Above: A trail official (in blue) stops hikers from crossing the Hanakapiai Stream due to concerns about rising waters in June 2016.
The Garden Island reports that officials responsible for the Kalalau Trail are considering a bridge over the Hanakapiai Stream to prevent hikers from being stranded on the far side of the stream when waters suddenly rise. Hanakapiai Stream, at Hanakapiai Beach, is two miles from the trail head at Ke’e Beach. Each day, hundreds of hikers cross over the stream on their hike to Hanakapiai Beach. After crossing the stream, a smaller number of hikers head upstream to visit Hanakapiai Falls (another two miles) or farther down the Kalalau Trail.
Often, if rising waters are a concern, trail officials are on hand to close the stream crossing if needed. Those at the beach are ordered to cross back over before the waters rise too much. But for those returning from the falls or farther down the Kalalau Trail, a swollen stream is unavoidable. Periodically, dozens of hikers will find themselves trapped on the far side of the stream, prompting Kauai officials to evacuate the hikers by helicopters, a decision that can cost thousands of dollars.
In addition to the monetary cost concerns, a bridge could help eliminate further tragedies at the stream when hikers try to cross the swollen stream and are swept downstream and out to sea.
So far, there are few if any details on the proposed bridge. Some people are worried that a bridge would be intrusive to the natural environment.
Our view? We would hate to see a large wooden bridge at the stream such as the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge or the Waimea Swinging Bridge. But we do see the need for some type of bridge that is non-instrusive to the setting and environment. Perhaps a rope bridge (Instagram photos below) or a similar bridge could be the answer.
Above: A trail official orders hikers to evacuate Hanakapiai Beach and cross back over to the other side of the stream due to concerns about rising stream levels.
Above: The upstream view at the crossing.
Above: The downstream view near the crossing.
Above: The stream crossing was only closed for a couple of hours on this particular day in June 2016.