Kaena Point | Our Worst Hiking Mishap (so far!) | February 2019
As people who hike often, there are many things we have concerns about while out on the trails. I worry about wildlife encounters often — well, I did when we lived in Arizona, but not as much in Hawaii I suppose. We worry about being caught in a freak storm or hiking after dark. We worry about getting lost on less obvious trails. Obviously the biggest concern is always safety, and we do everything we can from our hiking preparations to execution to make sure we arrive back at our car in one piece. But do you know what my second biggest worry is while hiking? It’s losing something important somewhere along the trail and not realizing it until we finish the hike. For me, it’s a toss up between camera, phone, and car keys. I always, always, always carry my camera cross-body, the only time it’s not on me is when Curtis (or another hiker) is taking a picture for me. I’ve forgotten my phone a couple times, but both times I’ve realized it was missing before reaching the car and remembered the last exact place I set it down.
Car keys, however, seem like the most immediately inconvenient thing that can be lost along the trail. Especially the ones nowadays that have the special chip in them and are the only ones that can start the car. I guess I always knew the day would come, when we would either leave them locked inside the car before a hike or lose them along the trail…but after 5 ½ years, it finally happened.
Let me share the backstory: At the last minute, Curtis was given President’s Day off of work, so we wanted to go for a hike. We remembered how much we enjoyed doing Kaena Point over last year’s President’s Day and decided to return once again. This is the perfect time of year to go and see albatross nesting in the wildlife sanctuary, and it’s an easier and safer hike to do after heavy rain. We packed up the necessary things: water, snacks, rain jackets, camera, phones, and charger cables. While sitting in the car still in front of the house, I remembered that I didn’t have my portable charging bank for my phone, something that comes in handy since my phone is 5 years old and has a 3 hour battery life. I asked Curtis if I should run in and grab it, and he said no, we’d be fine. And so we drove to Kaena Point on the North Shore, about an hour away from home.
Once at our destination, we collected our things and made our way to the trailhead. Curtis then realized he wanted his hat, so he went back to the car to retrieve it out of the trunk. I remember hearing him press the lock button and the car honking in response. We set off on the trail, doing our best to avoid giant mud puddles and enjoying the easy walk in the sunshine.
We made it to the point (about 2.5 miles away) within an hour, and took plenty of time to admire the wildlife. We spotted 2 monk seals napping on the coral, and wandered around the tide pools looking for sea creatures. Curtis spotted an eel and took a video of it. The most exciting part today though was the albatross. We spotted a mother with her giant baby in the exact spot we saw one last year, marveled at the enormous wingspan as they flew over us, and laughed at the way the males interacted with each other. After spending a considerable amount of time here, we left the gated wildlife sanctuary and wandered over to a lookout over the West side. Finally, we were ready to return to the car.
Again, we made quick time hiking back to the car, this time the trail considerably busier with lots of hikers and families hiking to the point. We maneuvered our way around the last big mud puddle, and strolled back to our car. That’s when Curtis realized…he didn’t have the keys. First we checked and double checked inside every pocket of his cargo pants, and thoroughly dug through the backpack even though we knew he didn’t put them inside. We looked all around the large parking area and around the car, and I checked garbage cans just in case. Curtis thought they could be in the trunk, but I told him I remembered hearing the car honk when he locked it. However, he had done that before going back to retrieve his hat, so maybe my mind was confusing the order of events.
Our phones were both at low battery, under 20%. Curtis handed me his phone with the phone number for his insurance and policy number, and then he set off to rehike the entire trail and look diligently for the keys. I called our insurance and requested a locksmith so that we could confirm whether or not they were in the trunk.
I was pleasantly surprised at how fast the locksmith arrived, given we were at one of the more remote spots on the island. He unlocked the car but left before I even opened the trunk. Opening the trunk confirmed that there were no keys inside, and also made the car panic for a minute and there was nothing I could do to stop it. At least I now had a spot to sit and wait for Curtis. Unfortunately I still had his phone, so all I could do was pray that he would look hard and not assume they were in the car.
After about 2 hours of retracing his steps, Curtis returned empty handed. He didn’t remember ever hearing the keys fall, and suspected that the time it was most likely to have happened was when he was taking his phone out of his pocket at the point and around the tide pools. If they had fallen in the tide pools, they were likely long gone. There wasn’t much we could do at this point — like I mentioned at the beginning, this is the kind of key that has the chip in it, so any regular spare key wouldn’t be able to start the car. I suppose we could’ve either gone back and kept looking, or maybe called a cab and returned another day, but it was getting later and we realized our only option was to have someone come and make us a new key.
Thankfully that is actually a thing — within an hour and a half, someone arrived and made us a brand new key on the spot! However, it came with a big price tag — a costly mistake to make. But now that this has happened to us, doesn’t that make the odds of it happening again much lower? 😉 I have to also give a shout-out to our old phones for miraculously not dying on us and actually finding signal while we were frantically searching for phone numbers online with very limited service. It’s like they know we’re fed up with their usual shenanigans and ready to replace them.
All things considered, this isn’t the worst thing that could possibly happen — we still ended up back at home together with Charlotte safe and sound. (How we got into our house without a key is another story, and one I won’t share on this site, haha!) And when we think about it, at least it happened here and not on a much longer trail like Aiea Ridge (there’s no way Curtis could just go re-hike it to search for keys) or in a sketchy location, or…the list goes on. I’m proud of how we handled it calmly, stayed positive, and acted like a team. However, I’ve always been the person to ask, “Do you have the keys?” when getting out of the car, and you can bet I’ll become even more obnoxious from now on. 😉