Posting this for Robb Geer (no email address), transcribed via a handwritten copy he gave me. Any typos are mine. --DKT ---------- Begin Narrative ---------- My Shameful Story
Sitting at the base of Olomana 3rd Peak, Waimanalo side (Pakui I believe it's called), I poured rocks from my shoes while snacking on a PowerBar, looking up at the peak probably a little too frequently. Damn, I was tired! I felt like I was at the end of a long hard hike and putting my boots back on didn't seem very appealing. But I figured I had to if I wanted to go anywhere.
It was Sunday, August 8, 5:30 p.m. I had started off the day leaving the HTMC clubhouse at 7 a.m. on my bike in order to meet everybody at Castle Hospital by 7:30. Laredo, the purple-haired, 50-some-odd-year-old mountain maniac had left a car at the Kailua trailhead to Olomana. Ed, the ex-special services, now adventure racing, marathon running, super human had arrived. And then there was Pat, the lunatic of all lunatics on the trail and beyond. And in case you're wondering, I'm Robb, the clubhouse dude.
We piled into the Pat-mobile and were off to the stairway to heaven. By 8 a.m. upward we went. We eached the summit, crossed over to the Bowman Trail, went down it for a ways till we reached the shortcut down to Likelike Highway. We got to the highway, crossed, ran through the tunnel and then shot back into the woods via the Likeke Trail. We stopped at the Falls for lunch and some water Pat had stashed. It was a pretty short break.
We literally ran most of that until we reached the Pali. Pat and Ed went under. Meanwhile, Laredo and I took a wrong turn and had to run across the highway. Once again, we shot into the woods, this time via the Maunawili Demo Trail. We headed for Waimanalo. Running seemed to be the game plan for awhile until it was decided that hiking briskly was the favored, comfortable pace. It sure got us going though.
Pat explained that he just wanted to help Ed get the workout he could considering that he's in training. But Ed confessed he'd gotten a good run in the day before and a slower pace was satisfactory. You see, Ed is entering a race called "The Raid" in April. It goes from China, up and over the Himalayas and down into India, something like 400 miles. It entails hiking, climbing, mountain biking, white water swimming, all kinds of crazy stuff. The things people do, eh?
Anyway, we hiked onward--in and out, in and out. The trail was dry and clear. It was a sunny summer day. Some fun was poked at the monotony of the trail. "Did you see that gully back there?" asked Laredo, seemingly enthusiastic. Ed replied, "Yeah, it looked just like this one, right?" Or when Laredo and I found Pat and Ed waiting on the trail for us, the purple-haired maniac's excuse was "We're just taking in the sights, man. There's something new around each bend."
We got to the 7.5 mile marker of that trail and headed up to the base of Olomana, Waimanalo side. It had taken 9.5 hours to come this far, with I doubt even an hour's worth of breaks. I laced up my boots, finished my PowerBar, downed some water, tossed my pack on and waited in line. First Pat, then Laredo, Ed, and myself. When I finally got to the first rope, I grabbed hold of it and looked up. Although I had climbed this side once before with Pat, Dusty, Dayle, and Dave Webb, it still looked intimidating. I had done that in the morning, fresh and energetic. I've gone from the Kailua side to the third peak several times but always setting out to do that and just that. And I knew that all of it required a bit of energy output. Mental focus and quick reflexes would come in handy as well.
The sun was just above the summit of the Koolaus to my left and in my eyes. My shades were blurred with sweat and I had nothing to dry them with, my clothes being soaked through. So I couldn't use them. I looked over my right shoulder and saw Waimanalo, Rabbit Island, the beach, the clubhouse. That's where I should be, I thought to myself. My feet were pounding. My legs were sore. I was tired. Then I thought, "You could yank yourself up there and have this really cool story that you were so tired but you pressed on and you were scared, you couldn't trust all your faculties and you had gone from The Stairs all the way around, culminating with climbing Olomana."
Screw that story. What if I fell because I wasn't 100%?
"But you'll look like a coward," said some taunting asshole inside me. I looked back at Waimanalo Beach, the clubhouse, and then sank my head. I let go of the rope and cupped my hands, held them up to my mouth, looked up and yelled, "Hey Ed! I'm goin' home."
