This past year held many great moments for my wife and I, but we have come to realize that hiking and being out in nature is what we cherish most and that this is where so many of our great memories come from. Having realized this, my wife and I decided that there would be no better way to welcome the year 2012 than by hiking somewhere to see the fireworks. The skies had been perfectly clear all day, so we decided to go ahead with our plan and hike up the Stairway to Heaven in Kaneohe. Little did we know that the weather and skies in Kaneohe were not quite as appealing as the weather on our side of the island. This did not stop us however, and while most people were out partying and getting crazy to celebrate the New Year, we decided to start our own tradition. I did bring a bottle of champagne up with us, but since it had been raining and the stairs were wet, it didn't get opened until we arrived home later that night, which was probably for the best.
We started our trip up the Stairway to Heaven a little bit past 10pm. I had my huge duffle bag on my back, with blankets and lanterns, and a few fireworks inside to keep us comfortable and entertained once at our stopping point. As we started climbing the stairs, we could see that the actual summit of the Haiku Stairs, was socked in and that there would be no views from that juncture, so we immediately made up our minds to stop at the first concrete resting area, where the city lights were still visible. As we went up the stairs I counted every step, one by one, to keep my mind off the tiring hike. This only lasted for a little while, until I eventually lost track. The climb up was pretty slow going, as the stairs were wet and I could barely fit up the narrow stairs with my huge duffle bag constantly getting in the way and getting me stuck. We slowly made it up the vertical sections and could see our stopping point just ahead of us. One last steep climb up the almost vertical staircase and we had reached our destination for the night. It wasn't even 11pm yet, so we took out our blankets, some sterno to try and get a little heat, and our lanterns so we could see. About twenty minutes later we saw three others heading up the stairs. My wife jumped over the railing and began taking a bunch of pictures as the fireworks really started going off as the New Year was growing ever so closer. A few minutes before midnight, one of the hikers who we saw heading up the stairs earlier, finally reached us. It was a hiker who we had hiked with and knew, so we talked for a few minutes and then the clock struck midnight and the amount of fireworks going off in the city below grew exponentially.
It was a beautiful site from atop the stairs and my wife and I were really pleased by the outcome. We waited until about 1am and then decided that we had had enough for one night and began our slow descent down the ever so slippery stairs. This was by far my slowest trip ever down the stairs due to the wetness and my huge pack. On the verticals I had no choice but to turn around backwards. A few times I didn't do so and my duffle bag almost made me take a fall down the vertical stairs. I don't know why I bring huge bags on some of the night hikes we do, but this will seriously be the last time. After this and my experience at Puu O Hulu, I have definetly learned my lesson. As we came arrived at the bottom of the stairs, we walked through the creepy forest and finally arrived back on the paved access road. As we were walking on the access road back to the main street, we saw some people start to come around the gate, but when they saw us and caught a glimpse of our head lamps they took off running. We tried to catch up to them but when we got to the gate they had already jumped in a white suv and took off in a hurry. I couldn't help but laugh but I also felt pretty bad. I am sure that they thought we were guards or cops or something and that we scared them off. I wanted to catch them to tell them that everything was good and that they should go ahead and go up, but it wasn't meant to be I guess. Hopefully there New Year starts off on a better note next year, just as ours did this year.
Directions: See one of my previous Stairway to Heaven blog write-ups for directions.