First the good news: The Na Pali Coast is an aww-inspiring backpack trip and destination.
Where else can you experience these natural wonders?
Sickle-sharp emerald canyon walls evaporating into an unrelenting frothy Pacific Ocean.
It's the birthplace of rainbows and waterfalls.
It's a sound extravaganza of thundering, booming waves set along beachfront property.
It could be the next "Blue Lagoon II" movie location with an older Brooke Shields.
There's pretty birds, frogs, feral goats and of course chickens.
Now the reality: Squatters have taken over this jewel while the Hawaiian State Park Service turns a blind eye to the squalor.
Permit? You don't need no stinking permit! Why waste $22/night for the privilege to camp when you can do it for nada?
Come out (by boat) and construct semi-permanent compounds complete with chainsaws, cast iron skillets, rock walls to keep the riff raff out, blue tarps, coolers, lawn chairs and sweat lodges. It all looks like an REI bargain basement sale that went horribly wrong.
I would have no gripe if the residents were native Hawaiians reclaiming their ancestral lands. That's not the case. The squatters are young, white males and barefoot. In Colorado we would call them Trusta-Fariens for their dreadlocks and love of Ganga. More than likely these punks are trust funders existing off the wealth of their well-heeled parents. They are a surly bunch with an attitude toward outsiders.
Abandoned camps abound (invading prime real estate) forcing permit holders to wander around searching for a clean, mud free site.
It's a crime and a shame! The Hawaiian State Park has the moxie to call it a Wilderness area.
From the 1964 Wilderness Act:
“A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.”
Note to Hawaiian State Parks: Remove all those signs about "Permit Holders only beyond this point" they are adding detritus to the area and there's no backbone behind the warning.
The HSP makes a mockery of the concept of wilderness.
Yet, if you can also turn a blind eye, it's one marvelous, amazing place. The trail is scarier than poop though! I slipped three times. Fortunately it wasn't in the spots where I could have been seriously killed. Many hikers come in shaken (but not stirred) from the journey. Be careful!
Back in Kapaa,