Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hiking to the summit of Koko Crater - Part 1

So today (Tuesday March 24th) being the last day of my three day weekend, and me amounting to being a total lazy bum on my first two days off (besides shipping a package, and getting my haircut on Monday) I decided I must find something to do that is: 1) fun, 2) active, 3) something I can take pictures of.

So I pull out my handy dandy notebook, err Hawaii Military Guide book that I got back at replacement, and started flipping through the Top 25 places to see on Oahu.

#1 Aloha Tower - ehh, going to a building didn't meet being "active"
#2 Kakaako Waterfront Park - same as above
#3 Waikiki, The Miracle Mile - ditto
#4 Diamond Head Crater - active yes, but already did it...
$5 Koko Crater - "... a prominent 1,205-foot-high... 1,106 wooden steps..."

Sounds like I have a winner. Turns out I'd driven past it on my last "weekend" off and I remember making a mental note to climb it. Perfect, so I leave Schofield about 11:00am or so, drive past Honolulu, grab some lunch, and go to the scenic overlook where I knew I could get a good shot of my objective.

After getting the mandatory scene setting picture, I head to Base Camp, err the parking lot where I'll start this hike. Got all my camera gear out, and thought hey, what a perfect time to try out my new camera backpack, see how it holds up during hiking. That way I wont get to the summit and think, dang I should have brought my tripod, other lens, etc. So I load it all up, grab the camera so I can take pictures along the way up, load the camelback and started my ascent.

I get to the start of the trail and snap these quick picture off...

Damn that looks pretty steep, I could use a good challenge. People said Diamond Head was a tough hike, and I summited while taking pictures, with a tripod on my back in 18 minutes. My guidebook said this trail is "medium" danger and "intermediate" skill according to expert hikers. I'm in good shape, no problem... right?

Here's some shots from my many break on the way up. Maybe that backpack with 40lbs of gear wasn't such a good idea, add on the camelback full of 100oz of water. Where's my Sherpa and my O2 when I need it?

This hike is no joke, and that could be the 40lb backpack on my back talking, but there were many times I was very winded, never light-headed, but definitely out of breath more times than I cared for.

So I start to catch my breath quicker, get a little pace going, when I notice I'm not doing to bad. I look up to see this...

After it got steeper, I come across this section where the railroad tie steps are spanning a 15-20 foot drop. I'm already winded pretty hardcore, now I have to balance my way across a bridge while being top heavy? Eff that, I'm crab walking across the bridge. Believe me, my dignity was already gone after all the breaks I'd taken, rather be smart and not dehydrated and not having an injury than try to look macho.

You can see the spanning section

A view looking down once past the dangerous 'bridge' section

After the bridge things started getting really steep, but atleast I could see the end in sight. Plus I noticed the railroad ties were marked every hundred, so you had an idea of how many you had left, a curse and a blessing lol.

It's gets steeper, and a lot steeper real quick, great...

A look down

800+ feet up

Each step brings me a little bit closer, until the end of the stairs is finally within reach.

I felt like Gold Five and Red Leader in Star Wars - A New Hope, because I kept telling myself over and over "Almost there..." Like who was I trying to convince, one I wasn't saying anything out loud, nor was anyone around me in case I why *shrug*

That first section up looks almost flat from way up here, gotta love perspective

I can almost touch the top

Now I can, thank goodness the pain ends soon, and yes it was pretty painful at this point. Next time, no backpack and no tripod.

Maybe I could summit in some time more respectable that over an hour.

Plus to rub it in, there's people running, yes running up and down this trail *scoff* Good for them they're in awesome shape, but the evil side of me really wanted to see someone biff (going up, I wouldn't wish anyone biffing on the way down, that would get messy). I'm vindictive, but not a sociopath ;)

A look down from the top of the stairs

Still a little bit to climb to summit, but thank goodness no more stairs

And this ends part #1 of however many parts it takes, because it's 11:35pm and I have to be up at 4:30-4:45am.

1060 railroad ties I'm assuming, or steps, I dunno, whatever 1060 represents it's a lot, and I definitely felt it, and probably will for the next couple of days.

Final altitude for Part 1: 1138 feet (bonus points for those who can recite a Star Wars quote with 1138 in it).

Gross look at all the sweat, on my arm. Imagine how my back felt with that ginormous backpack. Granted the backpack was great, holding it in my arm felt 2-3x times heavier than wearing it. And did I say I'm in love with my new lens? It's the same one I shot the Waikiki beach shots with, it's awesome, and this is coming from someone who's very critical on camera equipment.

Well I hope you enjoyed this first part and I should be able to finish and add more pictures probably on Wednesday. Thanks for reading!


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