Friday, September 30, 2011

Koko Head Crater Hike

My dad at the top of the Koko Head Crater trail... in VFFs!

This post is dedicated to my dad, as this post is just as much about him as it is about the hike.  His favorite metabolic conditioning exercise is to sprint up and down the Koko Crater (Koko Head Crater) hike for time (yea, CrossFit!).
The Koko Head Crater trail is an old, abandoned World War II inclined railway of approximately 1000 steps, maybe more, one-way.  The railroad was once used by the military to transport supplies to a lookout shelter at the top.  Hikers use the old wooden railroad ties as steps.  The hike starts off relatively flat with the steps.  About 1/3 of the way there is an old railway track bridge hikers have to cross to continue.  Many people fear this bridge, especially when going down.  After crossing the bridge, the hike quickly gets steep, and remains steep until you reach the top.  A few of the many spectacular views off of the trail consist of: Hanauma Bay, Koko Head, Hawaii Kai, Diamond Head, and the Waikiki skyline.  Also, Koko Crater is Hawaii's tallest tuff ring (~1200 ft), created from the last active volcano that occurred on Oahu approximately 10,000 years ago.
Now for the locals, if you hiked this trail, you probably saw, met, or heard about my father.  My dad is that "crazy-fast, inspirational," "Daisy's Dad/old guy/old man/grandfather/grandpa," with the cute "dogs/Daisy/Goldens/3 dogs/2 dogs", and the "grand son/daughter" lagging behind (referring to my brother and I), people on the trail always talk about.  Also in that order, haha.  Daisy has also been compared to a "mountain goat" and "lion."  My dad and our dogs made some publicity over the years.  They were featured in the local news, newspapers, websites, and probably in your photos, too.

The Koko Head Crater trail is like family to us.  We started hiking it back in 1995 when it was just our family and the crater.  My father, brother, and I hiked it daily, and to this day, now that my brother and I are gone, my dad still hikes it daily.  The tracks are very old.  Before, many of the wooden ties were severely damaged or completely eaten away.  Certain parts were so old that when you put foot on it, the entire piece would shake like crazy.  For these my dad fixed them up.  When the poor trail was infested with bees, we got rid of them.  When the government tried to shut down the trail, our entire family (including the dogs), signed the petition against the proposal.

As I made my way through high school, the number of people on the trail grew approximately linearly.  During college and now, currently, the number of people who hike this trail at a given moment is exponentially growing (no joke).  It's so popular it's even on Yelp and TripAdvisor (wtf).  Due to the trails increasing popularity, a lot of the broken rusted railway equipment have been taken away.  There are no longer unstable steps and for the extra large steps, people have built a mid-step for ease.

The hike is an awesome CrossFit workout!  Hawaii folks, please take advantage of the awesome weather, beach, and natural surroundings!  Next to my family, that's what I miss most about Hawaii.  Anyway, back on track, attempt to beat my 66-year-old dad's upward time of 10 minutes to the top, and please let us know if you do so!  My brother, Skye, and I cannot keep up and embarrassingly enough, 9-months into CrossFit, I am still a slow poke next to daddy. :(  My best time going up is around 12 minutes.

Some tips on hiking Koko Head Crater from my dad:
  • Try really hard not take any breaks.  If you do, 3 seconds MAX.  Rest at the top.  I think this is true as I get even more tired and hot if I rest in the middle of the trail longer.  I also think my large gas tank in CrossFit WODs (especially when going longggg) came from this training.
  • Big steps over little steps.
  • Going across the bridge: start off with one foot at a time, near the side (right side is better) and just casually walk or run across.  You're too big to fall in between anyway.
  • Going down the bridge: again, casually walk or run down.  You're too big to fall in between.  Up until Labor Day weekend 2011, I used to crouch down near the bridge and cross it one leg at a time because I was scared.  This takes forever and once I was finally able to cross it standing up, it was a lot easier!
  • Going down: run down with large steps.  Your body naturally "falls and recovers."
  • Best times to hike are early in the morning or evening time.  It gets very hot during the day.
  • Don't be a pussy.

Photos along the trail:  
Some of the old school photos were really hard to find!  Be prepared for a lottttttttttttt of pictures!

2. Eugene, Ginger, Skye, and I near the start of the trail. We take all our visitors here!  March 2009.
3. Going up to the trail.  2010.

4. Me + Daisy, Skye, and Ginger at the start of the trail!  Bebas are so cute!  2008.

5. Just me and the tracks after the fire.  2003.
6. Skye at the beginning of the trail in 2011.  Look how many people hike it now!!!  2011.
7. Shallow railroad tracks up until right before the bridge.  2008.

8. Bebas crossing the infamous bridge!  2008.
9. Baby David and I crossing the bridge!  2002.

10. Bridge crossing.  On the way down, a lot of people get scared.  2010.

11. Literally right after the bridge.  Look at the number of hikers!!!!  2011.

12. Getting steeper.  Size is not an excuse!  Baby Skye and Daisy.  2008.

13. My brother, after a rainfall, almost at the top.  2004.

14. Before the ledge was removed, you could jump from it to the helipad, ~6ft. jump.  Daisy was really good at this!  2005.

15. David and Hanauma Bay.  2004.

16. David, my dad, and I at the top.  2006.

17. My dad, baby Skye, baby Ginger, and Daisy in the background at the top.  2008.

18. My dad, Ginger, Skye, Daisy, and I at the top.  Koko Head, Hanauma Bay, Hawaii Kai in the background.  2009.

19. Skye, Daisy and I.  So many people at the top!  2010.

20. Pull-up and muscle-up to the helipad.  2011.

21. Handstand time!  2011.

22. My dad feeding Skye water.  We actually only carry water for the dogs, not for us since the hike is short and we live 5 minutes away. Hawaii Kai in the background. 2010.

23. The top with plenty hikers!  2011.

24. Old school Hawaii Kai!  Taken from the top of Koko Crater.  1999.

25. Hawaii Kai.  So much more houses crammed right next to each other.  2011.

26. Hanauma Bay.  2011.

27. Windward side view.  2011.

28. Running down.  Plenty people!  2011.

29. Heading down in 2004.  Less people.  2004.

30. Daisy, the lion, showing Ginger, and Skye (way behind) how it's done!  2008.

31. The two beasts get the front seats.  2010.

Forget the cardio equipment, and hike nature's stairmaster!  And for those who CrossFit, this is a great met-con!  The upward sprint will make you want to bend over or lie down at the top.  For extra credit, at the top, go Blair Morrison style!  Do a muscle-up to the helipad followed by a handstand for the photo!