I recently went on vacation in Oahu with my family. It was excellent. We had a great room overlooking the ocean, steps to our own lagoon, we swam with green sea turtles, had shave ice, saw a dear friend, visited Pearl Harbor and the Dole Plantation, drove around the island, and spent plenty of time in the water.
As usual, I stole away for part of a day and went for a hike. I wanted to hike Mount Ka’ala again. It’s a pretty amazing hike. Since the morning was so beautiful and we were enjoying our time together, it was hard to peel away from my family. My wife finally said, “Aren’t you going on a hike or something?” So I quickly packed and made the drive up the coast into Waianae Valley. It was a lot warmer this time and I was a little out of hiking shape.
But, as usual, slowly but surely, I made the steep climb up the mountain. My mind was on the challenging amount of gain that was ahead of me. I was wondering if the top would be cloud-free this year for a better view. I was wondering if the mosquitoes would be as numerous. I was wondering how tired and muddy I was going to be.
I made it to the top and it was easier than I had remembered. I enjoyed a clear view of the north shore. But, as usual, my mind was already on the way down the mountain, getting to the car, and rejoining my family.
I had a lot of fun rappelling with gloves down the 22 rope installations (I counted), but immediately, my “downhill” legs were spent. I wasn’t even 1/4 of the way down. I must have used up my legs on the ascent. I can usually count on coasting a bit down mountains, but I was already tired.
Too many short hikes and weekends off had left me in a state where I actually had to stop and rest, which is something I rarely do. I typically hike until my heart rate gets up there and take 20 seconds to catch my breath here and there, and continue on. But I rarely take off my pack and sit down on the trail. I only do that on the peaks or if I am hiking with others. And sometimes, I don’t even take my pack off on the peaks.
I made it to the part of the ridge where it meets up with the trail that comes up from the valley below. I was hot and tired. My mind was on the car and being done.
Stop, I told myself. In a day or so, or maybe even a couple of hours from now, as tired as you are now, you’ll wish you were back on this ridge.
I took my pack off and sat down in the shade on a tree root in the trail. I drank some water and had a snack. I took my hat and gloves off. I looked at the vividly green knife-edge ridges around me. I laid back and stared upward, as a breeze cooled me and made the aspen-like trees above me sound like rain. I closed my eyes and listened to the calls of birds from another land.
The car could wait.