On Saturday, December 11, I was excited. We were going to take a hike out to Kaena Point. My enthusiasm was grounded in the possibility of seeing a magnificent bird—the albatross.
A long time ago, when I was the Title VII Remedial Reading teacher at Martinsville Jr. High School, the reading program our students worked with contained a short nonfiction piece about the albatross. For some reason, I have never forgotten the description of this graceful bird. Now with a little luck I might actually see one.
Abby, Art, Elizabeth, Betsy, and I piled into the car with water, hats, and sunscreen. It is a pretty ride out to entrance of Kaena Point.
Art parked the car. We organized ourselves, and at the start of the trail head, we were met by the friendly park ranger. She and a crew of volunteers were doing some grounds work just off the trail.
The park ranger asked where we were from, and she gave us a quick update about the trail and the albatross nesting area. She knew her facts and current data about the birds in the protected grounds. We could tell that she was committed to doing everything within her scope of power to help the future of the albatross.
So with her comments sinking into our brains, we started our first steps.
Now, before we get too far out on this trail, I have a confession to make. I probably have shared this in a previous post somewhere, but you need to know this sad fact—I have hiked more in other states than I have in my state of birth North Carolina, and my state of residency, Virginia. If I live long enough, and this old body holds up, I hope to improve that discrepancy.
We were not far into this hike when I realized no matter where I looked the landscape was dazzling. The views, the vistas kept coming at me. They were nonstop.
To the right was the shoreline with the Pacific in full engagement.
In front of me was a terrain with assorted earthly hues and vegetation. The trail was flat, up, down, with some twists, and complete with puddley, muddy remains from the big rain.
To my left were the hills majestic in their rise, yet solemnly silent as they peered down on us.
The trail has no tree canopy. We are in the open with unobstructed views in all directions.
It is a challenge to eye your steps while watching the Pacific roll a crest of waves into a rocky crag.
By contrast, at times, we peer down into restful tidal basins.
At certain points, we see people on the beachfront, and a few times, a singular fisherman will appear casting his rig into the roiling sea.
Art keeps us moving. We chatter in intervals. The topics vary. Sometimes we straggle away from the group to snap a photograph. This means a quicker pace is needed to catch up.
Before long, we come to a carefully constructed entry point for the albatross nesting area. True to the park ranger’s assessment, we slowly start to see a few albatross. They are quiet, but the birds eye us with a cautious curiosity.
We keep walking with our eyes peeled for the albatross, and then it happens—a couple of the birds are airborne. These Laysan albatrosses are graceful in their gliding. With a wingspan over six feet, these birds make flying look uncomplicated. Art notes with laughter how one albatross skims just above the unknowing heads of Abby, Betsy, and Elizabeth.
We complete the loop of the nesting area and exit via the gate. On the walk back to the parking lot, the trail continues presenting pretty views in every direction.
Clearly, this hike will stay with me. I want to believe that a lousy day can be countered with a Kaena Point daydream gliding away from my troubles like a Laysan albatross.