Hikers rescued from Hanakapiai

Kauai Fire Department firefighters initially sent along the Kalalau Trail to bring supplies to 13 people stuck on the wrong side of rain-swollen Hanakapiai Stream instead extricated the stranded hikers and guided them to the trailhead around nightfall Sunday.

The hikers had reportedly been stranded in Hanakapiai for two to three days.

No reports of injuries or medical needs were reported, the county said Sunday afternoon. Kauai Fire Department personnel were “unable to conduct air or sea evacuations due to hazardous weather conditions.”

Initially, Princeville firefighters Sunday afternoon were hiking in to deliver some basic supplies — food, water, thermal blankets, and to advise hikers to stay put and not attempt to cross the stream.

Those on the opposite side of the stream had been advised and were prepared to spend Sunday night in place.

A state Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks ranger was scheduled to hike into Hanakapiai this morning had the stranded hikers still be at Hanakapiai Beach and, depending on conditions, advise those stranded on the Kalalau side of the stream to remain in place.

The Hanakapiai Stream is about two miles from the trailhead. It is a point where Kalalau Trail hikers must pass coming and going. The high stream levels were brought on by heavy rains in the windy, cloudy weather that has hung over the island this past week.

According to the National Weather Service, a flash-flood watch is in effect for all Hawaiian islands until Monday afternoon.

“An upper-level low to the west of the islands will combine with strong, east-to-southeast winds to bring the potential for excessive rainfall, especially to windward areas,” the NWS reported. “The ground is saturated in many areas due to recent rainfall, and any heavy showers that develop will lead to runoff in streams and rivers, increasing the potential for flash flooding.”

A high-surf advisory is also in effect through Thursday for east-facing shores, the NWS reported.

“Strong-to-near-gale-force trade winds will produce large and rough surf along east-facing shores through the middle of the week,” the NWS reported. “Surf may begin to decrease late Wednesday as the trades locally and upstream of the state begin to decrease.”

Beachgoers, swimmers and surfers should heed all advice given by ocean safety officials and exercise caution, NWS said.

The forecast calls for continued clouds, rain and gusts of up to 34 mph. Monday’s chance of precipitation is 90%.

“The threat of heavy showers will gradually diminish Tuesday and Wednesday as easterly trade winds remain locally strong and gusty,” NWS said. “Unsettled weather could return Thursday and Friday, with lighter winds. A trend toward drier trade wind weather is expected next weekend.”

5 Comments
  1. Forest Gump January 12, 2020 7:48 pm Reply

    Stupid is as stupid does


  2. MisterM January 12, 2020 9:53 pm Reply

    Hikers on the Kalalau trail should be required to post bonds to pay for rescue services when they buy tickets. It’s entirely predictable that heavy rains will make crossing streams impossible – taxpayers should not be on the hook for hiker’s stupidity/ignorance/laziness.


  3. Lee January 13, 2020 2:06 pm Reply

    So many critics. They were hiking, not molesting children. Glad everyone is okay.


  4. Nobody January 13, 2020 9:12 pm Reply

    Or we could install a simple bridge? there are arguments for and against, add them up and installing a bridge makes the most sense. You can’t make everyone happy, but it’s the right thing to do, in my humble opinion…


    1. Nobody_Also February 23, 2020 5:34 pm Reply

      You are right on it – install a bridge. I am retired USFS civil engineer and just backpacked the Kalalau Trail 5 days. I been involved installing 40 plus trail bridges. Timber, steel, aluminum, and reinforced fiber glass. Maybe a 55 ft. single span x 6 ft wide aluminum or fiber glass bridge for that environment — $180,000 purchased/installed. Cheaper than rescues and helicopters in a short time:)


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