If you are ever fortunate to visit the Hawaiian Islands I encourage you to take time to visit the island of Molokai and in particular the peninsula of Kalaupapa. This small land mass is packed with an amazing history. Most notably it's the place where those suffering from Hansen's Disease, aka- Leprosy were exiled to live out their remaining days. At the present time there are approximately 120 people that inhabit the area, with the majority of people being National Park and Dept. of Health employees. There are 6-8 patients that still reside in the settlement. Once leprosy was cured years ago with sulfur drugs the patients were given the choice to leave Kalaupapa , but most stayed, as Kalaupapa was now their home. Access to the peninsula is highly restricted. There are only two ways to the settlement--taking an organized tour via mule/hiking, or flying from Ho`olehua airport (known as topside) enjoying a 5-7 minute flight of some of the most beautiful scenery in one of the shortest scheduled flights available. Please note that you can only enter the settlement if you are on a tour or by being sponsored by one of the residents or employees.
I have been to the settlement a number of times, my most recent trip was to observe a momma seal and her 1 week old seal pup. Many thanks to my friend Julie for sponsoring me for the day.
The trail head begins at Pala`au Park and is rough, steep and often times slippery, a good pair of shoes is a must.
A somewhat level area before reaching the actual entrance to the trail
If you look closely between the two signs you will see the area that I am headed for to observe the seals, you can also see the tiny airstrip.
Some areas have fence barricades to prevent you from dropping off the edge.
a small shrine
This tree is said to be one that Saint Damien would rest under
during his many trips upand down the pali.
I am about half way down in this shot...hard to believe this beautiful shot is a place that was once
so full of physical suffering and pain. At one time there were nearly 8000 people living here.
The sign that greets you, reminding you that you will have to return to the top...
and that means 26 switchbacks, 1664 ft in elevation and 3 miles.
Look at the middle of the photo, you will see a tiny zigzag line, this is the trail.
The black sand beach that sits at the bottom of the trail--
`Awahua Beach, at one time this area was full of sharks!!
the road to town...
The lighthouse at Kalaupapa
This is `Iliopi`i Beach, where I spent 5 hours observing mom and pup
Late in the day...behind me are 1000's of graves of those
that died from Hansen's Disease.
I consider myself to be in fairly good shape,
but I gotta tell ya this trek beat my butt this time.
I was so happy to be at the top I was indeed
grateful that I survived the Kalaupapa Trail.
Next time I'll tell you more about this little one!!