Friday, July 17, 2009

Hiking the Ko'olaus.

I started to wonder why I had agreed to participate in this wet, muddy march of despair. Once we were through the clouds, there was no visibility. Everything was completely shrouded in a tight, thick, ghostly mist. Wind howled straight up the side of the mountain. Thick tropical greenery covered the trail, tugging incessantly at shoelaces and wrapping around ankles and arms. It was wet. Just wet enough to be slippery, but not wet enough to be muddy, so we weren't even afforded the luxury of having our feet stick to the ground. To add to this, the ridge was only a few feet wide in certain places. On either side, a sheer, nearly vertical drop into gray. If you fell, you wouldn't stop rolling until you hit level ground, which was a few thousand feet away. There was nothing to break your fall, or to grab if you slipped. The mountain is indifferent. But what really scared me was that if one of my companions were to fall, my first instinct would be to take lots of pictures.

Suddenly, there's evidence of man. Out of the clouds looms a building, and after moving through nothing but organic nature, its lines seem so foreign, almost alien. Nature has not forgiven this encroachment. Everywhere you look, it is taking back the ridge. Vines creep through fencing and up towers. Weeds and flowering plants have grown on top of air conditioning units. Metal is rusting and rotting. And then you notice the power lines, literally vanishing into thin air. Part of me laments the blatant, heavy-handed intrusion. The peaceful serenity of the mountains is disrupted. But part of me can't help but marvel at man's ability to build and to do, and I'm grateful that I am able to photograph such a blazing green contrast.

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