Indeed paradise does exist! A tropical trek into the lush mountains of Hawaii. 22 miles of rugged terrain, majestic valleys and scaling some of the most dangerous ocean cliffs known to mankind! This was the adventure I had been waiting for. Craving. The adventure of my lifetime. My plane touched down at 8pm in Kauai the night before. I settled into a hostel for the evening. By 4a.m I was wide awake and ready for Na Pali Coast. It was the only thing that consumed my thoughts these days. I stopped and snapped a few photos of this untouched land I was standing on (picture below). I was about mile 5 in on the trail, refusing to allow the jet lag the opportunity to melt into my body as it had been begging to do. I am not an experienced hiker. I like to hike and I go hiking often. But it is the rare occasion that I decide to board a plane and go conquer one of America’s top dangerous hiking trails in the world. What can I say? Hawaii called and I had to answer.
Mile 7. My feet are screaming at me. I’ve stopped to pop most of the blisters that have formed. Gross, I know. My stomach is growling from lack of food. I knew the sunset was upon me, and I didn’t want to think about having to spend my second Hawaiian night in the dark jungle that was consuming me. How many things could kill me out here anyway? Just as that thought appeared in the endless chatter of my mind, it was quickly interrupted by a stunning view. Did I say stunning? I meant terryifing. It would have been stunning if it didnt mean that I had to scale a foot-wide gravel path, clinging to the cliff for dear life. Literally! And cling did I. The endless chatter of my mind continuing. What was I thinking?! Go to Hawaii by yourself. It will be a great time. End up on one of the most deadliest hiking trails. It will be fine. Everyone’s assumption back home had been that I was sun-bathing on the beach. Nope, Just casually clinging to Crawler’s ledge. The infamous mile 7. Also more popularly known as Crawler’s Ledge (Above Photo). Now you see why I was clinging for dear life. Yes, there is barely enough of a path to walk on. Stubbornly, I refuse to move another step forward, sitting down on a rock and making it into a comfortable post. Ignoring the cliffs below me. Hearing the waves crashing into the sharp lava rock beneath me. Well, day one of my first solo-trip around the world, is turning out to be…great. Just great. I already have myself in quite the uncanny predicament. It’s far too late into the day to turn around and hike back. Sitting down doesn’t help, my body reminding me of my 12 hour flight the day before. I stare out into the pure blue ocean. It really was stunning after all. Day one in Hawaii and the island had already stolen my heart. Just as I gazed out into the vast sea, a huge whale surfaced, jumping out of the water. Out of it’s comfort zone. Blowing water out of its beloved spout. The first time I had ever seen a whale in 24 years. My breath catching at its beauty. As this massive creature fell back into the ocean and sprayed water everywhere in the distance, I had made up my mind. That was a sign to continue forward. Finally Crawler’s Ledge finally showed mercy and ended. The trail merged into a wide open red-dirt trail, with unforgettable mountain views that revealed themselves. A picturesque view of the ocean. A simple moment in time. A moment I will never forget. Such beauty, pure magic and bliss the Kalalau Trail provides for those who dare to cross its path. Slowly turning, taking in every breathtaking view, I simply couldn’t get enough. Hope flooded my veins as I saw in the far distance my destination. Hanakapi’ai Beach. Finally, my wild soul, free at last. My spirit roaming the unknown parts of the world. This is what’s been calling to me. Trekking onward into the Hawaiian jungle, the sun going down in the distance, I had to pick up my pace. Thankfully, I had a new burst of energy. I could do this. I had barely eaten anything all day and my body had already adjusted. Listening to every step. Leaving my thoughts on the trail. This is why people go into the wilderness to heal themselves. To become reacquainted with themselves. I was almost to the end. I could feel it in my bones. I had made it. I could hear the ocean waves of the beach. The laughing of those hikers who had made it before me. This was it. I rounded the corner, certain to be out of the woods by now. Surely, it would be dark soon. I came face to face with a babbling brook. There was no other way but to cross it. I would barely make it through my night of camping if I got wet now. Surveying the rocks, I could skip across them and chance falling. Sore from the long hike. Sore from carrying my weighted pack on my shoulders. To be this far away from any help and the thought of getting injured was just unbearable. Still, I had to push forward. Scanning the scene one last time before I made the impulsive decision to skip across three medium to large rocks that barely poked out of the water. My feet landing hard on the other side. I smile to myself, Hawaii and I just became good friends. Hanakapi’ai Beach folks! (Above Picture) I made it. Eight blisters later. The sun slowly setting. Leaving me alone with my thoughts and the stars. The stars were so close I could almost reach out and touch them. Coming home to myself never felt better.