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Info needed- backpacking on the Big Island-Volcano NP
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Elleyne Beals
(tahomus) - M

Locale: Not usually at home.
Info needed- backpacking on the Big Island-Volcano NP on 01/18/2009 12:24:05 MST Print View

I am headed to the Big Island in a couple weeks. This is my first trip to Hawaii, and my first trip anywhere tropical. I will be staying in Kona, with a friend is not up to hiking.

I want to explore Volcano NP.
I would like to make trip out to Napau, to hike through some forest, and also see some new lava. I think that would be an overnight trip.
I would also like to go to Ka'aha + Halape, which I think would be a 2 or 3 night trip. I could see some beach and coral reef this way, as well as see some archeological sights.

Does anyone have experience backpacking the Big Island? Experience in VNP or other areas you could recommend?

Background: I am comfortable hiking/backpacking alone. I am experienced in backpacking the Sierras, as well as the desert country of Utah. I expect to experience heat/humidity discomfort, rain, rough lava, and sun exposure from above & reflecting from the ground. My comfortable backpacking/exploring distances: 14 miles/day in Sierras on trail, 8 miles off trail; and 8-10 miles/day in desert country.

I'd appreciate any insight. Thanks!

b s
(smyth) - F
Re: Info needed- backpacking on the Big Island-Volcano NP on 01/19/2009 08:04:01 MST Print View

I was on the Big Island in '04 for a few days but unfortunately only had one night in VNP. There are a few backcountry shelters near the coast but I didn't have time to get to one so I stayed in the frontcountry camp and day hiked. Wish I had more time there. If you're interested, I've had the NatGeo VNP Trails Illustrated Map sitting on my shelf since then. I'll send it to you free of charge if you want it.

Sounds like you'll be limited to the Big Island, but if you have the chance, get to Maui and spend a few nights inside of Haleakala crater. One of my most memorable backpacking trips.

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Info needed- backpacking on the Big Island-Volcano NP" on 01/19/2009 10:39:37 MST Print View

I spent over a year backpacking every island n Hawaii. On the big island VNP Vog will an issue it can be pretty nasty stuff. You can pretty much go anywhere you want. If you want to see the Lava night is your best time and be careful. I have a chunk of lava in my knee from a methane explosion. While Hawaii may seem tropical its not. Its subtropical and can be quite cool especially at altitude. Wiapio Valley is a must as with south-point VNP and Mona Kea. If you are going to camp in designated camp sites keep a blind eye open for drunk angry natives. While most Hawaiians are warm wonderful people I have met my fair share of trouble makers. Kona is hot and virtually devoid of life as Hilo the east side is one of the rainiest climates in the world. You can expect early morning, sun followed by clouds around noon and constant rain by 4-5PM Its starting to get warm so the the spiders should all be going away but the centipedes are mean and their sting while not verry toxic hurts like hell. I would highly suggest getting a good guide book and stop by the state department for a free map. You can do allot in three weeks and this will be a trip of a lifetime. Mahalo Ali

When in Hilo stop by Bears cafe for breakfast, it might not look like much but its the best meal you will find on that side. There is pleanty of fruit to be had and it does wonders for keeping you hydrated. I spent 21 days in the jungles of Kaui with no gear and no food other than what I picked and was happy as a clam.

Chris Kannen
(cmkannen) - MLife

Locale: K-T Boundary
Re: Info needed- backpacking on the Big Island-Volcano NP on 01/19/2009 13:30:03 MST Print View

In November 2007 my wife and I hiked down to the shelters on the coast, which was about a 7 mile walk downhill over older floes with a very dramatic view of the ocean. We only saw two other people over two days and the beaches are gorgeous. The location of these two shelters has to be seen to be believed--really amazing. The shelters however are overrun with roaches and mice so bring a fully enclosed tent. When the sun came up the next day we hiked 10 miles back to the Chain of Craters road along the ocean trail. That is a really amazing trail as you are cutting across several floes of different ages. The single file footpath is worn several inches into the oldest floes, as it was a popular fishing route for the ancient Hawai'ians. The bad news is as of 11/07 the lava was no longer flowing into the ocean at the end of the Chain of Craters Road. That may have changed since we were there.

