HONOLULU, Hawaii --
By Bryanna R.Poulin, Honolulu District Public Affairs
HONOLULU, Hawaii -- As the sun began piercing the dark morning sky nearly 30 U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Honolulu District and Pacific Ocean Division, family, and friends began celebrating the Honolulu Districts 114th birthday April 25 with a two-mile sunrise hike of the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail to the Makapu’u Lighthouse.
Access to the lighthouse is usually off- limits for the public, leaving visitors to view from a lookout point at the top of the one-mile long trail. However, a long-standing relationship and planning between Honolulu District and the U.S. Coast Guard sometimes allow Army Corps hikers a rare opportunity for an inside and outside tour of the 109-year-old-lighthouse sitting atop a 647-foot cliff overlooking Makapu’u Beach.
“I enjoyed myself,” Honolulu District Administrative Assistant Brittany Keyes said. “Today was the second hike I’ve been on since I arrived in Hawaii last year.”
Hikers stepping off uphill had breathtaking views of Oahu’s windward coast and the offshore islets wildlife sanctuaries for Hawaiian seabirds
, like the ‘iwa (frigate bird) and tropicbird.
“The hike was a little challenging,” added Keyes. “The incredible view at the top made it worth the climb
The Makapu’u Lighthouse dates back to 1905 when USACE began their mission in Hawaii and the Pacific. Charged by Congress to construct lighthouses for navigation in the territory, the District’s first commander Lt. John R. Slattery, drew up plans for Makapu’u Lighthouse. In August 1906, Slattery designed a short tower keeping the light as low as possible, but high enough the wind could not blow pebbles into the lantern room glass. The first-ever 12-ton lens produced a fixed white light, while a set of copper panels revolving on a track between the light source and lens produced a distinct flash.
The District honors Slattery’s contributions and the command’s establishment in 1905 in Hawaii every year by hiking to the lighthouse.
“Hiking Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail each year honors the District’s birthday and arrival on the island,” said Master Sgt. Shane McDonell, Honolulu District executive assistant who was in charge of coordinating the hike. “Also, Corps personnel build esprit de corps and a sense of camaraderie through the hiking event.”
As the brightly shining sun started inching above the horizon, hikers reached the trail summit allowing them to get a glimpse of the islands of Moloka’i and Lana’i
On this day, the planned tour into the lighthouse negated by a criminal break-in but enjoyed the spectacular rainbow-filled shoreline views.
“The Makalu’s Lighthouse hike was splendid,” Kathleen Abille, Honolulu District administrative assistant said. “It was my first time going up there, so I wish the lighthouse didn’t close and we could have gone on the tour.”
With new friendships and relationships forming, hikers trekked down the winding trail surrounded by sun-drenched scenery.
“You can’t beat the enormous rainbow, spanning over the clear Hawaiian skies,” Abille said. “The view could take any person’s breath away.”