Afterthoughts: Wildlife

The types of people you meet along O‘ahu hiking trails.

O‘ahu hiking trails are great. They’re full of beautiful vistas, waterfalls, and a wild profusion of plants and wildlife. Some people go hiking to spot and catalog Native Hawaiian birds. Me, I’m more of an anthropologist—constantly fascinated by the eclectic range of people I run across out in the woods. And to all of them, I offer the same low-key head nod and a quick “good morning,” just to let them know I’m not an ax murderer (and make sure they’re not one, either).


Photo: Michael Keany


The hardcore military crews.

These young members of our armed forces usually travel in groups, and, while they move quickly, are easily identified by their white T-shirts, camo backpacks, magnificent physiques and steely determination. This isn’t a stroll, it’s a mission!


The hale and hearty seniors.

They’ve each got dual walking sticks, no-nonsense hiking boots and wide-brimmed hats for shade. They’re 90. They’re faster than you. They will definitely outlive you.


The pig hunters.

These guys can be unnerving, materializing quietly out of nowhere, packing huge, deadly looking compound bows. Sometimes they’ve got a few burly dogs with them, too. Smile and nod, and be thankful they’re helping quell an invasive species.


The family that hikes together.

Stays together, obviously. You can always tell how far they’ve hiked by whether the kid is bounding along the trail ahead of them or being carried like a sack of rice by their mom or dad.


Those two sketchy dudes who are not here to hike.

OK, maybe it’s the fact that you’re wearing jeans and hoodies, or that you’re pumping tunes out of the speakers of your iPhone, or that your eyes are kinda red, but you guys are definitely not here just for healthful recreation.


The trail runners.

If you’re huffing and puffing just to crest a hill at normal walking speed, it’s easy to hate these agile specimens who sweep past you at a full sprint. Fortunately, they’re gone from sight as quickly as they arrived.


The instagrammers.

Selfie sticks: check. Smartphones: check. GoPros: check. These hikers are usually found lingering at the edges of cliffs, precipitous ridges and other dramatic tableaus, for maximum social-media awesomeness.


The New Year’s resolution hikers.

You can find these couples panting on the side of the trail, hands on their knees, or gulping from their water bottles. Signature call: “No, it’s OK, you go ahead!”


The mosquito magnets.

These poor souls are always slathering on more bug repellent, or slapping at the big red welts all over their legs.


The guided-tour group.

You’ll hear this one before you see it—a herd of DSLR-toting sightseers being led by a monotone guide spouting a loud and never-ending fount of random trivia. For those who want to avoid any possibility of quietude while out in nature.


The foragers.

How many mountain apples and guavas can you carry in your T-shirt? These girls are gonna find out.


The overdressed couple.

One look at their nice shoes and it’s obvious no one told them there was going to be mud on this hike.


The local kids.

If there’s a waterfall or a pool, there’ll also be small packs of teenagers in boardshorts and bikinis, towels slung over their shoulders, cruising along. Side note: These are literally the only people who can safely navigate dicey stream beds and mud in rubber slippers—don’t try it yourself. Ask me how I know.