HAWAII KAI, Hawaii --
Winding around the face of a mountainside stretching more than 2,000 feet high into the sky, Marines stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii followed the narrow dirt path of the Kuliouou Trail during a Single Marine and Sailor Program hike in Hawaii Kai, April 13, 2013.
Approximately 40 Marines gathered outside the Kahuna’s Sports Bar and Grill on base before departing on a 30-minute trip to the trail. Upon arriving, the Marines made their way up the 2.5-mile trail to reach the mountain summit. Travelers on the trail hiked on a path barely three to four feet wide. The path was covered with dirt, exposed tree roots and shrouded by a dense jungle canopy.
“I found out about the hike when I visited the (Kahuna’s Sports Bar and Grill) and saw a flier on the wall,” said Lance Cpl. Caleb Rapp, a heavy equipment specialist with Marine Wing Support Detachment 24 and native of Williams, Iowa. “I just arrived here a few days ago, and I’m eager to see Hawaii. I thought the view from the top was neat because we were practically in a cloud.”
As the Marines followed the zigzagging trail, a clear view of the mountain’s base became obscured in thick vog, a weather condition created by Oahu’s high humidity level and ash from volcanic eruptions from the island of Hawaii.
One of the most noticeable aspects of the hike was the change in foliage with the increase in elevation. The base of the mountain was covered in lush, green jungle plants, while vegetation near the top resembled the woods of the northeastern United States. One of the most interesting phenomenons during the hike was a tree formation that formed a natural archway, giving hikers an exit out of the pine trees.
“The most difficult part of the hike has to be those awful stairs,” said Sgt. Claudy Louis, a canoneer section chief with 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment and native of Miami, Fla. “By the time I reached the top, my legs were killing me.”
Before reaching the last 200 feet to the top, the Marines navigated up a flight of stairs that gives any hiker a decent leg workout. After reaching the top, they had a chance to see a panoramic view of Waimanalo.
Looking out toward Waimanalo, the group could see the distinct turtle-shaped crater of Mokapu Peninsula and the runway at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows.
Once everyone caught their breath and took photos, the hikers made their way down the trail, reaching the bottom in less than an hour. The trip ended with lunch at the Koko Marina in Hawaii Kai and a safe return to base.
“The view from the top definitely made the hike worth it, despite those stairs,” said Pvt. Erick Cronkhite, a rifleman with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and native of Morongo Valley, Calif. “I’m excited to go on the upcoming Single Marine and Sailor events and see more of the island.”