December 2017 – The Haiku Stairs are illegal to climb, and I had read of people getting up at 3am to start the climb with risk of getting fined. Since our flight didn’t get into Honolulu until 10pm the night before (which is 3am our time), we decided to sleep later and begin the hike via the Moanalua Middle Ridge Trail. We used Uber to get to the trailhead and began our hike around 8am. The first few miles were relatively flat and easy but already muddy. We had worn gaiters to keep our relatively clean (since we were using Uber for our return) and carried microspikes to put on once we got to the steep parts. There are several spots where the trail splits, but it rejoins the main trail a few yards later.
Following directions from the internet, I knew not to turn left at the “State of Hawaii” sign. Somehow, I missed our turn later, however, and luckily ran into a couple of people who were backtracking. We all retraced our steps and found the correct turn off, complete with the large rock in the stream. As promised, the incline began immediately and without much reprieve for the duration of the hike. Being from the flat state of Florida, I always struggle with intense uphill hikes. Pacing myself, it was not too bad however, and we soon began getting great views of the valley. We ran into a wild hog pretty quickly, but the hog quickly ran down the side of the mountain to avoid us.
A very chilly misty rain began around this time and continued off and on for the rest of the hike. As we gained elevation and left the shelter of the forest, the wind grew stronger and colder. There were several spots that we had to use ropes to help us climb up the steep inclines, and we had a couple of false peaks. Our target just never seemed to get closer, and the mud got increasingly worse. Finally, we reached the last ridge crossing and last steep piece to the radio tower, and we were slipping and sliding all over the mud. We both lost microspikes to the mud, and we were fairly exhausted by the time we made it to the top of the stairs around 12:30pm.
We spent about half an hour resting and exploring at the top of the stairs. The view was unbelievable, and the weather was amazingly clear for our time at the top. We had the area to ourselves the whole time we were there. Since we were on a tight timeline, we had to keep moving and began descending the stairs around 1pm. We stopped several times for pictures and a couple of times to let others pass and converse with them. We got to the bottom around 2pm. Since we had not seen any “No Trespassing” signs going down the stairs and did not see any police at the bottom, we decided to head straight out of the stairs and past the guard. He did not say anything to us, and we went right down the road. After reaching a subdivision, we requested a ride from Uber and tried to clean up a little in the meantime. We had brought trashbags for our hiking shoes, wetwipes to clean up some mud, and a pair of flipflops for each of us.
I was running close to finishing my 1.5L water bladder in my Camelbak but had just enough to finish the hike without being dehydrated. Neither of us had eaten more than a small snack on the way up, and we were both shaking by the time we reached our hotel to clean up and head to our cruise ship. We were also running short on time, so we had to wait a few more hours to eat (so I suggest not only bringing snacks but actually eating them).
Our Uber driver had a little trouble finding us but thankfully did not make any mention of our appearances. We did sit on our rainjackets to try to keep his backseat clean.
This was a fairly long, challenging hike, especially for the morning after an entire day of flying. It was also the first technically illegal hike I’ve ever done (although again, we saw no signs coming down). I do not regret the views and pictures, however. This was a definite bucket list checkoff, and I have been yearning to do this hike for years. I do not think the stairs will be there many more years based on the talk of tearing them down, so I am really glad I had the chance to do them.