By Jennifer Ludwig


Why write about Hawaii while I’m currently living in Thailand, having amazingly beautiful epic journeys every week? It’s one thing to adventure to a new place all the time. I absolutely LOVE the feeling of experiencing a new place for the first time. All of your emotions are pulled different ways. I am excited, scared, lost, and bewildered, and so on. But I’ve been thinking about those amazing places and wishing I could visit them again and again, and that’s what brings me to sharing my experiences from Hawaii (while I am in Thailand).

I moved to Honolulu, Hawaii in August 2010. I decided that the Midwest was not for me and it was time for a change. I wanted a beach, I wanted an ocean, I just wanted to see mountains everyday and not cornfields that go on forever. It was time. Hawaii, thus far, is one of the most beautiful places I have ever lived in. I am so happy and grateful that I get to call it my home. That’s enough about me though and more about these amazing adventures on Oahu and how I literally ‘left my mark’ on the island.

Honolulu, Hawaii is located on the island of Oahu. Aside from amazing beaches, epic surf and breathtaking views, there are also out-of-this world hikes. In my three years of living on the island, I made it a point to do as many hikes as I could, especially because my backyard was in the Manoa Valley, and I was five minutes from at least 15 different marked trails.

I remember the first time my friends and I did the Kolowalu Trail. It started off with 30 minutes of climbing straight up the side of the ridge along a stair system the tree roots had formed. I remember having to stop every five minutes to catch my breath. Why the hell am I doing this? This isn’t fun. I’m dying. That’s all I said the entire half hour. I’m sure my friends wanted to just ditch me. I wasn’t in hiking/mountain trekking shape at all, and I was almost to the point of defeat. When I was just about to quite and go back, my friend told me to turn around and look. It was the most beautiful view I had ever seen. It literally took the breath, which I already didn’t have, away. The colors were so distinct. I could see the dark blue of the deep ocean turn into aqua blue waters that are shown all over pictures and ads. The white caps from the waves washed over the sun kissed yellow beaches. The life from buildings backed up into the luscious green points that winded their way up to the immense mountain summits, that I was slowly making my way towards. I was hooked. I could literally see this same view everyday and still feel the same overwhelmingly emotional gratitude for the beauty I was able to experience. I’m not sure how I will ever be able to go back flat lands in the middle of the ‘mainland’.

Looking onto my backyard in the Manoa Valley from the Kolowalu Trail – heading towards Mt. Olympus (Awaawaloa)

Looking onto my backyard in the Manoa Valley from the Kolowalu Trail – heading towards Mt. Olympus (Awaawaloa)


The path finally met up with the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail, which was the beginning of the trek to the top of Mt. Olympus. As this was our first time doing the hike, we were unaware of how much time it would actually take us, and of course it was getting close to sunset. So, we decided to turn back and finish the trail on our next day off. I have been up the Kolowalu Trail about four times, I have hiked the Wa’ahila Ridge Trail almost to Mt. Olympus one time, and I have successfully hiked the entire Wa’ahila Ridge Trail to the summit of Mt. Olympus and carved in my initials just once.

What I love about all of these hikes is that you can do them over and over again, and every time it’s breathtaking and amazing. My best friend and I started carving our initials at the top of each hike, and every time we returned a notch was made.

So, even though it is incredible to see or do something for the first time, I have also learned to miss those experiences that you can do over and over again. I can’t wait to go back to carve more notches into the hikes that changed my life.

–          I have left initials and marks at:

  • Oahu Rock Bridge and Sea Cliffs
  • Lanikai Pill boxes
  • Mount Olympus
  • Manoa Falls
  • Wa’ahila Ridge Trail and about 10 other ridges with numerous trails
  • Pu’upia/Kolowalu Trails
  • Koko Crater

These are only just a few of the hikes on the island of Oahu. I am still planning a return to “leave my mark” in the Haiku Stairs (Stairway to Heaven) hike and so many more. Then, I will have to try out the other hikes found on the Big Island, Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i and Kaua’i. Hawaii has so much to offer.

Check out Unreal Hawaii’s website for more epic hiking pictures and go try them out for yourself! J http://www.unrealhawaii.com/

Taking it all in at the top of Mt. Olympus hike

Taking it all in at the top of Mt. Olympus hike


Jennifer Ludwig has been away from her home in Woodstock, Illinois for the past four years. She started off her journey with a move to Hawaii in 2010, after three years of soaking up the sun and surfs up; she decided to continue on her dream of traveling the world. Jenn currently teaches ESL to students in Southern Thailand, and she uses her free-time on the weekends to explore the many picturesque islands, shores, mountains, and local cultures that Thailand has to offer. Her adventures so far can be found at http://jennbecomesworldly.blogspot.com/


One thought on “Leaving My “Mark” in Hawaii

  1. I understand completely! There is no paradise like Hawai’i. I lived on Maui from 07-09 and it still saddens me that I left it.
    Enjoy the blistering heat of Thailand and welcome to Tickets To:

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