Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Road Less Traveled...Halape.

It's fair to call me an adventurer, a wondering wanderer, someone who craves mini-expeditions & explorations. But a hiker, no. When I think of "hiker" khaki colored clothes, boots of some sort, and walking sticks come to mind. I like my hands free so I can touch my surrounding with ease, khaki colored clothes bore me, and I've done the boot thing working on a farm with horses. I like run shoes. Okay, the run shoes are not the most practical as I was slipping down the side of the pali in the loose rocks while my friends in "hike shoes" were not, but comfort has to count for something, right? I'm not a hiker, but I went on a LONG hike to Halape yesterday...

Halape is an untouched, out of the way little paradise snuggled near the volcano. Some hikers call it the "hike of hell to Halape", others call it a "death march"-yeah a few have died on the hike due to dehydration in the middle of this out of the way spot with no water in site, mainly lava rock heated little spot on Earth. And some travel from all over the world to take on this challenge knowing the final destination is more than worth it with views so gorgeous you might see nothing like it anywhere else.


None of us have made this trip so we read all the reports, talked to the rangers at the Volcano, and asked others who have tackled it just to get an idea of what to bring. There are roughly 5 paths to get there, 4 of them go around the pali (cliff) and are a few miles longer, but less crazy. Then there is one, the one we chose, that goes DOWN then back UP. Round trip it's 16 miles. That route has reports of 5hours one day for the "average hiker" and suggests camping over night as its "too rough" to do in a single day. In 2.2 miles on the way back it climbs 4,000ft. Well, we decided we would tackle it in a day, no camping, and still spend an hour or so at the beach...


All I could think of was WATER. If regular hikers take 4.5 hours down that would make 9 hours round trip, well they said its a little slower going up, plus the hour we want at the beach. Honestly I was just concerned about water, I drink a lot just standing still in the shade. Well, I carried 4 bottles and my friend carried another 3 of mine. The non-hiker in me didn't even pack band aids, just water and some food, and wishing for more water... The trip down to Halape took us 2:45 minutes, that included my photo missions, water stops, and of course the many times my two left feet had me falling. Back up the pali took 2:30 minutes. I'm much better going up and nobody had to wait on me. We seriously tackled those 16 miles like it was a mission! I think the ranger said that's the fastest reported time, sweet for a bunch of "non-hikers".

Kawika made sure we all rehydrated once we reached Halape, FRESHEST coconuts on the planet. Talk about coconut water straight up and ono coconut meat! That more than enough fueled us for the return trip, not that I was ready yet...

I loved this day so much. I'm not sure how real hikers do it, but the way we hiked was near perfect. Maybe a boy scout would get upset with our lack of supplies, perhaps my mom would ground me for my less than ideal clothing, and I am sure all those "Safety Sally" types would write me notes on what to pack next time, making my bag even heavier! Simple was the path we chose. Not simple in terms of the hike, but in what our mission was, to just go after something, a mission, reach it, and enjoy living fully...

I was not ready to return when our beach time came to an end. Loving the old fashioned, untouched Hawaiian paradise tucked away from the rest of the world had me so care free. The hike was very challenging, I'll be honest. It is not something I want to do tomorrow, the next day, or even next week. It was rough on the body and a few times challenged the mind. The climb back up hurt in a very good way, one that I let influence my training into the Philippines 70.3. It tackled my nutrition plan, it burned every muscle in me, yet it made me feel more alive than words can describe.


Today I woke up hung over on happy. My body also woke up a little roughed up. Places were sore that don't get sore swimbikerunning. My butt hurts, it was like stair master x 2,000 climbing up Halape. This mornings mission was a 60 mile ride. Let's just say mile one felt the way you sometimes feel at mile 50, like you are "feeling the miles". I embraced that feeling, it would be a good training mission to tackle that feeling for 60 miles, mentally. It had me motivated for the Philippines, I am loving this training block!.

If you ever think to hike Halape, my biggest suggestion is to bring a crew you absolutely love! I'm talking the less whiny, the more optimistic, the ones that appreciate good views and simplicity, those who can handle blisters, heat, and everything else. We fell down, tripped up, got caught in loose rocks, ran through woods and dark tree mini-forests, endured everything and anything expected and unexpected. I loved my friends more on this day than any day before, unreal people!

With 2.2 miles to go it was almost bitter sweet, the finish back to our cars looked so very close, yet over that pali stood tall another one. Once to the top, climbing 4,000 ft that quickly, my head began to spin, my eyes wanted nothing more to do than close, and at one point the throw up tried to come up from the dizzy elevation & sulfur from the volcano. It felt like we raced up the hill, everything on all of us hurt, but overlooking the edge and seeing where we came from felt like a finish line to one of the greatest races ever raced, or hiked.

...and of all the things on the beach of Halape, there was an out house! No cell reception, no homes, no grills, no park rangers or park, but a toilet was down there nestled between coconut trees. It didn't flush or anything, ever thing just goes into the ground.

Would I do this hike again, you bet. Recommend it, of course! Pack different, nope. It was a beautiful day in my life and of those that came along for the journey...




Lucy Francis said...

I do like a good adventure! It somewhow makes me feel like a kid again when I used to imagine treasure islands and pirates. I also like the survival aspect of it and for someone who one day hopes to "run" the marathon des sables (160 miles in the african desert - yes ME!) I loved reading about your hike and the resourcefulness of you and your friends. ... Just one thing, if I ever did this hike I would leave my husband at home. he's the most whiny of them all :-) he doesn't mind me saying it

SD Sportscards said...

I used to hike here 15 years ago alone on solo trips. It's a magical place. I try to describe it to people but it's one of those things that words can't describe.

This is a great post with some nice pictures that describe it well.