Stepping off the ledge

Funny how inspiration and life lessons show up in unexpected places.

Like sweating profusely trekking down a slippery slope in Paradise. Without water.

My husband and I recently celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary. We decided that the best place we could celebrate was in Paradise (or as most people know it, Big Island, Hawaii). This is our absolute favorite place to visit and we often talk about running away relocating there. Alas, neither of us have gainful employment in Paradise nor are we as wealthy as Oprah independently wealthy, so our chances of escaping reality are dim.

Due to the crazy hurricane season in the eastern Pacific, the weather in Paradise was a bit more humid, hot and rainier than usual (did I mention I sweated a lot??). Normally our plan of action is no plan of action but rather trips to many beaches to commune with the local fishes and dozing near the surf. This visit the sea was particularly surgy (yes, it’s a thing) and so our hopes of snorkeling with humuhumunukunukuapua’a (yes, it really is a fish) were somewhat dashed. We did visit many beaches but mostly to enjoy sunrise, sunset or a hike along the lava rock.

One day in particular we went to the northern tip of the island past Kapaau to the Pololu lookout. We have been to this point several times before, but never on an especially clear day. The Pololu Valley is rumored to be a short 20 minute hike from the top. No biggie, right?

That morning we had already done a brief tour of a botanical garden where I had sweated like a pig perspired heavily. Frankly by the time we got out of our car at the lookout I told my very patient husband that I was in no uncertain terms NOT walking down into that stupid valley. I was sweaty and a hot mess. He smiled (as he always does when I proclaim such bold statements) and we walked over to look down into the valley. Here’s what we saw:

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Paradise Perfection.

Since the “hike” was touted in travel guides as being a mere 15-20 minutes down, I changed my mind about not hiking down and we embarked on the journey. (Yes, we did this without water because…20 minutes. Right?)

The path is quite steep, a bit rocky and was muddy and slippery in places. A few times I looked back at my husband and proclaimed that I was NOT continuing the journey. I didn’t want to slip and fall into oblivion and I was tired of sweating. He just smiled and convinced me to continue on since we did see small children coming back up the trail – so how hard and far could it be??

The vistas were just stupendous and breath-taking. But being the worry wart that I am, I continued to fret about the slippery trail and whined  mentioned that I was a bit scared.

Still we trekked on.

Just when I seriously was ready to turn around, we saw this:

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Finally! We were looking right into the Pololu Valley! The pictures cannot possibly capture the incredible beauty in that peaceful place. It has to be one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life. On one side of the valley is the ocean breaking hard on the black sand. On the other a peaceful valley that seems to stretch for miles. Here’s a panorama of the view:

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After we reached the bottom and had a chance to breathe in the beauty, I realized that I had almost turned around and started back up the trail and just missed the visual reward for all the sweat. And of course, God never fails to teach me something when I least expect it. How many times have I just about quit and turned around before He brought me to a place of rest and beauty?  What blessings have I missed because I was just a hot mess and as cranky as a tired toddler? Oh to trust Him more on this rocky, slippery journey of life! Maybe just a few more steps will give me a new perspective – I just need to press on.

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The view halfway down the trail.

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Yeah, I was a hot mess. But it was worth it. And just so you know, the hike back up was about 45 minutes. Without water. Did I mention I was sweaty??

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