Diamond Head and Beyond…

10 Feb

Hey y’all!  Hope everyone’s having a good week!  We’re still having a killer time here in Hawaii, with yesterday’s highlights being my climb up Diamond Head and some wonderful R&R on the beach :).

Inspired by Tuesday’s Koko Crater climb, I woke up yesterday morning yearning for a repeat- ah, one of the many perks of Hawaii: endless outdoor exercise possibilities!  And what better hike than up the most recognized landmark in the state?!

Hawaii's National Landmark, Diamond Head, in the distance, at the end of Waikiki Beach...

OK, those of you who followed along with our European adventures know that I’m a sucker for history, background, etc., so here’s a little bit of info. about Diamond Head.  It’s believed to have been formed about 300,000 years ago during a single, brief volcanic eruption.  The ash and fine particles were blown out of the water into the air, where they were cemented together into a type of rock called ‘tuff,’ which created ‘tuff cones,’ such as Diamond Head.  (Koko Crater is also a tuff cone).

The crater covers 350 acres, making its width greater than its height.  You can see in the picture how the southwestern rim is much higher than the other side- this is because the winds were blowing the ash in this direction during the eruption.  Although it’s constantly eroded and weathered by rain and wind today, the coral reef at least helps protect the seaward slopes.

Alright, on to the hike!  Actually, ‘hike’ proved to be a bit of an overstatement as Diamond Head totally paled in comparison to Koko. 😦  Lots (and LOTS!) of tourists, much more gradual ascent…So to spice things up, I decided to make my ‘hike’ into my ‘run-‘ MUCH better!  🙂

At the base of Diamond Head...The first .25 mile is gradual climb with paved trail...

Halfway point, looking down into the crater...

The trail to the summit, designed for mule and foot traffic, was built in 1908 as part of the US Army Coastal Artillery Defense System.  Following an uneven and steep terrain, the trail is a mix of pavement (to help lessen erosion), rocky dirt switchback paths, steep stairs and two tunnels.  The summit is 560 feet above the crater floor.

Ocean view from the top...

A quick, neat educational sidebar…Look closely at the above picture- see the lighthouse in the center of the shore?  Built in 1899, that’s the second oldest lighthouse in Hawaii- and it’s still functioning!  147 feet above sea level, its light can be seen up to 18 miles offshore and warns vessels of the reefs off Waikiki Beach.

Crater view from the top...and yep, that's Koko Crater (yesterday's climb) in the distance 🙂

With the panoramic view, the Diamond Head summit was an ideal site for the coastal defense of Oahu.  In 1904, the Federal Government purchased it for military use, quickly fortifying it with gun emplacements, batteries, plotting rooms, long range gun ranges and observation stations.  So yes, the ridgeline was prepared to defend the island from attack, but no artillery was ever fired during a war.

Oh, and a final tidbit about this landmark…How’d it get its name?  Well, in the 1820s, sailors discovered what they believed to be diamonds in the rocks of the volcano slopes.  The ‘diamonds’ turned out to be clear calcite crystals, but the name, Diamond Head, has been associated with the crater ever since, although the official name is Le’ahi.

So what did the rest of the day entail?  Hmmm…a little of this and a little of that, with the best part being doing a whole bunch of nothing in the sun and sand :).

With the morning’s run (ie. Diamond Head) in the distance 🙂


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