The Right Way To Do A Road Trip On The Island Of Kaua’i. (Part 2)
Sometimes, when you travel — especially when you travel with another person or a small group of people, each with different temperaments and appetites and travel endurance and the amount of sleep they managed the night before — something tends to happen.
I call it the “crumbling effect.”
It’s something you feel, more than you see.
That drop in barometric pressure right before a storm.
You’re standing on the edge of a precipice with the face of a cliff at your back, the rocky ledge crumbling away at your feet, and you have a choice: You can keep pushing through, determined to make it to the end, or you can call it quits and wait for rescue.
On the day we arrived in Kauai, I was a pusher. I felt great. The air was fresh, the weather was perfect, and although Waimea Canyon was gorgeous beyond belief, I had a guidebook in hand that told me to keep going. It told us to keep going.
My companions, however, felt different. They were tired. They were hungry. We’d only arrived just that morning from Oahu, hadn’t yet found our hotel, and were sunburned and windburned from convertible exposure. Our Subway sandwiches sat wilting in our packs, and the pressure was starting to drop. Attitude degradation was palpable.
But on, we went.
Somehow I’d won the battle and desperately hoped, as we piled back into the shiny gray Sebring, that the guidebook wouldn’t let me down.
Like I said in Part 1, Kaua’i has a flair for the dramatic. She likes to build anticipation before she inspires your awe.
And the next stop was no exception.
We parked at the dusty head of the Kalalau Trail and, limp Subways in hand, stepped out of the car.
It was pretty obvious that our minds were about to be blown.
Scott, the most skeptical among us, took the first peek over the edge.
I’m not going to lie. The above photo represents a great moment for me. It’s a moment that says, “Katie, you were right. You always have been right, you always are right, and you always will be right. I bow down to your expert guidebook reading skills and will never doubt you again.”
Or something like that.
It still is one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.
And I’ve seen some beautiful sights.
A few other tourists mingled around, but the only sound was that of stunned silence as huge, white clouds floated up from the valley and dissipated before our eyes.
And, to the astute listener, the lull of waves crashing against the beach of the unspoiled valley 4,000 feet below.
My gamble had paid off. I’d won.
I’d pushed them beyond the precipice, and the view was well worth the risk.
Why, then, did I feel the need to keep pressing?
I’d seen a photo once that was taken on the Kalalau Trail, and I had it in my head that I needed to see that exact same spot.
Call it stubbornness. Call it indolence. Whatever it was, I’d felt the thrill of rightness and I didn’t want it to stop.
So we paused for some photos and continued down the trail.
My cousin, Leah, happy we kept driving.
I was actually terrified in this photo. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I don’t do well with heights.
Especially when there’s no chute involved.
Seriously? You want to keep going?
Some people were not happy about the decision.
“I just want my effin’ sandwich.”
But we started heading down the trail, well aware of the fact that we were sorely lacking in any kind of proper hiking gear.
And the path was not exactly friendly.
And although we did see some cool foliage…
And a couple of pretty vistas…
Nothing really beat our view of the valley when we’d first arrived.
This was not a proud moment for me. A moment of concession when, a mile or two in, I had to admit that it was time to turn back.
“Now can I have my effing sandwich?”
I still have no doubt that all eleven miles of the trail are worth hiking. But go on a day when you have time to enjoy it.
And go after you’ve properly filled your bodies with sustenance.
We made it back and were finally able to enjoy our sammies.
We wanted to sell this photo to Subway, but Scott ruined it. He was probably trying to make sure the tourist didn’t run off with his camera.
The low clouds had completely dissipated by the time we arrived back at the trailhead, and we took a few more moments to enjoy the tranquility.
The sun, the breeze, and the waves that, from our vantage, looked like ripples on water.
Happy again with bellies full.
I was a little bummed I hadn’t found that spot I’d expected to see.
That is until we turned to head back towards the car, and there it was:
A sprawling expanse of verdant treetops and every bit worth the two-mile hike in the wrong direction to see.
But that’s the thing about the Crumble Effect.
When you travel, moods will always fluctuate.
People get irritable.
Mistakes get made.
But, if you’re lucky, there will always be cool showers, fruity drinks, and smiling, sunburned faces at the end of a long day.
I miss Kaua’i.
I wonder if she’s changed.
***Many of the above photos were taken by my talented cousin Leah of Leah B Photography (and edited by me for this post.). Check her out!***