Encountering the Sublime on top of Koko Head Crater

06 February 2014

It was pitch black and slightly drizzling when I got into the car at 4 am. I shivered but remembered it was actually 65 degrees outside. Hawaii has really spoiled me.

The car set out and my guide began pointing and explaining neighborhoods we passed. To our right, the towering hotels of Waikiki which used to be a swamp. To the left, the quiet neighborhood of Hawaii Kai which used to be ancient fishing ponds.

Finally we pulled up to our destination; Koko Head Crater. It this point it was just a dark outline against the night sky and I couldn't grasp how big it actually was. 'But I'm young and fit' I thought, 'I can handle a little hike, right?'

The first 20 minutes weren't that bad. The path, which was actually an old railway that moved supplies up to the WWII base at the top, was moderately inclined. The rain became a bit heavier but I appreciated the refreshing drizzle.

At the half way point it suddenly got steeper. I began to wish that train was still there to take me up. It wasn't so much a problem with my legs (though my calves were burning the next day) but more an issue of breathing. Apparently my sedimentary lifestyle is catching up with me?

I stopped several times to catch my breathe before hauling myself up to the top. It was just before daybreak and we could see gray clouds crawling in from the north. I stood at the ragged edge of the ancient volcano and stared down into its dark center. The only sound was that of the wind whipping by.

My guide shook his head disappointingly, "We're not going to see dawn with these clouds rolling in."

But just then I experienced a natural phenomenon so beautiful that it definitely made up for the lost sunrise; instead I got to witness the clouds roll through the valley of the volcanic crater and then, in a gust of furious wind, it shot up over the edge right in front of me and enveloped us in a misty shroud. There was something so surreal and the only word I could think of was sublime. In that moment I was just overcome with awe for the beauty of nature.

My next moment of shock came when I finally turned around and in full day light saw the steps I had just climbed. I swayed for a moment with vertigo. I did that? In that moment my guide finally admitted that the crater we had just hiked was taller than the Eiffel tower and the Statue of Liberty. Apparently he thought it would be best to save that information less we be discouraged.

We headed back down (much easier than going up) and had a breakfast which felt incredibly rewarding after that hike. Plus, it was only 9 am at that point and I had so much day ahead of me. I felt so energized and ready to handle anything.

Has there been a moment when you felt awed by nature?

This Koko Head Sunrise Crate Hike was done with Discover Hawaii Tours.

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  1. That sounds amazing! Definitely worth getting up early for.

    Also, I'd murder for 65 degree weather right now.

  2. I love that feeling of just being so blown away by something whether it be from nature or manmade or something you accomplished. Love that last pic btw!

    1. Thank you! I guess it was worth if for that shot haha.