It’s 4:00 in the morning. The harsh sound of alarm bells send painful reverberations to my eardrums. Why am I doing this again? I ask myself. But them I’m up, and facing the day.
Koko Head. They just happened to decide not only go on the one hike I vowed to never again do– mainly because of a previous incident of near-fainting under a blazing sun– but to do it at sunrise on the longest day of the year…in other words, the earliest morning of the year. Horrible. Just horrible. All we had to look forward to were heaving lungs and the not-exactly-trusty footing that results from lack of sleep. Perfect hiking situation, yes?
Well, it went as planned. We did get up at the appalling hour of 4:00 AM, we did feel the pressure of our desperately contracting lungs in their attempt to counteract our exertion with a fresh supply of sweet oxygen. We let many people pass, feeling less and less in shape with every passing group, and as the sky began to glow a deep blue, then a pale one, we thought it was certain we wouldn’t make it for the sunrise. 5:51 it had said on the internet. We wouldn’t make it by then.
We decided to take one more desperate break on the steep steps of the constantly ascending tracks, when I saw the opening in the brush. We were about ten steps away from the top. We were going to make it! I ran the last few steps up and rushed to the nearest rock ledge. It was 5:49. We made it just in time as a golden speck peaked out behind a cloud that hugged the horizon. Flecks of gold began to appear as the cloud moved on, and as the golden orb moved upwards, until it was blazing through the darkness and lighting up the sky. God, had this hike been hard. But at that moment, with the wind cooling the sweat from off my neck, and the sun’s rays blinding me, it was completely worth it. From where we sat, the whole world was spread out before us, all small and seemingly insignificant in individual manifestations but displaying one great sheet of existence, each part of which glowed now in unison with the next. Had I really complained about waking up early this morning? Had my lungs and legs been made useless with fatigue? Because I wasn’t feeling any of that. I was feasting my eyes on the rising sun, and it flooded my senses and became seared into memory.