Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Deadly Pull of the Ocean

Okay, I've been avoiding this day in Hawaii. I don't even like to think about it. And looking at the pictures just gives me the willies (willies, you know, like the creeps in the '90s). So here is how it went down.

We drove up through Lahaina, (we shopped another day though) headed around to the north of the island. We first stopped at Honolua Bay for a bit of snorkeling. It was a really fun place. It was fairly crowded, but nothing like Hunama Bay I'm told. There were quite a few fish, but the coral really was the star. Bright yellow, orange and reds, long black spiny sea urchins and fairly clear water if you head farther out from the shore. We explored both sides and found that, as THE book said, the right side was better. We snorkeled (swam) across the big open middle. It was deep and empty for the most part, but I saw the fish eye view of a sailboat for the first time ever.

This first picture is a view of the bay from farther up on the road.

This is the "jumping in" point.

After this we headed farther around the island. Our next stop was (dum dum dum--in a very menacing voice) the Nakalele blowhole. This was a very cool place. It was, however, the burial place for half the flesh on my right foot. So here is how the hike unfolded.

As we descended the short hike, we saw awesome surf striking the lava shelf producing huge wall of water reaching for the sky.

As we got closer, we saw the blowhole off to the left. After a wave would come in and compress under the under-cut shelf of lava, a huge geyser of water would shoot through a 4 or 5 foot hole.
You can see me in the yellow sarong on the left of the picture.

First I followed a father and daughter closer to the blowhole. There was really no danger there. I only got close enough to get a little refreshing spray. But then the forceful siren call of the ocean tempted me. The father and daughter then went out on the lava where the water was washing up over the ledge. They were fine. I watched them for a minute or two. "Could I go out there too? Why not," I reasoned. The water washing out from the big crashes of waves was never very serious, a couple of inches maybe. So in my clearly prepared flip flopped self, I ventured out. All was fine. My feet would get a little wet sometimes, but that was all. Matt joined me. I felt so tough, and daring, yet still safe. But the ocean called to Matt too. He walked out even farther and looked down a small hole on the right. Wow, that was cool. Matt invited me to come out to see it. I was nervous though.

As I started moving my feet a big wave came up, way bigger than any there had been in a while. It sent a roaring splash into the air. Whoa. That was scary. Then another one was coming. I twisted my body around to the right to not get completely soaked. The next moment the wave was washing around me. This was no 2 inches of water, it was more like 2 full feet. I was off my feet; my protective flip flops washing away. I was being washed along the lava like a piece of cheese along a grater, only this was a human grater. I couldn't stop myself. Finally the wave put me down. My heart was racing and I was shouting for Matt to find my sandals. Luckily he did. He reached me and helped me out of the lava field.

When I surveyed the damage I found blood oozing from what seemed like everywhere. I had cut the bottom of my left foot and second toe, my left forearm was all scraped up but not bad. The real trouble was my right foot and leg. I had a deep gash near the base of my big toe, and scrapes all up my leg. And it hurt.

I had a hard time getting a hold of my emotions and racing heart. What I keenly felt though, was the guilt. There were several families that had been stewing around us the whole time. They were concerned for me, but were also gathering their kids around them to safe ground. I felt like such a dummy and above all a very bad example. How could I be so stupid? I knew the strength of the ocean. I knew its unpredictability. I knew I was getting too close. But I followed its pull. And then its pull leveled me. And I had been a startling bad example for all those kids.

Here is a picture of the big, but safe size of wave coming up. . .

and over the ledge.

Matt helped me up the hike which wasn't quite so easy with gaping wounds on my feet. I was, of course, done. We got ourselves collected, physically washing the wounds and emotionally trying not to go into shock. Then we took off.

I tried to enjoy the rest of our drive and after 15 minutes or so I kind of did. We made it back to Lahaina and stopped at a grocery store for a first aid kit. I bandaged myself up and we headed home for the shortest day of playing of the whole trip. Matt was sweet and just chilled with me in the condo. We read and took naps and pills, well, at least I did.

Another day we returned to look at it from the top of the hill. I felt a little better, like getting back up on the horse after a nasty fall. But I was still sore, and would be for many days. In fact, today is 2 days shy of four full weeks since the incident and my foot is still sore. I haven't put on more than flip flops since. I am just getting up the courage to put on shoes and socks so I can exercise again. I'll let you know how it goes ;-)

And meanwhile, watch out for that mesmerising, but deadly pull of the ocean.


Alisa said...

Thanks for the post, Brooke. Hope the healing goes better. Good luck with the shoes...

Lindsay said...

Oh man. That is awful, Brooke. Totally feel for you on the physical pain. But I can really relate to you emotionally. Those moments when you know that you should know better. I hate those moments!