Koko Head Crater – Steep and steep

I thought I had done my homework on Honolulu but it took a chance conversation with Jason, my seat mate on the plane to find out about Koko Head Crater in Oahu in the east side of the island.

“Don’t do it,” Jason said. “It is incredibly steep. Do Diamond Head instead.”

That was all the challenge I needed. Yesterday I went to find the trailhead but the only road down was closed.

I searched for an official address. I just trusted my iPhone and it led me to Koko Head District Park. At about 8 am, I had a tough time finding a parking space. This was going to be a group experience with many friends I had yet to meet.

Look at those steps.

This was the beginning of a thousand foot climb in less than a mile. But this is no ordinary trail but an old railroad, built by our military as a lookout after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. According to one fellow hiker, the military brought all the supplies by helicopter and dropped them along what would be the railroad.

There are 1,048 steps/railroad ties. But this was a long time ago and now, the railroad tracks are falling apart. No one is maintaining it as a trail and still so many hike it. Even though it was less than a mile one-way, I treated it as a hike with a pack, water and poles. Was I glad for poles!

On top of Koko Head Crater

On top, the 360-degree view was magnificent. There were remains of a concrete lookout tower.

People were taking pictures of the view, themselves and each other.

Everyone congratulated me, because I was obviously the oldest person there, maybe by a generation.

If I thought it was tough, I had to hand it to the young family carrying a baby. I wouldn’t have tried this forty years ago.

On top of Koko Head Crater

But the walk down was tougher. I had to watch every step as not to slip. There is so much space between the railroad ties that each step was a negotiation. This is where all the “young people” passed me. I remember the saying,

“Be nice to the people as you pass them on the way up because they’ll pass you on the way down”.

When I got back to my car, I was spent. Nothing hurt, nothing was bruised. I found the closest coffee shop and just sat for a while.

Thanks, Mahalo, Jason, for telling me about this challenge.

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