Friday, July 13, 2007

Stairway to Hell (paca)

There's a hike on Oahu nicknamed the Stairway to Heaven, as it climbs up into a wet mountain range, often into the clouds themselves. Unfortunately, while the trail is open, the only access point to it is on private land and closed. The rumor is that to actually do the trail you have to trespass by ducking behind trees and crawling through tall grasses. Thus, it's effectively closed. If that, however, is the stairway to heaven, then what I did on Wednesday was the stairway to hell.

If you recall from the last hiking post, the goal was to get to the top of Koko Crater. Here it is from the top of Makapu'u point a couple weeks back.

The tall point in the back is named Pu'u Mai with pu'u meaning peak or mountain and mai meaning ummm ummm, anyone here know a linguist in Hawai'i? Koko Crater was pushed up at the same time as Diamond Head and the Punchbowl Crater (in which resides the military National Memorial of the Pacific) and so are extinct volcanoes. Within Koko Crater is a botanical garden. You cannot go up the walls inside, though, so our trail leads up from the opposite side of what you are seeing here.

Voila, the stairway to hell.

According to my hiking web site, Koko Crater is 1,206 feet, and there are 1,106 steps made of old railroad ties. You go for 550 steps that are up but not too steep. Then there's this bridge which seems odd for a highly traveled trail because the spaces between the railroad ties are big enough to fall through. And then you have another close to 500 steps that are much steeper.

Somewhere on this steep portion, I took this picture. The bay you can see is Hanauma Bay and is one of the great snorkeling locations. It's a national preserve and you have to watch a video about not destroying the reefs before you can go down into it. One way to get a sense of how high up we are is to look in great detail at the picture. On the left, the grassy area is a shooting range and you can literally hear gunfire the entire way up. (Ruins the peaceful image a bit.) On the right is a park and you can see the tip of a baseball field and a parking lot. In the parking lot, there's a dark dot, a red dot, and a gold dot. The gold dot is our car. Actually, if you are going to have your car stolen, this is a great place for it to happen, because you can see the car the whole time, see the roads for miles, and your cell phone works. But this picture isn't all the way up yet.

This one, however, is. It's a view west towards Diamond Head and the tip of Waikiki. It was hazy that day, however.

And then since you are at the top, it is now possible to see Makapu'u point, which is that rise of rock at the corner of the island. That's where N and I were for the picture that started this. It seemed tall when we were there. Now, I laugh at the girlyman point.

And just to prove that I was really there and am not bumming pics off my cool friends, here's me. Oh yeah, this is definitely me at my best. Haven't shaved in a week, shirt soaked through.

And then you are done. There are left over fortifications from WWII that have been taken down and the remains are now covered in grafitti. I presume that's why the staircase is here, too. Of course, after your lovely view, there's a penalty. You have to go down.

I'm far sorer today than from any of the other hikes, but then, if a "story" is 10 feet, then that thing would have been a 110 story staircase.


Sammy Jankis said...

Did you have to crawl any of it? I'm pretty sure I would have had to crawl at some point. And butt scoot my way down the stairs.

Emily B said...

Hooray, you did it! Now you have Koko Crater bragging rights. Congrats :)

writtenwyrdd said...

Last time I tried a hike like that my knees hurt to badly to finish. (Me: Wimp) That's an awesome view!

December/Stacia said...

Goddamn! That's pretty amazing, good for you!

Lola said...

The hike you took was actually koko head crater hike... not stairway to heaven. You're right about the trail "stairway to heaven" being closed but that's in the Koolau Mountains. It over looks the Haiku Valley at 2000 ft and its 3500 steps. I just did the Koko head hike yesterday, it kicked my butt too.