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I don’t think I ever wanted it to end­ photo courtesy of Cassidy Wayant

I don’t think I ever wanted it to end­ photo courtesy of Cassidy Wayant

Day 20: Homeward bound! Although most of you know how this journey ends I still wanted to share the details of the day with everyone! I woke up at 5 am to pack up and depart Hookena. There was a slight shore break but nothing I couldn’t handle by this point. The girls helped send me off and it was hard to believe this would be my last sunrise paddle of the trip. So many thoughts were going through my head as I looked back to the beach just in time to catch a last glimpse of the girls watching me turn the corner. It felt like most mornings that early on the ocean. There was little to no wind and only a natural motion from the water as she began to wake up. Today’s paddle was through my home waters. I have paddled here more times than I can count and the familiarity of the coastline put me at ease. I ate breakfast on the kayak as I enjoyed the calmness and beauty of it all. The weather radio has been calling for small craft advisories on Oahu and Maui with gale force winds and 11­13ft swells. These storms were to be moving towards the Big Island but if I made it home today I should be in the clear. As I coasted along I noticed two storms offshore. One was very distant to the west and another one was a little closer just north of me. After a few more miles it became apparent that the north storm was definitely moving east towards the island. I was worried these may be the storms from the other islands but their locations didn’t make since to match the radio warnings. As I approached Kealakekua’s north point a head wind began. Krystal had just mentioned yesterday how crazy it was that I didn’t have to paddle one day in the rain. We had been through storms and rain but somehow I always managed to get on land before they hit. As I approached the rain line and storm clouds I texted her that my luck had just ran out…and on the “dry side” of the island ironically. These waters are typically the calmest around the island and early mornings almost always have a current that should be in my favor. With all of my knowledge on this stretch I had a weird feeling that she (the ocean) wasn’t going to give it to me easy. A feeling that she wanted to test me one more time, like a right of passage, before crossing the finish line. I secured things on the boat and picked up my pace to continue my forward progress into the resistance of the wind. Cold rain poured on me for about five minutes and then it stopped. It felt like only an instant and it was over. The storm blew onshore and the sun came out from behind the clouds. Just as fast as it came…it went. I could once again see my calm, familiar coast ahead of me. I laughed a little at myself and how I was prepared to “battle” my way home. It was like she just played a little joke on me and then laid the way with favorable currents, no trades, and a beautiful sky. As I passed keauhou bay (my usual put in spot) I started crying tears of joy! I always knew deep down that I was going to complete the trip once I rounded south point, but it truly sunk in at that specific moment. The pier came into view and with every stroke moments from the journey started flooding me. Beautiful waterfalls, humpback whales, pods of dolphins, calm seas, terrifying seas, strangers that went out of their way to help, and my amazing support team that I never could have done it without. I slowed my stroke down trying to absorb every last minute I could with the kayak and the ocean! The hours I had spent with them had changed my life forever and I wasn’t quite ready to leave them for land. As I pulled in closer to the pier a boat named The Office approached me. The captain Kit had picked up Cassidy and Kirsten (some of my team) and brought them to capture my last few strokes on the water.

Pulling into the Kona Pier after my departure 20 days earlier!­photo courtesy of Cassidy Wayant

Pulling into the Kona Pier after my departure 20 days earlier!­photo courtesy of Cassidy Wayant

Even more boats were waiting in the entry to the pier full of people clapping and cheering. I looked to the point of the pier where Krystal and the rest of my ground team were cheering and face timing my family so they could see me finish. My heart was beating so fast and as the kayak glided into the shallow I jumped out. My feet touched the familiar sand that they had left 20 days ago. 20 DAYS and 6 hours from my original push off and I had finally made it back home! I was greeted with so much love, support, and hugged by loved ones and strangers. Showered with Leis, champagne, and congratulatory words of kindness. The West Hawaii Today newspaper was there to interview me and once again share my story. The day ended with a celebratory after party at Humpy’s Big Island Alehouse who was donating one dollar of select beers to CMT research. I enjoyed a cold beer and a cheeseburger still in shock to be on land and back in civilization. After a full belly and crashing from all of my adrenaline the need to lay down was overwhelming. The girls took me home and I fell asleep face down in our couch with my paddle clothes on. Little did I know that the entire crew fell asleep right with me all throughout the living room. We had done it! With the stress of everything over everyone had a peaceful 2 hour nap…even the dogs:)! It still seems surreal and I smile at random times thinking about all the wonderful things this experience has taught me. Throughout life and in the ocean you should never look back to focus on what you cannot change. Look to what is in front of you. Even if the circumstances change your plan you will always end up right where you are meant to be! Embrace your imperfections and you CAN do anything you put your mind to! The CMT GoFundMe will be open for one more week. Please keep caring and sharing and thank you so much for being on this journey with me! 

 

I did it! 300+ miles as the first documented solo kayaker to circumnavigate the Big Island of Hawaii­photo courtesy of Cassidy Wayant

I did it! 300+ miles as the first documented solo kayaker to circumnavigate the Big Island of Hawaii­photo courtesy of Cassidy Wayant

 

The GoFundMe page has been closed but please always keep caring and sharing! Any further donations can be made directly to the Hereditary Neuropathy Foundation towards continued research for a cure to Charcot Marie Tooth Disease Warmest Mahalo, Pura Vida, Aloha, Jennifer Decker