Thursday, February 19, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Stairway to Heaven Hike

Today I am doing something a little different. I am going to do a "Throwback Thursday" post! Whether it be Facebook, Twitter, etc.... I have never really participated in throwback Thursday. I decided to share one of my many hiking adventures from 2013. There are a few things that inspired this post and I have been missing Hawaii like crazy lately!

In my mid 20's I moved to Hawaii for a few years and that is where my journey to an active lifestyle really began. How could you live in a place like Hawaii and not be active?! I did everything from swimming laps in the ocean to hiking some of the most beautiful and difficult trails that led to some of the most beautiful places, including the infamous Stairway to Heaven hike, which is also known as Haiku Stairs. It was one of the scariest, hardest, yet rewarding endeavors I put my body through, besides giving birth!

Stairway to Heaven is an Illegal hike in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. I am not going to get into why the stairs are there and why it's illegal. Just my experience doing the stairs! You can read about it on Wikipedia if it interests you. This adventure hike had been on my bucket list for almost 2 years at the time. I talked my husband into doing it. Luckily he was already active. You have to be in pretty good shape to do this and you definitely can't have a fear of heights, or you will have an incredibly awful time. Even people who are experienced with hiking and in the best shape struggle while doing this, so that's saying something right there. This hike has 3,922 steps to climb. 

Hubby and I did this hike on October 4th, 2013. I started this hike at 2:30 AM (to beat the guard that sits at the entrance of the stairs) with a lovely dark tan and no more than 30 mins into the hike my skin turned completely pale. After the first set of stairs my hubby started dealing with altitude sickness and he vomited on the side of the stairs. A lot of the guys were getting sick around that same time frame. We had people not too far ahead of us and not too far behind us and all of the guys got sick. Yuck!! Hubby and I took frequent breaks. To make it possible for people to pass you during a break on the narrow stairway you have to move on the outside of the rail to let them pass. After we reached the first of five lookout platforms, I started dealing with altitude sickness as well. Luckily, mine came in the form of nausea and a slight headache. After some time had passed... my symptoms also passed.
You will find inspiring messages all along the stairs heading to your destination.

Weather conditions were constantly changing. I got muddy, rained on at least four times, which was kind of expected for being on the windward side and in the mountains. It was also windy at times. The stairs and parts of the ladder were slick at times and dangerously steep. There were times when I actually feared for my life and started panicking thinking that I might not make it down because I kept feeling like I was going to eventually lose my grip as my hands were getting tired and kept cramping. This hike was not only physically, but mentally challenging. This was a once in a lifetime adventure and I am really glad that I did it and pushed past many obstacles to accomplish it and that my hubby and I completed this adventure safely without any major injuries or worse.

H3 Highway

What a lot of people, especially tourists don't know is that a lot of land in Hawaii is restricted for one reason or another. Over half of the hikes I did in Hawaii were illegal. This really gets my blood boiling! I don't think the state should be taking over land in Hawaii.

With a lot of these illegal hikes there are ins and outs people need to learn first and experience to gain before attempting these hikes. I learned about Stairway to Heaven and completed it successfully with no injuries or legal troubles. It was exhilarating! Yes, I took risks.... life threatening risks, legal risks, but it was well worth it. I had the experience of a lifetime, took photos that I only dreamt about up until then. Would I do it again? For weeks I asked myself that question and said it was unlikely. For the next two months, every time I passed Stairway to Heaven on the H3 highway and I looked up at it, I would feel nauseous and say to myself that I couldn't believe I did that.

Now... if you were to ask me that question... Yes, I would do it again in a heartbeat and I will do it again... one day. Assuming that the stairs are still in good shape. With recent events dealing with the stairs, that doesn't seem likely though. It is owned and maintained by the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, but after recent damage to the stairs in a few wind storms just this past week, they no longer want to be responsible for the stairs. Will I ever attempt other dangerous hikes like the infamous Sacred Falls in the future? You bet your ass I will.

When you're exploring and doing any of the hikes in Hawaii.... Always remember... Do it with respect and respect the aina (land).

"You never know what you are capable of until you try"

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