Sunday, June 16, 2013

Kauai - Day 3

Thursday. I slept in til about 8 am and was able to see my nephew and my cousin before they both started their day.  I was looking thru her many Kauai travel books she has left for me in Sol's room the night before and thought I'd do some exploring: hiking, shopping or event planning research. I decided to go with a hike. The views from the boat of the Na Pali coastline the day before were so amazing that I wanted to get a closer look and touch them. We got pretty close against the wall of cliffs in the boat but the captain had completely control even with the strong winds.

I decided on the Nu'alolo trail that was 3.8 miles one way. The book also pointed out that there was a Lolo Vista for an additional half of mile out. It said that it was mostly downhill on the way out and you can cut across another path for a much less strenuous incline on the way back. I didn't have time to do the four different trails so I decided to go to Lolo Vista and turnaround.  Shanti asked that I returned to the house by 4:45 pm so there was someone home when Pablo dropped him off before he want to paddling practice. Absolutely! I can do that. Anything for my nephew and to help out the family. After all they were letting me use their car that day and staying in their home. 

I also picked Lolo Vista in honor of my new angel, my grandfather, my Lolo, that passed in February. In fact, that was the last time I saw the Herrera family, for the funeral in California.


The hike was a total of 8.6 miles. I believe it is longer the Alamere Falls hike I did in February with a bunch of friends. And I was planning on doing it alone, without a back pack, with my Stella & Dot 'How Does She Do It' bag ($89), my white Skechers and my 750 ml Camelbak. I definitely did not pack to go on a hike.

My cousin lent me the 4Runner and I can't remember the last time I drove a vehicle without power steering. It was a stick and definitely got me from point A to point B. I first stopped off to get gas and when I popped off the gas tank top, a little gecko came running down. Oh, little creatures. They're everywhere! Gas is sooo expensive out there at $4.69 a gallon at least.

Then I made my way to Kokee State Park. I have a pretty good sense of direction and my cousin is a great guide so I was familiar with where to go, which road her celebrity friend lived on, where to go to pick up my nephew from day care, which way to every direction. I passed Hanapepe where we got smoothies, by Port Allen where we took the Holo Holo trip from, and was on my way to Waimea where I had to turn right to go up the hill and windy road. The 4Runner rose up over those hills like a champ and I used my arms' strength to take those tight turns at of course a higher speed than advised.  

I eventually made it to something that looked quite touristy. It was the lookout for the Waimea Canyon. Tour busses and many cars were parked, with incoming cars trying to dodge the chickens and roosters around. They are everywhere! I hear the roosters at every time of day! I take a look and I know this isn't where I need to stop. I took a look at my cousin's travel booked and it was confirmed. Keep climbing, rusty 4Runner.

I did absolutely no research on the island before I came so I had no idea what I was going to see. When I looked over to my right for a rare peek at the canyon because it was just a wall of rock lining the road, all I could say was 'Holy shit!' The canyon was definitely a canyon. It appeared to be so deep and the other side was soooo far away! If I had time on my way back, I'd stop at the lookout. After all, I was right there. Why not?

But I kept on trekking to my destination and eventually came up to the lodge and visitor's station. I parked and left the car unlocked as my cousin usually does.  I was unsure of the start of the hike and purchased a trail map at the visitor's station for $2. I eventually found it after asking some older locals in yellow construction vests, and they didn't know what I was talking about.  And so I started my hike!




There are a 3-4 parking spot where the trail starts so don't rely on parking there unless you arrive extremely early. The hike started off steep from the get go and I already had to take a break. I had a snack or two of Nature’s Valley bars and my 750 ml Camelpak of water in my Stella & Dot ‘How Does She Do It’ bag. How was I going to do it? It’s just putting one foot in front of the other over and over again, right? I’ve done Mission Peak in Fremont, CA and hiked to Alamere Falls on the coast. I can do this. Even if I was doing it alone.

