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8427_1128078322221_1235086001_30311718_3576043_sI had been planning on doing this run since I knew I was going to Hawaii to visit my family who live on the island of Oahu, and I knew it would be challenging because I’ve been out to Ka’ena Point before but had never gone around it to the windward side of the island. Ka’ena Point is the westernmost tip of Oahu in the Hawaiian Island Archipeligo and a Natural Area Reserve for native plants and endangered species including the Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Laysan Albatross.  Ka’ena translates into English as “the heat” and is the name of Pele’s brother/cousin and it is truly the hottest, most exposed part of the island– like a desert on the edge of the sea. I made sure I was wel hydrated l the night before and had plenty of water for the run.  I went through 2.5 litres but still survived the 13.86 mile adventure run.

I dropped my mom of at her work in Campbell Industrial Park and drove down Farrington Highway on the Leeward side blasting ENSLAVED over my iPhone FM transmitter through my mom’s Corolla’s stereo.  Just past the encampments on the beach, stopped at the 7-11 in Nanakuli to pick up some snacks for the trek: a pack of roasted ika, 2 regular musubi and the deluxe musubi with egg for breakfast.  It felt so good to be cruising on the island again.  My family live here and I spent most of my summers on Oahu since I was 5 years old and consider it a second home.  Black Metal and Death Metal make the perfect sound track for the islands of Hawai’i; its not all little grass shacks and hula girls and cocktails with pineapple and paper umbrella garnishes– Hawai’i has a dark antiquity which resonates with me more so than does the kitschy tiki culture that it is often represented by.

Further down Farrington Highway towards Ka’ena and past an even rougher and more squalid beach and roadside encampent at Ke’au beach park.  Here people are living out of their broken down cars  under canopies of tarps and in some instances even constructing those little grass shacks that viewed in reality, give an ironic and haunting timbre to the song with the same name.  Then I’m entering Ka’ena Point State Natural Area Reserve and am excited.  The sun is still behind the mountains at 8am but ascending fast and I already know that I’m going to get into a little trouble being so exposed, but the trail looks so tasty and tantalizing that nothing could possibly dissuade me from running my plotted course.

Mom recommended that I park her Corolla by the lifeguard stand because cars that park at the trail head are always getting broken into. I staged from the trunk and stretched out in the shade cast by the car stowing my musubi and extra bottle of water I iced the night in the main storage compartment and attached my keys to the clip there. My very unecessary shirt I tied in the elastic on the outside of my CamelBak and my iPhone went in the top zipper pocket, a plastic produce bag protecting it from moisture in case of a rogue wave, falling in the water or a hydration unit failure.  Feeling set, I shouldered my pack a little surprised and confused at how heavy it was realizing this was another unexpected element that was going to add a higher degree of challenge to this run.  I estimated the weight to be about 20 pounds and thought, well by the end of the run it should be significantly lighter to carry.

Nothing do now but hele’ on as the Hawaiians say, and start the course.  Running down the side of the road past Yokohama Beach to the trailhead feeling a little spry and confident, yet the sun and the weight of my snacks and water was worrying me.  Picked up the trailhead and started on.  I could see the automated light beacon at the point from the start of the trail and it really didn’t look to far away and in reality its exactly 3 miles from the life guard tower.  The trail twists along a rocky lava coast and is inaccesible by vehicle.  The trail is rutted out into mounds by rainfall and runoff and pebbled with hard lava stones so that pretty much every time I landed I was landing on a bump and grinding my foot on a loose rock.  It was after 9am now and the sun was up doing its sun thing, attempting to dessicate anything containing moisture, especially interlopers like myself.  At about mile 2.5 I came to the part of the trail where I had to scramble to connect to the other side, its a plank jammed into the lava rock cliff face  with some old untrusty rope attached helter skelter to it resembling more of a trap than a crossing aid.  I know because the last time I hiked this trail years ago, I grappled the rope and it twisted out causing me to fall off the cliff.  It was a short drop, just about 6 feet and gave me some ego bruising so naturally,  I took it cautiously this time.

A short distance from this pass the trail starts to get sandy and is cordoned off to protect the nesting sites of the endangered birds and  protect native flora.  Adjacent to the beacon is the foundation of an abandoned cement structure, probably that of an old lighthouse.  I wanted to keep going on with my run and finish with a respectable time, but the point here was just to beautiful to not photograph.  I took off my still heavy pack and rested it in the ‘Ilima (Sida fallax) and got out the phone to take pictures of the sites there.  Got caught up by two local hikers of mixed sex and chatted with them a bit and continued down the trail to the Mokuleia side.

