Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Stairway to Heaven (Haiku Stairs)

Nervousness, excitement, determination, those were the feelings on the morning of May 10th as our group prepared to hike the Haiku Stairs.  2:30 AM is no joke.  There was no backing out if you had second thoughts once we hit the road.  Our Crossfit group is an adventurous bunch, and everyone was ready but 3922 stairs and 4,000 feet is bound to make even the most ambitious a little concerned.  Although some people say the staircase travels straight up, the average slope is about 30 degrees, however there are many steep sections!

A little background on this thrilling hike.  The stairs are locate on the Winward side of Oahu and although the stairs are not open to the public, recently in the news it appears they might reopen the stairs with a managed access point at Winward Community College.

So why were the stairs built?   A powerful radio station and antennae were needed by the U.S. Navy to transmit signals to Navy ships that were operating throughout the Pacific.  They decided to use an Alexanderson Alternator, an enormous piece of equipment that required an equally sizable antenna.  The antennae were stretched across the Haiku valley.  Access was needed in order to finish the job.  The staircase was built, although originally a cable car was available for the workers to ride to the top instead of having to make the climb.

We started early to avoid running into the guard that is stationed by the entrance and had no problem arriving at 3:45.  I have had friends though that went to hike at that time and the guard was already there.  I guess we got lucky!

Hiking under a full moon, we were able to see everything clearly without headlamps. It turned out to be a perfect morning for the hike since there were no clouds.  The sunrise was incredible!

It took us about 2 1/2 hours up and 2 hours down.  We rested for quite a while on the first platform that you come to.  The distance from the bottom of the stairs to the first platform is the longest stretch.  Talk about quads being on fire!  All the pain was worth is for the sunrise though and the fog just poured off the mountains!

I'm so glad to have done this hike, and with such a great group of friends.  Hopefully, they will reopen the stairs and make it a "legal" attraction again on the island.