A couple days ago my lovely parents returned from a 2 week cruise to Hawaii (yes me = jealous). On their stop in Oahu they got their hiking on and my dad wrote up the first non-Washington hike for my blog!
Here he is with a fabulous Hawaii hike.
Hike: Diamond Head (HI)
This February day greeted us with the sun smiling an aloha to these island guests. We drove the road which circles the crater upwards to the access tunnel cut through the side of the mountain and provides the path to the crater floor. The size of the crater floor appears to be the smaller cousin of Crater Lake. The same remnants of the volcanic power in the past were evidenced by the tremendous missing mass rimmed by the caldera.
As we exited the tunnel, the bright light of the day revealed a rifle training facility for U.S. military personnel in bygone days. This need has dissipated and provided a rugged playground for hikers such as us. We paid our entrance fee, parked the car, and stood in the parking lot looking at the tiny moving dots above us on the inner face of the crater which were the other adventurous hikers on the hill.
As we started off, the small pamphlet which came with our entrance fee stated that the hike is 0.8 miles one-way and should take 1-1/2 hours to hike the full circuit.
The path led constantly upwards starting with 400 yards of a concrete path placed on an existing goat path for erosion control. With the sun providing constant watch on the back of our necks we had no doubt that this would be a good cardiovascular effort. The concrete path stopped abruptly among the scrub bushes and short trees which had made this their home. The path became a mixture of volcanic rock and man’s effort to make it somewhat flat in its cross-section. The weather had wiped away man’s efforts to smooth the path, so each step needed to be on the ridge or in the hollow to avoid tweaking an ankle.
The widened goat path started a series of switchbacks as the grade increased accompanied by the same amount of sweat beads on the brow. After one long switchback, the upwards path before us became wholly visible. Lynda was surprised by the elevation remaining and exclaimed, “You got be kidding me!” This was followed by another four or five switchbacks and a lengthy set of stairs with 190 steps. The top of the stairs produced a sigh of relief followed by many heavy breaths and wiping of a forehead of sweat.
The path leading us slightly upward entered a man-made tunnel which was about 125 yards long carved with the same upwards slope to help us attain the top with each step. Another set of shorter stairs located us in a bit of a labyrinth pathway with a bit of ducking, dipping, and a bent-over short shuttle to land us on the rim of the crater. The hike up the hill took 30 minutes without many breaks. The 0.8 miles must be a distance by the straightest-flying crow known to man.
It was worth it. The pictures can only capture the concept of what we could see, but the peaceful enormity of standing on the upper rim of this former mountain is only realized by both your eye and mind capturing the scope, grandeur, and solitude of our mountain top experience.
Downhill was a lot easier and quicker. Was it worth it? – you bet. I would not fly to Hawaii to only see Diamond Head’s view, but I sure would experience it if I was in the neighborhood.