What started as a normal party night in Oahu, Hawaii, turned into one of the most exhilarating and spontaneous adventures I’ve ever been on!
Stairway to Heaven, more formally known as the Haiku Stairs, is the highly anticipated illegal hike that one, who calls herself a thrill seeker dreams to conquer while visiting Oahu, Hawaii. I had my eyes set on this hike since I first spotted it on social media years ago. What I’ve read on numerous blogs and articles, “It’s a really tough hike that’s illegal, people have fallen to their death attempting this, and there are guards who will stop you in your tracks.” So obviously in my mind I was thinking, well then yea… let’s do this!
Leaving a club in Oahu, my six friends and I decide to get some Taco Bell for late night snacks and chill back at the hotel. With our bellies full of taco supremes (my fave), chicken quesadillas, and nachos, the idea of hiking the Haiku stairs arises. Just like that, we changed out of our dresses, into our tennies, with full makeup and eyelash extensions still on fleek, we were on our journey to the forbidden hike. (You know that liquid courage is strong!)
We decided to take two separate cars so that we could fit comfortably. The five of my friends hurried into one car while there was only two of us in another. As we got closer to the neighborhood and found an entrance to the hike, we parked our cars. When we walked closer to the entrance of the trail, a resident heard us and yelled, “Hey, y’all can’t read no sign yeah? No trespassing! 911!” in his Hawaiian accent. We scurried back in our cars and left that space. We drove around a bit more when we noticed that there was a white patrol car driving around… Uh oh!
We learned that there were three different entrances for the hike from a map that we had found online. At this point we would’ve been happy with parking close to any of them but the issue was that we had a patrol car following close behind.
By then, it was about 4am and our main focus was to avoid the patrol. I found one of the other entrances from the map and there was a parking spot nearby, so I told Johnny to park there. Once parked, I told Johnny to not make any eye contact. The patrol drove right passed us while we were ducking in our seats. Whew.. but now, I found out that they were following Andy’s car. We texted back and forth for a little while but Johnny and I decided to move forth on our adventure since we got away from the patrol. Andy ended up dropping off our three other friends but they started at a different entrance so we said we would meet up somewhere on the hike when it was possible.
Johnny and I jumped over a fence and into a dark ditch. I had to hold onto the side railings to get through. If I wasn’t careful I could have slipped all the way down. Once we reached a wall and knew it was the end, we had to get to the other side because there was a hole in the fence that was big enough to climb through. Past this fence was dense forest. Not being totally prepared since it was a last minute (and let’s face it), DRUNK decision, we had no flashlights with us; we began to venture into the unknown. Luckily the sun was slowly making its way through the clouds. This was hard because I was still trying to stay in contact with the girls who were in the other car, all the while climbing through the woods afraid that patrol could possibly be chasing us. Then, a fork in the path appeared. Looking left and right, I stood still while listening to all the sounds that surrounded me and felt the dew on my skin. I blurted out, “You know what, this hike has been my dream for a long time.” Then I continued, “Let’s go left!” and so we did. I have these bursts of letting my intuition take over when there’s a fork in the road when it comes to hikes, but I’m ALWAYS wrong.. I did the same thing when I hiked a part of the Trans Catalina Trail but you’ll hear about that at a later time. (My trail name isn’t Stevie as in Stevie Wonder for no reason.) 😛 I had led us in a circle so when we came back around, we made a right instead. Luckily it was a smaller circle. As we hiked through, we came to an area where the trees and branches were even more dense. I saw a little passage but you would have to get really low and would be basically crawling in the mud just to get through. I thought to myself, nope, there HAS to be a different route so we turned around and tried to go another way… Stevie strikes again! We arrived in the same exact place and realize the only way through is crawling in the dirt. I said,”Eff it, let’s crawl!” and on we went.
It was a tough route, weaving in and out, up and down. At one point there was a makeshift rope set-up that we had to use to climb up a big vertical mud hill. I took the lead and when I climbed up and held onto the rope, BAM, I slipped! My momentum slammed my back into the slope. It hurt but it wasn’t too bad, I’m a big girl, I can handle it. Luckily, we came out alive but with a ton of scratches and bruises to show for it! Johnny even had a cut on his left leg. To me, that’s what it’s all about, the adventure and the excitement of having to go through those struggles is what I live for. Besides, scars always prove that you have a good story to tell. 😉
So once we climbed through a hole in another fence, there was a paved road ahead. YESS!! I thought. No more roughing it in the forest. We followed the road to the right to meet up with our friends who took the other path and told us it was clear. They even said the security wasn’t too mean and they were able to just walk passed him. To hear that was a huge relief.
