Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Koko Crater (Kohelepelepe) O'ahu, Hawaii

Koko Crater (Kohelepelepe), 1,208 ft
Elevation Gain: 1,168 ft
Trail: Up the Arch, past The Knob and along the Crater Rim!
Distance: 3 miles roundtrip
Duration: 4 hrs (includes break at summit)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Danger: Low to High (loose dirt, rock scrambling, narrow ridges with steep drop-offs, high winds, steep staircase, walk along busy highway, walk along coastline, high waves)

Before I left for Hawaii I researched different hiking clubs and meetup groups in Hawaii. Dave of Unreal Hawaii suggested I look up the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club. I was ecstatic to see their schedule online and was hoping to make 3 hikes with them. Unfortunately, with the holidays being so busy, I could only make one hike with them. Fortunately, it was the hike to ring in the New Year 2013!

Koko Crater is an extinct, cinder cone volcano that overlooks Hawaii Kai, Kuapa Pond, Koko Head and Hanauma Bay. The interior of the crater is host to the Koko Crater Botanical Gardens.  Every New Years Day, the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club hikes Koko Crater from the Halona Blow Hole parking lot. This hike was open to the public and at the parking lot, guests and members signed in. As I was pulling into the parking lot there were folks already starting on the hike, making their way along Kalanianaole Highway to the ridge where the hike started. There were 135 folks hiking Koko Crater this bright New Years Day! Laura Owens coordinated this hike for this day. She, Elena  and I and several others were the last group of the club to leave the parking lot.

The ridge across from the Halona Blowhole parking lot
Oahu, Hawaii, hiking 
Laura Owens, hike coordinator. 
With Sandy Beach, Makapu'u and the parking lot in the background.

The ridge curved to the right and ascended to the "Arch".
At the base, Allison making her way up.

This was one of the many highlights of this hikes!  The “Arch” or aka the Rock Bridge was full of club members and guests making their way up. We made our way to “The Knob” (top middle of this photo) where the hike along the crater rim starts.
 
Here’s a little close up view of The Arch. This part of the trail is very steep (Class 4) and safety webbing was put up for this hike by the Hawaiian Trail & Mountain club. 5 members of the club 'spotted' along the Arch to assist hikers. 
Up and over the Arch, looking back!
 Along the crater rim (3)
Ridge hiking totally rocks! As you can see from my photos, most of the trail is ungraded - along the crest of the ridge. There is a small portion of the trail that is graded which I appreciated especially when it got windy. It was this hike that made me realize that I truly love ungraded ridge hiking.

As I made my way up along the ridge, it got a bit windy and the clouds started coming in. Whenever there was a gust of wind, I’d stop and crouch down to the trail floor until the wind passed. Don't wanna fall off the ridge, its a long way down!
At the summit there are remains of an radar site and railway.
 
Calvin, Elena and Allison
Hanauma Bay and Koko Head (642 ft)
Hawaii Kai and Kuapa Pond

It was a blast descending via the railway tracks. It can be hard on the knees so I was happy I had my trekking poles with me. The trick to descending is to step down with your body sideways and alternate sides. There was a lot of traffic in both directions. 

Once at the bottom of tracks we made our way through the rifle range and along the Kalanianaole Highway. That the walk along the highway was a dangerous part of the hike. At the sign there were two pink ribbons so we hopped over the guardrail and descended into a small gully.
 At the bottom of the gully we passed through a lava tube under the highway….so cool!
 ...and emerged along a rocky shoreline.
We made our way along the beautiful shoreline (6)





The hike concluded at the Halona Blowhole parking lot. It was a relatively short hike, but packed. And by packed, I mean that there was so much to see along the way on this hike! The most difficult part of this hike is the Arch because of its steepness. But the hike along the exposed crater rim can be dangerous as well especially in high wind. And the hike along the shoreline is just as dangerous. Grant reminded us not to turn our backs to the ocean. This was my first taste of narrow/exposed/ungraded ridge hiking in Hawaii, and my first taste of hiking an extinct volcano! Mahalo nui loa to Laura, Grant and Elena. I will always have fond memories of hiking New Years Day 2013 with the Hawaiian Trail & Mountain Club.

2 comments:

Mokihana said...

I really, really, enjoyed seeing your photos of your hike! You are taking me to places that I've never been up there! I've only seen most of this from the ground. I remember small kid time my dad took us on a short hike on Koko Head, but I can't remember exactly where it was. I would recognize it if I saw it again, though.

I love reading your adventures! Mahalo nui!

Hawaii Girl said...

Aloha Mokihana! So glad you enjoyed my blog and photos! You bring up a good point as I was telling Nancy that on this trip to O'ahu, I saw Hawaii like I never saw before! It was amazing to be able to hike!