Saturday, September 6, 2008
Koko Crater (via natural arc)
I remember the first time hiking on this side of Koko Crater, I was a nervous wreck! And surprisingly, it didn't scare me this time around. I guess all the hiking I've done since then has mentally nurtured me and gave me a lot more confidence. I anticipated my past traumatic experience would trigger the fear within. But everything was fine and comfortable, no sweaty palms, no rapid heartbeats. I looked around and thought 'this is not it! It was a lot steeper the last time.' I guess fear can alter one's perception of steepness.
After we crossed the arc, there were more rigorous climbing to do. Just when we thought we left danger behind us, the trail got more exciting and dangerous at the rim. There were some rocky narrow sections with no vegetation to break our fall. It's funny how Laarnie, James, and I would would stop at the most vulnerable spots just to take a picture. The other two hikers probably thought we were crazy. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the highest point of the rim. We ate our snacks and James cunningly offered his Gatorade to lighten his load for the trip back down.
James' confidence dramatically improved since his first Oahu hike. He ripped through danger as if he was spiderman. But on our way down, just when he was having fun with his confidence, gravity decided to take him on a ride down the steep path just passed the natural arc. His momentum almost had him crash into Laarnie, and worst, nearly led him off the edge of the cliff. All I can do was watch in agony as his survival reflexes controlled his every action. Luckily, friction brought him to a halt and we all laughed in great relief.
In Stuart Ball Jr.'s book, it stated that this trail is suitable for intermediate hikers. I absolutely disagree! Although it's about 3-miles long, there are areas along the trail that can surely traumatize a beginner/intermediate hiker or someone who has fear of heights. The trail is mostly dry and rocky and its surface is relatively rough giving a good grip even on the steep inclines. However, take note that some areas do have loose gravel and there are no ropes to hold on to.