Now I’m heading east on the trail headed towards the Dillingham Airfield which is my goal and turn around point.  This is the Mokuleia side of the Natural Area Reserve and I am familiar with this side of the island because I frequent the beach where nude sunbathers go. That beach is further down the highway.  The trail on this part is hard core and heavily rutted with even more stones.  A rusted but polished heavy iron gate bars vehicles from entering part of the reserve I just exited and set amongst a huge lava wall constructed of rough boulders impossible to hike around.  Signs are posted forbidding dogs because they kill the seabirds. Photographs of piled up avian carcasses on both the island of Kaui and on the reserve itself graphically depict this.  Running on these mounds was like being a giant running over the ridges of mountains, but the mixed terrain really started to wear on my feet and legs. I was actually relieved when the trail closed out and had asphalt blacktop on the side of the road to run on all the way to Dillingham Airfield.

I could see a prop driven plane landing just ahead so I knew the airfield was close.  I passed the YMCA Camp Erdman and new I was almost there and soon I was coming upon the East Gate for the Airfield.  Kept on going and thought I would run inside a little bit and come back and cross the street so I would be facing the direction of traffic on the return.

Ran on the side of the road to return and the sun directly overhead was getting the better part of me.  Back on to the grounds of the State Park on my return and I  realized I ran out of water in my hydration unit.  I was getting a major chafe from my CamelBak and reaching around to my right upper hip where it was irritating me found that I had blistered there and there was no way to adjust my gear so as to not to rub me raw.  I decided to lighten the load further and ate a musubi and a banana I had stowed in the pump pocket.  Drank a little of the bottled half litre that was still cold.  Realized I had made an error and should have loaded up on water at the rest stop in the airfield, but since I had been drinking the whole time knew I didn’t run a risk of dehydration and knew how hot it got that I would make it back.  My Shuffle was shorting out and after doing a searching inventory realized I was just way to distracted by everything and I needed to center and focus.  I put the tunes away, adjusted my pack as best as I could and allowed myself to run for a short bit and walk in between.  I figured it made no sense to go all out and overheat.  My legs weren’t tired.  I did have the stamina, it was that the stones on the trail and the relentless bumps begin to tally up and wear me out.  Lava moguls is the best way to describe these and again, every step was crunching a rock.  The intensity of the sunlight continued to increase and I just had to take things incrementally: get to the next electricity pole, just make it around the next bend, one bump, two bump, grind grind grind.  Walk it out, and run.  Before I approached the turn around that would put me back on the leeward side I made a deal with myself I would just run until the next parked car.  I also had the sense of how Beauty is a glamour cast upon Treachery and although she allowed me to flirt on her edges made sure I knew she is Queen and I am powerless to not yield.  I guess what I was going through as what runners describe as “survival mode,”  I know I’m gonna finish, but I know it ain’t gonna be pretty.  Some days are just gonna be like this.

By the time I reach the Point again, I know I only have about 3 miles left to get back to the car.  I’m torn up now, but somehow still loving it.  I know that the first time I run a course the time is always going to be slow and I started too late and running in the hottest part of the day.  I know that I’ll make it back to the Corolla, so I’m not feeling failure, its all win and a cold beer is waiting for me in the cooler in the trunk.  I make a deal with myself that I will run until I reach the first parked car meaning I’m back in civilization.  The last 4 miles I’m doing 20 minute splits and I know its wrecking my time, and I’m also kind of feeling that, yes I’m not prepared for a half marathon, but i’m just about right at my limits for a 9 mile race.  I come to the crossing with the plank and rope and realize that there is a lava cave just there and in my imagination reconstruct the flow.  Peer inside and felt the spooky vibe.  Ancient/contemporary Hawaiians called Ka’ena point aLeina Kauhane (Soul’s Leap), a place where the spirits of the dead jump off of Earth into the underworld or “sea of eternity” called Po; by no means a Christian figuring of Hell, but where all of our ancestral spirits or ‘aumakua (helpful or not) reside when they pass.  In the beginning of my run I was feeling little tingles, chicken skin, that felt like love of my sport but also a tweaking from an ethereal or spiritual presence.  I run to connect to these feelings and I run in places of power.  I do this to connect with the dolphins.  I do this in love.

  • 13.86 miles
  • 3:28:22
  • 15:02 avg. pace
  • 1,209 feet climbed
  • 1,780 calories burned


One Comment

    • gingerspark
    • Posted Thursday 22 October 2009 at 6:07 am
    • Permalink
    • Reply

    I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii… one day.

    I wish I had half your energy.


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