My friends and I have been taking up “semi-extreme” hiking as a hobby. I only call it “semi-extreme” because the majority of people we know, who are casual hikers, tell us we’re crazy. I don’t think it’s that bad–just a lot of narrow ridges, cliffs, and things to scale. On the dangerous scale, I want to say it’s about a 6 (nothing near the 9 or 10 that is Olomana’s third peak) and we make sure that we go as a group, are well equipment, and are careful. It’s a lot more fun then walking up the paved trail to the top of Diamond Head (although I always recommend that to anyone who is on Oahu for the first time).
But anyway, the number one thing on the Mikaseven Hikes-To-Do-Before-I-Die list is…the Stairway to Heaven.
Also known as the Haiku stairs, it’s a trail that goes straight up the Ko’olau Mountains (Kaneohe). It was built in 1964 (to help build the military com towers up there) and it was partially renovated in 2003. Technically, it’s an illegal hike. It was closed to the public in 1987 (the year I was born) and today, there’s a security guard posted at the bottom to turn hikers away. Many people, tourists AND locals, still do this hike and there’s a reason–the view is unlike any other.
However, the stairs also has another name: The Stairmaster from Hell. This is why:
My sister has done this hike and a bunch of friends have done it also–they’ve walked away with some of the most breathtaking pictures I’ve ever seen! If any of you plan to do this in the future, make sure the weather is good–It’s a dangerous hike and it would be like a death wish to climb the stairs in rain.
The Stairway to Heaven Yelp page has an awesome listing of tips for those interested: One of the biggest tips there is what time to head out to avoid the security guard. If he’s there when you arrive (I heard he comes as early as 3AM nowadays), he won’t let you up. However, if you beat him, he’ll smile at you on the way down and ask you how the view was from the top.
(P.S. For those of you who aren’t really comfortable walking past a ‘No Trespassing’ side, I’ve heard there’s an alternate way to the summit. You come up the Ko’olaus from the Moanalua/Leeward side of the island. Be warned though–it’s supposedly a very difficult 10 mile hike.)