Walking it forward

A Makawao man, sometimes rain drenched and overheated, persevered through Hurricane Ana and other trials to complete his 12-day, 165-mile trek around Maui to raise funds for gifts and activities for Hale Makua residents in Wailuku and Kahului.

“It was an experience. It was everything I thought it was going to be and then some. Going up the hills and down the hills,” Brian Sato said Thursday, a day after he completed his journey.

The 57-year-old Haleakala Distillers manager has raised nearly $3,000 in donations from his walk, dubbed “Walking it Forward for Hale Makua.” His donation page noted that $2,500 was his goal.

Asked if he believed taking vacation from work and dedicating 12 days of his life to raise funds was worth it, Sato replied, “I think so.”

Along his trek, he talked to people who told him that they thought it was a “such a neat thing” and that not too many people would devote that much time to a cause, he said. Sato began his walk Oct. 11 at Baldwin Beach Park in Paia and headed to East Maui, then South Maui and then to West and Central Maui. He ended at Baldwin Beach Park late Wednesday afternoon.

Hale Makua has said that it has been touched by Sato’s “enthusiasm and generosity in brightening the lives of Hale Makua residents.”

Donations still are being accepted at www.gofundme.com/bbs194 or to Hale Makua Health Services at www.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1106388.

Before the walk, Sato already had been a longtime supporter of Hale Makua, getting his friends together for the holidays to donate gifts to the residents who do not have family on the island and need a bit of cheer. But last year when Hale Makua asked him for a widescreen television or a stove, Sato could not deliver.

It prompted him to think of what he could do. The idea of the walk came up. Even though a generous resident was later able to fulfill Hale Makua’s request, Sato decided to do the walk anyway.

The walk’s proceeds will go toward purchasing voice amplifiers, passes to the Maui Ocean Center, movie tickets, art classes and Christmas gifts.

Sato’s story touched Roger Dennis Hawley, who said he still holds the 47-year plus record for hiking/walking around Maui in around five days. It was set in 1967 when Hawley was 19.

“I’ve got to give him credit. I did it when I was 19. For him to do it at 57 is quite a marvel,” Hawley said.

Hawley was touched by Sato’s motives and got friends together to meet Sato at his finish Wednesday at Baldwin Beach Park under cloudy and rainy skies. The two shared a bottle of champagne.

“I had been waiting 47 years for somebody to take on my record. It was a really nice story about the reason why (Sato) wanted to do it. Hopefully, he got enough money (from) contributing people on Maui to get those things for Hale Makua,” Hawley said.

But Hawley noted that his record is still “solid.”

He said Sato’s walk was about 5 miles shorter than his, because Sato was able to take a shorter route though Ulupalakua Ranch’s access road from Upcountry to South Maui.

But Sato said he was thankful he got the access from Ulupalakua, which shaved off miles and time from his walk.

He noted one of the hardest things was to lug his cart of camping gear, water, food and supplies that he estimated weighed 70 pounds.

He said climbing hills with the cart was the worst, especially in Kipahulu, Kaupo and Kahakuloa.

He shed 10 pounds of his gear while in Maalaea, giving it to friends to take home when those friends bought him beer and poke. Sato said he didn’t want to eat a full meal that night in Maalaea because he was so hot and drained while in South Maui.

The various restaurants and businesses that said they would donate some of his meals came through. Sato said Down to Earth gave him a gift card to purchase supplies for his trek.

He also received warm hospitality along the way from people, who let him camp under their tents and on their properties and the Half Way to Hana stand letting him stay in a worker cottage when a thunderstorm was expected to hit that night.

Sato did not encounter any problems with cars or humans along the way, but he noted that he started his walk around 5 a.m. to avoid traffic.

Other issues arose, but they were quickly resolved.

Saturday night, as Hurricane Ana passed south of the Hawaiian Islands, Sato said it rained so hard in the Olowalu area that his tent leaked.

In the Hana area early on his trip, his cart lost a bolt, and he had to walk to Hasegawa General Store to get a replacement part.

And in Kipahulu a couple of vicious dogs came up to him, but “they were all bark and no bite.”

But then a goat came along and followed him. Sato chased the goat away because he didn’t want to be accused of stealing it, he said laughing.

Sato was supposed to return to work Monday, but he needed to fill in for someone who is off-island and was back at work Thursday.

“I’m not really sore. My body is just tired,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll finish (work) early and sleep for a couple of hours.”

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.