Hiking where I ought not

I have been hiking almost every weekend that I’ve been here and today was the first day that I wasn’t sure if I should try this particular hike. It is listed in the same difficulty category as previous hikes so I decided to do it. The plan was to hike a loop: Kahekili ridge trail to Pu’u Manamana. I wasn’t sure about doing the whole thing because the website described the transition from one ridge to the other as an overgrown trail. I was leery of trying to fight my way through it and figured I’d just do an out and back on the 1st trail.

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However as you can see from the photo the 1st trail, the one in the middle distance, was a steep and narrow ridge. It had some very steep climbs. It was more hike than I was comfortable doing. I actually got on my hands and feet and monkey walked some of it. I didn’t really want to climb back down. So when I got to the end of the trail I decided to try to find the overgrown trail to the next ridge. The Manamana trail was described as being popular and well travelled so I hoped that I wouldn’t be alone and I would have a better trail for the descent. But on the overgrown section I lost the trail and was up so high on the ridge that I didn’t feel safe turning around. I decided just to get to the top and find the trail.

I have no pictures from this section because I couldn’t afford to let go. I was afraid for my life at points. And I prayed a lot. I discovered that I had reached a finger of the ridge, but not the main ridge itself. The finger had no trail but it was a ridge in itself and was very steep. I tried to stay on the ridge top to avoid sliding down the side. This required climbing around trees and through a dense undergrowth of ferns and vines which came up to my chest. Some trees actually fell over when I reached for them for support. Many branches, which I hoped might support me, fell off when tested. The thicket cut my legs and arms. I caught my feet and backpack on the vines many times. The brush also hid the drop off of the slope at times and my foot fell through twice. I caught myself with my hand hold on tree roots. I decided to make use of the trees that were rotten. I knocked over the tree and picked up the 4″ thick trunk to lay it over the thicket before me as a sort of bridge or tightrope. It flattened the brush to knee height and made walking on all fours more comfortable. I also used the trees to test what lay below the brush. I found a thick sturdy tree at one point where I took a rest. I tried to weigh my options, including calling my brother in a panic, calling 911, paying for an air rescue and sobbing. Instead I prayed again and decided I had to keep going. Shortly after this I came across a used bandaid in the brush and it gave me hope that some one else had survived this very climb. The brush began to thin out with a trail of dead undergrowth which made the trek easier.

I did finally come upon a trail, an actual trail! I fell onto my knees and gave thanks to Jesus. I made my way down the trail with shaky legs.

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I found it to be equally steep and narrow, not a better choice after all. The trail is behind me in this picture, it goes exactly over the ridge. But at least it was a trail.

20121128-092310.jpg I stopped to empty my shoes, shirt and shorts of all the leaves and dirt I had collected in my bushwhacking. The trail was just wide enough for me to sit on it, a few inches wider than my butt.

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I found my legs and arms were in rough shape.

And that’s when I called my mom, it made me feel much better and closer to being finished. I think if I had called anyone earlier I wouldn’t have been able to hold myself together.

I didn’t take anymore pictures. It was a pretty view, but I couldn’t take a look. The wind was blowing and added to my anxiety about slipping. I continued to alternate between scooting down on my butt, walking and crawling on my hands and feet. I am so grateful to be lying in my bed right now, even with my arms and legs sore and skin burning with scratches. I am going to take a break from ridge hikes for a bit. And I am going to reinstate my “no leaving the trail” rule. If I did it over I would turn around and never try the overgrown trail.

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Kauai by helicopter

I took the advice of the guide books and friends from work and went on a helicopter tour of Kauai. It was an excellent recommendation. Now I want to be a helicopter pilot when I grow up 🙂

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The end of the world

When Brittany asked if I’d be interested in going to the end of the world to jump into the ocean, I said I’d be willing to take a look. I was visiting her on “the big island” of Hawaii. She is a friend of my sister-in-law. I met Brittany at my brother’s wedding in July. She kindly took a day off and showed me around the island.

We arrived at “the end of the world” in Kona, HI mid morning and scoped it out. I climbed down to the lowest ledge and decided that it was way too high for me to jump off. It looked to be about 35ft above the ocean. There were two more levels even higher. I tried without success to find a spot that was a 15ft jump. I am a good swimmer so I wasn’t worried about the landing. But I am not fond of free falls. The last jump I did was freshman year in college and I clearly recall that I didn’t like the falling part.

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After Brittany jumped and climbed back up I had to decide if I was going to go. A few more people had arrived and started jumping from the highest spot. They were making it look easy with their Shaka “hang loose” signs, relaxed free falls and quick climbs up to the top to repeat the jump. (See video of a fellow jumper)

Having decided that I did not want to regret missing this experience, I climbed out on the ledge. The water was calm. Brittany counted to three for me and I jumped.

And that’s where I should end the story with a quick statement about how I’m glad I did it. Then I accept congratulations with ooh’s and ahh’s.

