Despite yesterday's adventure on the Papali Ridge and Castle Trails when David Concepcion mentioned he was going to go up Moanalua Middle Ridge and down the Stairway to Heaven under the almost full moon the temptation to tag along was too great to resist. However, I really didn't feel like going up the Middle Ridge so I'd asked if I could climb and descend via the Stairway to join them at the CCL building instead. He had no objections to my crashing their party and Mrs. XJ granted me an evening pass so off I headed to Haiku Valley.
Back before they'd adjusted security to arrive ridiculously early, people used to be able to beat the guards and head up the stairway to watch the sunrise. Having done that before I wasn't worried at all about finding my way through Haiku Valley to the bottom of the forbidden stairs. The details are a little fuzzy but 7:53pm sticks out in my mind as my start time.
|H-3 bathed in moon and high pressure sodium light|
My least favorite section of the Stairway is the first. It seems the steepest and the longest. I entered what I call "The Valley", which I've further subdivided into the upper and lower. Here is where the native forest begins. Both ohia and lama are present in the valley sections and I could plainly see both under the light of the moon. Eventually I reached the first landing where I took out the tripod and the D90 for a few night shots.
|View from the first landing|
|Light pollution provides plenty of illumination!|
Using my new Nikon AW100 I tried a freehand shot of the old winch house. It took a little post processing magic to render a grainy black and white.
|The winch house|
I arrived at the CCL Building at 9:40pm drenched. The views had vanished as the clouds had moved in. In the swirling clouds it was a constant drizzle when it wasn't pouring. Along the way I'd emailed to make sure that the group climbing up Moanalua Middle Ridge was still coming even though at that point I'd have continued to the top anyway. I set up inside the building out of the worst of the wind and immediately I began to get cold. I put on a light jacket I'd brought and passed the time with a few shots inside the building. Knowing that I'd probably be waiting, I'd brought a couple extras up with me like a LED lantern and my small stove and pot to brew a little coffee.
|Waiting in the dark|
|My LED lantern illumnates the graffiti of the CCL Building|
I've spent a night by myself in the Ko'olaus before and I hike all the time by myself but for some reason my imagination was running wild. The wind, rain, and clouds combined with the creepy decay of the CCL Building were getting to me a little so I tried to stay busy to avoid thinking too much. I updated my Facebook status, "
|Improvised kitchen to brew some hot coffee on an old Bud Light cold pack.|
|CCL Building in the clouds|
|Kaneohe in the swirling clouds|
|Clear shot with the point and shoot on the way back down.|
Despite the cold, rain, wind, and clouds I don't think it's possible for me not to have a good time on the Stairway to Heaven!
David's blog, DGC's Hawaii Hiking Tales is great if you haven't seen it. His account can be viewed here.
More pictures of this trail and others I've done can be viewed on Flickr. Aloha and thanks for reading!