One Item off the Bucket List: Solo Hike on the Kalalau Trail

René Rosendahl
12 min readSep 17, 2020

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s been quiet from me lately. There’s a good reason for it: With Covid-19 raging on the mainland, I’ve had the unique chance to spend a few months in Kauai, which unfortunately also required two weeks of strict don’t-leave-the-house quarantine with regular check-in visits from the National Guard and local police.

However, and more importantly, I’ve finally done it and checked off a major item from my bucket list: Hike the full 11+ miles of the Kalalau Trail, a world-famous, but treacherous, and very challenging hiking trail along the Napali Coast. (For the movie buffs: check out A Perfect Getaway.)

I had been dreaming about this hike for more than 10 years and a photo canvas at the bottom of my stairs at home had been reminding me every day that this trek was waiting for me.

I had been seriously planning and training for this hike for over a year. After several setbacks due to Covid, hurricanes, trail closures, etc., a short window of opportunity opened up for me to go on this adventure, right before my 50 birthday. One compromise I had to make for logistical reasons was that instead of having two hiking buddies with me, this had to be my first long solo hike, which added to my anxiety. Despite the mind-boggling scenery, this hike has very real dangers, and every year, some people die attempting this arduous journey, so doing this alone and without any backup had me even more on edge.

So on one August morning, I found myself alone at the trailhead in the early dawn at 6:30 AM. The clothes I wore and 30 lbs of minimalist gear and supplies in my backpack (I had worked very hard on keeping the weight down) were all I had to brave four days in the jungle and off the grid.

There was not a soul around me and I took several deep breaths as I peered up the dark trail. I had had plenty of opportunity to change my mind and back out and no one would’ve blamed me, but this was not about playing it safe and staying in my comfort zone. This was about both following my dreams and facing my fears all at the same time. This was about walking…

René Rosendahl

Thinker, writer, product guy, developer, and exercise fanatic.