My brother had just landed and that could only mean one thing; there were lots of hikes coming. We agreed to an apparently exhausting hike called the Koko Crater Trail. This was once a giant uphill train track, and now it provides just enough of a grip to ascend 642 feet almost straight up.
This doesn’t sound like much, but this was just our morning activity. We would be getting a days worth of exercise before lunch. The next morning my brother would be doing the Aloha run, an 8 mile race through Honolulu. This is the last thing I would be doing if I had a run the next morning, but I get it. He just got off of a plane and now wanted to move around as much as possible.
The Koko Crater was once an important military site during World War II. The military would build pillbox lookouts up in the mountains and this railroad allowed provisions to be delivered to the men without them needing to leave their post. Now, it is a popular hiking trail. It’s not too long, but perfect for people who want to pack a lot of exercise into a short period of time. Once you park in the parking lot outside the trailhead, you can easily follow the path to the start of the track. If you can’t seem to find the trail, just look up at the crater and you will see some tracks cutting into the mountain. Just follow those tracks down with your eyes and eventually you will come to the start of the trail.
After playfully climbing around a tree outside the trailhead for a few minutes, I decided to start the climb. I was wearing perhaps one of the worst outfits for hiking in Hawaii, a long sleeve shirt and flip flops. This was going to make it very difficult to complete the climb, but I was looking forward to the challenge. It forced me to be mindful of every step that I was taking. I had to place my feet on each railroad track and make sure I had my balance before shifting the rest of my weight over.
There was one part of the trail where the ground beneath us disappeared and I was just walking on a track suspended over the abyss. There was not much of a drop-off underneath the tracks, but still, if you fell you could get pretty badly hurt. I was very careful climbing up this part.
Eventually, we came to a small little cave at the top. We saw some old relics from the time that this site was used. It would’ve seemed like the end of the trail if I hadn’t noticed a small pathway behind it that took us up even further. All of a sudden, our view began to open up even more and we saw the pillbox at the top.
This definitely was the top of crater. We perched on top of a metal cage at the top and looked all around the surrounding area. From here you could see so much. Honolulu, Hanauma bay and Makapu’u. You could see little neighborhoods tucked in around the surrounding mountains. This could’ve been the best view of the whole trip so far!
Just then, it started to rain. I was so hot from the hike that I welcomed this. I had not taken my phone with me, so I was fine just getting wet. It’s a nice feeling to not care about the rain, very liberating.
We began the climb down, which is always harder than the way up. For this one, I just kept my head down and focused on my feet. I was able to cruise down the 1,000 steps in a speedy 20 minutes. It was a good thing we didn’t take too long on this climb, we had a lot more planned today. We had to register my brother for his race tomorrow so we would be going into the city to find the place. We also made a stop in China town to pick up some ingredients for our dinner that night. It was our turn to cook, and we were in the mood for some stirfry.
These dinners were a really fun time for us. During the day, a lot of times people would go there separate ways to do different adventures. At night, we got a chance to catch up with one another and hear some stories. We also got a good chance to showcase our best dishes. We had 12 people in total on this trip so each person cooks roughly one night. We wanted to make our best tofu stirfry to show people how good it is without meat! We scoured the Chinese markets for some fresh ingredients.
Chinatown is mostly just a loose assortment of markets and kiosks, but some parts of it are quite organized. If you go to the Chinatown Cultural Plaza, it feels kind of like a mall and they really embrace the whole Chinatown theme. This is an easy way to get a lot of stuff really conveniently. Of course, if you actually enjoy the walking around part, you’re welcome to do so. There are so many stores in Chinatown, you could definitely spend a whole day just walking around here. One of the coolest things we found was a bin filled with fresh Durian. These fruits are famous for a number of reasons. The first reason is they smell so bad that in much of Asia, you are forbidden to eat one of these in any public place. They are also famous because they are one of the most dangerous fruits out there. Weighing about 3 pounds with giant spikes on them, the Durian is not a fruit you want to just pass around. The spikes are also way harder than I thought and it was painfully just to hold one of these things.
We bounced from store to store to pick up a few ingredients and then we started cooking dinner as soon as we got home. Everyone loved the meal we made, and I’m sure they even enjoyed our stories from the day even more!