Friday, December 31, 2010

Stairway to Heaven to The Moanalua Valley Middle Ridge

Into the clouds

Date - June 20th, 2010
Length -  6 Miles One Way
Time - 6 Hours and 30 Minutes
Short&Sweet - The Ultimate Stairmaster

    The Haiku Stairs, more commonly known as The Stairway to Heaven, is a stairwell that climbs to the summit of Pu'u Keahi a Kahoe via a steep side ridge on the Windward side of Oahu. The destination of this popular hike is an Omega Navigation System Station that sits on the summit of the mountain. If you are looking for more of an adventure, you can continue along the KST (Koolau Summit Trail) to other destinations.We chose to go down the Moanalua Valley Middle Ridge which is just a short distance from the summit of Keahi a Kahoe.

Under the H-3
     My only experience with the stairway is what I've seen going down the H-3. The perpective from the highway makes it look much worse than it is in person. Fun Fact! You must start early, before 6AM, to beat the guard that will deny you access to the stairs. So after hiking yesterday on top of working until midnight, I got to do this on 2 hours of sleep. Lucky me...
    Andrew, Mike, Other Mike, Jason, Gio, Jen, and I arrived in Haiku Village sometime after 5AM. As if it were straight out of a spy movie, we had to enter a drainage canal then go through a bambo forest to reach the base of the stairs. It didn't take me long to realize I friggin hate climbing stairs. At about 4000 steps, I had a lot left to climb too. We reached the first platform just in time to see the sunrise over Kaneohe and Kailua, and we weren't alone either. I was pretty surprised by the traffic this hike recieves. Kudos to all these people for willing themselves out of bed this early.

     As we continued up, we reached the second platform, and the summit soon followed. Unfortuanately, the clouds obscured any views we were hoping to have. I had two choices at the summit as I waited for the others to catch up. I could A) wait outside and freeze in the ridiculously strong wind or B) wait in the warm cozy Omega Station. The catch with number 2 was the dozen or so kids in there getting high. Maybe that crap got me high too, could be why I enjoyed this so much. Being the nice guy that I am, I even took a group picture for them so they will always be able to remember their pot party on top of the mountain.

     Andrew decided to go ahead to make sure the was rope on the ridge for the people that needed it. The rest of the group followed about ten minutes later. The wind was so powerful here that it almost lifted me up as it got under my camelbak. No time was wasted in tighteng that shit until it cut off my circulation. I decided  to catch up to Andrew as the pace was a tad bit to slow for me. This crossover was an experience like no other. Again maybe the weed, but what a thrill!

Moah Stairs!
Summit happiness

Apparently she doesn't live here anymore
      The descent down the Middle Ridge wasn't as steep as I expected, but the mud made things...interesting. I would stick one foot out in front of me, while I sat on the other, to slide down the muddy sections that were difficult to walk down. Andrew was waiting farther down sucking on a cigarette. Surprise surprise. We decided to wait here for the others to catch up before we descended anymore. It was during this time that I discovered something that would be a bain of my fellow hikes for maybe quests to come. My cell phone camera's shutter sound can be changed to a duck quack. It was loud. It wa obnoxious. It was awesome!

Crossing over to the Middle Ridge

Catching up

Almost there
    My camera discovery couldn't have come at a better time as the clouds began to part, and greet us with views of Honolulu in the distance. After the group reunited, we continued our descent. It didn't take long for us to start spreading out again. Some in the group were intmidated by the drops, and I don't blame them.  I was freaked out on Olomana so I can understand the feeling of being confronted with drops for the first time. The trail ended at a dried up streambed and a dirt road that would lead us out of the valley. As much as I would like to say this was the end of an awesome wasn't. The dirt road is one long trek back to civilization. Even with the long walk out, this hike was an experience like no other. If I could recommend only one thing to do in Hawaii, it would be this.