After a week of amazing birds, cold and wet weather, and no shower, I had mixed feelings about hiking out of the Alakai Wilderness with Kauai Forest Bird Recovery Project.
There was part of me that didn’t want to leave the forest. The up close encounters I shared with such rare and magical creatures were truly some of the highlight moments of my life. There’s also a true sense of freedom with an escape from technology and connections to the outside world.
Then there’s also looking forward to fresh food, a hot shower, and some sunshine.
I can honestly say I knew the hike out would be intense with all my gear on my back but I definitely underestimated the overall hiking experience. After hiking up through fairly dense forest, following the TNC fence line, and passing the famous Sincock’s Bog, we began weaving amongst uluhe ferns over my head. Once I emerged from uluhe I was greeted by a gorgeous Akeke’e and warned the ‘tough’ part was yet to come by KFBRP staff. We began the descent along a very steep peak. We climbed down a ladder and along webbing (hanging ropes along the mountainside) down to the stream crossing. I analyzed the stream crossing for several minutes and decided rock hopping was not an option. My feet were going to be wet for the next 4 mi. out. After we all safely crossed the stream we began the climb up a fairly steep ridge. I was definitely intimidated by the height and incline from a distance but thankfully conquered it without a problem. I of course, did this more slowly then I’m sure the rest of the KFBRP staff would’ve, but I think all the volunteers behind me were pleased with my pace. I assumed the last 4mi. would be smooth sailing. After scaling the ridge we stopped for a quick lunch. From there we continued along uneven terrain with slight up and mostly down trekking though some more Akikiki, Akeke’e, Puaiohi, Kauai Amakihi, Kauai Elepaio, I’iwi, and Apapane territories. The views were stunning and the birds were gorgeous. Although by the end I have to admit my feet were throbbing, my back hurt, and I was happy to get in car for an off road experience to a paved ride to the airpot.