OHE January 2, 2000 (Koko Crater--HTMC)

Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2000 18:33:31 -1000
From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu)
Subject: Koko Crater 2000

The Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club's first hike of the 21st century was Koko Crater, and I joined over 40 other hikers yesterday morning for the event. Among the folks I recall seeing/hiking with/talking to were Stuart Ball, his wife Lynn, Mabel Kekina, John Hall, Jay Feldman, Thomas Yoza, Jim Pushaw, Justin Ohara, Ken Suzuki, Bill Gorst, Fred Boll, George Shoemaker, Jason Sunada, Grant Oka, his daughter Georgina, Joyce Tomlinson, Dave Webb, and June Miyasato.

For those interested, a map of the crater and the various routes used yesterday is available on the web at


The prehike meeting place was the parking lot for the Halona Blowhole, and I parked there just past 8 a.m., about 30 minutes prior to the arrival of the large group coming over from Iolani Palace. Early arrivers Ken, Jason, and Thomas were checking the rock bridge ascent route to make sure it was safe for the group; meanwhile, Bill and Jim were heading up the spur directly across from the Blowhole lot. Gathering my small cache of gear (daypack, water, powerbar, gloves, hiking pole), I set off after Bill and Jim.

The climb up was steep but never cable-steep and periodic ribbons provided the basic line of ascent. I reached the rim a few minutes after Bill and Jim, and we hung out there to rest and enjoy the clear, sunny morning. Across the Kaiwi Channel, unusually placid and mirror-like, we could see Lanai, Molokai, and the faint outline of Maui.

Far below in the Blowhole lot, we saw the gathered throng of hikers huddled around coordinator Grant. Using an FRS walkie-talkie, I hailed Thomas, who reported the rock bridge route safe and secure. Thomas also radioed that he and Jason would be joining Jim and I for an around-the-crater traverse and asked us to hang out and wait for them.

Mabel, nursing a bad cold that prevented her from hiking, called us from the Blowhole lot with a W-T of her own and announced that she'd act as vehicle security person since the area is a notorious target for car thieves. Thanks, Mabel.

Their checking work complete, Thomas and Jason emerged on the rim about 200 meters upslope from our position, and in a couple minutes they had hiked down the trail to meet us. About this time, the large group below had been given the green light by Grant to commence hiking, and we watched the procession snaking its way along the spur that parallels Kalanianaole before making a right turn to ascend the rock bridge and continue up to the rim.

When the first of the large group reached the rim, Thomas, Jason, Jim, and I set off for our round-the-rim trek, bidding farewell to Bill, who decided to head for top with the main group. While hiking along the Kalama Valley-facing (east) side of the rim, Jim recollected his first hike of the crater (about 1970) when the area was devoid of homes, a surreal thought given the massive clutter of abodes now in place.

While descending into the Botanical Gardens, we received a call from Jay via walkie-talkie, reporting to us that he had reached the summit and would be hiking along the west rim until meeting us.

Instead of ascending from the foot of the west rim, we climbed a spur directly across from the one we'd descended into the Gardens. While it's also possible to access the west rim further toward the parking area near the front gate of the Koko Crater Stables, we chose the route we did because it was faster, albeit steeper.

As we climbed the spur, we could see a large gathering of hikers on the summit platform. We also kept in w-t contact with Jay, who was making his way down the west rim toward us as he said he would.

We rested for about five minutes once we reached the west rim and then continued on our way to the top, stopping once again after we'd negotiated the narrowest segments of the trail on this side and then met up with Jay. Continuing on after our break, we commented how some had shears would have been helpful to snip some of the encroaching vegetation, mostly Christmas berry, along the trail.

Once we reached the summit, waiting there with a celebratory New Year's cup of sparkling apple cider was Stuart. In addition to the New Year, he and his wife Lynn were also celebrating their third wedding anniversary, so good wishes and congratulations were offered all around.

Jim, Jason, Jay, and I spent twenty minutes or so at the top with Stuart, Lynn and the twenty or so hikers who hadn't yet begun the trip back down. We then continued our way around the rim, making a right turn to descend the steep spur to the Blow Hole that Jim, Bill, and I had come up earlier. Grant, meanwhile, led the large group around the east rim to eventually drop down into the Gardens, where Bill, Ken, George, Fred, and others set up a vehicle shuttle to transport folks back to the Halona lot.

In all, it was a great day, a great hike, and a great start to 2000 for the club.

May it still be going strong in 3000.



Return to OHE top | Return to Oahu Hike Tales | Email Dayle