As we slowly approached the security guard he said, “Hey, I have to do my job, so you guys know that you’re trespassing right?” I replied with a “Yes, and thank you” and I just kept walking since my friends who were ahead said it was fine. So Johnny and I were on our merry way. The guard chuckled, “Breaking The Law!” and just let us pass.
If you’re going to attempt this hike, proceed with caution. It’s ILLEGAL because it’s very treacherous. People have DIED attempting/doing this hike. Also, I’ve heard stories of $1000 fines each person if caught trespassing. So know that I’m not promoting this because it can be very dangerous. This is all at your own risk.
Once we passed security, we continued on a dirt path, climbed through the fence and finally we were at the bottom of the stairs. The exploration through the forest was an adventure in itself but finally, we began our ascend on the Stairway to Heaven!
By this time, the sun was completely out. The first few steps were a bit of a shock because of the cold steel railing underneath my fingertips and the slippery stairs below my feet from the morning dew. We were climbing for what seemed to be about 10 minutes until I finally saw my friends in the distant view. I yelled, “Oh heyyyyyy…” as we continued to climb a bit faster just to catch up. Our friends reached the first platform as we trailed behind a few minutes later. We finally caught up with our friends as we exchanged stories of our journey at the beginning of the trail.
On the first platform, you have a gorgeous view of the city below. The sun was out, it was a clear beautiful morning. As we hiked higher, the clouds began to hover above us making it difficult to see ahead.
By now, we were completely immersed in the clouds and the city view was no longer visible. We then reached the second platform where there was a rundown abandoned cabin with old machinery lying around. The walls were decorated with graffiti. We looked around, took some pictures, and continued on our journey.
The very last section of the hike had wooden boards laid out which made a catwalk “in the heavens.” After our long and strenuous trek, we had reached the final platform, which felt like such a huge accomplishment. At the very top, there was another old cabin but this time, there was a large antennae above it.
Phew… 3,922 steps later, we MADE it! As I took my final steps to reach the summit, we all chanted, “We’re number 1, we’re number 1!” I walked around feeling like I was inside my own little playground in the sky. Inside this second cabin, there was more graffiti inside along with “beer can sculptures” left by past hikers to add character to the place. (Damnit, I wish I brought beer!) We also met a man and his son who had climbed up the other “legal” route who encouraged us to climb down that way to avoid the police. With little debate, it was a collaborative decision to take our same route down since it’s shorter and we at least know the way back to our car.
Climbing downhill has always been a bit tougher than climbing up for me. You have to make sure you’re not putting too much pressure on your knees or else you can really mess them up. I learned that the hard way while going on a 3-day backpacking trip in Havasupai in Arizona, but that’s another story.
Sections of the Stairway to Heaven hike are vertical drops so for those of you scared of heights, I recommend turning around and facing the stairs while descending. It took us about an hour and a half to get to the bottom of the stairs where the security guard was posted. We proceeded with caution but as we got closer, I looked at him, smiled and just kept walking. (Perks of being a girl.. just kidding, I think he was just a really cool and chill guy.)
We walked down the paved road for a bit then my girlfriends who took the less intense route showed us the way through the bamboo forest where we wouldn’t have to climb through mud. It was so much nicer and easier but to be honest, I’m glad I went through that war with nature. The thrill seeker in me LOVES that sh*t!
We finally make it out of the forest and peep out of a fence. Were there any cops waiting for us on the other side? After checking if the coast was clear, we climb through the gate one at a time and walk into a residential neighborhood. It was early morning and there were some residents already up hanging out on their lawns. I was scared we’d get some dirty looks but all was fine. We found our car and just like that we were FREE!
We were all starving so we decided to get some udon at my favorite spot Marukame Udon and what a meal that was! The chewy texture of the noodles combined with the perfectly flavored broth, a well deserved and so damn delicious meal! MMMMmmmMMmm!! Everytime I’m in Oahu, this meal is a MUST!
I couldn’t have asked for a better adventure with some of the downest people I know. Stairway to Heaven has always been a dream of mine and I can’t believe I conquered it.
So tell me, what’s YOUR craziest adventure?