HANALEI, KAUAI (HawaiiNewsNow) - What was supposed to be a fun gathering of friends along Kauai's Na Pali Coast turned into an adrenaline-pumping fight for life as the island endured historic amounts of rain and flooding over the weekend.
Liana Leaulii and more than 20 other friends say they had been planning a hiking expedition on the Kalalau Trail for some time – many in the group had already been camping in the wilderness for several days, and they all had plenty of gear.
But none of them were prepared for what came next – 36 straight hours of torrential rain and lightning.
"I went out to the beach and looked out, and there was thunder and lightning all down the ocean all down the cliffs," said Leaulii. "It dumped all night, and a bunch (of rain) ended up in different people's tents in puddles."
Soaked from the rain, Liana many of the others in her group became stranded when flood waters in the valley rose. They knew they needed to get out of the valley immediately, and started trying to hike through raging streams and washed-out trails.
"We had rain coming down on us diagonal, pelting rain, and it was running down my leg and in my socks, my whole boots were like puddles," she said. "(We were) walking up steep hills of mud."
After spending the night on a picnic table at a hunting shelter, Liana's group finally made their way past the Hanakapiai Stream and to the trail head. Their arrival felt eerie.
"Looking around the beach park, no one is there," Leaulii says. "We're like, 'What happened? What happened while we were in this trail?' It's like this weird-feeling apocalyptic moment."
The group kept hiking to the Wainiha Colony Resort; some kept going to Hanalei, hiking over landslides and under downed power lines. Days later, after the group was back together, they swapped stories – thankful to be okay.
"There were a lot of internal things there being processed through that whole journey, of safety and teamwork."