At about four o’clock in the morning on New Year’s Day 2003, I ripped my shorts slinking through a cutout in the barbed-wire fence at the base of the lush Koolau mountain range in Oahu. My family and I had set out in the dark to hike the now infamous Ha’ikū Stairs/Stairway to Heaven of Hawaii.
At fourteen, I had never done anything like break the law on an epic 4,000-step climb up into the clouds before. And it was truly terrific, in every sense of the word. Early in our ascent it started pouring rain, making it very difficult to hang on to the metal rails and pull myself up the ladder without the occasional slip! At one point, I lost my grip and shuddered at what might have been if I hadn’t caught hold of a very large, overgrown fern. I was probably just as likely to be helo-ed off the mountain as I was to summit it.
Then just 2,000 feet and one PowerBar later, the sun came out as I reached the top of Puu Keahi a Kahoe. I remember vividly, standing on top the abandoned WW2 radio antennae (for which the old military path was originally carved), silently drinking in the sight, the breeze, the light…I couldn’t tell where the ocean stopped and the sky began…it made me (and my problems) feel tiny in the best possible way. This stunning view from the ridgeline was earned on my first and favorite hike.
Looking back, the experience made a real impression on me. It opened my eyes to how beautiful life and our world really are. Wherever you are friends, I hope you find reminders of this too. Wishing you blessings in the new year -Happy 2019!