on May 29, 2007
When I’m on vacation, I’m not much for physical activity. On this trip to Oahu, I felt it was time to change that by hiking up Diamond Head. Diamond Head State Monument provides a backdrop to Waikiki scenery. As such, we drove for about 15 minutes to the Diamond Head parking lot. Get there early for parking and for cooler temperatures. Gates open from 6am to 6pm. If you cannot find parking in the lot, you have to exit the tunnel, park outside of the crater’s rim, and walk back about 10 minutes to the start of the trail. A refreshment truck, at the beginning of the trail, sells drinks and shave ice at inflated prices. Bring plenty of your own water. I drank practically 64 ounces on the hike alone. Bathrooms are found at the trail’s start.The trail begins on a gently sloping, paved walkway, with trees providing spotty shade. After about 15 minutes, the walkway gives way to a dirt path. At this point, the incline grows and rails appear to mark the edge of the trail. Some of the steps are steep and with the rocks, your footing must be sure. Hats and loose articles should be safely secured, lest you have to retrace your steps.After about an hour of climbing, we came to a lookout point that allowed us to catch a glimpse of the view. I needed this motivation to help me tackle the toughest part of the ascent: the 99 steps. We arrived at a seemingly endless stairway. I craned my neck to see a dark hole at the top. Not much for motivation. Our friends ran all the way up. I, fully aware of my physical limitations, took a deep breath and plodded along at a slow but steady pace. When I felt the lactic acid burn in my thighs, I rested. At the top, our eyes had to adjust to an almost pitch-black tunnel, with dim lighting near the feet. We had a flashlight with us but it had not rained in a while and I did not encounter any surprise puddles. Use the flashlight to ward against any unwelcome surprises.Once we reached the end of the tunnel, a spiral staircase greeted us. We climbed the staircase to the pillbox. A man selling $5 commemoration certificates sat at a small desk. But we had not yet reached the summit. We carefully climbed a small ladder and climbed out the pillbox hold on our hands and knees. The view that greeted us stunned us into silence. Don’t stop there, continue on the path and up the stairs to the observation deck at the highest point of the crater’s rim. I cannot adequately describe the view so please let our pictures do the talking. After the hour trek back to the car, the exhaustion kicked in but I could honestly check off “hiking” from my vacation list of things to do. What an accomplishment!
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