Dear Adventure-Seeking Phil,
Whenever you read about prospective hikes and find ones described as “easy” or “beginner,” you have to remember you’re merely a shell of your athletic self. It is not enough to simply think Plus 30 minutes as you read the hike’s roundtrip time. We have done this before and sadly, you never learn your lesson. All of those questionable choices you’ve made in your life lead you to more questionable choices in a sick cycle that is lamentable.
We hit up the Pu’u Ma’eli’eli trail in Kaneohe this morning, and for my own sanity, this will be the one and only time in this entry that I will type that out. We got an early (by our standards) start and took that beautiful drive across the H3. There was no rain on either side of the tunnel which elated me because the last time we tried for this hike, it was drizzling on the windward side of the H3, then pouring over the mile stretch of road that provides access to the trail. It wasn’t raining before it, or immediately after, juuuust on that stretch of road. I was pretty salty. Today, however, was a beautiful day.
Lynnette was oddly winded by the numerous hills and inclines found on the trail. The irony is that she (half-jokingly, I assume) suggested Koko Head earlier in the weekend. “I can’t do that,” I said. I’ve seen those steps from the bottom of the hill and the only thing I can think is “I am the guy who is enraged whenever an escalator is out of order and I have to walk DOWN the immobile flight of stairs.” Let’s be honest, Koko Head would kill me. I knew Lynnette was in for a rough ascent because she kept asking questions about the internet’s stated length of trail, the supposed overall time of the trip, and if she could take a nap and meet up with us on our way down. Okay, I made that last one up. Much to my surprise, however, Madison was game for just about everything. She called out her breaks when she needed them, but didn’t complain or ask Are we there yet? a billion times or even once.
Every once in a while, the brush on our right side would open up, or a mini-trail would appear. Most of them led to a tiny outlook where we could see parts of Kaneohe Bay. We took a break for all our sakes at one such spot and Lynnette snapped this picture of Madison and me. It is my favorite of the day. A younger version of myself would take a look at this picture and say “Dude, is that a side-comb?” and “Wait – are you hiking?” and his incredulity would be well-founded. I would simply say to that youngster, “You see that girl? I love hunting new experiences with her.” “Alright,” younger Phil would say, “But that still doesn’t explain the side-comb.”
We hung out at the bunker indicating the trail’s end for a while and had the space to ourselves for about 5 minutes, but were too out-of-breath to capitalize by taking a bunch of pictures. People started coming in waves after that, and so we did a little exploring. I told Madison I was going to climb down into the bunker and she expressed an interested in joining me, but balked the first time. I wonder if it’s still the memory of falling off the monkey bars? Well, she was also probably terrified of potential spiders, too. I don’t want to short-change their impact. Once I came out, she asked if I was going to go again, which he passive-aggressive way of saying Father, I would like to join you in the bunker, but I do not want to appear too eager, and if you ask me, it will appear your idea and I will not be told No. I was so proud of her. For the first time, it seemed like her curiosity got the better of her fear. It isn’t quite the Heart of Darkness, but it’s a start.
Okay, she didn’t say that, but that’s what she was thinking. Though I suppose the middle finger she would throw up second later was intended for me and not necessarily her metabolism. We ate in Aiea and as we headed for the freeway entrance and said she wanted ice cream. “I’ll swing by the McDonald’s on the way home,” I said. She scrunched her nose. “I was thinking more like Dave’s,” she said (Madison has no chance, she has my mom’s and Lynnette’s passive-aggressive genetics coursing through her veins). “You da best,” she exclaimed as I turned into the lot. She deserved it. I saw a lot of fight in her today. She gave me my adventure, the least I could do was let her have a pint of ice cream as a reward.