Our prime objective, which sadly I’ll admit was not met, was to traverse the mountain from the backside and end up going down the Haiku stairs.. which is guarded and not allowed access to from the front (unless you manage to slip in during a time when the guard is not there, which is illegal also, and hard to predict a good time to try. I’m sure going down isn’t legal, but they can’t do much at that point.. you’re just a crazed hiker in need of food and water).
We took a turn too early for the route planned and ended up on the Kulana’ahane Trail, which is a beautiful, long hike with lots of A) mud B) streams to cross C) trees and vines. Following it all the way goes a few miles through pretty dense vegetation with a few open spots where you can see that you’re really in the middle of a mountain line. Eventually you’ll come to a sign that states you are at the end of the maintained trail- and it’s not kidding. Your path narrows to about two feet wide and is very slick, uphill, and inconsistent footing. Somehow, there are “foot steps” in the rock that allow you to go up a very narrow ridge, and ropes to help keep you from toppling over. It started raining a bit once we were about half a mile from the end of the trail. Rain drops are very large at an elevation of 1,660 feet! When you have a chance, really do try to admire the beauty around you on all parts of the hike. On the way down (it was pouring at that point) you can see waterfalls going straight down the mountains.. and these are not the gentle slopes you can drive up. I’m talking almost 90 degree angles. Erosion or whatever hasn’t been heard of here.
All five of us made it to the top, with only slightly muddy and wet attire. Luckily, no electronics were harmed (as of today, though a few got wet) and no injuries other than some brush scrapes, hurt egos, and a few bruises.
After seeing the next 20 “steps” to get to the stairs from our mistake, we decided to go back down. This was much faster going, though now it was extremely slippery and muddy. A piece of photography equipment was lost somewhere along the way 😦 and there was a lot of sliding on our rears and crab walking down the steep slope. Once we got to the bottom of the drop, the streams were twice as high and crazy fast! Crossing them became a little more challenging, and I’m lucky I was surrounded with soldiers to help keep me from falling down a zillion times (have I mentioned I’m a klutz?).
After getting almost to the end of the Kulana’ahane, and actually feeling dry for the first time in a while, the rain gods decided it was time to pour again, so the remaining 3 miles or so were drenched. Having good company made it much better, and the entire way down we actually had a blast.
Tradition to a grueling adventure, we ended up at Bowles Burritos, where I finally found something as good as the little shack in Ocala I used to drive an hour and a half to find! Nom Nom.
Cold car ride home, rescued children, hot showers, and some Super Mario 3, and everyone was happy and ready to do it again.
I’m not disappointed we didn’t reach the stairs- it meant a loooong hike back but still, I got to stand on top of a freaking mountain, the highest elevation I’ve ever been, and watch the cars go by. I’m normally one of those cars on my way to a shoot wishing I was on top. Today, I was.
See photos from this hike here: Flickr- Kulana’ahane (More to come soon)
Here is the 2nd blog we tried to follow and half-hearted gave up once we reached #17: http://www.unrealhawaii.com/2011/07/moanalua-saddle-to-haiku-stairs/