The Hawaiian word mo’olelo is often translated as “story” but it can also refer to history, legend, genealogy, and tradition. Use one of these translations to introduce yourself.
I wake up on a cool Colorado morning and look out the window at the mountain ridges. Today is the “Elk Hike,” a ten-year tradition in my family. I roll out of bed, and less than an hour later I find myself with my mom, dad, two uncles, younger sister, and three younger cousins at the base of the mountain. As the aspen trees flutter around us, I feel nervous.
I open up the map of our thirteen-mile hike; usually one of my parents or my uncles takes the lead and directs us, but this year it is my turn. It is not an easy hike and I can already hear my youngest cousin voicing her signature complaint — “You’re killin’me!” — as I lead the group at a brisk pace through the first part of the hike.
As we make our way up and across the mountain, I settle into the easy rhythm of leading us along a familiar trail, and look forward to the crystal blue lake that awaits us at the highest point on the mountain. As we near the crest, I fall back to walk this rocky and steep part of the hike with my sister and my two girl cousins. We breathe heavily and don’t talk much as we press on. I know we can do it because we’ve seen each other through more difficult times than hikes, including the messy and complicated divorce of my cousins’ parents. We reach the top together. After enjoying the quiet beauty of the lake, we slowly gather ourselves and then start back down the trail.
The trek back down is much shorter and easier. I feel content as I reflect on the day and the tradition that I’ve come to love.