"Are you serious?" he yelled back.
"Ya, I'm not feeling 100%."
He then replied, "It's alright. I understand."
I started climbing back down, went a little ways, then looked back up. Laredo and Ed were looking down at me. They seemed sad for me. So I said, "It's alright. I just I wish I had a camera," which I genuinely did. They looked cool up on that mountain. As I got further away, and they got higher up, the climb looked insane! I trudged along, kicking myself in the ass the whole way. "I coulda done it," I tried to comfort myself with.
"But you didn't!" Reality would set in.
"I've done it before."
"But you didn't today."
Almost to the Waimanalo trailhead, I was greeted by some mountain bikers. One of them commented that I looked like I had come from the Pali. I told them I had come from the Stairs and proceeded to tell my story. The said I was smart and that my friends were crazy. Then one of them commended me on the journey that I did complete. I said, "So!" and then caught myself and said, "But thanks anyway." I felt like crap.
On the road, past the nurseries, there Olomana was, looming in the sky above me. Did I make a wise decision? Was it worth the shame? Walking down the highway, I kept looking back in hopes that I'd see someone I knew that would pick me up and there Olomana was. "Damn!" I'd kick the ground. The scenario would repeat itself probably 100 times.
Before I reached the polo fields, I was happy to see my paddling coach and two paddling buddies drive up. They were coming from the airport, having spent the weekend at the state races on Maui, which my crew didn't qualify for (another failure, another story). I was so happy to get a ride. They said I looked like crap and I said I felt even worse. They offered me a beer. I accepted then suggested we kick back under the hau tree for awhile and swap stories. So we did.
They said the state races were pretty disastrous, that I was lucky I didn't go. Good party though. I told them my story. They asked me why I would try and do such a thing. I said I didn't know. They wondered if my friends were all right. I said I hope so. Then Pat showed up. He said several of the ropes had been cut and that I was lucky I didn't go. He said they had to "body belay" each other up several sections. He then tried to comfort me, saying it was a wise decision. I told him it was an awesome hike regardless of my failure to complete it. I congratulated him on his having the energy to pull it off and said good night.
I walked back under the hau tree to my coach and the guys and said, "Well, they all made it. Ya think I'm a sissy or what?" They all started to laugh heartily and then my coach said, "Eh, you said it, brah."
I shook my head, I must've been smirking, and said, "Yeah, I did."
This is Hiking? Sounds more like cross country track or something. Sorry, but this is sick. Are we out for some kind of endurance contest here? Is this what hiking is all about? What kind of hiking is this anyway?
Don't feel shamed. You did good my friend. I'm not trying to knock anyone here but I've hiked with some of these people and the pace is way too fast. This isn't an endurance contest. Some people seem to forget that. Everyone has an agenda, and mine is to have fun and make it out in one piece. For others, it's a race to the top or to conquer as many hikes as possible. Geez..
People hike for many different reasons such as...
1) at a slow pace to gaze at flora
2) at a slow pace to enjoy the company of others
3) for a workout
4) for the challenge of reaching the top of the mountain or to see how far one can go on a given day
While I would prefer to hike at a more leisurely pace in order to gain pleasure from the awesome views and pretty flora, the appeal of reason #4 was too much to ignore on Sunday, August 8th - the day of the Windward Oahu Speed Hiker Extravaganza.
Robb has nothing to be ashamed of. He is one of HTM's best when it comes to hiking and climbing. Wisdom tells us that a tired athlete is more susceptible to injury. Robb made the right decision.
Robb, no sense beating yourself up over your decision to not do the back of Olomana. From what I've heard it can be downright dangerous. Combine that with a state of not being 100%, not even close probably, and you had a situation that could have led to serious problems, for you and everyone else. Don't beat your head against the wall about listening to your internal smarts. Rather, be pleased, you were able to hear it and follow your own path. Knowing better than to do it just because everyone else did it shows you were treading the path of wisdom, not fear.
Thanx for the write-up on your recent Windward jaunt. You all covered a lot of territory that day and "when you're done, you're done." Don't be too hard on yourself and certainly don't take any gruff from rainbowmen, ex-special forces dudes or pencil-neck stick boys!!!! Hey, life isn't about how many times you go down, it's about how many times you get up!