Eventually the trail was headed on a decline. The trail was wide and covered by trees and the park laid down logs to make steps. And this decline just continued for a bit until I heard two sets of voices. They eventually caught up with me and they were older couples much more readily equipped for this hike than I was. They had their long brimmed hats, hiking boots and poles and back packs. I let them pass me. This wasn’t a race for me. Yet. After their voices trailed off in front of me, I could hear rustling of leaves on the ground to my left. It must be some sort of small creature but I couldn’t spot it. Every so often I would hear movement all around me. It was pointless to pinpoint where it was coming from because I had to keep moving. My mind also wandered. Jurassic Park came to mind as my cousin mentioned that we passed an open field on her way to her house and told me that was where the stampede scene was filmed. Fabulous. I was going to get eaten by a raptor. No, no, no. That’s impossible. My roommate got me into The Walking Dead. Being a zombie’s lunch was much more likely, right? Keep moving, Bernadette.

I made it to an open area with no trees to block out the blue gray sky and the trail narrowed to allow one person to walk this path. The grass went above my waist and I couldn’t see more than five feet of the trail in front of me as is turned to the left and right. A wild boar can come and charge at me at any second! And no one will find me! No one knows exactly where I am. I checked my cell phone and service was non-existent. Figures. I’m doomed. There were very tall and thick stalks of greenery with thin thorns and I’m glad I wore my Celebrity Cruises zipper up with long sleeves. I pulled my sleeves over my hands and put them up on both sides of my face to shield getting scratched. My large bag also helped one side of me from these thorns or from bugs and insects hijacking a ride on me.

I made it to my first huge fallen tree. The width of its core was taller than myself and the tangled twists of its roots were interesting to look at. I think I could have gone left of this tree but went right instead to a more defined route but into more of a shadowy path again. I was alone most of the trail and enjoyed seeing the markers on the ground indicating how far I’ve come. I was half way at this point. I did bring my ear phones to listen to music if I wanted to on this trail but I opted not to. I really wanted to take in everything around me and be alone with my thoughts, as crazy and irrational they might be at some points. But this gave me time to think about where I am, where I have been and where I’m going. This trail is something I have never done before and I’m doing it alone. Back home, I’m alone as well. It’s just Bevo and I. No family of my own, no distinguished relationship. And I have to be OK with that. I have to be OK with my current situation and make the best of it and keep moving forward.

I began to hear helicopters in the distance and I knew I was getting closer to the coast. I made my way out of the shadows of the tall trees and the terrain of the path changed to narrow ridges that could take you down, down, down into the unknown. No one would look for me down there if I slipped. The sun shined so bright in the clear blue sky and all around you can see hills, greenery, he helicopters and the beautiful and misleadingly calm Pacific Ocean. It felt like I just got out of a tunnel and I needed my Pradas. I definitely brought those babies. I saw the second person on this trail and the first dog. She was in shorts and had a back pack. I was jelly. I asked her, ‘How was it?’ and she said to be careful because it gets incredibly steep soon. Oh boy. Not a great thing to hear when you’re looking over the edge with now railing to keep you from falling. Grreeeaaatttt. And then she was gone.


I looked at my cell phone to check the time and I was OK on time. If I can make it back in the same amount of time it took me to get out here, I’ll be OK. However, with the steep slopes ahead of me, that means I’d have to climb them. So I stopped taking in all the beauty and wasted no time moving to the end of the trail. That girl was NOT joking. There were parts that I really wish I had hiking boots instead of my flat, old Skechers. It was slippery and I had to put my hands on the walls on either side of me or reachable branches just in case I fell. Falling on my tailbone would not be a good move right now. I even had to sit down sometimes and then keep moving down. It was that steep. Occasionally, I looked back from where I came from and I just sighed. I am not going to look forward going up that. But I continued to go deeper into this hole I am eventually going to have to climb out of.

Then I saw my first glimpse of this massive valley. It was incredibly breathtaking. I still had more to go but the view so far was incredible. To think, this beauty was earth made. No man made object can beat something so natural. I continued on because I remembered that I had a hard climb back and I’m not done yet. I reached another point and some folks were coming back from Nualolo Point and stopped here. I let them have their time there and when they were gone, I stood at the edge and looked at this valley below me. I looked at the top of the valley and thought I came from around there. I looked directly across from me and wondered how far I was from touching the other wall. I looked down to wonder what animals, life or people (?) inhabited this secluded area. It was gorgeous. I had half a mile to go to the point and very end.




