Friday, June 22, 2012

6-20-2012: Diamond Head Rim

I won't get into much detail into this because this is one hike you don't want to get caught.  It's yet another one of those "play ninja" type of hikes.  But unlike the others (Stairway to Heaven or even Sacred Falls), where you are merely slapped on the wrist with a relatively small fine, this one can really land you in big trouble if you get caught.  There are two entities that are present on Diamond Head Crater: DLNR and the military (not sure which branch).  The latter is the cause for concern as they employ MP or military police on the premises.  I am not entirely sure what their procedures are in handling trespassing hikers, but MP are one not to mess around with.  I will forego revealing our starting point although realistically if one wanted to climb to the rim, it doesn't take rocket science to figure out where to start.

Right off the bat, we were greeted by an angry sign "promising" retribution ("a $10,000 fine", "hazardous area", and "Turn back immediately!")  ::sigh::  Up we went under a beautiful starry sky just after 11pm.  We decided against using any light during the traverse so it was tricky to navigate in the dark but we quickly adapted.  The climb was about 30 minutes and we were soon on the crest of the dark rim.  The city lights of Honolulu / Waikiki glowed brightly behind the black silhouette of the rim.  Inside the near pitch black interior of the crater were lights of an installation of some sort.  We began our clockwise traverse, passing by a couple of old World War II pill boxes along the way before encountering a stiff but short climb to the highest point of the rim. It was here where the Diamond Head Lookout / summit trail terminus is located.  From the last pillbox to the final climb to the lookout however, are rusty old barb wires that one must be wary of.  It lays low on the trail at times, making visibility of it difficult.  I ended up scraping my shin pretty badly against a bent pole that was holding the barb wire.  Thankfully it wasn't the barb wire itself but I've never found out if that pole was rusted or not.  And I'm not sure when I had my last tetanus shot.  If I end up getting sick, then I'll know it was a long time ago.  Thanks to the overall light pollution, it actually provided minuscule lighting on some areas of the ridge, further negating any need for personal lighting.  Just before topping out, I've noticed that the main trail has been extended.  The last time I was on Diamond Head was probably 4 years ago so I'm not surprised that some changes were done.  Upon reaching the lookout, we were greeted with probably the best urban vista I've ever seen at night!  If you thought the views from the summit were amazing during the day, it is nothing compared to what one sees at night.  It's too bad that this can't be seen legally.  We spent probably well over an hour trying to get that perfect photo and to take in this rare moment of being on top of Diamond Head at night.  The winds were blowing at a good clip but not too strong to freeze our okoles off although having a sweater with you is not a bad idea.

The time was about 1am and we were reluctant to leave but it was getting very late.  It was decided that we were to continue the clockwise direction and circumnavigate the rim in it's entirely until we reached our starting point.  Beyond the lookout is another pillbox.  Beyond that lies the most tricky part of the hike, a series of rocky descents with the ridge getting very narrow with good sized drops at times but nothing we couldn't handle.  After the last major descent, the ridge takes on a more broader profile.  Off in the distance we could see the glowing lights of the numerous subdivisions lining the south Ko`olau ridges and valleys.  Further away was the greater Hawai`i Kai area.  I thought I could make out Koko Crater but wasn't too sure.  On a full moon however, the crater would stand out very well.  We eventually reached a series of antennas and then a road that leads up to a building.  Beyond the building was the most overgrown portion of the rim.

We reached our starting point and made it down safely without incident.  The time was just after 3am.  Despite it's strict off limits nature, this is probably my favorite hike to do at night.


  1. AWESOME my brutha!!! That sounded like my kind of hike for sure!!! Glad the mission was such a success, AMAZING pics bro!!

  2. Hey David..Crystal (Griswold) here. My cousin is moving to Hawaii in Nov and I told him about you and how well you know the area. Do you tours or anything b/c he asked if you had a number so he could schedule something. Email me at Thanks again =)