Braving Koko Head

It is a truth universally known that we are not a hiking family.  An adventurous family, yes.  A we-will-try-many-things-once, yes.  But, hikers?  Alas, it is not the case.

Yet, the Koko Head Crater on Oahu, Hawaii, is not considered so terrible as the notorious and perhaps mis-named Stairway to Heaven trail.  So we figured that we would be okay.

We got up early, drove out to the site and piled out of the car, laden with water bottles, sunscreen and sunglasses.  The first thing we saw, right at the foot of the crater, was this:

The number one thing which concerned me:  “If you trip or fall, you could be seriously injured or killed.”  KILLED.

The second thing that concerned me: “tramline.”  We were walking not up a track, but a tramline.

Perhaps we were not going to be okay.

The beginnings of the sunrise peeked through the trees, and I was caught between slight anxiety and the incredible crazy-awesomeness of what we were about to do.  I grasped my camera in one hand, my water bottle in the other, and I started towards the mountain.

At first, the track was not too bad.  It was a bit dusty and narrow, but nothing to worry about.  The tramline began, but it didn’t seem too bad, until I noticed the incredibly steep incline which commences half-way up the side of the mountain.  I paused, decided to ignore this incline for the time being, and powered on.

I paused a couple times to breathe/take in the view around me.  The sun was rising, and the panorama was absolutely stunning.  The Hawaiian sunrise was putting on a show and we were in awe.

I snapped some photos, marvelling at the height that we had reached and the beautiful vista around us.

Then I returned my gaze to the upward track before me and sadly realised that I had a very, very long way to go before I even reached the half way point.  Already breathing heavily, I marched onwards.

This was the lovely point at which the dirt under the tracks began to fall away.  So we were just walking on the tramline and some uneven stones.  I was baffled as to how this was an amazing idea, and also caught in a mental Great Australian Race/Survivor simulation in which i felt that I was achieving amazing physical feats.  It spurred me towards the summit.

Until this:

Now this was much steeper, much more arduous and muuuuuuuch more scary.  There were gaping HOLES where I needed to put my feet.  I was sweating profusely, partly from the heat, partly from my lack of fitness, and largely because of the sheer stress of trying to balance my feet and not fall over (this is a good time to mention that I am also clumsy).

More photos from nearly there/not quite there/hoping that I was closer than it seemed:

Near the top, when the track was at it’s steepest, I turned around and snapped this:

The end was near!

And what a beautiful end it was.  The exhilaration of breaching the top of that mountain was unlike anything I have ever experienced.  We laughed, shouted, took hundreds of photos, and sat and breathed in the overwhelming sense of it all.  We are not a hiking family, but we hiked that day!

I stared wildly at the locals who were running up the track, at the elderly locals who navigated the tramline with a swiftness and agility that my young body was incapable of.  My achievement paled in comparison, but I was on a high.  I was sweaty, exhausted (and dreading the walk back down), but I was so glad to sit there on the edge of the crater, shaking legs dangling over the edge, and gaze out as morning greeted the island.

Finally, it was time to head back down, shaky-kneed and tired, but very proud!

I stumbled down and navigated the descent in a crab-like side-step, convinced that I was going to fall face-first down the tracks.  Then, that afternoon, we relaxed as the lactic acid seized our muscles.  Needless to say, we slept well that night and felt the effects of our strenuous hike the next morning!

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