There comes a time when you think a person with common sense would know when to say no to constant punishment. Boxers do after being beaten to a pulp. Runners will, when their legs refuse to go another step. So why haven’t I, after my first hike? (See “A Hike, Yikes!”)
Once again, Papa Bear and the cubs convinced me to head out, this time to Lahaina Pali Trail. This route across the southern end of the west Maui mountains, functioned as a horse and foot trail in the early 1800’s. A six a.m. roll call produced only three people, myself, Papa Bear and Henry. I was afraid it would be called off but fifteen minutes later, Genita, Linda and Jennifer were ready and waiting. (We dropped off two cars at the destination point)
Anyone interested in tackling this will need to understand a few things. First, this is a challenging five-mile trail. It zigzags, incorporating steep inclines and more rocks than are known to human kind. Honestly, I thought a few of the boulders were purposely rolling out in the middle of the path to mess me up. Here are a few tips to get started:
- Come prepared with sturdy hiking boots or shoes meant for trails.
- A good backpack with water, a least 2 bottles per person and snacks.
- Use sunscreen and a good hat for protection.
- A walking stick or hiking poles are very useful.
And away we go
I’m not ashamed to say that once again I remained the last person on the trail. I’ve come to realize that this is my
claim to fame. After hitting my inhaler ahead of time, I held my head high and pushed forward. The trail dates back to a time when this was the only way to travel from Ma’alaea to Lahaina.
We started at 06:35 all smiles and laughter. As we travel towards the sky, two movies come to mind,” The Sound of Music,” and “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Both dealt with people crossing over hills or mountains and rugged terrains. The difference between them and me is that I don’t sing songs nor am I a gold digger in the hills. The gathering of friends and challenging myself provides enough reason for getting up so early in the morning.
Up, up and away
I begin to break a sweat 30 minutes into the climb. All of my training for the upcoming half-marathon did not prepare me for this. Steep inclines use different muscles and test ones endurance. Occasionally, I would stop to catch my breath and in the process take notice of my surroundings; the rising sun as it casts a glow on the ocean. Cool morning breezes, even the rows of sugarcane fields below hold their own beauty in color and depth. After shooting several photos, I’d continue to catch up with the others. Even my friend Linda had to sit for a few minutes to gather herself. Although she hadn’t worked out in a few months, she continued to move on.
As my heart cursed at me for pushing it past its comfort zone, my feet found the determination it needed to keep going. After 1.5 hours, we finally crested the top of the mountain as the breeze generated by the windmills, lulled us towards them. It’s one thing to see these metal monsters from the road below but quite another to be near them. Our fast-footed partners cheered Linda and I once we made it to the break area, this time a gravelled road along the slope. Junk food and McDonald’s filled their stomachs as we tried to rest and replenish our fluids.
Hit the Road Jack
After food, laughter, drink and photo fun, it was time to
pack up and head downhill. Little did I know the worse was yet to come. If the uphill climb taxed my lungs, the downhill walk would put my legs through the greatest test of balance and stamina. Large stones, broken pieces of rock and debris provided confrontations. The need for alertness was high. For this, my trusty hiking pole gave me the needed balance during deep drops to the next stone or unsteady turns.
After the constant companion of the hot sun and the unrelenting path, the end was in sight. To my left, the cars below were visible giving relief that I was almost at the meeting place. The ocean from the Lahaina side provided depth and unbelievable blue color. You are able to see the outline of many reefs while the sun shimmered on top of the water tempting you to dive in.
My companions, exhausted, as they sit, gathering themselves and cheering the completion. Final photos show less enthusiasm and more exhaustion. The time is 10:20 a.m., the close of another hiking adventure and muscles that will burn calories for 2-3 hours later. It’s time to eat, rest and shower (maybe not in that order). One thing that each person feels at this time is a sense of accomplishment, especially now that we are on the road, looking up once more at the windmills. We did it; five miles, three hours and a lot to be proud of.