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Governor hikes Kalalau

The reopening of Haena State Park and the Napali Coast State Wilderness Park on Monday also allows for the anticipated reopening of the Kalalau Trail. Considered one of the most arduous and beautiful hikes in the world, the trail attracts thousands of global visitors.

Visitors with newly instituted park entrance permits or Hawaii residents can make the four-mile-roundtrip jaunt to Hanakapi‘ai Stream or the eight-mile round trip up the valley to Hanakapi‘ai Falls without additional permits. Hiking beyond the two-mile mark at the stream crossing requires an overnight camping permit from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks.

Gov. David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige hiked a short section of the Kalalau Trail last week after a community blessing at Haena State Park. It was the governor’s first exposure to the trail, though Mrs. Ige had hiked it as a teenager.

They both marveled at the first view visitors experience from the aptly named Windy Point. They hope to return with their three children for a longer hike.

“As I’ve traveled around the state, I’ve heard more and more about how much is too much? I think everybody acknowledges that the visitor industry is our number one industry,” Ige said. “Everybody wants to support that. But when you see these kinds of trails and Haena State Park, where everyone wants to visit, clearly too many people is just not a good experience for visitors or residents.”

All hikers can thank the Friends of the Kalalau Trail for their support in helping maintain and restore sections of the first two miles of the trail. The remaining nine miles of this challenging trail that terminates in Kalalau have been repaired and are maintained by the DLNR Division of State Parks Westside field crew.

The friends group was recently recognized with a “DLNR &You” Citizens Conservationists Award from state Board of Land and Natural Resources Chair Suzanne Case.

During the award presentation Case thanked group leaders for their dedication and passion. They cut back vegetation, cleared accumulated debris and restored erosion-control features, and smoothed spots that were damaged in the April 2018 flooding.

The movers and shakers behind the friends group are Mark Hubbard, Bill Newton and Frank Whitman.

“Beginning in February this year we tried to make twice-monthly trips to get Kalalau ready for reopening,” Hubbard said. “There were a lot of muddy and sloped areas since no one had been on the trail for nearly a year.”

The trio and their small cadre of regular volunteers say they not only love the area and doing work that helps others, and also are excited to see the fruits of their labors.

“It’s like ‘wow, we can walk along this trail and see hundreds of spots that we’ve fixed and repaired, that are still solid, and you know that’s gratifying,’” Hubbard said.
Source: The Garden Island

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