A couple months ago I got into reading people’s bucket lists and decided to make my own on tumblr here. I have about 100 more ideas on random scraps of paper around my house to add to it before I’m done but one of the early ones that already made the list was hiking the koko head trail to the top of the crater.
Albeit one of the easier items on the list to accomplish (compared to staying in a 7-star hotel in Dubai or landing a job in Antarctica) but one I was really nervous about. Because despite it being a hike that countless locals seem to do on an almost weekly basis, hiking over 1,000 “stairs” (really old railway tracks) seemed way above my fitness level.
And that’s why despite the fact that it was one of the things I wanted to do most in Honolulu, I almost chickened out a dozen times. I may not have ending up doing it at all if my brother-in-law Neil hadn’t told me I could come along with his friends. Well, that was very a nice and all (yay – new buddies!) until I found out that Neil typically makes it up to the top of Koko Head in 20 minutes.
Excuse me, say what now?
My goal was a quick and impressive 45 minutes. Maybe that was just him though. Yeah, he could just hang out at the top while the rest of us meandered our way up there together. Except that these friends of Neil apparently get together weekly to hike around Honolulu, including several previous trips to Koko Head. Gulp.
But I went.
At first when everyone was passing me by it was because I was conserving energy. Then they passed me by because the train tracks turned into these big gaping holes about 6 feet off the ground. I was literally trying not to cry and had to keep telling myself “it’s only a 6 foot drop, you’ll get hurt but you won’t die. No biggie!” And then the tracks seemed to go straight up the face of the mountain, almost completely vertical. And that’s when people passed me by because oh-my-god-this-is-the-most-strenuous-thing-I’ve-ever-done-in-my-life-and-I’m-only-at-the-800th-stair-how-will-I-ever-make-it. Yes, someone nicely wrote out the stair count every 100 stairs or so.
Amongst the noticeable people that I saw along the hike was a guy carrying his little Pomeranian. The guy looked fine. The Pomeranian not so much. There was a man and woman whom went up the mountain to collect the trash from the cans at the top of the crater. Note to self: add trash collecting at the top of Koko Head Crater to the list of jobs I do not want. And lastly, there was one of Neil’s friends whom apparently bored at having to wait so long for members of our group (read: me) decided to walk halfway back down before turning around and making it back up to the top. What?!
It was so pathetic towards the end of the hike, because I could see I was so close, could see all the faces of the people already relaxing at the top, but I had to take breaks every 3 stairs or so to be able to breathe. But I finally did it! I made it to the top. No more stairs.
I was quietly sitting and enjoying my victory when another hiking “buddy” leaned over and said, “if you’ve never done this before you should go all the way to the top.” Mother F-ers, I wasn’t at the top?! So I got back up, and on legs that were now completely jelly, I started hiking AGAIN. At least it was only another minute or so to the top-top… really half-a-minute for those without jelly legs.
The views really were awesome though. Though not something I’ll need to see every weekend.
And as a wonderful surprise for me this week, Neil sent through the money shot – a picture of my final steps up the crater, taken without my knowledge… So no, I’m not smiling at the camera – I’m smiling because the pain was finally over.
So a BIG thanks brotha Neil! Who knows, I may work it into my regular work out routine when I move back. After getting into much better shape first, of course!