Campers stranded by swollen stream

KEE — A rain-swollen Hanakapiai Stream stranded 10 hikers overnight late Monday afternoon on the Kalalau Trail.

County spokeswoman Sarah Blane said the Kauai Fire Department reported about 10 individuals were stranded on the far side of Hanakapiai Stream around 4 p.m. on Monday.

Ocean Safety personnel made contact with the group and provided them with food and water to remain overnight, since weather conditions did not allow for a rescue.

“There are no reported injuries,” Blane said. “At this time, they will be sheltering in place until the water recedes or additional assistance is needed.”

Parents of two of the hikers alerted lifeguards early Monday afternoon that Ryan and Chris Underhill, ages 23 and 25, hadn’t returned from an overnight hike and were several hours late.

The lifeguards alerted Kauai Dispatch around 1 p.m. that four backpackers were stranded at Hanakapiai Stream, where the river was too high to cross. 

Dispatch at 1 p.m. reported the stream gauge at 5.63 feet, which is about 4 feet above normal. Rescue units were reported to be in white out conditions with visibility and contrast severely reduced by rain and clouds.

With no rescue units going out, dispatch said the hikers would have to wait until the water receded and cross on their own.

Two lifeguards remained at Kee Beach tower while another lifeguard was standing by the still impassible stream.

One of the lifeguards at the tower reported that with no rescue response, he would return to the scene to make sure no one attempted to cross.

Kauai Dispatch reported that the river was rising again at 4:45 p.m. The hikers were reportedly forced to stay put overnight.


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