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Hippie Barbie travels the world

Backpacking the Kalalau trail

USA | Monday, 30 September 2013 | Views [454]

I was backpacking in Escalante region of Southern Utah with a huge group of young single adults. We were setting up camp for the long weekend and getting ready to hike Coyote Gulch later that morning. A very tired and frazzled looking couple pulled in later than everyone else and claimed they had a flat tire. I went and be-friended the girl, Toni was her name, and helped carry her water to camp. We talked for about 20 minutes and I was just happy to make a new friend. A couple of hours later we were hiking up a terrifying sand stone face and Toni was right behind me cheering me on. We got to the top and she started telling me about how she had a ticket to Kauai but no one to go with. She wanted to backpack the Kalalau trail of the Nepali coast which is something I have wanted to do for years. I told her I was planning on going to Alaska for 6 weeks right around the time we would just be getting back from Kauai and that I would seriously have to think about it. About 20 minutes later I told her I was in. I didn't know how I was going to afford it but it was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. Within the next month we met a couple of times at the library with books and our laptops and we booked our flights and made a rough itinerary of what we hoped to do. 

In the next few days we were on our way to Kauai. We didn't have a place to stay the first night so we rented a car and drove to a church trying to find members kind enough to let us crash on their couch or floor. While we were there we were fed an amazing meal of sweet pork sandwichs....which I ended up craving the rest of the trip....and potato salad. It was delicious and we ended up finding someone to follow home to crash on their floor. We stayed up late making a plan of hiking the whole 11 mile trail in one day starting as the sun came up, camping overnight, and hiking out the next day since we only had a permit for one night. The next morning we drove to the most northernmost part of the island where civilization ended and the Kalalau trail began. We weren't quite sure what to expect but we didn't care. 

We started the hike strong and quick and were hoping to finish by early afternoon but as we went on winding up and around in the hot sun we realized it was going to be much harder than we expected. We took breaks hiking to waterfalls along the trail and bathing in the freezing cold water. The trail was beautiful lined with fruit trees, iron red dirt and lush green vegetation. There were cathedrals of lava rock covered in a green blanket and the turquoise ocean crashed up on huge rocky cliffs below. The trail was dangerous with slippery spots and areas where there had most likely been flash floods and land slides. There was talk of wild boars and the mosquitos were probably just as vicious. We reached a spot where we found tic marks of people who had been killed while swimming in the ocean and being dragged out by rip tides and dangerously swift currents. We steered clear of those and headed straight for cave exploration. Just as we were about to drop all of our clothes and swim through a water hole to get to whatever was on the other side, the tide came in and we knew we needed to get out of there right away. There were thousands upon thousands of smooth lava rocks piled one on top of the other. It was as if someone was creating art in nature....cool. So we kept on going for hours and hours and finally we realized all of a sudden that we must have taken a wrong turn. We were literally bush-whacking and were cutting and scraping ourselves up to the point where we had to make a plan. We decided to follow the river up climbing over huge boulders thinking the river would lead to a waterfall where there would be people. Toni started panicking and getting really scared. I knew I had to take charge and comfort her even though I was freaking out inside. We hiked up through giant spider webs and thorny bushes and the sun was starting to set. We knew we needed to get somewhere safe before nighttime. Finally we happened on to a hippie woman meditating on a rock above the river. She told us where to go to get back on the trail and we gave out a huge sigh of relief. We decided to set up camp for the night and met a couple camping right by us. They shared their campfire and we sat and talked all night sharing stories of other places we had traveled to.

The next morning we got up early and started out on the last half of the trail. There was a sign that warned us of great danget ahead. My shoes were worn down to practically no traction. I thought I was going to fly off the cliff. There was also a portion of the trail that had been completely washed out and we literally had to hold onto roots sticking out of the ground to prevent ourself from falling 200 feet to our quick and sudden deaths. We came around a corner and finally saw the stretch of sand completely isoland and free of any civilization or commercial structures. It was perfect and beautiful. We walked through a huge grove of fruit trees that were packed with fruit that was round and yellow and bright pink inside with hundreds of seeds. We put the fruit in our mouths and sucked the juice out. It tasted a little like really sweet grapefruit and was absolutely delicious. A tattooed jolly hippie neamed Jeffrey met us on the trail and walked with us to the end to tell us about living there and where everything was. Apparently there were three diferent communities living there. There were the people at the grassy bluff area the gardeners in up in the valley tending the community garden and the cave dwellers. We went to the cave and all of the hippies gathered around us to meet us and ask lots of questions. I set up a tent on the sand in the cave and Toni set up her hammock. We were almost out of food since we had really only packed enough for a quick hike in and out. The hippies let us know they would take care of us and feed us as long as we helped with daily chores. 

