Tuesday, April 2, 2013


While I just got back from my home state of CO, I feel the need to finish up where I left off with Hawaii.  Each and every day of our trip, I faced this majestic volcanic mountain across the waters of Waikiki Beach.  Each and every day I was there, I told the husband person that I WOULD hike up to the top of a volcano.  Not my first choice - I actually picked one along the opposite side of the road, that was a straight shot to the top.  Having revisited a serious old ankle injury earlier in the summer, and still having it wrapped heavily, I was told I would NOT be hiking THAT particular volcano...nor would HE be hiking ANY volcano I happened to pick, with me.  Chicken!
Tired of hearing my pleas to ascend to the top of Hawaii, I was unceremoniously dropped at the entrance to Diamond Head State Monument - I HIKED DIAMOND HEAD (while he headed back to the "office" and told me to call when I thought I had had enough)!
The Diamond Head crater is more than 3,500 feet in diameter and is part of the now dormant Hawaiian volcano chain from more than a half million years ago. The crater is also called “Le'ahi,” which means “brow of the tuna” in Hawaiian. It got the name Diamond Head almost 200 years ago from British sailors who believed there were diamonds in the side of the crater - none were ever found.
The biggest tip I can give you, besides bringing along your camera, is WATER!  Make sure you have at least one bottle with you.  REAL SHOES is the second.  From the crater floor to the summit, you will hike 0.8 miles one way, climbing 560 feet.  The trail starts out paved, before turning into dirt and/or slightly rocky switchbacks that climb to the first lookout point, where you can catch your breath - only to lose it again, to the scenic vistas.
It was at this point that I met the dearest little Japanese-American man (4th generation Hawaiian, he was quick to point out), who told me he was in his mid 80's, and climbed to that point three times a week.  After imparting quite a bit of history about the crater and the island of Moloka'i in the distance (a former leper colony, and now pretty much uninhabited), he looked at me and told me that I should take the "special route", because I looked strong enough (obviously missing my ankle).  He did tell me that there would be stairs and a tunnel (there IS an easier route to the top from this point, should you choose).
Yes, there were stairs...74 of them.  And a tunnel - 200 ft. of tunnel.  Which dumped me out at the bottom of a second set of stairs the man forgot to tell me about.  A second set of stairs that stopped me dead in my tracks, looking more like a ladder than a staircase (that second picture is no exaggeration on perspective).  A second set of stairs that had 99 steps in it!  A second set of stairs that halfway up, had me thinking that if I found that dear little man on the way back down, I might just consider beating him to death.
AND, there was a second, shorter tunnel at the top of those stairs that led to another 52 steps up a 3 story spiral staircase, that leads to the old Fire Control Station lookout area.  This leads to a final 54 stairs to the summit.  I had now climbed 279 stairs (remember, there IS an easier route up), and once I caught my breath, I was awestruck by the 360 degree view - elevation 761 feet.
Diamond Head was purchased in 1904 by the Federal Government, and designated for military use.  Fortification began in 1908, with the construction of the gun emplacements and the trails and tunnels (yes, those tunnels). 
A total of five batteries were built atop Diamond Head, to house coastal artillery. The Fire Control Station was built between 1908 and 1910, and housed instruments and plotting rooms to direct artillery fire from the batteries.
Additional coastal defense was provided by long range guns on the outer slopes and rim of the crater around 1915. Diamond Head was prepared to defend O'ahu from attack, but no artillery was ever fired during a war. 
And the return trip, should you decide to be smart about it, will take you half the time going down...but, what did I do?  I figured that if I went UP the "special route", then I sure as hell was going back down the same way - it was all a matter of principal at that point, stairs schmairs!  558 stairs in total that day (REMEMBER, THERE IS AN EASIER ROUTE) - I did the whole trip in less than an hour and a half (including the 15 minute history lesson from the little man, and admiring the view from the top for quite some time).  I did it - I hiked my volcano - I hiked Diamond Head!  For more information on how to get to the entrance leading to those incredibly scenic stairs, visit HAWAII STATE PARKS.ORG.


Jackie said...

Oh I want to hike a volcano! Such beautiful photos!! I am really getting interested in going to Hawaii now! Thanks Chica!

Hindustanka said...

what a wonderful trip, Tanya! thanks for taking along those stairs..and tunnels! but the view you see atop is worth it! you are so brave :)
have a nice week!

My Garden Diaries said...

That is insane!!!! I had no idea there were stairs involved in this hike...and the tunnel! It looks intense but girl...that view is so beautiful! I think I would do it for that for sure!

Dagmar said...

Such a great hike, well done and fabulous photos..welcome back!❤

Dorthe said...

Dear Tanya,
I believe your condition to so much better than mine, as my legs would never have handled all those steps...oh my goodness- you are fantastic, I think- and that tour have been such an adventure ofcourse,- also the little man, even he kind of cheated on you-that not kind one!! But the view and the exitement doing it, is truly worth the trembling legs ( mine-if I had ever tried ,lol)
Hugs and thanks for taking me with you on another beautiful ride.

Sea Witch said...

Hello Tanya. WOW! what lovely photos and what a terrific opportunity to hike a volcano. I hope I can do that one day. Of course, I would be a diving fool if I was in Hawaii. Isn't travel marvelous? I can't imagine not visiting what the world has to offer.

Elisabeth said...

Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow! That view is amazing!

DearHelenHartman said...

Stairs? Walking? I thought it was supposed to be paradise! It looks gorgeous, what an adventure. Love seeing it.

knitalatte said...

Love your post about your adventure to the top of diamond head. What an amazing view. You much feel such a sense of accomplishment! Worth each step for such a great memory.
Thanks for sharing with us!

Tammy@T's Daily Treasures said...

Good for you! I love hiking and hate missed out opportunities. This coming from the girl who traveled to Hawaii with her family when she was 14 and was quite dismayed that her mother had planned hikes rather than beach time. We hiked to dormant volcanoes, visited the black sand beach only to see the sand, and even hiked an island. I didn't appreciate all that at the time but sure do now. And my kids are the ones who moan and groan when we take them to other countries for hiking. Ha! Best wishes, Tammy

Kadee Willow said...

Oh, my gosh.... did that ever seem like the best hike!! It's always fun running into a local who knows things not written down on a map... that's the best part of traveling. Getting off the beaten path! Your little man reminded me of people in Scottsdale who use Camelback Mt. for their daily exercise. I've seen people jog up that path as I'm huffing and puffing... lol! Thanks for sharing!

Jillayne said...

Yay!!! Way to go Tanya - how cool is that.... you are the Stair Master!!!