Several days have gone by since spending the Solstice day at Nualolo on Kauai. Being back in the urban life of Honolulu it's easy to see the contrast of place. As obvious as it is, I am still processing what it all means. We live in the city but the brief moment we spend in the wilderness is full of sustainence. When going to a place like Nualolo, you will feel a connection with the land all around you, up close and personal. The photo to the right is of a fresh water spring in Nualolo. It typifies the life bestowing jewel of the valley. My friend Kelvin describes these experiences as gateways. These gateways could be physical, like swimming from one point to another, or hiking or entering a waterfall and then emerging from it. Gateways could also be spiritual, going from one level of consciousness to another. I'll give you an example. I am not a water person and don't take to the ocean as some of my friends. I have a lot of respect for the ocean and know how foreign it is to me. It could be characterized by fear but over the years I think I've dealt with it head on. Right now, it is more apprehension. There were sections of this trek that took us into some open waters. As I launched into the deep I could feel my body tensing up, my legs were getting tired and my breath became short. As I felt this fear welling up in me I realized there was nothing to be fearful of. I could see the spotters and the early morning swells were small. I let go and relaxed. My legs relaxed, my breath became steady and I enjoyed the moment. The beach landing was challenging as the waves crashed onto the boulders but I had already given into the moment and rode the waves in as best as I could. The less I fought the easier it got. The swim back was 6 hours later and after a long day of hiking. The afternoon trades were blowing and waves were bigger than in the morning. Again I could feel the apprehension welling up in me. When it was my turn to time the wave, I let go and slid out into the surf, like a monk seal as Kat would say. It was rougher in the afternoon, in all honestly the waters were very accommodating. When I landed I felt a sense of accomplishment. I had made it through another gate. The final gate was the zodiac ride from Nualolo to Port Allen. It was a solid hour on the open ocean with the zodiac going full throttle. I had one hand on the rail, one on the rope and sat on the zodiac side. It was like riding a bronco but there were times I felt like I was in 2001 - A Space Odyssey going through a votex in space. It was the wind, water and up & down ride that was so immersive. If that wasn't a gateway I don't know what is. As you can see there were many moments of transformation. An experience like this has helped me to understand myself, my connection to the land and to my fellow companions. I will be processing this for many days to come. More importantly, I will seek the linkages between the grounding I felt in Nualolo and daily life. It's all a state of mind.