“To enjoy life, you must first, seek it out.”-Lila
If someone invites you to do a hike with them, think twice about what you are about to get yourself into. It will be your true test of spirit. The challenge took place at Waihe’e Ridge Trail, Maui, HI, and from the start is no joke. At 7 a.m., we headed out with Henry (in the white cap) as Papa Bear, our leader. The steep concrete incline is not for the faint hearted.
I began to wonder if I could change my mind while moving forward and at times backwards on the hill. This isn’t even the beginning of the trail! Gardner proved to be my shadow partner. (Remember the no child left behind policy?) Yes, I was bringing up the rear as the other baby cubs hung in tight with Papa Bear. The sad part is I thought I was in good shape until today.
We pause at a small open gate and snake our way to the start of the trail. The beauty of the forest calms the spirit while the tree roots snake back and forth across the ground, at times creating a stair-like path. The air is moist and the ground at times muddy, from the rain of the night before but it does not deter us.
And the beat goes on
Finally, we reach the 0.5 mile marker and yet, we have 2 miles to go. The intense wonder of the island keeps me in focus as I look out towards the ocean and the homes below. The peace of the forest and all its wonder, gives me a greater appreciation of life. We are lucky as there is only one other hiker on the trail and he sails past us without a drop of sweat. Go figure. We still have the pleasure of a uncrowded path and push forward.
Papa Bear signals that a break is in order. Everyone takes out their water bottles and iPhones except me. My Cannon EOS Rebel T2i is my best friend and I try to photograph the group. Before we get too relaxed, the break ends and the hike continues.
The trail fools you as it stretches out, inviting you to take it easy and then before you know it, another incline begins. It’s a good thing I hit my inhaler before this whole event began. I feel somewhat discouraged that my rear end is dragging causing me to bring up the end of the line but I push forward as Garner plays the theme to “Rocky.”
The island has a richness that is only appreciated along the trail. Waterfalls in the distance, are white slivers along the mountains ridge. Occasionally, Papa Bear gives a lesson in nature as he points out a guava on a nearby branch. A haze hangs in the valley as the world awakens.
Are We There Yet?
What happens on the trail, stays on the trail. The crew is falling apart as hunger takes over. Mile marker 1 and 2 displays weakness among the troops. I become separated from the pack as the distance between us widens. Occasionally, someone calls out to make sure we, Garner and I are alive. I wave a white hand towel to signal our point and continue. After patches of mud, jagged rocks, and steep stairs, we finally reach the last high point of the trail. We made it!
The celebratory meal is laid out and the others have begun to chow down. Junk food is ok after the calories burned on the walk up. I was told that my contribution of nuts, cranberries and Ritz crackers are too healthy. Shared laughter and fun is had by all. The 2.5 miles of dips, turns and high steps were accomplished and all survived. The panoramic view at the end of the trail is worth it.
Time to find our way home
Once again, another photo shoot ends, the clean up begins and Papa Bear rounds up his cubs for the decent. The new challenge is downhill through mud and slick areas that lead into the thick foliage around us if we fall. (Yes, a couple of us took a tumble) The pace quickens as we try to beat the sun in its fullness while new hikers take over the trail. A total of five miles with a completion time of 10:20 a.m.. The muscles in our thighs cry out for relief as our feet protest such pounding.
We did it!