Did I ever tell you all about that time in Maui when Ben tried to kill me? I’m not sure if after proposing the first day he had a sudden thought of ‘What the hell did I do? Maybe I made a mistake. How can I get myself out of this? I know! I’ll kiiiiilll her. MWHAHAAHAHAH’.
Or maybe he just wanted to hike.
Ben likes to hike. He’s even been known to do crazy shit like climb Half-Dome in Yosemite. When he’d first talk about hiking I was like, PFFT! I can WALK, dude. Anybody can WALK! Just because you’re walking 8.5 miles straight up the side of a mountain to 8,836 feet then 8.5 miles back down in ONE DAY doesn’t mean you are some BAD ASS. Okay, so I didn’t really think that but I had absolutely no appreciation for just how taxing walking uphill can be. Or how beautiful 10,000 feet really is. Or just how QUIET 10,000 feet can be. I found out when we hiked Haleakala.
We brought a few bottles of water and some fruit and after exploring around the visitor’s center a bit, started down the trail towards Ka Lu’u o ka O’o Vent. We didn’t really have a destination in mind. Ben figured we’d walk as far in as possible while leaving enough time to walk back up before it got dark and cold and we died of hypothermia and were never found again because we were eaten by nocturnal volcano creatures. What? Don’t look at me like that! Thin air will lead to crazy thoughts!
I remember a few times saying that maybe we had gone far enough and should start back but Ben was really encouraging and I was feeling really good (THIN AIR!) and was kind of proud of the fact that the altitude was not effecting me AT ALL. I was practially running down that trail and felt fantastic.
When we reached the Ka Lu’u o ka O’o Vent we took some time to rest and really take in the enormity of it. There’s just no way the pictures can do it any justice at all. The way the ground changed from one color to another with no real pattern is crazy. At one point Ben said, “Do you hear that?” And I listened to NOTHING. Truly what nothing sounds like… except a slight ringing in my ears. I bet I have that ALL the time but when we were there it was like a sound vacuum and it was so quiet that I could almost hear the liquid sloshing around in my eardrum.
So. Then we started to head back up.
“Walk slow”, Ben said. I was like, “Dude! I OWNED the volcano. I am the OWNER OF THIS VOLCANO.. I will kick…” *breath* “this volca…” *deeper breath* “volcano’s…” *lung explodes* “Can we take a break?”
The walk back up was painful. It bordered on excruciating. The air was like… fast! It would fill up my lungs in less than half the time a normal breath takes but no matter how fast and hard I sucked it in, it just wasn’t enough. My legs started to cramp and my lungs were on FIRE and about 3/4 of the way up I really felt like I was going to DIE RIGHT THERE. I welcomed the volcano creatures. I started to lather myself with butter so they could get a nice brown to my skin on the spit fire. I was D.O.N.E.
But Ben was SO encouraging. He never once lost his cool. He never once got visibly frustrated with me. He’d stop when I needed to and talk me through the pain and misery till we were at the top. And when we got there I stopped and looked down to where we had been and I was SO PROUD that I was standing where I was. At the top.
5 miles round trip. 1697 foot elevation difference. It kicked my ass. And I’d do it again tomorrow if I had the chance.