What really happened is not as glamorous: hitting the water with a slap to my inner arms and legs, I plunged into the ocean and got a nose full of water. Then I peed my pants. I rose to the surface and began coughing water out of my lungs and got hit by a wave between coughs. More water in my lungs. The waves picked up and I tried to make my way to the rock wall that I had to climb to get out. The waves were pulling me back and forth and slowed my progress. When I did get my hands on the rock surface it was sharp. The rocks are made of a’a which is volcanic debris. With one hand-hold and one foot-hold I began my climb but only got 1 foot up when I was knocked off by a wave. I made my way slowly back to the rock wall, pulled back and forth by waves again as I approached. This time I managed to get a better hand hold and figured out how to ride the wave up the wall a few feet at a time as the waves came. Then I climbed barefoot up the sharp rocks, while still coughing, with bright red inner arms/thighs and bruised palms. I reached the top, a victor of sorts.

No regrets though!

Lilikoi

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I bought some fruit at the farmers market on Wednesday. I could have sworn that they were tiny papayas. I had googled how to eat papaya a few days before and thought I had this covered. I also forgot exactly what they were labelled.

I cut one open and scooped it out and then was left with a shell, which I tried to eat but was unsuccessful. Then I googled it and found out it’s passion fruit, called lilikoi in Hawaii. Only sold in the farmers market. And I had just thrown away the part you eat. Good thing I had more!

Lilikoi are tart/sweet and nothing like the passion fruit juice blends I’ve tried in New England. I had sworn off tropical fruit because it was too sick-sweet. Come to find out that guava and passion fruit are tart and tasty! They have just been ruined by lots of extra sugar when sold in juice form. Apparently guava is plagued with worms, too. That is why it’s not sold in the farmers market, according to a produce seller there. I have found them on trails in the woods and fortunately never noticed worms when I was eating them!

Otis

While I am a fan of beer and mixed drinks, I am not usually a fan of the bar scene. I do try to accept any and all invitations to go out, though. And thus I ended up at a nice outdoor bar in Waikiki called Swim, with a group from work. I was seated with the guys, between the 2 PT’s on my left and a British friend of a co-worker on my right. I have been working with them for 2 wks now and didn’t really know them well. The PT on my immediate left, call him Daniel, was being friendly and polite and began a conversation with me that started with “so what kind of music do you like?”. Surprised that he was addressing me, I was stumped. Of course there is music that I like, lots of music. Could I think of any? No. I stumbled around in my answer with vague categories and decades but none of it made much sense. Now our conversation had the attention of the other PT and the brit. “yeah, what kind of music do you like?”, they chimed. And what do you think I came up with when a musician’s name finally crawled out of my brain? Otis Redding.

Now, it’s no mystery that I am not cool, but there’s no need to advertise. I do listen to Otis, I have his greatest hits CD. But one greatest hits CD does not a fan make. What was I thinking? I recovered with some more recent names, but the deed was done and the Brit was singing “sittin’ on the dock of the bay”.

Hey Zeus

When I went to breakfast after church I was seated at the counter next to a man who looked to me to be 22 yrs old, or so. He was very friendly and wanted to chat. I put away my book and chatted. Now I am pretty clueless when it comes to come on’s but I think he was talking himself up a bit. “I really miss my sisters, they taught me how to understand women. I will always be grateful to them for helping to raise me right.” And: “I respect women, I think they are strong and beautiful inside and out. My mom and sisters taught me that.” He introduced himself as Jesus, from California. He complained about the lack of good Mexican food on the islands and touted that the restaurant he works at makes the best Mexican, next to his own. He invited me to stop by the restaurant sometime.

I asked him about the tattoo on his forearm. He verified that it was a picture of a tape cassette. I jokingly asked if he was even old enough to have ever actually used one. No, not really. He had just started collecting them from thrift shops. “Like antiques?” Yep.

In response to my groan about the “antiques” he asked how old I was and I flat out told him. He insisted on seeing my drivers license, and I obliged. 36. He appeared stunned. I broke the silence by saying that now he was off the hook. He said “yeah, I was totally going to hit on you.”

He recovered nicely and still asked for my number before I left. And as predicted I never heard from him again. Phew! Because if I see my phone ringing and it says Jesus is calling, I will have to answer it.

Melting the windowsill

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I arrived in Honolulu at 5am. By 7pm I had set-up Internet access, had basic staples in my fridge and cupboard and had been swimming at the beach. Now to make dinner. I was exhausted. I had a raw filet of ahi tuna and some frozen microwave green beans to prepare. Thinking I should sear the tuna, I turned the heat to med-high on the stovetop. Then I realized that I totally forgot to buy oil, and the pans were stainless. In my exhaustion I threw a bit of butter in the preheated pan and POOF! The butter went up in smoke. An extraordinary amount of smoke, actually. Not sure what to do in my sleep deprived state, I made for the sink. Thinking better of it as the pan continued to billow, I ran for the open window and placed the pan on the ledge outside. Then I ran back to the smoke detector and fanned it with a towel. Which reminds me to check the smoke detector battery! Once the smoke cleared (5+minutes) and I got the pan unstuck from the windowsill where it had melted the paint, I had a great 1st dinner.

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