Diamond Head, A Tough Hike for Me
As we were spending the holidays with our Marine son in Oahu, we mentioned that we might like to visit Diamond Head. He said he had never been there yet, so we headed out one morning for the visit. We arrived about 9:30 am, and the parking area for Diamond Head was already filled, and folks were parking from a distance and walking in. We waited patiently for a parking space in line behind others, and we pulled into a space within 15 minutes. I was so glad we hadn’t parked out and walked in after the climb. More about that later!
The brochure we picked up at the base of the climb told us that the Hawaiian name for Diamond Head is Le’ahi. Le’ahi is believed to have been formed 300,000 years ago during a single, brief eruption. The crater covers 350 acres. It created such a perfect panoramic view, that Diamond Head became important to Oahu’s defense against fires and foreign invadors.
At the beginning of the trail we were told it was just eight tenths of a mile, and I smarted off that I could do that easily. Little did I know what lay ahead, or I wouldn’t have been so glib. I knew it was going to be steep in places, but we saw family escorting frail older people and small children, as well as one mother pushing her son in a wheelchair, so I figured, how bad can it be?
We’d only walked a short distance, when the concrete path, which had been laid to help stop trail erosion, ended, and the rugged dirt trail began. I knew the mother with the son in the wheelchair would be turning back as the dirt trail became very rough almost immediately. Around a corner, we found a park ranger stationed, who was warning that the path became only more difficult from there and making sure we had hats, sun protection, and water for our hike. We felt well prepared … another mistake, and we continued on.
I’m the only wimp in our family. Our Marine son was well prepared for such a hike, our teenage daughter did great even though she was
wishing for more water than we’d brought, and my husband has never met a challenge he couldn’t conquer. And, they all know me too well, so they were pushing, encouraging, and threatening all along the way to keep Mom moving forward. Every so often one of them would call a Mom break, saying that would help me make it to the top.
After pushing upward for what seemed like forever, we arrived at a lighted tunnel, where we took another break and drank the last of our water. Big mistake! When we literally reached the natural light at the end of this really long tunnel, I was facing 99 steep steps straight up, so I stopped … for a while. Rachel headed straight up the stairs, encouraging me to come on the end was really near. Roger and Eric both told me I could do it, so I got my breath back and headed up the stairs. And, no, I didn’t count them as I went … but about halfway up those stairs - the boys said it was only about a quarter of the way, I stopped, saying I was so sorry, I couldn’t go any further, to just leave me and go on. Yes, I’m a wimp!
Did I mention that there was a constant stream of people moving the same direction, so I was now holding everyone behind us up. Roger gave me a shove, saying, you can’t stop now, and somehow I started moving again. At the top of those stairs, I stopped for a break until I could breathe normally again. I’m so out of shape! But all I had left was the spiral staircase, and we all emerged at the top of Diamond Head!
The walk back down was so much easier, and we were laughing and enjoying the trek down, excited that we’d all made it to the top together! The view at the top was worth the hike. So, here’s my advice. Get in shape before you go, or take it really slow. We took three bottles of water for the four of us, and we could have used at least double that amount. Wear good shoes! I don’t think I could have made it at all if I hadn’t had on my good athletic shoes.
More than that, I wanted to share my experience, just to let folks know this is not an easy hike. As I mentioned earlier, we saw lots of folks trying to take older folks up who could barely walk, small children who were crying to be carried after only a short distance, and, of course, at least one wheelchair. And, then there were folks like me … who have sadly allowed their bodies to become out of shape. I’m too young to be this out of shape, so … to the gym for me. I’m glad I conquered … survived … Diamond Head!