Anticipation built with each step. The straps that were once a constant reminder of the weight of my pack, could no longer be felt. Perspiration penetrated my skin. My feet wore the wounds of the 9 mile treacherous incline of the Muliwai trail, but my heart begged me to continue forward. My senses told me we were close and my eyes reached for just a glimpse of the promised view. The path narrowed as I turned the tight corner at the top of the ridge. Unsure of how much further the trial continued, I dug deep to find the strength to continue. Teetering on exhaustion, I stood next to a desolate tree to catch my breathe. As a peered over the ridge’s edge, I unexpectedly embraced a panoramic view of Waimanu Valley.
I meet the valley with absolute awe. For a moment, my mind ceased its relentless questioning and my body stopped searching for comfort. When my heart witnessed the greatness and beauty of Mother Earth, I melted into something greater than myself. For a moment, I knew no bounds, no one to limit me, nothing to control me, just me and the infinite possibilities that earth provides for us each day.
In that moment, I was no longer the body that brought me to this place, I was this place. The sandy beach that kissed the ocean’s tumbling edge, the fertile green of the valley floor, the majestic cliffs adorned with draping waterfalls, even the simple sounds of the buzzing insects were an extension of myself.
Suddenly, a strong breeze cooled my beading face. The cool touch on my skin was the only thing that reminded me of the body I was in. I had lost myself to that moment of awe, but in it found the peace and power in nature.
The trek down the steep zigzag trail beckoned me to continue on. It would be hours before I reached the valley floor that I once saw so effortless from above. Balancing my pack with each step, I walked the strenuous path first carved as a trade route by the ancient Hawaiians that once populated the valley. The memories of a forgotten past called from the cliff walls, asking to be remembered. I could feel the presence of a simpler life, a time when commune with nature was valued and community honored.
Feeling shield-less yet powerful, I entered the valley as a guest and a caretaker, asking permission before I set up a modest camp by the waters edge. In walking distance was a fresh spring and a river. I caught prawn from the river and picked fruit from the trees.
My addictions to conveniences and illusions of superiority seemed to diminish with each day I spent in the valley. Long forgotten were the full inboxes and check-less lists. I was lifetimes away from the illusion of time. The perfection of creation all around me transcended all my doubts and worries, they seemed laughable in the scope of nature’s harmony. I contemplated the power of nature and the transformation of awe. I felt a connection to Earth, our collective home, that was once unknown in my life.
I left the valley in unprecedented gratitude for a place still untouched by man’s undoing. For a place that can remind us of our mortality and divinity simultaneously. A place locked in time, waiting for those to heed the call to disconnect, to take the opportunity to reflect, and become more than their busy lives.
Although Waimanu and the Big Island is a place I can visit again, more importantly it created a place I now carry within. In moments when the stresses of the world overpowers me, I can access the gratitude, peace, and connectedness I felt on the valley’s edge that day. Even for a moment, I can remember the beauty of pure nature, the satisfaction of a difficult journey’s end, and the peace that surpasses understanding. And for that, I am grateful.
About the Author: Tiffany has a passion for travel and writing. She is lives in Hawaii. Check out her blog at Seeking Gems.
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