October 3: Koko Head Challenge

If you are ever on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, Boots & Kimos is a must-try! MM invited us to this little restaurant that we had to actually sit outside for quite a while just to get a table. Don't let the wait deter you. They serve these deliciously rich macadamia nut pancakes, which had a sweet macadamia nut sauce flowing over the 3-pancake high stack. I read that people love this sauce so much that even the Betty Crocker Company wanted to sell their product. What!? Yeah, it was that good.

After JD's teleconference, we set out to find Koko Head. We drove around for a bit trying to find the start. Somewhere along the road, we ended up at the Botanical Gardens. The GPS couldn't find it either. Just as you shouldn't let the wait deter you for the awesome-ness that will be served to you at Boots & Kimos, don't let the difficult-looking hike ahead deter you from Koko Head. It is most certainly not for the faint of heart, but you can do it.

You'll want to take lots of water (three Camelbaks per hiker's back should suffice), a camera, a Bible, and someone awesome to motivate you the entire way up.

{Alright, it's not that bad - but it's pretty tough if you're not in a daily routine of hiking such craters.}

As you may be enticed to hike Diamond Head due to its popularity among tourists, we would suggest against it. Grated, we haven't hiked it but we've heard that Koko Head's views hold many more marvelous treasures than Diamond Head. Plus, it's less crowded, less touristy and more of a challenge. Koko Head was formerly occupied by the military in order to transport personnel and supplies to a lookout post on the summit. How did the military get up to the peak? By trams and railways, of course!

And how do hikers get up to the peak? You guessed it - by walking more than 1,100 steps - or old railway ties. These railway ties have a tendency to be fairly spaced out every few feet so people with long legs (i.e. JD) have a higher advantage of defeating the trail with more ease than those with short legs (i.e. Whit).

This is Koko Head. Doesn't look so bad from here, huh? Please note that, yes, the baseball field you park beside is, in fact, the parking lot that will eventually lead you up to Koko Head. Don't second guess yourself... or triple guess if you had the same difficulties as us.  

The small hike's trail from the parking lot to the beginning of the massive hike's trail...

Oh, this is it. After the hill from the parking lot, followed by the paved road, you should embark on something similar to this. Now does the Koko Head trail look a bit tougher? 

We made it to the top!! Haha - kidding. This photo was taken maybe 1/8 of the way up. We were still fully energized at this point. 

This is the face of a man ready to defeat Koko Head. Yes, my sweet husband does smile all of the time.  Even in the face of defeat. It's a truly beautiful thing. I aspire to be more like him in times such as this.

He has a stamina that I just can't comprehend. At this point, I'm taking the photo from a little further behind him on the trail... as in, this photo is in full zoom. My energy was fading rather quickly... 

But, there were awesome views to sustain our wariness. 

Yeah, this reminds me of a roller coaster too - right before you lose your stomach. Vertigo, anyone?

Another fully-zoomed photo of my husband trekking at full speed ahead. He would let me catch up with him every now and again, but I just kept falling behind. I kept saying, "Gosh, I really need to get a work-out regimen." Still working on that one...

The 500th step. 

Hydration is KEY!! I wish we had those Camelbaks about right now...

This is the bridge. Yeah. The bridge. As in, there is nothing underneath these railway ties except a vast span of nothing, and then maybe some grass below that nothingness. Or at least that's how you may feel when crossing it. You can also take the side trail to the right, if you're terrified of falling through. In other words, we took that trail on the way back down.

The Hikers vs. The Mountain
The beauty of this trail is that you will find an infinite amount of camaraderie. It's all of you vs. the mountain. This girl was one of many people that we shared encouragement with. I wish that we had gotten a snapshot of the man carrying a baby on his back. Oh yeah, and the guy who was carrying his girlfriend down the mountain. THAT is motivation, my friends. And it helped give us that push to keep going.  

Water break!! Did I mention that you should hydrate during this trek?

And this would have been the perfect place to pull out the Bible. Seriously. It was absolutely breathtaking. I mean that literally and figuratively. :) It was a great place to rest, take in the view, and hope that you would not fall forward the slightest bit or it's Jack and Jill the whole way down.

Props to my sweet husband for taking this cool pic. I'm so glad I wore my wedding shirt that day. It made for a pretty cool element in the photo, don't you think?

Oahu at its finest on a cloudy day. At this point, we were so high and the clouds were so filled with rain that it began to sprinkle on us. The rain was also motivation for continuing on. It was kind of like the voice of God saying, "What's up, Todd's? Why don't you join me on top of this crater? I've got some pretty cool sights for you. Oh, you need water? Here's enough to carry you through."

You may think this is the top, as it is the end of the ties. Don't be deceived, friends. My husband is merely resting for the first time on our hike. 

Follow the trail up to the tippy top (the beaten path to JD's right) and you will see some views that will almost knock you off the peak. It's a great photo op and resting spot!! We also met a super nice couple up here that took our picture for us. 

Here's a view into the crater. I had nightmares of falling off the peak into this crater during the nights that followed taking this photo.


After enjoying the view, get ready....

...give each other a good luck kiss for the way down...
...and go!!
You may be tempted to run, hop, skip, or jog down... but be forewarned. Your feet may run out ahead of you and BOOM. Jack and Jill again. Not cool. Especially when you have short legs.

The treacherous bridge. Round 2. I'm pretty sure I crawled down backwards this time.

Is it that noticeable that JD graciously took the camera from me halfway during the hike? Can you also tell that he was super far ahead of me again on the way down? His legs are so much longer than mine.

Time for my muscle pics. 

I AM WOMAN!!... with a Dasani bottle in my hand.

JD took some pretty cool photos as I was cautiously hopping down the roller coaster-like trail. You can check out a stop motion clip we put together at this video towards the end. 

Though this particular hike was quite strenuous, it was awesome and rewarding at both the peak and the end. We encourage anyone and everyone to have a go at it. Don't give up. Rest when you need to. Drink more water than you think you can even handle. Most importantly, enjoy it. Savor the battle because it is indubitably worth it. (Can you tell we've been watching How I Met Your Mother shows lately on Netflix?)