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Pause along the journey on Kauai

by Alexis Skigen Rago on

During a recent extended visit to my home state of Hawai’i, I set an intention to reconnect with the culture, the land, and the people as I searched for mana (power). I found my mana in creating connections and showing gratitude when others let their mana shine. I also noticed the overlap of mana and pono (righteous actions), and will share more about that in future posts. Today, I am sharing a story about one of my journeys, a trail that is part of the Na Pali Coast on Kauai, one of the most beautiful places in the world.

My cousin was excited for me to be on Kauai at the same time and join her on one of her favorite hikes, the Kalalau trail. She is a seasoned hiker and has completed this part of the Na Pali Coast many times throughout her life. I hiked it once, during a school trip to Kauai in 6th grade. All I remembered was a very narrow trail with a steep cliff on one side, that should not be done if it’s been raining. This time we lucked out with dry weather and mostly dry trail conditions. The hike involved many narrow portions, crossing five streams, navigating rocks and boulders, and elevation changes.

We completed two separate hikes, the first led us to a secluded beach about 2 miles in.

My cousin and I early on the Kalalau Trail

It was a welcome break to listen to the waves crashing against the rocks and watch the white wash crawl up the beach creating pristine sand. We paused to take in the multi-sensory experience. The beautiful scene that surrounded us with various blue hues of the ocean and the sky, the smell of the ocean air, the sound of the waves, our feet sinking in the sand as each wave rolled over our feet. I love the feeling of soft sand as it takes me back to my childhood. You can see how easy it is to get lost in the moment. 

Hanakapi'ai Beach

We weren’t the only hikers on the trail that day, and as such, there were other people on the secluded beach, but not many, and people respected the serenity and kept to themselves. We took a nice long break to enjoy this point of our journey. After our pause, we continued to the second hike, a continuation from the first, that promised a waterfall at the end of two miles. 

I am not a trail runner, or what I consider to be a fast hiker, but I held my own with a consistent pace and didn’t hesitate to acknowledge the importance of a water break or a rest to catch my breath on the steeper inclines. I noticed my head stayed down as I focused on the path ahead of me due to the narrow width and obstacles. I recognized the importance of looking up from time to time, to enjoy the plants, waterfalls and the coastal view along the journey.

I learned my balance is terrible and attempting to cross streams on rounded boulders is not my strength. I was determined to keep my shoes dry and as I watched my cousin glide effortlessly from stone to stone, I realized my legs were shaking as I stood on top of a rock trying to figure out the best path. She has hiked this trail since she was a young child, and she’s a former gymnast; she could cross a stream and stay dry in a matter of seconds. She told me the trail has changed over the years due to flooding, erosion, and other factors. There used to be only four streams to cross, now there are five. I faced the second or third stream, I noticed standing on top of the rounded rock, my fear was taking over and I felt semi-paralyzed. I wondered why a fairly shallow stream was contributing to my lack of action. 

Was I going to let my fear of wet shoes stop me from completing the trail?

A woman behind me noticed my hesitation and offered me one of her hiking poles. I graciously accepted and crossed a few stones successfully, and then… my foot slid into the cold, clear water. My shoe was soaked. There was an instant where I was disappointed, I had a tool to help me cross the river and I still slipped. Then I was concerned that the woman who lent me her pole was disappointed. I silenced those thoughts and focused on crossing the river and keeping my other foot dry, which I did. I returned the pole to her and expressed my gratitude.

As I squished water out with each step on the trail, I realized I wasn’t disappointed. After all, the goal was to complete the trails and enjoy the journey. A soaked foot and shoe wasn’t going to make that impossible. So one squishy step at a time, I continued the trail. At the next stream crossing, my other foot got soaked, and it was okay. 

Hanakapi'ai Falls

Enjoying some beautiful bamboo forests along the way, and conversation with my cousin, we continued our journey until the waterfall emerged in all its glory. We had made it to the 300 foot tall Hanakapi’ai Falls.

As I stood in front of these magnificent falls, I engaged my senses to solidify the memory, and not just rely on what I could capture with my iPhone SE camera (this is a vertical panoramic to capture the whole waterfall). I recently heard Jim Kwik, a brain and memory coach, at the Refuel Conference say, “Information combined with emotions become long-term memory.” I felt proud of completing this difficult rated hike, my multi-sensory experience brought me back to my childhood and I felt joy and fun, alongside with my sense of confidence. This will hopefully be a powerful long-term memory. 

My cousin wanted me to swim in the pond and go under the waterfall, but I couldn’t push myself to enter the very cold water. And that’s okay, no regrets here.

I enjoyed my peanut butter and jelly sandwich as I listened to screams from others as their body entered the water, and my cousin was all smiles as she touched the waterfall base. PB&J was a standard lunch for me growing up, so that was just a bonus sensory emotion.

The total roundtrip for both hikes was about 9 miles and then we walked out of the park since our ride wasn’t ready. I was able to literally walk down memory lane as I stopped by and peaked into the wet caves and farther down the road, the dry caves, which I remembered from my previous class trip (30+ years ago). 

Hanakapi'ai Falls

Sometimes we get the job done in a different way than expected. It may be a bit messy, but when you have clarity around the purpose of achieving this goal, you’ll know the mess is worth it. Be kind to yourself as you take on challenges or new situations, and remember, pause every so often to enjoy the view, smells, sounds, feels and tastes. You’ll be able to hold onto that memory when you need it in the future.

Alexis Rago, the Big Kahuna at Marketing Mana, creates powerful connections with small business owners and their clients through strategic marketing plans. Marketing Mana provides marketing strategy through one-on-one hourly consultations and Mana Marathon sessions, and provides the opportunity for group sessions through the Work On Your Business Retreats. Alexis works with small business owners to solidify their core values, mission, vision, SMART goals, branding, and messaging. Clients feel challenged, supported, and comfortable with Alexis as their coach and enjoy a higher marketing ROI because of her coaching and customer-centric marketing strategies.

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