The Ultimate Adventure: Stairway to Heaven/ Haiku Stairs

Two years ago

On my quest to find a way back to Hawaii

I came across this hike… the Stairway to Heaven

Since then I studied the hike from blogs to videos to pictures to the history of it.

Yesterday, I was able to live out one of my dreams. Today, I think I am *a little* bit more calmed down to write.

So, here we go


Just like most things, our original plan did not go accordingly. Due to Julien being sick, it was down to Ilja and I to conquer the hike. Me being so excited I was up on my own at 6. I packed my bag with spare shirts, a towel, and tons of snacks and water. I even had enough time to make a egg and turkey breakfast sandwich. Heck yeah I was on top of things and it wasn’t even 7 am. Speaking of…

It was 5 until 7, which was when Ilja and I were supposed to meet. I headed over to his building, locked. I called his phone, a tired voice answers “give me 10 minutes”. Whatever it took, I was going to go on this hike.

We met downstairs and caught an uber. Our driver had lived here a very long time, but had just got back from visiting the mainland. He went there to buy and car and drove the country in 4 days, left his car in Cali to ship here, and came back. Currently 7 am, he had been out ubering since 1 am!!!! Anyways, he dropped us off at Moana Lua trail.

Moana Lua trail is a super nice *legal* trail that leads up the back top part of the *illegal* trail, Haiku Stairs. All we had to remember was

17 River Crossings
Pass the sign 5 meters
Continue trail to top

Not too bad, yeah? We started at the entrance where lots of people were stretching and prepping for this trek. Going through the forest was great. The tall trees canopied over us, with little bits of sun peeking through. All the tropical plants along the way never disappoint. Sometimes they even look fake.

We came across our first river crossing. The rest happened super fast. Let’s just say it was a good thing I was counting as Ilja lost count at 7.

Once we pass the 17 exact river crossings we continued to walk until we saw the sign, then passed it 5 meters. We crossed the river one more time and we upward bound from there.

Starting to go uphill SUPER fast, we began getting those breathtaking valley views.

There were even these little parts of the trail within the bamboo forests. They looked like little trails for some characters out of a movie. Some “steps”were even there just out of roots and rocks. It was super nice and shaded to walk through. These were the parts I was glad to see for a nice flat break from the steep climbs.

Then we would just keep going up. Once high enough, and 5 miles in, we were hiking up the ridge. At this point I put on my long sleeve shirt as it got super chilly. As you can see, the fog started rolling in. There was even a quick passing shower, which called for a snack break. Waiting out the shower were a couple from a cool foreign country I can’t remember and New York. We talked to them about 10 minutes and continued on.

From here on out, no pictures were captured as we were climbing up muddy slippery cliffs with rope. I would say I probably fell atleast 20 times by now. No worries though, I didn’t slip on the slick narrow parts, I fell on the super flat parts. It was pretty intense getting up here, but Ka’au Crater ( previous story ) definitely prepared me for this. 3 more miles up, for a total of 7, we reached the top of the stairs. I don’t think I’ve ever been so giddy or happy in my life.

& this was just the top of the stairs.

We ate our PB&J lunch, took a 20 minute break and began to go down the stairs. The plan was to go down part way, come back up and go alllll the way back down Moana Lua. This was the original plan due to the fact we wanted to avoid the guard and the $1000 fine.

However, giddy me kept saying “just a little more”. As we went down the sky cleared up and we got a great view of the valley and Windward side of the island.

At the bottom, the picture shows a part of the trail taken over from a past landslide. It was doable, just with caution.

Along the way we came across two different couples. Making small talk we asked how they got up here. They asked the same, but very confused by how muddy we were. I mean, we were just hiking some stairs right?? How could we possibly be so muddy?

The first came from the bottom of the steps. They suggested going about 150 meters from the guard, turning right into the bamboo forest, and following the rope out.

The second couple also came straight from the bottom and said to hop the first fence, and turn into the forest at the second fence.

This is my favorite thing about the hike & the people on it. Everyone there wants to be apart of something incredible & explore. To help other people do it, they’ve made alternative routes. Ropes to guide you…. Bamboo forest side trails…. Like, how great is that?!

Knowing there were multiple ways out, we decided to do the stairs all the way down, because why not.

It was funny because we could see the guard waiting in her car, probably watching us getting her ticket already filled out. But, were slicker than getting caught!!! We found the rope first and followed it downhill and into the forest. After going downhill we were about 50 feet from the guards car, but the trees covered us. We climbed up the other hill and continued into the bamboo. The forest eventually led to a road we followed until we hoped a fence to a residential area. Not today guard!!!!

Covered in dried mud layers, the neighbors knew what we just did. Evidence of mud:

As from many stories I’ve heard, nothing ticks the neighborhood off more than the Haiku Stair hikers, so we took a quick break at a small intersection and walked another mile or so to the bus stop.

Here we waited 30 minutes for a bus….. On the wrong side of the road. Thanks google maps!!! After switching sides and another 30 minutes, we were on the bus home. Ohhhhh what a day.


This was definitely one of the best days of my life. Accomplishing somethinh so incredible felt amazing. 11 miles never felt better man. I already look forward to doing it again, but also can’t wait to plan another crazy hike. I am so thankful I was given the opportunity to do this.

Here’s to more exploring!!

Kay

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