Approaching the point is where I saw the next four people. It was a family and was sitting along the trail taking their lunch with such an amazing view. I didn’t pack a lunch and I had no time for a break. I reached the end and the marker was two high rails with a small brown sign with yellow letters saying “END”.  I took a moment to acknowledge that I did it. I reached the end of this trail. I thought of my Lolo at Nualolo Point and how much I missed him. I wondered if he was looking down upon me and keeping from going down one of those slippery slopes. I was over 2000 feet up, the ocean goes on until the horizon and below, the day before, I was at the base of this beautiful spot. I took a photo of my Stella & Dot bag with the coastline in the background. It was going to be submitted for a contest and to show my Facebook followers how I’ve used my bag. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay long and took what photos I could. I briefly said hello to the few folks that were there and they were from the Sacramento area. What are the chances?



Then I had to start my way back because I had to be back at the house to receive Sol so Pablo can go to paddling practice. And what a trek it was. Clouds came and went. Drizzle did too. I was thankful for the shade and the dampness. I had a really hard time going up that steep part of the trail just before I entered the forest again. I had to stop so many times and actually sit on my bottom because my legs were on FIRE. I had to ration my snacks and my water. I only took a bite of my granola bar when my stomach made it loud and clear that it was infuriated with me. When I’d stop and be out of breath and can feel my legs turn to jelly, I prayed to the Hawaiian Gods for shade and rain because the heat was killing me. I also made getting to Sol my motivation.

“Gotta get to Sol.
Gotta get to Sol.
Gotta get to Sol.”

There was no way that I was going to let him down by not being there for him. I kept climbing. But not before I took one last look at the ocean before the trees and shadows engulfed me. When the light rain made it thru the trees, I felt like the Hawaiian Gods heard me and answered my cries. I had to take more breaks than I wanted. I’m not in that bad of shape. I do incline walking on the treadmill at the gym and go often enough. I was struggling with the fact that I was struggling. But I guess it’s true, Miley, it’s about The Climb.

“There’s always gonna be another mountain,
I’m always gonna wanna make it move,
Always gonna be an uphill battle,
Somebody’s gonna have to lose,
Ain’t about how fast I get there,
Ain’t about what’s waitin’ on the other side,
It’s the climb”

I finally made it back to the beginning of the trail and I couldn’t be more happy. I did it! Goal accomplished. BUT! I still have to make it to my nephew. I hopped in their 4Runner and made my way to Sol just in the nick of time. Success. But boy was I tired.

We played with his toys, took photos with his toy digital camera and my camera to show Mama and Papa when they got home. He is so smart. He talks a lot and has such an extensive vocabulary for being only two. He tells me what he likes, what he doesn’t like, what he wants, what he doesn’t want and in full sentences. It’s quite impressive.

Shanti arrived and we caught up a bit. She made a great pizza out of Costco’s alright pizza for such a steal. I volunteered to help of course but played with Sol instead. They received a delivery and it was a bunch of items from TraderJoe’s. There are so many things that you take for granted on the mainland because you can’t get certain things on the garden island in the middle of the ocean. I made it a game with Sol to unpack, name and gently place down each item. Shanti was excited as each product name that was recited. After all the contents were out, we attacked the bubble wrap and I had to show Sol how to pop it, then we turned the box into a toy. We treated it as a ride and even a turtle shell.

At dinner, Shanti wanted me to tell Pablo of my adventure that day and he was surprised I did it. Later Shanti told me that he said something along the lines of  “You Manzano women are so independent.” Yes, we are. After dinner, they invited me to go with them to watch the sunset and to take Oso, their dog, out for a walk. I said I would stay behind and work on the wedding that was going to be taking place the following week in Carmel Valley. And, I completely understand that as hosts, you still want to have some alone time, family time and not feel you have to entertain your guests. Some family and guests expect to be entertained all the time. I do not. I wanted them to have some intimate family time together. They receive so many guests throughout the year. After all, it is Hawaii. I hope to go back next year.

I did what I could with the wedding. There was a lot to do and follow up on emails, touch base with vendors, nail down the timeline, etc. But I was feeling very confident about the event even though I was half an ocean and time zones away. I then spent more time with the family in the living room and just relaxed. Besides the wedding, I really didn’t touch base with things at home except for the Mystery Man. I was in desperate need of this relaxation, to be around people I love and love me, to be surrounded by beauty and serenity and focus on everything that’s good in my life. The windows remained open throughout the day and you can hear it when it rains and the breeze thru the trees in the darkness. I had to wake up at 3 AM for a secret something so I turned in for the night. Yes, 3 AM.

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