This past saturday (6/13/1997) my Uncle Richard and I joined a bunch of hiking friends and a few politicians at rare chance to experience the Haiku Stairs aka "Stairway to Heaven" on a legal hike. Much thanks and appreciation to MaryAnne for organizing the event.
Like Dayle already mentioned, we met at the Omega Station in Haiku Valley where we parked our cars and headed for the stairs at 8:50am. While waiting at the Omega station, a few of us with binoculars got a good glimpse of the "Stairway to Heaven" going straight up the side of the ridge. It looked a bit overwhelming for a few of us, but we were up for the challenge.
The first thing I noticed about the stairs was that they were very narrow, wide enough for one person, and put together in sections that had 7 rungs each. They were all connected to form a chain that went all the way to the summit.
The Haiku Valley portion of the stairs were in fairly good condition. It didn't have as much rust that I anticipated, in fact, I had very little for its age. At first, the stairs took us up a gentle incline though the native forest then the accent got very steep as it went straight up the side of the ridge. At this point, a section of the stairs were missing and a recently placed rope/pvp pipe ladder was in place. It was a nerve-racking experience to climb the shaky ladder the first time, clinging onto the side of the ridge at nearly about 800 ft? elevation. Much thanks to the city and county for the ladder.
The stairs continued along at a gradual incline though the forest, where another section of the stairs were missing, and another rope ladder was in its place. My uncle and I slowly inched our way up the stairs while the rest of the group went ahead. Eventually, after 2 hrs, we reached the first plateau and resting place. After taking a group picture here, the group continued along the stairs while my uncle and I stayed back for more pictures and a longer rest.
After about 10 min. we started the portion of the stairs with steep drop-offs on both sides. The railing helped a lot, but it was still a bit nerve-racking. Eventually, we arrived at a shack perched on the ridge-top below the summit. I took in the great view of the Windward side of the island, a couple of golf courses below us (being a weekend golfer, when I'm not hiking) and the H-3. The shack seemed to be some sort of powerhouse to winch the cables that hold up the antenna in the middle of the valley.
In another 30 min. we finally reached the summit and joined the group at 11:45am. The stairs along the summit were fairly rusty, but offered great views of both the windward and parts of the leeward sides of Oahu. At the summit, is and abandoned radio shack of some king with two rusty, radio dishes perched atop it. Upon my arrival, I saw everyone talking story, eating and relaxing except Patrick, who I later found out was exploring the roof of the shack. That guy has sooo much energy. He was even talking about hiking to Moanalua Valley, but there were no takers. Unfortunately, a few people had to leave early due to prior commitments. Too bad they couldn't enjoy the summit longer after all the effort they did to get there.
We had a really good weather that day. It was somewhat cloudy to keep us cool and out of direct sunlight, but did not rain. The clouds came and went at the summit, giving us a fantastic view of the from Waimanalo to Chinaman Hat area. However, the clouds did cover most of the Honolulu side of the island and blocked any chance of seeing the car on the ridge.
At about 12:30 pm, I believe, we bid farewell to the summit and headed back to our cars. During our decent, my knee started to hurt and slowed trek as the other blazed ahead of us. At 1:30 pm, I saw the rest of the group at the bottom watching my uncle and I climb the last leg of the stairs. Finally, at 2pm we joined Dayle, Pat, and others at the Omega station and looked back at where we came from. We all wondered how the "Stairway to Heaven" was built years ago.