Five Easy Miles

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Yesterday was a break in the walking action- I signed up for a lesson to go surfing, and it totally thrashed my body! I thought the standing would be demanding (it was, bit more on my weak sense of balance), it was the paddling that wore me out. I was super stiff last night.

Today’s plan was back walking- the five mile, mostly flat Wai Koa Loop Trail, that wanders through an organic farm/tree plantation. It was a hidden gem, with very few other people out (mostly mountain bikers), among a varied landscape, with great mountain views.

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More than that, it just felt good.

So good that for dinner tonight, I walked another 3 miles total to pick up some tacos for dinner.

Na Pali Heights

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I’m here for a week’s vacation in Kauai– just me, myself, and my old body. I’ve got myself to entertain, and my plan is to enjoy some luxury of a trip paid for 2 years ago, to dispel some old un-needed memory baggage, and to get some hiking miles in.

On my first day, I explored the beach trail right outside the Westin Princeville- its a steep little drop o a hidden gem of a beach. And for the afternoon, it was out to the end of the highway. to the start of the long trail from Ke’e beach. I had done this hike in 1996, my first visit to hawaii. I dont seem to recall ti well, but am fairly sure I did thw full hike to the big Hanakapi’ai waterfall – today, I aimed just for the beach, 2 miles in, 2 out. Wow, did it ever feel like it was longer! It;s a fair bit of climb and drop, at least 800 feet or so of change, and some slippery spots on a trail gushing with water.

It was, though a glorious day, and the movement really felt good, something my body has not done in a while.

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Only 4 miles added to the click, but some good up and down in some moist heat.

Strawberry Ridge Hike

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The direct path from here to that ridge, was a huge loop to the left, and quite a bit of up and down to get there.

The view from my back deck looks across the valley to a high ridge, one that looks continuous from the peak of Strawberry Mountain on the left. I’ve been up on parts of the ridge a few times- there are no formal trails. If you are sharp, you find the game trails left by deer and elk. But they are nimble creatures and climb some steep grades. My previous excursions have involved a lot of literal bushwhacking (keep in mond that many bushes here have thorns) and usually some stupid slippery descent.

But I’ve scouted the topo maps and did some flybys in Google Earth. Today was the day to make a traverse.

And perhaps you know that saying about the map not being the territory? True. Terrain gets simplified in maps, details of ravines and rocky ridges get lost below resolution.

Here’s a track of my trip today, captured in the RunKeeprr app (O exported the KML file and loaded it in Google Earth)

strawberry ridge hike

I’ve not been doing nearly enough exercise, you can see how I pegged so many “achievements” in RunKeeper:

Farthest Distance 8.32 mi

Longest Duration 4:37:42

Most Calories Burned 1480 cal

Largest Elevation Climb 1513 ft

Farthest Distance in a Week 8.32 mi

Longest Duration in a Week 4:37:42

Most Calories Burned in a Week 1480 cal

Largest Elevation Climb in a Week 1513 ft

Farthest Distance in a Month 8.32 mi

Longest Duration in a Month 4:37:42

Most Calories Burned in a Month 1480 cal

Largest Elevation Climb in a Month 1513 ft

Gimme the damned badge.

Until the latter part, I left the phone map in the pocket, and relied on what I remembered of the terrain. The lay of the land of course changes in many ways compared to viewing from my deck to standing atop the mountain. What looks like a straight shoot turns out to be broken by more ravines and rubbly climbs than you see from far away.

But its fun to put your knowledge of land shapes, drainages, and direction to work, sans mobile device. The thing here is a straight map line traverse would be deadly, and I found at the top, I had to curve way back from the front ridge to work my way around the steep drops between the ridge parts. It often seemed like going in the wrong direction to get the right direction.

The best strategy I found was to keep as much to the high ground as possible, much of it was open and just rocky. I was thinking of my undergraduate Geology mentor, Doc Thompson, who was always talking durting our field work about the wise route to contour your way around rough terrain, meaning to try to avoid a lot of up and down. As a bunch of 20 somethings we laughed and dashed up and down, but Doc’s words felt right on today.

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I spent 4 hours exploring and moving around the mountain top, and did not see one sign of human activity beyond what had been cleared by the forest service years ago. No trash. No signs. No roads (well I did walk a bit on a jeep trail along a fenceline– and bumped into a cell phone tower.

This idea of smartly contouring ones way around rough terrain seemed metaphoric for something. And the practice of putting yourself at the mercy of your own ability, direction sensing, and way findinding is about one of the most rewarding experiences I can think of.

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