Stairway To Heaven Hike!
03.29.2013 - 03.29.2013 69 °F
I enjoyed my day off in Waikiki until the wee hours of the morning. I got home just in time to take a 20 minute nap before we headed to do the illegal Stairway To Heaven hike! The stairs were repaired for a steep $875,000 in 2003 but were never opened again due to liability concerns. There is a guard that watches the beginning of the stairs starting at 3:30am. Based on what I've read, he usually only chases people off and ensures they don't climb the stairs. Hence why we went so early, before Guard showed up to work!
We got to the neighborhood of Haiku VIllage around 2:45am then followed instructions left by a fellow hiker on Yelp (Sheila R.'s review on 3/3/13) to find the stairs. We reached the bottom of the stairs around 3:10am with no guard in sight and then began our ascent. The first stretch of climbing is by far the hardest and seems never ending. Several increments are almost like climbing a vertical ladder. The full moon was a few days prior so we climbed by moonlight, not needing to use our headlamps because it was decently lit. The fact that you're illegally climbing in the dark and quickly rise above the H3 Freeway with cars zooming by definitely intensifies the thrill. But you're soon calmed by the sturdiness of MOST of the stairs and all the other hikers. Illegal hike, schmeelegal hike!! We encountered at least 60 to 70 fellow hikers, all up early and enjoying the climb!
There are 5 platforms in total, #5 being the very top. We eventually made it to the first platform with a clear view of the sleeping town below and the ocean's horizon beyond that. The view was breathtaking (as if we had any breath left after the initial climb!)!
We were in the clouds by the second platform and the temperature only continued to drop as we ascended. We used this platform for a quick breather then kept on trekking!
The third platform has a decrepit building with old equipment in it.
As it turns out, one of my friends painted the Pink Panther in the following picture :-)
The fourth platform is a quick climb up from there.
And finally, you've made it to the fifth platform when you see the building with old satellites on top!
I've heard the temperature drops about 10 degrees per 1k feet of elevation. We were at about 2,800ft elevation and it was raining. There were 26 people while we were inside this building, all trying to keep warm while waiting for the sun to rise. (Note: the pictures I've posted thus far besides the 1st platform pic were all taken on the way down, after the sun was up.) We got to the top around 5am so we chatted and tried to nap until about 6:30am, at which time the sun was up so we began our descent. The weather conditions were not ideal with the rain as it made it colder, the stairs very slick, and visibility pretty poor.
Despite my tiredness from no sleep and the bad weather conditions, I loved this experience! Several people warned us of how the stairs haven't been maintained in years. But the fact of the matter is people do this hike every day and I didn't feel unsafe at any time. The last time someone got hurt while doing this hike, they actually died...of a heart attack, not from the condition of the stairs/climb. It is definitely a gnarly hike and I've been sore ever since (it's MONDAY!) but it was totally worth it! I will do it again in a few weeks when there are better weather conditions so I can get awesome pics for you all :-)
Sending you love!