Thursday, October 6, 2011
Haiku Stairs to Bowman
As I was getting ready for bed last night I got a call from my hiking partner informing me that we would be changing the hiking route for the next day. I didnt even think twice about it and hung up and fell asleep. The next morning the group of 4 us, that has come to hike regularly together, met up at mcdonalds in Kalihi and then set out for Kalihi elementary school where we would drop a car off for what would be the ending of our hike. Next we would drive towards Kaneohe to the haiku stairs and start our hike. Unfortunately one of the members of the group was very sick that morning, but she still managed to get up and and help us out by driving and dropping us off right in front of the gate at the haiku stairs where we would set off on the hike. While it was a complete bummer that we would set off on this hike without her, it did work to our advantage because there would be no need to drive back to kaneohe afterwards to pick up the car. The 3 of us sadly said goodbye to her and then jumped out the car and headed through the gate and to the stairs. We could see the whole summit was socked in with clouds and it was raining. The trip up the stairs was wet and slow going. We decided to set a slow pace and make it a relaxing hike. This would become the theme of the day. We would definetly not be setting a record for fastest hike on this day. The 3 of us chatted up a storm and took turns leading the way up and took a bunch of breaks to eat and just talk story. Before we knew it we were at terminus of the Haiku Stairs. Once at the top we decided that there really wasn't much of a need for us to take another break. Since the whole summit was socked in, we would not be taking pictures and it was windy and freezing at the omega station so we went ahead and jumped over the railing and started on the ridge across the kst. The trail was fairly wide and very easy to follow. This portion of the hike was a blast for all of us. We passed the middle ridge junction and then the Triple ridge junction. Following the route was simple for us, all we had to do was just keep going straight and you when kst ends you are on the Bowman trail, which is what we would be decending. Shortly after the Tripler Ridge junction we came to an opening and we all sat down and talked of how we wished we weren't socked in by clouds. I came up with the idea to stay there for about 30 minutes and see what happened. Within 10 minutes the clouds cleared and views of kaneohe on one side and of Pearl Harbor on the other opened up. The views were beautiful for about 5 minutes and then the clouds, almost magicly, came back and socked us in again. We packed up our cameras and set off for the last portion of the kst before the Bowman trail. Once again, the whole kst was so much fun, and I really didn't see anything even remotely dangerous about it. There were some good drops but overall you are pretty protected. When we got to the bowman summit we were startled by another hiker. It was a 16 year old boy. We laughed and then asked him where the rest of his group was. He told us he had taken the bus to Kalihi and done the whole hike by himself. Pretty impressive for a kid who was barely 16. He joined us and we started our 6 mile decent down Bowman. This is where alot of the fun ended. The whole decent down the Bowman trail was miserable. The trail was even more overgrown than we expected and was insanely muddy. The trip down Bowman was filled with laughs though, since one of us would slip and bust our ass every 30 seconds. After awhile I became more annoyed than anything else and was just ready to get off the muddy trail and back to our car. Before we knew it we were walking on a road and the end was in sight. About 15 minutes later we came out of some brush onto a basketball court in the back of Kalihi elementary school and we were done. The hike took us about 9 hours but we took a ton of breaks to mess around and talk, so it obviously can be done much quicker. My guess is that it's about 9-10 miles from the bottom of the stairs to the end of the Bowman trail. If you plan on doing this hike my suggestion would be to start from Kalihi and go up Bowman and come down the stairs to bypass the whole situation of getting onto the Haiku Stairs without being turned around by the guards. Remember, you will need two cars, one parked off the road at Kalihi Elementary school and one parked on Kuneki street in Haiku valley before the entrance to the stairs for when you come down. I will post directions on how to get to the start of the Bowman trail and how to get to the start of the stairs soon. If you are coming from the bowman trail the route to the stairway is simple, just keep along the ridge and go straight and don't veer away from the trail along the cliffs edge. Eventually you will come to the omega station marking the top of the haiku stairs.