Intoxication — On Kauai’s Kalalau Trail

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Bubbling, roaring, and uninterrupted, the splashing water creates a steady pattern of endless rhythm. Like a wall trying to block out the sounds of the world behind the waterfall.

A swarm of bees drone like electric shavers in high pitch.

Birds twitter about… broken by buzzing helicopter tours of tourists, opting for a view of Eden through a window and cushioned with comfort. Swoosh past this cliff, dive around the next.

Exotic birds provide the soundtrack of jungle. Creepy looking reptiles scattering about our feet. A mountain goat cries out like a baby.

Ferocious crashing waves 400 feet below.

This sound is punctuated by a kaleidoscope of vivid aromas.

The sun-soaked earth and sweat-inducing humidity ripen the scattered wild guava, passion fruit and mango. An aroma so sweet and intense that it bathes your every step.

You round a corner and step into an envelope of delicate, sweet and spicy bouquet of white ginger.

Four hours later – you are revived by petrichor – the pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell.

The cliffs are jagged, but are coated with a cushion of lush vegetation. The ocean is a quilt of shades of blue and green and white.

The canyon, a bewitching array of headlands enticing eager, yet apprehensive souls. Narrow, mud-slinging, ankle-twisting rocky trails, shadowy, flourishing with bamboo, passion fruit and guava forests, and mists tousled in the hovering cliffs above. Waterfalls throw themselves off 180 foot drops.

Feral goats, like vegetarian piranhas, trample over the rugged cliffs to create an unnatural erosion that is damaging the native ecosystem and eroding the trail you stand on.

Near vertical cliffs rise from the sea on the shoulders of 5,148 foot Mt Waialeale.

Eleven miles out lies Paradise — our destination — a Garden of Eden known as Kalalau beach.

A stretch of sand beach, over a mile long, pale blond, enticing, sensual and warm. Our heads drop from side to side, as if watching a ping-pong match. The reality, our time is limited and we attempt to gorge on this beauty, attempting to bury it deep in the recess of our minds.
Behind us, the famous Na Pali cliffs, with towering green spires rise 3,000 feet straight out of the ocean. In front of us, the perfect curls of ocean waves collapsing and teasing. The turquoise hue too beautiful to think menacing, if it wasn’t for the number of deaths etched nearby for all to see.

I’m placing each foot trepiditiously one in front of the other. I gasp at the sight in front of me. My husband, struggling to hold on to the narrow one foot wide path of sopping wet mud, with one leg straddled off the edge of a 300 foot cliff-face covered by vegetation.

A nervous realization grips my stomach and it becomes a fluttering fist of a muscle. We haven’t yet reached the most dangerous part of this grueling 11 mile Kalalau trail.

We are on the isle of Kauai, in exotic Hawaii. We are on what is classified as one of America’s 10 most dangerous hikes, by Backpacker’s Magazine.

We climb 400 feet up, then 500 feet down. Yo-yo’ing up and down this slippery, rocky and ragged trail dropping near-vertically into the most ferociously wild waves below – bathed in the glow of sweat.

This Shangri-la by the sea, is one thing for sure – it is an epic journey.

Back At Home

Why would you want to do that? The sentiment echoes past us from both sides – my family and my husband’s.

At 44 years of age, I am the first to admit I have a heck of a lot to learn, but what I find amazingly euphoric… is I think I have stumbled onto… the panacea to living: intoxication — experiences that are mind-numbing and sensory overloading.

We Need To Discover The Panacea

Mirriam-webster’s definition of panacea: a remedy for all ills or difficulties.

Noisy neighbors, bossy colleagues, that parking ticket you got, unwanted email spam, and negative sentiments left and right — all contribute to the polluting of the mind.

We become slaves to routines we have created for ourselves and have long ago lost ourselves in. Routines to reach goals — targets to set sail to.

Routines mimicking what is perceived to be what normal and healthy members of society need to to engaged in.

We become slaves to the destination: to become the epitome of what is considered success.

Our creativity suffocating, emotions raging, signs of illness emerge. Our growth stifled.

Now, flip the coin and consider: THIS IS the ills of living.

And if this is the ills of living, we need to discover the remedy to these ills — the panacea to living.

Ever dream of just running wild? Straining to experience a moment where you know you are alive? A moment of AWESOME? Ever imagine that this could be the panacea for what we call LIVING?

I can hear you. Hah! Panacea to living… try escaping life, avoidance, running away…

The fact is:
The moment we step outside of our comfort zone, we begin to awaken the spirit within.

The fact is:
The moment we step out of our daily routines and get back in touch with ourselves, we begin to de-stress, to re-energise, just enough to kick-start a change of career or lifestyle.

The fact is:
A person can grow only as much as their horizon allows. We must identify the passion within. We must fly our kite high up against the wind. We must challenge our self to stretch beyond the known horizon.

Only then does our spirit begin to stir.

Three Secrets To Discover

Challenge your body — do more than what you think you can do. Challenge yourself physically. Test your body’s limits and push beyond the level you thought possible. When you do, you discover three secrets:

Secret #1

Push beyond and you clear your mind.

When you are pushing your physical self to and through your perceived limit, your mind is focused on the task at hand. You are living for the moment, for nothing but the present. You escape from the need to know the future and free yourself from the constraints of the past. You act in and only for the present.

Secret #2

Push beyond and you discover your limits. You discover your weaknesses.

Self-evaluation is important. Without knowing your limits you may believe you are stronger than you are. To know your weaknesses gives you the chance to learn, to grow and to become strong enough for the journey you need to make. Without self-evaluation you have no means to measure your true strength or weakness and thus have no means to adjust, to correct your path of life, your habits in life, your job or lifestyle.

Secret #3

Push beyond and you increase your energy and unleash the power you need to transform your life. You energize your soul.

The Panacea to Living

You know you’ve hit the nail on the head, when you have completed the task, when you are paralyzed with a smile that beams ear to ear.

This is the moment of intoxication — the feeling you are on top of the world. Feeling spent, yet having the energy to accomplish anything and everything.

You have cleared your mind. You have discovered your limits, your weaknesses. You have unleashed the power you need to transform your life. The panacea to living!

A Challenge For You

Dig deep and isolate your true passion. Then plan to stretch your horizon, to push your body like never before.

The way I see it, you have two choices:
to live a comfortable, sedate life, taking sporadic trips to the doctor’s office or to live an intense, invigorating life taking trips up the path of self-empowerment, feeding your being with the panacea to living — intoxication.

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  1. Doris, your writing style and description is beautiful!
    Keep ’em coming.

    • Thanks Randy! This was speech #4 for me yesterday at Toastmasters. It rated well on the focus of the speech – word choices, however didn’t quite hit the mark in terms of structure.
      It certainly brought me back to that incredible trail though!! LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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