Posted by: cindybythesea | February 6, 2012

The View From The Top

    Koko head trail

Yesterday, my friend, co-worker and sister in the Lord, Rose, and I set out to go hiking on a popular Oahu hiking trail.  We were inspired by another co-worker, who had done the same hike the previous weekend and had challenged us to do the same. Inspired by the spectacular photos, she had taken from the summit, it wasn’t long before, we were excitedly making plans for a hike of our own.

Taking the advice of our friend to leave early in order to beat the heat, we arrived at the trail head just after sun up, only to find that there were already a considerable amount of people on the trail. As we parked the car, I could see tiny images, hardly discernible as humans making their way up and down the trail, crawling like tiny little ants up the side of a sugar bowl.   

I’ve done a fair amount of hiking on this island, but, I soon found out, this was no ordinary hike, for what started out as a steep though leisurely walk, soon turned in to a grueling test of endurance.  As you can see from the photo, the trail (composed of old rail road ties) becomes increasingly steep until it becomes almost vertical toward the  top of the crater. Loose soil and rocks add to the challenge as one misstep (particularly on descent) could easily land you on your okole, (backside), twist your ankle or worse. Which I did, land on my okole – twice!  ouch!

Koko Crater is an ancient cinder cone, which rises 1208 feet above sea level on the south side of Oahu. It’s dry appearance belies the lush vegetation that grows beneath its towering summit, the cone itself, a testimony to the fiery birth from which these islands were formed in the early days of creation.  Wikipedia has a great photo of the topography of the area; if you would like to see it. Koko_Head

As Rose and I made our way up the trail, we soon, had to conserve the energy of chatting for simply huffing and puffing as the trail grew ever steeper. It was interesting to watch the other people on the trail, all of them polite, the slower stepping out of the way for the faster to pass – and, I wondered,  – why it never seems to quite work that way on the freeway!

There were people of all ages, shapes and sizes on the trail. Some of the younger and more fit actually carrying one or more cinder blocks for an ongoing project at the top. I marveled at this as I pressed onward and upward –  my thigh muscles in rebellion against the simple task of putting one foot in front of the other.  There’s a reason I always avoided the stairmaster at the gym and now here I was on nature’s stairmaster and the muscles in my legs were not about to be fooled!

But, make it to the top, I did – Rose too! She finished a few steps ahead of me and we high-fived our achievement with grins from ear to ear. And, was it ever worth it – the view from the top is spectacular. The vast blue gem of the Pacific to the east, Diamond Head crater and Waikiki to the west and horseshoe-shaped Hanauma Bay, one of three vents for Koko crater and popular snorkeling spot directly below.  It was magnificent!

And, so quiet!  The morning sun sparkled off the water as if God had cast a hundred million diamonds to the wind and had left them sparkling in the waters below, just for us to see. The air was clear and sweet and fresh and people smiled and chatted with each other as if the cares of life had been left behind, tucked away some where in the automobiles, they had left parked below.  Rose and I found a place to perch on the rocks and were soon lost in thoughts of our own, munching granola and looking for any sign of a passing humpback in the waters below.  And, while we didn’t see any, I did notice a little orange butterfly flitting among the sparse vegetation of the crater and I marveled at its effortlessness in reaching the top, when, I had to work so hard for the same view. 

It occurred to me last night, as I was laying in bed, that the butterfly is a lot like the angels of heaven –  effortlessly, moving about the heavenly kingdom, its sweetness and nectar readily available to them, for no other reason than for their pure enjoyment alone.  While, on the other hand, we humans toil and endure, walking by faith not by sight, struggling by the grace of God to one day have that same view from the top that the angels do. Which caused me to wonder, if the little butterfly at the top of Koko Crater appreciated the view from the top, as much, as I with my aching knees did?  Perhaps, that is why the Bible tells us that salvation is something that the angels earnestly desire to look into.  1 Peter 1:12 

Yes, the angels have a view from the top that right now we can hardly imagine. But, there is something about receiving the grace and mercy of God, walking by faith and not by sight that they can’t even begin to fathom.

You and I may have days, when putting one foot in front of the other seems an almost impossible task – but, I encourage you, brothers and sisters, (as you encourage me), to keep on keepin’ on – never quit, never give up – the view from the top, it’s grand, it’s glorious and it’s well worth the effort!

Thank you, God for taking us through this journey of life, help us O God to walk by faith and not by sight. Lend us your strength, O Lord, for we have no strength of our own, and, help us O Father to press ahead, on the journey that leads us home.  Amen.

    Aloha!  Cindy and Rose 



    [Thanks Kara, you never fail to inspire and encourage me! Love, Mom]

  2. Thank you for taking us along on your hike! I’ve been following your blog for a while and your insights and encouragement has been a real blessing to me. Thanks!

    [Thanks Renee for taking the time to write. I really appreciate your encouragement and the opportunity to make another new friend! Looking forward to hearing from you again! Grace and blessings! C]

  3. Thank you for sharing such encouraging words and lovely pictures. I loved the butterfly illustration. For now we have struggles and the path may be difficult but one day soon our bodies will be “transformed” and our “flight” to the top will be effortless!

    [Thanks Coreen for writing! And, the way things are looking, our transformation is coming very soon! Isn’t that a great thought! See you sister …. at the top! Grace and blessings! Cindy

  4. Too bad the stairs to the top of the Koolau mountains on the windward side of the H-3 freeway are no longer open to the public (unless you’re willing to trespass) – talk about one spectacular view!

    [A spectacular view is right – if you live to see it! I’ve seen those stairs and they make the Koko head hike look like a walk in the park! I would have to be “lolo” (crazy) to even think of trying that one! C]

  5. Thanks, Cindy, for the lovely and inspiring story. Wish I could have been there, too; what an amazing hike and experience that was for the two of you! Blessings to you, dear sister,


    [Thanks Carlos! With your background in geology, it would have been great fun having you along the way! Next time bruddah! C]

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