Hawaii conjures images of pristine beaches and turquoise waters. Dig a little further and you’ll find out that the place has more to offer than a dive to the depths of the sea as it can also take you to a journey to heaven – albeit a very dangerous one. Haiku Stairs, popularly known as the Stairway to Heaven, is every hiker’s dream – it is a trail to the top of Puu Keahi a Kahoe in Oahu that, when climbed successfully, offers a magnificent view of the entire island. Note that the key phrase here is “when climbed successfully.”
You’ve been warned: this is not for the faint of heart.
The stairs were built during World War II to put up radio antennae as part of a network of communications for the United States Navy. Wooden ladders, and later on a wooden staircase, were installed on the ridges of the mountain to access its summit. These served as the only path to the top where radio stations were set up.
The wooden staircase was later replaced with metal steps and ramps to offer more stability. In 1987, the public was prohibited from accessing the station and the steps, but like moth attracted to the flame, people remained indifferent and continued to climb.
Repairs were made to the stairway in 2003 as part of the local government’s plan to re-open it to the public. However, as of this day, the government still maintains that the trail remains closed to the public. Just recently, in 2015, part of the stairway was drastically affected by a strong storm that passed over Oahu, further exacerbating the danger that accompanies every trek.
The staircase reaches a peak of more than 2,000 feet that can be accessed through a 3,922-step ascent. What awaits on top is an unobstructed view of the island of Oahu – a panorama of greens and blues that are accentuated by the sun on a cloud-streaked sky. This Instagram-worthy view is enough to allure hikers, even at the cost of putting their lives at risk.
The moniker Stairway to Heaven is fitting as the trail promises a glimpse of paradise at the summit: a scenic blend of the winding interstate in the midst of majestic mountains, with the serene ocean serving as a grand backdrop to the view.
The crisp, cold air and calming silence at the summit complete the beauty and power of the whole experience, enough to quell the fear and anxiety that accompany the journey to the top.
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