Elleyne Beals
(tahomus) - M

Locale: Not usually at home.
Volcano NP on 01/19/2009 13:57:06 MST Print View

Brad, Thank you for your generous offer of sending the map- I've PM'd you my mailing address.

Yes, (unfortunately?)I am only going to be on the Big Island. Spending the night in a crater sounds awesome! I've poked around Mono Crater and find it all fascinating.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Backpacking Big Island on 01/19/2009 14:13:43 MST Print View

P8150341I went to Waipio Valley in August. Off Hwy 240-P8150331

Awesome!! There is a 20 mile loop. Cliff and beach walking.

Edited by Creachen on 01/19/2009 14:14:22 MST.

Elleyne Beals
(tahomus) - M

Locale: Not usually at home.
Volcano NP on 01/19/2009 14:17:23 MST Print View

Thank you for your insider's info- I really appreciate hearing about the dangers and highlights. Insects-oooooh! Not my favorite. I am bringing my Tarp and Net Tent & will close up the opening in the Net Tent with a rubber band to keep those guys out! And knowing the rain starts in the afternoon! I've been watching the weather for Kona and Hilo the past week and notice the difference. I also used the National Weather Forecast website to get a "point" forecast for different areas of VNP- from the point forecasts, I should expect rain at the Napau area, and drier at Halape.
I was considering south point- your yes vote cinches it. I had not considered Mona Kea, but will look into it. Unfortunately, I only have 9 full days on the Island, so I may have to pick and choose a little. Oh how I'd love to have more time! Thanks for the tip on Bear's Cafe!

Elleyne Beals
(tahomus) - M

Locale: Not usually at home.
Volcano NP on 01/19/2009 14:36:09 MST Print View

You've been where I want to go! What trail did you use to hike down? From your mileage, I would guess you stayed at Keauhou, then hiked the Puna coast trail. Did you walk the road back up to your car or hitch?
I was considering hiking from Hilina Pali overlook, either making a loop past Pepiao cabin then down to the beach, or just straight down and back. If hitchhiking is a possibility, then I could hike the Puna coast, and hitch back to the car.

Elleyne Beals
(tahomus) - M

Locale: Not usually at home.
Waipio on 01/19/2009 14:43:58 MST Print View

Jay, the photos are amazing. Was this a day hike? Looking at a basic map, the el change is about 1000- not to bad.
Another must do!

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Waipio Valley on 01/19/2009 16:29:21 MST Print View


That was a day hike. We liked it so much we came back the next day to explore even more. It is amazing how lush this side of the island is then you drive the other side and the island looks like Mars-very dry.

Edited by Creachen on 01/19/2009 16:37:13 MST.

Elleyne Beals
(tahomus) - M

Locale: Not usually at home.
Waipio on 01/19/2009 20:39:41 MST Print View

Very, very awesome.
I see my time will be too short on the Island.

RE: Mars. I looked at google earth and could see it's barren on the east side of the Island. I expect to put my desert skills to work there!

John Witt
(johnbrown2005) - F

Locale: Portland, OR
VNP on 01/31/2009 00:40:51 MST Print View

Hiking out to Halape and environs is a lifetime must do, amazing, amazing place. Hot, bring hat obviously. And the roaches are no joke. A buddy of mine and I hiked down w/ no shelter at all and spent the first night laying awake watching the roaches fight with each other and then drop down on to our heads. It was one of the roughest camping nights I've ever had. That said, it was so beautiful we decided to stay another night. We mitigated the roaches by sleeping below the high tide line on the beach, moving often, and developing an ability pick them off our faces without waking up too much.

Oh, bring a snorkel and mask, definitely, it's nuts to snorkel down there. If you can see lava flowing into the ocean it's worth dealing with the crowds, another lifetime experience.

Edited by johnbrown2005 on 01/31/2009 00:43:16 MST.