I could feel the humid and hot air, but everytime we would hit an outer peak, it opened us up to the strong winds, almost as if the trail would tell us when it was okay to breathe. I could feel the wind pushing my body, making me fight to keep my balance at the half way point between Hanikapi’ai Beach and the start of the Kalalau Trail. It was almost inconceivable to know that my father and his family had all hiked this path before. As I looked out to see the gradients of turquoise turn into a deep blue, I wondered if this is what they had seen before me. Did they feel like I did? Was this view as amazing to them as it was to me?
The golden sand leading out to the ocean stretched flat and long, and I could see it glisten everytime the tide would wash over the beach. As I slowly pushed my hot skin into the cold water, I knew that it would take a couple of minutes for my body to get acclimated to the fresh, stream water. As I continued walking along the sand barrier, I could see the where the river connected to the ocean. I sat between this area in a flat, sandy area and eventually moved my body so that I lay there floating, face up, where the cold, river water met the warmer ocean current. I felt the calm waters mix together in temperature around me. I felt so small, as I realized the immensity of the waves and the majestic mountains that surrounded me.
I’d had heard tragic stories of loved ones lost at this beach, because of the strong rip current. I saw a local man walking toward the water with fins, looking up at the sky almost poetically, with such emotion, with gratefulness and respect. At the time, I wasn’t sure why I was compelled to take a photo. On the way back, while we were taking in the wind, he shared his story with us in passing. He was there for his cousin, whom had recently passed. His cousin used to tell him to come to Kauai to do all these amazing things. He said that it seemed right to do it now, because he never ‘got around to doing the things’ while he was alive. He shared such his intimate story to four strangers, and I will be forever grateful that he did. His story seemed so surreal and almost fitting, as the sun had started to set. I marveled at the beauty of the golden light reflecting across the ocean’s surface, and I felt so blessed to be alive, in that moment.