North Shore Oahu

On a chilly December day, I exited the classroom where I had just completed the last final exam of my first semester in graduate school. In classic Vancouver style, the skies were pouring down the weight of the last four months. I waited eagerly at the bus stop with my classmate and friend, Emilie. 3 hours from that moment, we would be on our way to Oahu. We chatted of our excitement for sunny weather, with our hands shoved deep into our coat pockets, and our shoulders curling up to our ears in attempts to stay warm. During our flight, I sat next to a family from Brazil. The father of an adorable 1-year-old girl sending me overtired smiles told me of how he grew up surfing and dreamed of the day he would be able to travel to Oahu to watch the surfing competition at Pipeline. They were arriving just in time to fulfill that dream. Hearing this meaningful story swelled my body with gratitude for my own travels, knowing how special this opportunity truly is.

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We woke with our bodies wrapped in the subtle humidity and warmth of island air. Drawn by the balmy atmosphere, Emilie and I headed out for a morning walk to stretch our tired legs. I was immediately enthralled by the plant life surrounding me. Lush leaves toppled in layers from neighbours’ gardens onto the street, as if to welcome us to their home.

Not a single meal was consumed the entire day. Between the two of us, we finished a pot of coffee, two pints each, a side order of shoestring fries, the remainder of a bag of mini everything bagel chips, and a $6 pitcher of beer in a Japanese market in Honolulu. I do not recommend this, but I can say it was a fun release from meticulously scheduling my life around the meals I eat.

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The following few days were spent lazily on beaches - watching surfers swarm the giant waves that winter brings to the north shore, swooning over the colours of the ocean as the skies flip from day to dusk, and relishing how our sun-kissed bodies sunk heavily into the sand.

Emilie and I hiked up a slick muddy trail into a forest of vine-coated trees. We got lost on the biking trails but decided not to turn around, and to keep exploring any trail that seemed about right. Finally, we used Em’s phone to find the trail we were supposed to be on, and wove our way towards a lookout just before the sun was setting.

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What first drew me to Hawaii was the mountains carpeted in green. They mesmerize me. Growing up in the Rockies, I had become familiar with the dramatic grey cliffs that surrounded me daily. The concept of soft emerald ridges was so foreign, and I wanted to wrap them up in my arms.

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Ridge walks are always the highlight. When I approach the exposed edge of a ridge, I feel the wind strongly circle up and over me. Increasing unsteadiness keeping my focus on my body, and the mountain - nothing else. Skin clinging to my bones as the hairs on my limbs reach out. My plant friends calming my heart, because if feels as though they will catch me if I fall. This is one of my favourite feelings - the most comfortable discomfort, the easiest uneasiness.

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This day was actually my 23rd birthday. What a gift! We ate mushroom mozzarella toast in the morning. We hiked some random ridgeline, of which the trail was labelled ever so simply with a thin white arrow, “<— hike.” It was perfect, even though were trying to find Crouching Lion trail. We indulged in fruity acai bowls, and devoured them as we watched a swell bring 20-foot waves to the shores of Sunset Beach. I fell asleep in the warmth of the sand. We watched surfers play in waters I would have died in. We bathed in a caramel sunset. We drank and danced and ended our night collapsed in a pile on the porch with other young bodies, enjoying the decadent sweetness of our youth.

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More hikes. More of being wooed by the way mossy mountains tumble into the ocean here. I fell and cut my palms for the second time in a month. More bandaids.

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Plenty of vegan ice cream and fruit filling my belly. Plenty of flowers filling my heart - to the brim!

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This trip was crazy. Most of the time, I did not believe any of it was my real life. There is so much I left out of this blog post, but I wanted to document how swept off my feet I was by this sliver of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Thank you to the people who hosted me here. Thank you to Emilie for being the most lovely travel partner, if anything, this trip solidified our friendship. Thank you to this island, for bringing me yet another adventure.

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Mahalo, Oahu.

xx

Kristen