream on top of a
cliff. After lunch, we hiked up the cliff and played in a small
waterfall there, where you could sit on a rock and get a massage from
the falling water.

After lunch, the wind that had been pushing us along had mostly died
down to a light breeze in the other direction. By that time, we'd
crossed over to the dry side of the island, the terrain had changed to
low scrub and sandy beaches, and we were all feeling the "burn" in our
arms and shoulders. We eventually landed after seventeen miles on a
large sandy beach were we were treated to a double rainbow in the
setting sun, macadamia nut cookies, and tuna poke (think sashimi bits
with heavy seasoning).

We finally made it home around 9:30 p.m., utterly exhausted. I managed
to pack for the flight to Japan and then crashed hard.

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