Date: Sun, 10 May 1998 00:06:37 -1000
From: "Dayle K. Turner" (turner@hawaii.edu>
Subject: A Friday afternoon at Koko Crater

After work yesterday (5/8 Fri), Bill Melemai and I headed out to Sandy Beach to log a hike for some pre-weekend calorie burn. We had initially intended to trek up to Olympus but rain clouds made us consider an alternate venue. We first met at Waahila State Park and when we changed plans and departed for Koko Crater, Bill unknowingly left his Nike hiking boots on the ground next to where his car was parked. He only discovered his oversight when we arrived at Sandy's. Fortunately, after our hike, he drove back to Waahila and, lo and behold, his boots were still sitting there in the parking lot, untouched. Good deal!

As for our Koko hike, we started at the Sandy Beach parking lot and walked back along Kalanianaole toward Blowhole. We then crossed the highway and ascended to the crater rim via the natural rock bridge ridge. The steep climb was a puff and huffer, and we stopped periodically to enjoy the makai-ward views of the water off the rocky coast below while letting our pulse rate drop from triple to double-digits. While it's often possible to see Molokai and Lanai from this vantage point, clouds on the horizon obscured the view yesterday.

Undaunted, Bill and I continued to climb, reaching the rim in about half an hour after starting out. Once again, we rested for a spell once at the lip of the crater. Sweet breezes, born at some faroff spot in the Pacific, were welcomed by two large-framed, tired hikers.

The ascent to the Koko Crater summit at Pu'u Mai took 15 or 20 minutes and when we arrived there, three other hikers, two guys and a gal, (and their dog) greeted us. They told us they climbed to the top via the tram line route and the wahine, having sustained some scratches from koa haole on the ascent, expressed her envy at my shin-protecting gaiters.

The trio departed down the tram line a minute after Bill and I arrived at the top. We then spent 20 minutes resting at the spot Stuart (Ball) and Lynne were married on New Year's Day '97. While we kicked back, we read entries in the summit log, laughing at the more humorous ones. One thing I noted was that there were a ton of entries for December, January, and February but very few for March and April. Could the new sign at the trailhead stating "No Access" be deterring people from hiking the crater rim?

After returning the notepad to the bottle hanging from the metal platform (watch out for a yellowjacket nest next to the bottle!), we began our descent via the west/mauka rim route. A few minutes from the top, we looked left downslope and saw what we thought was the rock formation referred to as "Monkey Mountain." While the rock looked like the head of a long-nosed baboon to me, Bill said it appeared more like the cartoon character Tweety-Bird. Tweety-Bird mountain? There's the ticket!! [g]

We also encountered a plethora of ribbons marking the trail down the Monkey/Tweety-Bird ridge. Because it was getting late, and Bill was anxious to swing back up to St. Louis Heights to see if his shoes were still there, we decided against going down the ribboned route.

Instead, we continued along Koko Crater's west/mauka rim, negotiating the rocky, narrow sections without incident.

After bottoming out in the botanical gardens, we walked back along the single-lane road leading to Kealahou Street. Before proceeding all the way to Kealahou, however, we veered right to follow an old road, now overgrown with grass and lined with decaying heaps of abandoned automobiles. After about a 100 yards, the road bent left and we departed it to follow a trail veering right in the direction of the crater.

From that point on, I put up pink ribbons for future reference. I may suggest this route as a return leg for HTMC hikers doing the annual January 1 Koko Crater hike.

The trail dissipated into nothing after a couple hundred yards but we had no difficulty making our way through the knee-high grass and koa haole to Kalanianaole right across from the ewa-side entrance to Sandy Beach.

As we strode the last several yards to our cars at Sandy Beach, a local surfer dude looked at us in amazement, saying, "Don't tell me you guys wen climb dat mountain," gesturing to Koko Crater.

"All the way, brah," I smiled back.

"Get trails up dea?"

"Yup."

"Any da kine plants, lidat?" in reference to the flora grown and smoked for euphoric enhancement.

"Uhhh, no moa dat kine," I replied, smiling still.

So ended our conversation and so ended the hike for Bill and I. As I mentioned earlier, Bill headed back to Waahila for his miraculous shoe-fetching. Meanwhile, I motored home via Makapuu and Waimanalo, stopping, of course, at Waimanalo 7-11 for my ritual post-hike Super Big Gulp.

Ahh, the simple things in life.

Aloha and safe hiking to all,

--DKT


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