OHE October 23, 1999 (Halona-Koko Crater)

Date: Sat, 23 Oct 1999 19:22:09 -1000
From: Wing C Ng (wing@lava.net>
Subject: Koko Crater another way

At the Club hike Hanauma-Halona, I and the Professor conspired, and peeled off after 1/2 hour to do Koko Crater instead. We went up the direct route from Blow Hole (not the Arch), and got up to the rim in a half hour. We were talking about coming down the cable car way, but then we speculated on the feasibility of various ridges along the way, and then as typical in adventures with the Prof., we ended up doing one of them.

We got up to the observation platform and had lunch. The bottle of comments was gone, and so were the flags.

After lunch we proceeded down the same way. At a point where the rim turns left on the way down, where there is a rocky ridge going to the right, and a 3 foot step to come down, we took off. Dayle put a wooden marker to mark the spot.

We took the shelf to the left of the rocky ridge. The going was very steep and footing is bad, with large rocks being dislodged once per minute; and of course there is no trail: it's Manoa Middle Dry. Then we made our way to the right to join the rocky ridge, having avoided the steeper rocks.

The rocky ridge goes down, no longer rocky, very steeply, again with no trail, with lots of loose rocks, and unreliable hand and footholds.

Need a 500 foot rope to do this securely. While there is no dramatic fall-off, a misstep will certainly put one in a cast for at least a month or two, something I desperately want to avoid.

Soon the angle of descent decreases, and the ridge narrows to maybe 20 feet, with sheer dropoffs on both sides. I admire the ridge on the left with a 5 foot deep notch, and plot getting there some other day.

Eventually, the ridge becomes tame, at which point one can see droppings of a certain animal, that have bleached white in the intense sun. Dayle speculates that it was feral cats, for dogs would probably have trouble even there.

At that point, my right boot underwent a semi-catastrophic failure: the rear half of the sole separates while the front still attaches (a 100% catastrophe would be the entire sole separates). At the hard work was over, and I shuffled down with one flapping boot. Eventually the ridge terminates and I went down on the left to a gully, which then goes back to the highway.

I have often looked at Koko Crater and counted the possibly doable ridges. There are more than a dozen. Today we managed to do one of them safely, with damage only to one boot.


Reply From: Dayle K. Turner (turner@hawaii.edu>

More redundancy. For those who don't like it, call the net cops. :-)

As Wing mentioned, he and I left the group, maybe two dozen in all, when we reached the area by the Blowhole. Grant Oka (in funky running shorts) was there. So were Fred Boll, George Shoemaker, Evelia Pineda-Torres and Justin Ohara.

I had never hiked along this part of the coast before, and I'm glad I checked out this hike this past Saturday. For anyone who decides to do this, be aware of ocean conditions, for if the waves are too big, hiking along the shelf can be life-threatening (the shrines for drowned fishermen a testament to this).

We started at the parking area for the Lanai Lookout, walked along the highway for a short spell, then jumped over a guard rail on the mauka side of the highway to drop into the same gully Wing and I would descend to later. There is a navigable lava tube that crosses under the roadway. This was interesting and something I never knew existed. I took a bunch of digital cam pics but haven't been able to process them because my computer at home is currently in crap-out mode. :-(

Once we reached the Blowhole, Wing and I left the group. After climbing the rocky slope, we crossed the road and climbed the spur that goes up directly mauka of the parking area. The HTMC club route is a couple hundred meters toward Hanauma Bay but we've done that a bunch of times before so we thought this lesser-used route would be more fun.

When we reached the rim, we spotted a young couple 100 meters ahead making for the summit. Apparently, they were spooked when the ridge narrowed near the top and turned back. After resting at our topping out point, Wing and I trudged to the summit along the rim. We exchanged greetings with the young couple as they headed down and they expressed surprise we had come up from the Blowhole side. They stopped at the pyramidal rock formation on the rim to watch us complete the climb to the top. Wing and I joked that they must think we were hiking supermen for fearlessly making our way to the top.

We ate lunch at the summit platform where I snapped more pics. It was a sunny, clear day with good views all the way around and I got some shots of Wing scarfing down his trademark beef broccoli noodles purchased from a Chinatown restaurant. After a half hour taking it easy on the summit, we backtracked down the rim for a couple hundred meters then followed a steep but doable-looking spur we had scouted out earlier from the Lanai Lookout parking lot and also on our way up to the top before lunch.

As Wing mentioned, the slope was steep and strewn with loose rocks and dead haole koa trees. LESSON 1: don't rely on dead haole koa for handholds when descending a steep slope. LESSON 2: do not descend directly below Wing (or anyone, for that matter) with plenty of loose rocks around. But there were no casualties, and Wing, with the recently healed bone in his hand surely on his mind, made sure of that by descending at a very careful pace.

I saw no trash or markings or signs that anyone had recently gone up or down this route. One reason is that this spur is in line with the Koko Head Rifle Range, and I'm sure someone with a decent aim and weapon might have been able to pick Wing and I off if he or she was so inclined. And there were folks firing away at the range. At one point, I swear I heard the PING of a bullet ricocheting off a nearby rock. Couldn't be, I thought to myself. Even if I was just hearing things, I wasn't about to take a chance, so I kept moving down the spur until another spur provided protection.

We were back at our cars by 1:30 and I made my usual stop at Hawaii Kai Taco Bell before heading home.

Pics of the outing to come at some point.


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