Yesterday I wandered into the koa-uluhe forest on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, via the Willwillnue trail. I’ve been looking forward to exploring some of the densely covered trails of Oahu, home of the Hawaii H.U.R.T. 100. This day I got my wish.
I didn't know what to expect, but I should have. Like the run-in with a wild boar. Have you ever sauntered into one of these things on a training run? I did. I should have known. Because posted on the very same web-site with the directions to the trail was this: "Wild hogs can be very aggressive, so it's always important to have the appropriate protective gear on and to carry an emergency first aid kit." Protective gear? Emergency first aid kit? How about a pair of Hokas and a Camelback?
When I saw the beast it was about 100 feet from me. I instinctively looked for an escape route. It must have noticed my reaction, because the beast started towards me. Call it instinct again, this time I stepped toward it and let loose a gutter-like growl in its direction. It turned and fled like a stray coyote. My heart rate? Elevated!
I then moved along in the dim light under the lush canopy. It was still dusk and very dark in this tropical forest. Holding a rock in each hand, I hiked up the fire road looking for a mountain top. At various points power lines drooped over my head. I passed under them and the wind began to move swiftly. So swiftly it began to create a loud, angry hum, as if I wasn't supposed to be there. I quickly marched further up the trail anxious for the sound to diminish behind me.
I emerged from under the forest canopy and onto a narrow ridge. The path was so narrow and high above that canyons below that the trail looked to be suspended in the air. I stopped several times to look around. I peered over the edge to get a glimpse of the valleys below. As I leaned over I could feel my heart jump. Over a thousand feet was all that separated me from the lush valley floors. I continued and the higher I went the steeper the narrow path became. I grasped fixed ropes that were fastened above. At one point I was on all fours, climbing on hands and hokas, making my way up to an invisible summit.
Then, just like that, I stood in the clouds and listened to the wind blow.
Sometimes I wonder why I run. Then, like this day, I am reminded again.