This was the one long hike we decided to do while on the Big Island. We were warned by the guy who gave us our camping permit that the final climb up the Hilina Pali (pali means cliff in Hawaiian) was "rough," and that we might be better off starting from the Chain of Craters road instead. We decided that the "rough" path would be way more gratifying.
The climb down the cliff went quick, but there was lots of loose gravely lava rock that we knew would not be nearly as much fun going back up. Once we 'd reached the flat desert at the bottom, the trail disappeared and was replaced by a series of huge cairns stretching off into the distance. I enjoyed this section: the field of tall grass was interrupted by hardened lava flows that hadn't been grown over yet. It was fun to walk along the lava, trying to avoid stepping through grass for as long as possible, without getting too far off course in the process... kind of like finding a path of stones across a stream. :]
There was a small forested section about halfway to our campsite, so we stopped for a quick snack in the semi-shade. The next section was my absolute favorite: it was SUPER windy, and we were heading straight into the wind. There was a good mile where I couldn't hear anything over the howling, and it almost felt like being underwater! Once we reached the Halape trail and caught sight of the bright blue waters and palm trees up ahead, we picked up the pace substantially.
The camp site was amazing! There was a large tide pool just west of the camping area, which we immediately investigated. We spent the rest of the evening reading on the beach under a palm tree while the sun set over the ocean-- not too shabby! :]
The hike back the next morning ended up being pretty ridiculous. There wasn't that
much elevation gain, and it wasn't that
hot, but something about it just kicked my butt.
I had barely reserved enough mental stamina for the two miles I thought were remaining when I suddenly realized that the last mile and a half was just climbing up the cliff, and we were definitely
more than half a mile away from the bottom of the cliff... "and now that I'm looking for it, where the heck is the trail up? Oh. There it is. Way back there behind us. Crap."
After pulling out a map, we saw that, thankfully, there was another trail that reconnected us to our route.. but we'd still added on about a mile and a half to our trip. Oops. Oh also I was very sunburnt. Which never happens. AND one of the straps on Jared's pack broke, and the "fix" definitely wasn't very ergonomic.
I must have stopped acting like myself during the final climb, because Jared asked several times if he could carry my pack for me. I refused at first, until my mouth started watering like I was about to throw up (oh, heat stroke!). So for the last quarter mile, Jared carried both packs. Yeah. I'm not proud, but heat stroke is no joke. Better safe (and very embarrassed) than sorry!
All-in-all, the hike was still excellent, and I learned a valuable lesson: no matter how tired you are, don't stop paying attention to which trail you're on. Durr. :]