In exactly one month I will embark on a ten-day road trip throughout the American Southwest with a group of lifelong friends. A total of seven (possibly less) of us will travel to a handful national parks including, Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonlands. We may visit some other attractions and state parks, but those are the big ones at the top of the list.
In preparation for this trip, I have been working out two or three times a week in the gym as consistently as possible with my work schedule, but this past Thursday I took the first steps (literally) in testing out some new gear I am bringing with me. I was able to wear two new items that will be on me most of the trip. First, is a pair of all-weather pants from Columbia. They claim to be water-repellent, but I have serious doubts due to how thin they feel. They are convertible, which means I can unzip the pants at about my knees and turn the pants into shorts…not a feature I was looking for, but I was able to buy the pants when the price dropped to $21 (they retail between $40-60 at any given day on amazon). At that price I thought I would take a chance. The second piece of gear I tested today was a pair of hiking shoes. Columbiaʻs Conspiracy III trail shoe is more like a sneaker than a hiking boot, almost all cloth and super light, but the tread is very much hiking boot-like.
Thursday’s hiking route took me from our front door up Haleakala highway about three miles and back home again. It was a hot and sunny day, but the pants were cool and comfortable the entire journey and the hiking shoes were solid. Although most of the walking was on the road, the shoes were super comfortable, and extremely light. I need to find out how they do on rocks and slippery surfaces, so hopefully I will have the chance before I leave.
I loaded up my camera backpack to make the conditions as real as they will be when we are hiking through the parks and I made sure to put one more piece of new gear in my bag so I could test it out…my newly acquired Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens!
A wide-angle lens, perfectly built for landscapes and star photography, the Rokinon 14mm is an inexpensive lens to delve into the world of ultra-wide angles, without going all the way to a fish eye lens. Itʻs a manual lens, which means my autofocus wonʻt do me any good, so I quite literally have to keep focused on what Iʻm doing. It will take a bit of getting used to, but I really enjoyed playing with the lens on my walk. Stopping to take pictures also gave a little rest.
While walking along the busy road, cars and trucks went whizzing by, while bikers kind of buzzed by me. It seemed like all the tours that bike down the volcano passed by me during my morning trek. Most people passing by me on the bikes did not look comfortable and had a slight look of terror in their eyes.
One of my favorite things about living in Hawaii is that lack of snakes on any given hike. If you want to trudge through bamboo forests, or muck through muddy streams, you know that there is no danger of surprising a snake somewhere along the trail. My walk today had the closest thing that resembled a snake by the side of the road…and that was a broken fan belt on the shoulder. We do have the occasional road alligator, but there weren’t any along my path today.
I left the fan belt on the side of the road, but other junk that I found I decided to pick up. I should have brought a garbage bag with me, because once I picked up that first discarded water bottle, I had to pick up everyone like it. By the end of my walk I had made about one dollar in recyclables. Cleaning up the highway and making a bit of money, that is your classic win, win situation.
The views along my hike were spectacular, but since this was the first time I had ever walked along the highway and not driven by at 45 mph, I noticed a few concrete structures just off the main road. Not sure what these concrete buildings were used for in the past, but they are on Haleakala ranch private property, so I did not go exploring.
This first hike was a great warm up for more hikes on my upcoming days off. If I have one month before this trip, then that means I only have eight more days off before I fly out. That leaves me very little time to push myself and get my gear tested out before I head to the mainland. Today is just another day to push myself.
I am really looking forward to this trip, but the one negative aspect is that Emily cannot go with me because as work slows down for me, hers begins to get busy. In a perfect world we would be able to take vacations together, but as everyone knows, our world is far from perfect, but we do the best we can given the circumstances. That is why we have to make the time we have off together count. This is also why when we plan a big vacation, we maximize our time exploring or spending time with family and friends.