It’s not all glitz and glamour when travel. There is always the ugly, the sickness you may encounter, the missed flight/train, the exhaustion and the moments that scare you to death.
My scariest experience was when I was in Oahu, Hawaii. In 2016, I planned a long awaited solo 10 days hiking trip to Seattle, Oahu and Kauai. The main attraction was Kauai but in every stop, I have planned hikes with the best overlooks and difficulty. I had only 2 days in Oahu as a layover to breakup the long flight to Kauai. Knowing me, I stuffed those 2 days with anything and everything I want cause I don’t know how to relax on vacation. I am a huge adrenaline junkie and I had to do some hiking on this beautiful island so I wanted to the most stellar one – Haiku Stairs (an illegal hike). I did a tons of research (forums, reviews, youtube videos, reaching out to individuals to have done it).
I planned to hike up Moanalua Ridge (legal route) to the peak and come down Haiku Stairs (illegal route). To the strong recommendations of friends and others, I should not do this alone. So through hike forums, I connected with someone who was interested in doing the hike with me on the day I was. The night before was a huge storm. It rained massively until the morning of. I barely slept hearing all the doors in the airBnB I was staying in, swung open and door. The wind was howling through all crevices of the house. Once we got on location, finding the right path up Moanalua Ridge was definitely confusing, you had to walk a dirt path until you past 7 crossings.Luckily along the way, we ran into fellow hikers who were confused as well (2 fellas from B.C., 1 active military guy on vacay from Australia, 1 girl from Europe). We finally found our way and hiked through tangled branches that created somewhat of a tunnel that leaded to the exposed ridge.
The ridge was absolutely stunning, there was rolling drops off both ends that lead into the abyss of the island. The land was moist and very muddy. It was howling 30+mph. It demanded the group to stop in our tracks at times and hold on the surrounding bushes for safeguard. Little secret (that’s not so secret) – I have a massive fear of heights. I must have said over 2 dozens time I’m going to die.” Mind you, people have died on this and there are a few crosses on the trail. I was so terrified but there was no going back, only forward.
We trekked on for who knows how long, 2-3 hours until we hit the summit of the cell tower. The scariest part of done but there was still the trek down Haiku Stairs to the other side of the island (3,922 steps). Everyone was pretty exhausted from hiking in the worst condition ever. Our knees were knocking every time we stopped. It was extremely cold and windy at the peak. Unfortunately, we barely saw anything but clouds until we started descending. Halfway down the stairs, we started to shift our weights onto our arms and use the rails to maneuver ourselves down the stairs.The stairs were in pretty good condition, minus a few sections and there, but they were insanely steep at times. We had to turn around and climb down them as ladder at moments.
Visibility was getting better as we trekked down. We were able to see the island, the airport and the city center. It was absolutely breathtaking. We had one more obstacle though…. the guard caught sight of us and was calling the police on us. We ran through the forest on exhausted and wobbly legs. We made it back into the planned second car and drove back to the trail head so we can all get back to our cars and finally, relax a bit. At the parking lot, the local police came by to casually question us but we were in the clear.
One of the hardest hikes to date with the worst conditions I’ve ever been through but I can’t lie – it’s forever engraved into my memory! I cherish this hike pretty close to my heart.
I’ve learned to always research, trust your instinct, plan accordingly, and be extremely prepared. Never let fear control you too much cause even though I was scared to death, it was one of my best experience and I don’t regret it one bit. You will always encounter issues on your travels, just be smart. Hold your ground, be composed and keep going!
Live, Learn, Love soulfully!
Angela in wonderland // Follow me on IG @jelloooh #jellooohexploration