Hank Pantier

To Wander: A Kalalau Story

Hank Pantier
To Wander: A Kalalau Story

Fan Field Tester Athlete Kalen Thorien heads to Hawaii

SmartWool Sponsored Athlete Kalen Thorien recently traveled to Hawaii. This is the beginning of her story on adventure, soul searching and life-changing release. Photos by Kalen Thorien and Shane Treat.

 

This is not a trip report, I’ll warn you now. This might feel more like a diary entry, an existential rambling of an adventurous soul, and indeed it is. It’s a 24 hour story of reality, acceptance, forgiveness, and joy. There is plenty of beta out there about the Na Pali Coast and in the future I’ll put up some nuggets of advice, but for now I’m shedding some weight and bringing you guys a mental recap of a life changing experience I had in the Kalalau Valley of Kauai…

 
 

I stared around at our less than ideal campsite. My tent, a mere 15 ft from our neighbor, looked sad tucked under some scraggly trees. Before our food was even out, the cockroaches were preparing for battle, lining up for our crumbs and scraps. The ocean, a hundred yards from our campsite could be heard but not seen, the stars, blocked out from the thick jungle we were “required” to sleep in. I was exhausted. A last minute decision to hike the entire Na Pali coast with less than five hours of daylight made for a tiring hustle. My injured knee was grumpy, throwing a swelling fit as I massaged it waiting for water to boil. Dinner went down fast, barely tasting anything, my mind too distracted from the chaos around me. Swatting off bugs and roaches left my motivation to explore completely deflated. I just wanted to get into my tent and go to sleep.

 
 

This is suppose to be one of the premiere backpacking destinations in the world. It’s reputation for bliss and beauty, untouchable. So why the HELL am I completely void of stoke? I looked around at the dozen or so groups encroaching on my attempted jungle solitude. With a heavy heart of guilt, I crawled into my tent. The time had barely passed 9 o’clock but I didn’t care. As if trying to rid myself of a headache, I closed my eyes hoping that when I woke up all would be better, that my headspace and this whole evening was just a fluke…

 
 

The next morning with my tail tucked between my legs sipping on coffee, I confessed my feelings to my friend Shane. It felt like I was chewing on tar as I mumbled my disgruntled thoughts. Part of me wanted to pack up everything and get the hell out of there, away from all these people, this Gilligan’s Island of hippies, nudists, burnouts, and squatters, but even that I couldn’t say because the shame would completely overwhelm me. I took another sip of coffee, staring out at the ocean ready to accept my bullshit fate. If it wasn’t for Shane, I’m not sure where I would have ended up that day….

 
 

Read more about Kalen’s adventure and how she dug deep into her soul and left her burdens on the trail: www.tetongravity.com/story/adventure/to-wander-a-kalalau-story