Backpacker trapped in the torrential rains in Hawaii survived by hiking 20 miles in sandals

For a group of friends in Hawaii, this past weekend was supposed to be filled with fun, laughs and a wedding engageme...

Posted: Apr 20, 2018 10:47 AM
Updated: Apr 20, 2018 10:47 AM

For a group of friends in Hawaii, this past weekend was supposed to be filled with fun, laughs and a wedding engagement; instead they were left cold, wet and trekking through knee-deep mud to safety.

They planned to backpack the Kalalau Trail in Kauai, and expected an 11-mile trek through beautiful lush landscapes with stunning waterfalls, along a trail that ended on a secluded beach. It seemed like a perfect setting for a break from reality, and a moment to make memories with friends.

"It was a spectacular hike," said Lani Rupp, 24, of Honolulu. "The first two days was so beautiful and nice. The valley makes you feel like you are in a fantasy world."

Rupp and her group of over 20 friends met Wednesday for their weekend of backpacking, but by Friday evening their adventure took a turn for the worst.

"The ocean was raging and the rain and lightning was immense," Rupp said. "Most of us got soaked and couldn't sleep because we were cold and tired."

Torrential rain hampered the area and, unbeknownst to them, the heavy downpours brought flooding and landslides to the area, washing out some of the trails to get back. The group didn't have cell service and had no idea how much destruction the rain left in its wake.

The town of Wainiha, Kauai, recorded a staggering 822 mm of rainfall in just 48 hours, according to CNN meteorologist Pedram Javaheri. "That amount of rainfall would climatologically take nearly 18 months to fall in London and over 24 months to fall in Los Angeles," he added.

On Saturday, four of the backpackers decided to try to make their way back while the others set up tarps and tried to keep warm and dry.

"Saturday morning was the day I already planned to leave originally, " said Rupp. "But decided to stay to ride out the rain."

On Sunday morning, Rupp and seven other friends packed up their gear and headed out on the trails. Some of the paths were so washed out that the group got lost several times and had to circle back, she said.

Related Article: Surfing legend Laird Hamilton has been rescuing people from floods in Hawaii

"It was raining the entire hike and a majority of the trail was basically mud and waterfalls," she said.

The toughest spot came when they had to cross a river. Normally the group could hop across the rocks, but the water was raging and up to her shoulders, she recalls.

"I got washed down the river about six feet where I grabbed onto a rock," she said. "My partner got my backpack from me and then was able to grab my arm and pull me across the river."

Rupp lost her hiking shoes in the river and had to wear sandals for the next 20 miles. The group eventually made it out of the trail and hiked on the roadway to a nearby resort area. They still didn't know what ever happened to their friends who left on Saturday and couldn't communicate with the group that stayed at the beach.

The roads, impassable by vehicles, were covered in mud from the landslides and power lines littered the streets.

"We felt like we were in a video game, leveling up through all the obstacles," Rupp said. "It was surreal."

Sunday night the group sought refuge in Wainiha, where locals took them in for the night, and they had their first meal since that morning.

"We hadn't eaten since breakfast, since we thought we would be coming down to civilization, and finished most of our food the night before."

Monday the group continued their journey and made it to Princeville, where they were reunited with their friends who left before them.

"After so much worry, everyone in our hiking group was safe and accounted for."

Throughout everything, the group kept their spirits up, Rupp said, and they were all smiles as they swapped stories of survival.

The remaining backpackers who stayed on the beach were airlifted, according to Rupp.

"We are very thankful for our lives because we all encountered extremely dangerous situations where we are lucky nothing bad happened."

Over 400 people have been airlifted from Kauai since Monday, according to County Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. And the threat for the island isn't over. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for the area through Friday afternoon.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 87807

Reported Deaths: 2002
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin25454917
Ramsey10349316
Dakota6995125
Anoka5596132
Stearns367023
Washington349255
Scott236632
Olmsted225327
Nobles192016
Blue Earth15566
Wright14937
Carver13197
Rice12908
St. Louis128229
Mower12614
Clay121340
Sherburne106313
Kandiyohi9112
Winona82818
Lyon6344
Steele5132
Freeborn5043
Nicollet49516
Watonwan4954
Benton4923
Todd4722
Le Sueur4413
McLeod4382
Waseca4228
Chisago4211
Crow Wing41018
Otter Tail3734
Beltrami3654
Goodhue3219
Martin2909
Itasca26413
Polk2624
Becker2372
Pine2360
Isanti2340
Carlton2311
Douglas2291
Cottonwood2140
Pipestone2089
Morrison1901
Dodge1880
Chippewa1851
Sibley1693
Meeker1662
Wabasha1660
Unassigned16552
Brown1642
Murray1492
Rock1450
Yellow Medicine1442
Mille Lacs1363
Faribault1290
Jackson1251
Cass1233
Renville1206
Roseau1090
Pennington1081
Fillmore1050
Houston1040
Swift1041
Kanabec1008
Koochiching1003
Lincoln950
Redwood930
Stevens901
Pope820
Hubbard710
Aitkin691
Big Stone660
Wadena610
Grant574
Wilkin553
Norman510
Lake480
Marshall481
Mahnomen451
Lac qui Parle410
Red Lake370
Traverse290
Clearwater240
Lake of the Woods201
Kittson130
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 78552

Reported Deaths: 1255
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk15133256
Johnson496227
Woodbury486561
Black Hawk431686
Linn3722105
Story326317
Scott271227
Dubuque266140
Dallas265338
Pottawattamie195137
Buena Vista193312
Marshall175634
Sioux12753
Wapello124357
Webster118414
Muscatine105452
Clinton104618
Plymouth100120
Cerro Gordo98621
Crawford9804
Warren9226
Jasper74232
Des Moines7247
Marion7014
Tama68531
Carroll6275
Henry5974
Lee5857
Wright5571
Dickinson4756
Bremer4597
Boone4557
Washington42711
Louisa41915
Franklin33117
Mahaska32619
Delaware3183
Hamilton3143
Jackson2923
Floyd2913
Winneshiek2835
Benton2781
Clay2773
Hardin2731
Winnebago26211
Butler2572
Clarke2533
Emmet24810
Shelby2411
Jones2393
Allamakee2375
Poweshiek2368
Lyon2323
Buchanan2291
Clayton2273
Cedar2171
Guthrie2115
Kossuth2090
Chickasaw2030
Grundy2002
Madison1992
Sac1980
Cherokee1792
Howard1795
Iowa1791
Fayette1781
Mitchell1750
Hancock1712
Harrison1692
Humboldt1693
Calhoun1672
Mills1621
Palo Alto1560
Pocahontas1502
Monroe14410
Page1410
Lucas1386
Jefferson1321
Cass1282
Monona1281
Osceola1210
Appanoose1193
Taylor1191
Union1193
Davis1134
Van Buren1081
Worth1000
Keokuk891
Montgomery855
Ida840
Greene820
Fremont790
Wayne792
Adair621
Decatur580
Audubon551
Ringgold412
Adams270
Unassigned150
Rochester
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 51°
Mason City
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 50°
Albert Lea
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 54°
Austin
Clear
52° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 52°
Charles City
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 50°
Warmer Weather Ahead
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Saturday Weather

Image

What are the benefits of bringing football back to Minnesota this fall?

Image

Candlelight vigil for Prisoners of War

Image

MC Masters National Championship Regatta

Image

Early voting begins in Minnesota

Image

Dooley's Pub closes due to health hazards

Image

Area athletic directors prep to welcome back sports

Image

Early voting begins in Minnesota

Image

TikTok Ban to Begin This Weekend

Image

Sara's Evening Forecast - Friday

Community Events