Dead or Alive… #reverb10

In March of this year, my mom’s whole family traveled to Hawaii together.  It’s not the first time we have made the trip and it certainly won’t be the last.  It is sort of an extended family reunion that happens every few years – all beginning when I was only five years old!

Our time is spent mainly on the island of Oahu and we have seen quite a bit of that area!   Two years ago, however, we learned about a hike we had never attempted before: a trail up the back side of Koko Head Crater.

My brothers and my husband and I were determined that this spring, we were going to do that hike.

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

Now, for a little background information.  We had been told that this particular hike was a bit more difficult than some of the other ones we had accomplished – like Diamond Head Crater.  But we weren’t quite aware of how much more difficult it actually would be!

Our first problem was that we got on the wrong bus.  We could see the crater rising up in the distance ahead of us and knew where we were trying to get (kind of), and thought we knew how to get there.  The only problem was, the bus we hopped on didn’t go the direction we thought it was supposed to on that particular day.  So we got off at what looked like a close location and decided to hoof it the rest of the way to the park outside the crater.

We dressed appropriately for climbing… tanks and shorts, carrying the only id’s and money we needed in our little camera pouch.  My brother had enough foresight to purchase a huge bottle of water.  Our tennis shoes were broken in.  We were ready.

And so we walked.  And walked.  And walked.  I think we must have covered a good mile and a half before we eventually found our way through the residential neighborhood to the small little park at the base of the crater.  And then we had to walk some more to get to the trail.  And then, we stopped to look up.

Looming before us was the straightest, steepest path I had ever seen in my life.  But it had stairs… how hard could it be?

I think I made it to the first light pole of the 15 that were on the side of the mountain and I wanted to die.  My thighs ached.  I was breathing hard.  My face was flush.  Seriously, was I really that out of shape?

I made it two more and thought I might actually die.

I made it to the halfway point and gave up.  For about a minute.  And then my husband and my brother made me go ahead of them so that they could keep pushing me on and let me set the pace.

We stopped and rested.  We breathed in deep.  We let the hot sun bake our skin.  And we took in the amazing views.

We went a little farther.  And then I was certain that death was imminent.  There was absolutely no way that I would make it.  At step 900 I knew I was toast.

In this time, of course, locals who used this path often went up the trail and back down again.  Young people were running it.  This one group of teenagers came jogging down, one of them riding on another’s back.  Kids were having an easier go of it than I was.

I think the moment of frustration came when we met this 60+ year old guy who did the trail three times a week.  There he went trotting his way up the crater… and there he came back down again.

I had to keep going.  My sides were aching, my lungs were heaving, but I was going to do it.
And then that moment came when I placed one foot on top of the other and actually made it to the top of the crater.
The view was phenomenal.  We could see ocean all around us – Waikiki far off in the distance – the island of Molakai barely on the horizon.  The sky was overcast, yet sunlight poured down upon us.  The ocean was deep blue and turqouise and capped with these ripples of waves as far as the eye could see.
The air was salty and clean… although that salt smell may have been my sweaty armpits.  My face was flush with exhaustion and I’m sure that I was bright red, but there at the top the sun didn’t beat down so hard and the breeze cooled our spirits.
Looking down into the lush crater below were the rich greens of a rainforest and botanical garden – such a stark contrast to the brown, dusty and scraggly trail we had just followed.  The waters of Hanauma Bay glistened like diamonds in front of us and just beyond it, we could make out the puffs of air as a group of whales swam by.
The entire world was so small and seemed a lifetime away.  It was hard to put into words just how far we had come… how my life had been transformed in moments from near death (at least in my imagination) to this glorious experience of the fullness of life.
I didn’t dare sit down, because I might never have been able to get up again.  But I drank in some of that hot and nearly empty water bottle and I stood there taking it all in.  I felt like I could accomplish anything… anything except maybe making it back down that trail.

1 Comment

  • Liz

    December 18, 2010 at 8:23 pm Reply

    This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing it. I felt like I was walking up with you. I think I might have broken out in sweat just reading! What a wonderful moment.

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