Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Koko Head Crater...and a word to the wise

When friends come to visit, it gives me the excuse to go out and explore places that I haven't been to yet.  I have a couple friends visiting this week and on Saturday morning we decided to hike up Koko Head Crater.  Only two words really encapsulate the Koko Head hike on the East side of O'ahu...holy crap!  Koko Crater is a cinder cone remaining from the last active volcano that occurred on O'ahu approximately 10,000 years ago. This crater is the tallest tuff ring in Hawaii, measuring 1,207 feet in height. The slopes of the crater drop steeply into the Molokai Channel, an area which lacks protection from any offshore reefs, causing very turbulent seas in this area.

View from the Bottom
If you're looking for a nice, easygoing hike then stay away from Koko Head.  The good news is that the entire trail is a staircase.  Originally Koko Head was used as a radar stand for the military during WWII.  In order to get supplies up to the mountain, they used a tram that ran on railroad tracks.  The tracks are still there and that's what you use to get up.  The bad news is that it is a straight vertical climb.  It looks really steep from the bottom, but I had no idea how difficult the hike would be until I got about 1/4 the way up.  It's REALLY steep!  I am in fairly good shape and yet my calves and my ass have been killing me for 2 days.

View from Halfway Up
In my defense, however, I did ride my bike for an hour a half (25 miles) that morning so I had already had a pretty good workout.  So the "word to the wise" is that you should not workout prior to hiking Koko Head.  The trail itself was not too crowded, but there were a good 50 people on the trail at any one time.  No one got in each other's way, though, and everyone was taking periodic breaks along the way.  We must have stopped 5 or 6 times ourselves just to catch our breath.

View from the top
Prior to going on the hike, I had heard from some people that the view from the top of Koko Head is nice, but not really worth the pain of climbing up.  I disagree.  Yes, Koko Head is a bitch to climb.  However, the view from the top is pretty amazing.  I could sit up there all day and just stare out onto Hawaii Kai and the ocean.  Being at the top, especially after working so hard to get there, makes the view all the more amazing.  So overall if you're looking for a challenging workout and you're willing to put up with the subsequent pain, then Koko Head is a really gorgeous hike that offers amazing views and good story.

A long way to get down...

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