Meet the World’s Worst Hiker

Robin Rinaldi
6 min readFeb 16, 2019

I want to love the wild. I really, really do.

Photo: Pablo Kaufmann

I’m hiking up the Pipiwai Trail near Hana, Maui when the open landscape of moss, ferns, and majestic banyan trees suddenly gives way to bamboo forest. Thousands of stalks, just inches from each other, reach 80 feet into the air, blocking the midday sun and all noise. That’s when my lizard brain jerks awake, wondering how we went from day to night in mere seconds.

My heart thumps, my skin tingles, and a dawning sense of paralysis slows my pace. Stop! says the lizard. Turn around! It’s dark in here! I argue that we’re almost to 400-foot Waimoku Falls, the bamboo will soon open up and the hike will be worth it. But now I’m trembling, withdrawn into my own jagged thoughts.

Then I see her: a young, heavily pregnant woman dressed in a tube top and loose skirt, golden hair tumbling over her brown shoulders and bare, swollen belly. She is coming towards me in flip-flops, feet covered in mud, holding a baby on her hip.

“It’s gorgeous in there,” she says radiantly as we pass, referring to the falls just up ahead.

She is a wild forest nymph, at one with all of nature. And she’s my polar opposite. Because after years of trying, I’ve finally admitted that I am the most pathetic hiker on the planet.



Robin Rinaldi ~ author of THE WILD OATS PROJECT ~ NYT ~ Atlantic ~ O Mag ~ Poets & Writers ~ editor ~ bookie’s daughter ~ auntie