When most people look at the Koolau Mountains, they see vast, jagged peaks and unparalleled beauty.
Chase Norton saw the same, but also saw a challenge.
"There's something that you learn about yourself when you put yourself through extreme amounts of misery," said the 27-year-old, who moved to Oahu from Georgia four years ago.
On April 1 Norton became the first person in 102 years to traverse the entire length of the Koolau Summit Trail, a 50-mile trek from Pupukea to Makapuu that would test both his body and mind.
"I needed to learn the water sources, where can I collect water from (and) I needed to know how much my body can go on certain amounts of foods," he said.
Norton got into hiking almost as soon as he arrived on Oahu. In 2009 friends said hiking the Koolaus in a single outing was next to impossible, but undeterred, he continued planning for the next four years.
After experimenting with various backpacks, Norton determined the only way to successfully cross the Koolaus would be to become an ultra-light backpacker. His pack during the historic hike weighed a mere 7.8 pounds.
"A lot of people get into sub-5 (pounds) or less, but all that really doesn't matter," said Norton. "As long as you're getting a weight that you can hike all day and over any terrain and be comfortable."
On March 25, Norton began his journey at the Boy Scout Camp at the end of Pupukea Road. He hiked an average of seven hours per day, beginning at 7:30 in the morning and setting up camp by 2:30 in the afternoon.
The entire trek would last eight days and seven nights, across some of the most challenging terrain the island has to offer.
"The danger ... the danger is extremely high," said Norton.
Norton documented his trek through a daily journal, and kept in touch with members of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club, the primary authority for all things hiking in the state of Hawaii.
"Chase is the only person over the 102-year history of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club who has done this in a single shot," said Nathan Yuen, an active member of the club. "Realistically, the feat is probably only doable since the advent of ultra-light backpacking about 20 years ago."
Norton's first attempt at the Koolau Summit Trail nearly ended in tragedy. During the hike in November, 2011 Norton fell two stories, and suffered a nasty knock to the head.
"I grabbed a blade of grass that I thought was going to support my entire weight and out it came," he said. "I fell about 20 feet."
During the successful attempt, instead of falling down, everything fell into place.
"This is the first time and maybe the only time for me that everything has gone right," said Norton. "The weather was perfect (and) nothing went wrong."
But of course, you don't hike the 50 rugged miles of the KST without facing challenges. On the Honolulu side of the Kalihi Saddle, Norton used a rope to scale past a difficult feature known as "The Pimple."
"I was able to make a loop that allowed me to get the right kind of balance, and was able to get past it," he said. "But it was the one and only time really that I thought about turning around. If that loop were to fail, it was a nice couple hundred feet drop."
During his odyssey Norton dropped nine pounds, but was treated to spectacular vistas few on Oahu will ever see.
"Some of those days up there, I just can never explain in words how beautiful it was," he said.
It was an incredible journey that drained his body, but filled his soul.
"I challenge myself more and I learn more about myself," said Norton. "I come out a better person. It just seems like many doors have opened up from this one event and I couldn't be happier."
Norton has been approached by a publisher for a possible book deal, and has been contacted by Backpacking Light Magazine for a feature story.