Fast-moving high water in a stream along the Kalalau Trail on the Hawaiian island of Kauai stranded 121 hikers from Hanakapi’ai Beach on Sunday. The Kauai Fire Department was able to launch a rescue, and completed evacuating the tourists Monday morning.
After authorities were alerted of the stranded hikers, a rescue effort was coordinated at 4 p.m. The first 23 of those stranded were airlifted out Sunday, until nightfall made it too hazardous to continue with the helicopter operation. The additional 98 hikers were transported out of the park by Monday morning. No injuries were reported.
The Kalalau Trail runs along the Nā Pali Coast on the island of Kauai. The trail is moderately difficult and spans roughly 11 miles along Kauai’s north shore from Keʻe Beach to the Kalalau Valley. Only experienced hikers can complete the 22-mile trek within a day, so most backpackers camp along the trail. At present, camping is only permitted on the beach at Hanakoa Valley at the six mile mark, and at Kalalau Beach.
Here is a clip regarding the trail:
Access to the trail is limited due to conservation efforts, and a set number of permits are issued for camping in Kalalau Valley annually. Regardless of the efforts of the state of Hawaii, many hikers camp at Kalalau Beach without permits.
Officials reported that several children were among those stranded on Sunday, including an 18-month-old. A 12-year-old boy was swept downstream by the swollen creek, but managed to get atop some rocks, where he was stuck for over four hours before being rescued.
Two firefighters stayed overnight with the 98 hikers that weren’t rescued on Sunday, and led them to a safer area at Hanakapi’ai Beach. Fire Chief John Blalock commented, “When possible, firefighters will hike in to the valley to assist stranded hikers in crossing the river safely, so that they can hike out if they are able. But in this case, hazardous conditions made it impossible to get anyone across. To avoid serious injury or death, we urged everyone to shelter in place until they could be flown back to the trail head. We are very pleased to report that everyone made it back safely.”
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources has closed the Kalalau Trail at the Ke’e Beach entrance until further notice.
Image via YouTube