Rant & Rave

By Jennifer Hee

Tuesday, August 26, 1997

Hikers learn a lot
about themselves

EVERY now and then I have these brilliant ideas. Recently, I found myself wondering what I should do with my day off.

Beach? No thank you. Too many harrowing bikini incidents.

Movies? Hello? It costs me more than an hour of rolling fast-food burritos to see one movie.

Then it hit me like a slab of raw meat. I should submit myself to body-numbing pain while scaling life-endangering heights! (In other words, go hiking.)

Damn, I'm good. But a good hiker I'm not.

My mom was worried that there would be only four of us girls climbing the Kuli'ou'ou Ridge, a "high" danger, "expert" hike (according to "The Hikers Guide to O'ahu"). After all, she reasoned, one must watch out for rabid men and mountain mongoose, or is it mountain men and rabid mongoose?

I wasn't worried. Every time a guy has come with us it hasn't helped. First, there was Manny, who decided to wait at the bottom because he didn't believe we could find the trail. We did, and told him so two hours later when we came down.

Next, Chris came along. Sadly, the bran cereal he consumed in mass quantities before the hike required him to stop continuously. Then, there was Adam. He brought a massive knife in order to ward off any rabid creatures. I worried the whole time that he would trip and stab himself.

So this time we were chicas only. Kelly had her nail clipper/Swiss Army knife, so we considered ourselves invincible.

We took a brief but difficult "short cut" through some underbrush, so by the time we hit the trail, we were slightly winded. But up the switchbacks we went.

As the fearless leader of the pack, I decided to offer some words of encouragement. "OK, think of this as like, school! It takes a lot of hard work, but when you make it to the top and graduate, it feels, like, really good!"

"Yeah," Kelly said, "and then it's all downhill from there."

GERRI and Denise considered giving up, so I tried to give them hope. "You know even my mother made it to the top!"

We reached a lovely clearing, blanketed with pine needles, and rested. Enjoying the cool air, we listened to the whistling of the breeze and clanking of construction below. Ah, nature. I reassured my exhausted buddies that we were almost half-way there.

Onward we trudged. We'd hike and stop. Hike and stop. Stop and stop. When we reached the grassy hills of the ridge I felt a sudden urge to break out into "The Sound of Music," but restrained myself.

Then before we realized it, we hit the stairs. They appear out of nowhere. Should you fall off these stairs ... uh, ew, very messy. I think someone should build hand rails. But up we went. Many expletives later, we made it.

My friends were proud of themselves. I knew they could do it. After all, Gerri and Denise survived Advanced Placement Calculus. I think giving up is something a person either does or doesn't do. Physically or mentally, to "give up" is to lose three things -- faith in yourself, the will to succeed and the belief that you are capable of exceeding your own expectations. The "mind over matter" phrase is cliche for a reason: It's true.

As we silently stood in awe of the view, isolated by miles from civilization, Gerri whipped out her cellular phone to call her parents. I had to take a picture. It would've made a great ad.

After calling everyone who might care that we were atop Kuli'ou'ou Ridge, we ate.

Do Ihave a point to my hiking adventure tale? Of course! Hiking, even for out-of-shape, easily irritated novices such as ourselves, can be highly rewarding.

The voluntary physical agony is sort of like what people who have had their tongues pierced tell you. "It's a good pain."

Jennifer Hee is an Iolani graduate who will be
attending Harvard University this fall.

Rant & Rave is a Tuesday Star-Bulletin feature
allowing those 12 to 22 to serve up fresh perspectives.
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