* All photos were taken a few days after my rainy run*
I was looking for a nice long run, nothing too hard. I was on vacation.
So I opened my handy-dandy Oahu book and read the entire Hiking section. One trail stood out because it was 20 miles long, took me into the mountains, and had a wicked name.
The Maunawili Demonstration Trail glides along the base of the Ko`olau Mountain Range on the island’s windward side, offering spectacular views of the ocean and valley below. It’s just shy of 10 miles point-to-point and I was going round trip. There is even a wonderful side trip to a small waterfall that adds another 1.5.
I learned later the trail is frequent training ground for H.U.R.T., Hawaii’s Ultra Racing Team. In fact, I passed them twice. Had I thought about it, I would have looked them up in advance and joined in their “fun”.
I left my sleeping family early and arrived at the “trailhead on the hairpin turn” (as it is known to the locals) excited to hit the dirt. It was drizzling, but I assumed that would end. I was in Hawaii. It rains and stops, and rains and stops, all day long.
Ahhhh… everyone knows what happens when you assume. The trail kicks your a*%. Deceptive with it’s simple rolling hills, Maunawili is a technical course on a good day. On this day it was a train wreck…
Three hours after starting, the rain was still falling. Maunawili was one muddy mess. Slippery rocks of all sizes covered the course. Because it was very wet, I had to be diligent about watching my step, which meant looking down. I clearly invited the trees overhead to smack me in the face. I think they enjoyed it. Combine that with a mountain ridge and you are heading for disaster. I slipped three times, falling once. I had to duck and swoop and figure out how to look up, down and sideways all at once. Ugh!
Ohhhhhh… I almost forgot about the tree roots! They covered complete sections of the trail. Can I tell you how much that sucked?! A lot!
I really tried to embrace and enjoy. My boss calls me the “eternal optimist.” Well, Ms. Sunnyside of Life is not ashamed to tell you that I started swearing at mile 3.56 and again around 8.25. I saw lots of runners and we all shared that look of, “I want to love this, but I do not.” Ha ha. One young man simply looked at me in dismay, “It’s really, really, really muddy.”
I hit the waterfall on the way back and jumped in for a swim. At that point I was so dirty and tired, what was another couple miles. I think I surprised the family that was there. They were carefully tiptoeing over rocks and lamenting dry places to sit. In full running gear I walked straight through the creeks, took off my Garmin and Mizunos, and dove in. I came, swam, and left without a word all while they negotiated with the wilderness. Bless them.
The whole episode took me so long that my husband was actually concerned. This had never happened before. Simple text: “Worried. Call me when you get this.
I went back a few days later with my twins. I wanted to take photos and see how bad it really was. Had I overblown it in my mind? Although it was an easy hike, elevation gain is almost non-existent, I think even in good weather the course would be tough. The roots still wrap the dirt. The big and small rocks are still everywhere. The trees still umbrella the runner.
Of course, as is true to the nature of a trail runner, I want to go back and tackle it again… just without the rain next time. I even think the HURT 100 might be in my future. Because when you step back and forget about the mud and the rain, it really was quite beautiful.