06 Jun Climbing, Patience and Haleakala

On June 4th, I left Paia, Maui on the coast with my son on a 37 mile bicycle trek to the top of Haleakala at 10,000 feet above the sea. It took us just over five hours to make it to the top, and a better day could not have been had. The interesting thing about setting off on a ride like this is that you know it will be an adventure, and that the outcome is uncertain.

We left the beach area as the sun was rising off our left shoulders, and the normally windy area of sugar cane fields was surprisingly calm. The lack of wind made conversation on the bikes easier than normal, and we talked about everything and nothing in particular.

I told my son all along the way that I am never certain of making it to the summit until the last mile. There are too many things that can go wrong. The weather could be rainy, dangerously foggy, or unbearably windy. The rented bikes could have mechanical issues – like a broken chain. And if one doesn’t fuel properly, the body can decide not to cooperate at altitude! My mantra was two things along the way: Patience, because we’ll be able to see the goal almost the whole way, and it doesn’t get close soon enough. And stay fueled, so as not to bonk (run out of fuel and energy), which means eating when you’re not hungry.

We passed through Makawao and noticed the Veteran’s Cemetery with fresh flags on every grave from Memorial Day. Others’ sacrifices have much more meaning since my son is a cadet at West Point. The road got steeper, and we realized we were only one-fifth of the way with regard to elevation gain. It was hot, humid and we were sweating profusely. Patience would definitely be a virtue for this climb.

We rode through groves of Eucalyptus trees and appreciated the sanctuaries of shade. My son commented that it was a pretty enjoyable ride so far, and not too bad despite the steep grade the entire way. At the National Park entrance, we paid our way and were informed that we “only” had eleven miles and 3,000 feet up to go. For us, that translated to two hours of a steep and slow climb. Patience…

You have no doubt heard of the analogies between climbing a mountain and achieving life’s goals. That was the great thing about this ride. In less than six hours, I was able to run a gambit of emotions with my son and jointly celebrate the accomplishment of a noteworthy achievement. We had planning, trepidation, commitment, sacrifice (we got up at 4:00 AM), a little courage, determination and perseverance. Best of all, we have a great memory that was the adventure. Like life, the journey is what mattered most – not the posing for a picture at the summit.

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