We climed 3,922 stairs in the middle of the night to watch the sunrise. It was so worth it. I'll describe it to you as best I can on 3 hours of sleep.
We started out at 1:30. We left campus in our rented car and drove into Kaneohe. We drove to a neighborhood near a church, and began our journey. As soon as we got out of the car, I realized that I forgot my GoPro. Really. I got it just for this kind of stuff, and I forgot it. I maybe said some choice words. But we werent going to drive home, so we made due without it. We climbed up a closed road to the church, and went into the forest area behind it. There was a chain link fence that had a gate that didn't open anymore, but we had to get onto a trail UP to the stairs, which means that we may have had to climb thorough a hole or two in the chain link fence. Through the hole was a path full of logs and fallen trees - it essentially looked like something from a nightmare. I thought there would be a psycho hobo hiding out in the trees waiting to take his next 5 women victims.
So we tramped through the forest, snapping twigs and being as silent as we possibly could. As you go through the logs you get the pleasant feeling of your feet sinking into several inches of nice and squishy mud. That's a great way to start out a hike, I'm telling ya.
After we crossed the logs of doom, we met the paved road. When the stairs were more legal, this was the way to get to them. Thank goodness for that. The road was paved for the rest of the way to the stairs. As the trial continues, you literally walk parallel to the freeway - that's over 200 feet above you. Keep in mind it's like 2:30 in the morning, so every noise and every movement was assumed to be a murderer in the dark. You have to follow the trail past a gate that used to say PRIVATE PROPERTY before it was covered in graffiti tags.
This was the first interesting part of our night. The gate separates a road up to another gate, which is for a water treatment facility. We're walking along and we hear the unthinkable - voices. Now there's a guard that waits out in front of the stairs, so we assume that the jig is up and we are caught. We wait in silence and anticipation only to find out that it's a group of 6 foreigners who are looking for the same trail. Hallelujah.
So we follow the road, and more people join us. The freeway rumbles above us and there's mud all over the road. We get to a clearing on the left and look up - there are lights STRAIGHT UP THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN. We found the stairs. Now let me tell you - it was wise to do this in the dark, because we couldn't see just what we were getting ourselves into.
We go around a fence that says NO TRESPASSING and the stairs start, right there. Let me explain these stairs to you.
These stairs started out as wooden planks in 1942. It was originally a trail made for soldiers for easy access to a satellite on the top of the mountain. They were remodeled, and now they are steep and slim metal slats that go straight up the side of the mountain. There are rails on each side, which was a very blessed thing that I am currently thankful for. The stairs were closed in the 80s due to complaints from the neighborhoods surrounding the site, and it's been closed ever since.
Onward with the story. The stairs weren't going to be climbed until we started, and so we did. Think of the stairs in a home, only make them straight up and never ending on the side of a mountain in pitch black. I will be seeing stairs when I close my eyes fro the next 3 months.
We climbed. And climbed. Higher and higher, taking a break every 25 steps or so. Our legs were burning and our arms were shaky. This was just as much of an arm workout as it was a leg workout, believe it or not.
I'm not sure how far we climbed before we hit the first platform. There are these pleasant little platforms that you can stop at and catch your breath and hope for death to take you before you have to take any more steps. We hung out on the top with the stoners and foreigners for about 20 minutes and continued on our way. We climbed until we hit the second platform, which was much easier than the first to get to. Our rest was much shorter, and we were halfway there.
There was a bunker that we had to go through, which was really interesting and covered in graffiti. There were some rusty machine parts and a big old wench which was really cool to look at in the dark (that's a joke).
More stairs, more hiking, and we finally made it to the top. We climbed that mountain and made it ours. It was incredible. We reached the top around 5, and waited with our new found friends underneath an old graffiti covered satellite that was on top of an old concrete bunker. Our sweat was cooling off in the wind, and it got downright cold up there. We brought layers and bundled up and waited for sunrise.
Guys, it was incredible. It was so worth it. This island is so beautiful, and it made me love this place even more than I already did. We could see for miles - it was easily the best view on the whole island. This place is amazing - please come if you haven't already.
The hike was hard. SO hard. But it had a great payoff. It was incredible. Something I'll never forget.
The way down was a different story. Straight down the side of the mountain in the daylight was a whole new enchilada. Straight down, into the forest. Literal drop in front of you and to each side of you. There were parts that we had to turn around and go down like a ladder. There were parts where your legs were shaking so hard that you were just praying that they wouldn't give out and send you tumbling down the mountain. But, we made it down and I'm here in our kitchen blogging about it.
If you come to Hawaii, DO IT. You will not regret it, I assure you.
This was incredible, and I would possibly consider doing it again in the far future when I can walk without wishing that my legs would fall off.
|brooke, sam, alexia, and yours truly|