OHE December 13, 1999 (Makapu`u Scramble & Koko Crater Underground)

Date: Mon, 13 Dec 1999 22:59:43 -1000
From: Markeshort@cs.com (Mark Short)
Subject: Makapu`u Scramble & Koko Crater Underground

Saturday afternoon was rainy but Makapu`u was not too bad. My wife chose to take our dog up the lighthouse road while I started from the lookout parking area. After passing several bunkers I left the main trail and contoured along the cliff face at about the same elevation as the lighthouse. This section was not to bad I thought. A great place to take the kids & less experienced hikers. Very beautiful & dramatic. Then the trail got narrower. And the drop below the ledge I was on, got much steeper. I was hoping to contour all the way to the lighthouse but decided I'd had enough adrenaline flow for one day so I started to climb up.

The adrenaline continued to pump as I slowly and carefully climbed up, reminding myself that just because a rock is big, doesn't mean it can be trusted. In fact every rock was not to be pulled upon, the only way to use them was to push them into the mountain with my feet & hands. As I came over the top my wife was there to greet me. This was a surprise since I thought my route would be much faster. After viewing from the lookout platforms we headed down the road, taking a detour to study the walk way that leads to the lighthouse. There is a fence that says keep out however there is a very well used path that goes around the fence. Everything looks nicely painted & well maintained.

At the junction with the trail down to the water is a nice sign with whale info and binoculars that you can look through for free. And again no signs of vandalism! Since my wife's ankle was hurting, Sam (dog) & I trotted down to the Dragon's Nostril's (two blow holes that look like they are shooting steam). There was heavy wave action with some white water curtains shooting up over 30 feet high. I played around the blow holes getting blown by the rushing air then ducking out of the way just as the water would shoot (of course I got soaked as the water rained down on me). A few more minutes exploring and admiring the power of the ocean and I was headed back up.

On the road down my wife noticed a fallen down carport/house? with old trucks & cars. We poked around the junk a bit then continued. At one point I walked out on a rock that looks like it is cliff on three sides and waved my arms around like I was losing my balance, my wife yelled something about life insurance and I tried to explained that there was a ledge just below that couldn't be seen from her angle and that I wouldn't do anything so dangerous. At the bottom we left the road and followed some ribbons that led back to our van. My wife & I agreed that this was a great day for this short but very interesting hike.

Sunday afternoon my son Jacob & I headed up Koko Crater via the blowhole side. Again it was windy with light rain. Nothing exciting on the climb up. I pointed out to Jacob the girly contour routes and the manly over the top/take the exposed side of the dike routes. We then contemplated how women normally outlive men. At the top we followed the tracks down to a door that I was able to squeeze through. Inside was a tunnel maybe 150 feet long. the floor was covered in corrugated roofing sheets and broken lumber. Near the middle of the tunnel the pile gets high so the ceiling gets very low. Jacob in front is moving very slowly as it gets darker & darker. I tell him to keep moving & he says let go together. I say I'm right behind him and can't go because he is in my way. Also I want to get out of the awkward bent over position.

Soon we go through a door and there is a room with a high ceiling, filled with rubbish. To the right is another room with less rubbish so I take the lead & go in there. Not to much to look at and our flash lights are very weak. Jacob says lets go explore the OUTSIDE. I turn off my flashlight then grab Jacob's turn it off then jump a few feet away. After about 10 seconds and before panic sets in I turn the light back on and hand it back to Jacob. Jacob says I should take Ryan (his older brother) here. On our way out the tunnel (Jacob is now moving very quickly) I comment how it would be bad if a monster was at the entrance and we had to go back and how this place is like a real life x-files place. Jacob talks about how I should bring my machete to places like this for self-defense.

Up top Jacob wants to look in a vent shaft to see if there are more rooms. He sticks his head inside and says there is a ladder inside and that it goes a long way down. He wants me to go first so I squirm through the opening and start down the metal ladder. I notice that the top anchor bolts are gone and the ladder moves a bit. soon I see two good anchor bolts which is a relief, then one bent & poorly attached bolt. After descending about 40 or so feet I reach the bottom of the ladder. There is a drop of about 8 feet to the floor and someone has provided some nylon webbing and a rope. I'm able to lower myself and swing my feet over to the missing ladder section leaning against the wall. I look around and realize this is the room to the left we had seen but not explored. Jacob comes down we look around a bit (not much to see) Jacob climbs back up.

After descending to the parking lot Jacob want to go look at the blow hole. There are a zillion tourists and Jacob wants to jump over the wall and climb down. I nix the idea and he complains. Even if it is easy, it is over the wall with lots of witnesses, not a good idea, I explain. So, all in all, mission accomplished. A great little adventure, close to home.

Reply From: Greg Kingsley (gkingsle@hawaii.edu>


I've seen the exact same things as you did up atop Puu Mai (Koko Crater summit) - the tunnel, the twin rooms (including that encryption/restricted-access "vault"), the ladder to the top, etc. While inside, I lost the spring to my flashlight as I was changing its weak batteries, thus rendering it inoperable. Good thing the tunnel's not that long!

I'd have posted my pictures of the interior had they come out well enough: the camera's flash wasn't strong enough.

Anyway, from what I could tell, there should be another room - a rather large one in the vicinity of the other two - but there were no signs of an entry or connection from those cavern-type rooms. Perhaps another entry will be discovered on the exterior.

As a kid, when I lived in Hawaii Kai, my friends and I heard a rumor that there was a tunnel through Koko Crater's southwest side to the crater itself - but our numerous ramblings never discovered its existence.

Koko Crater's a neat lil' mountain with several good hikes! Glad to read your write-up.


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