We bathed in and drank from a waterfall nearby. Everyone came from the bluff and valley to join us at night around a campfire and dinner. We ate flower and fruit salads, fish cakes, and pasta made with wild tomatoes basil and onions. Chris Kaplanis...also known as "Surfer Chris" was what I like to call the alpha or the king of the hippies. He had a fishing pole and kayak which he used on a regular basis to feed the communities or go into civilization to get more supplies. He was a pro surfer in the winter when the rough winter ocean filled the cave in and he could no longer dwell in it. We met another alpha of sorts named Mike. He had sparkly beautiful blue eyes and a huge beard which hid his beautiful Adonis looking face. I found out a little later that as soon as he saw me he had to have me. There were also two other people of significance...a younger hippie who I named Cinnamon Bun because he had so much curly brown hair that he wrapped it up in a huge bun on top of his head. Every morning I ran and jumped on him and yelled Cinnamon Bun and he smiled. Mike liked to get completely naked and dance and act crazy in front of the passing tourist boats. One day I took my top off and ran and jumped and yelled right along with him. It was very envigorating being half naked in front of several strangers. 

One day Jeffrey came from the bluff to the cave and told me if I would help him move out of the cave and to the bluff he would make me a pancake. At this point I would do anything for food. I am hypoglycemic and trying to live off of fruit and flowers for days takes its toll. So I agreed to it. I carried his huge heavy overflowing backpack about a mile and low and behold he made me a hot fresh delicious blueberry pancake. It was the best pancake I have ever had...most likely because I was ravenous with hunger. I loved the way he said pancake. It sounded more like poncake and he waved his arms around and said, "If you will help me I will make you a delicious poncake." 

The moment I got back from helping Jeffrey, Mike and Cinnamon Bun wanted to hike to the mango tree and eat and gather fruit. There were alot of mosquitos so we covered ourselves with mud from head to toe and hiked what seemed like forever. We came upon some pools to swim in and found natural water slides. There were a couple of beautiful hippie girls swimming and we talked a little but moved on to try to find the mango tree. We finally found it. It was huge and loaded with fruit just falling all around to the ground. We ate and ate until our bellies were stuffed and we couldn't move. We layed in the grass for a little bit and then started hiking down to avoid the mosquitos. That night we had more pasta for dinner around the campfire and made a sweet fruity sauce to pour over couscous. I remember being so hungry that night that watching Mike cut a red onion was riveting and seductive. My senses were heightened and every smell taste or touch had a way of sort of giving me a hallucinogenic psychadelic experience. It was wild. 

That night Mike wanted to do a medical experiment on my legs that were severely mosquito-bitten, bruised and scraped from our trek. He rubbed aloe on both legs and then rubbed noni fruit on one. It burned and itched so severly I had to run to the ocean and wash it off immediately. I ate a little noni fruit while he rubbed more aloe on my leg. He wrapped both legs in noni leaves and then we just layed in his tent looking up at the beautiful twinkling stars in the dark night sky. Mike and I had a magnetic relationship. We are both free spirits and very curious about the world. He kissed me very passionately that night and it was the perfect way to bring our amazing time with the hippies to an end. The next morning we gathered all of our things, said goodbye to everyone and hiked out. Mike came with us and hiked the entire trail barefoot. He told us all kinds of stories about his life and what it's like to go back to civilization....usually it's a complete disaster and nobody excepts him because just seems like a dirty hippie. I loved my time on the Nepali coast. The people were beautiful and mysterious and alluring. They were knowledgeable about so many things including constellations, the ocean, tides, fishing and gardening. I absolutely fell in love with this place. Life was so simple there....no cell phones, or bills or traffic. Just a pure simple clean way of living, good people, good food and beautiful nature. 

Tags: cave dwelling, hippies, kalalau, kauai, nepali coast

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