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Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Stairway to Heaven 
Did you every just feel like just getting away from it all ?

.    Since my motorcycle accident in 1978,  I have led a normal life and  not let my physical handicap slow me down . However I avoid stairs and ladders because I'm slow and unstable. As a matter of fact in 2004 I fell off a 12 ft. ladder and broke my knee cap, and I haven't left the State in 23 years either . So how did  I end  up  holding on to a steel ladder with one hand 1200 ft. over Oahu's  H-3 Freeway ?                                                                                                                                                                        The story begins at my work place in early March 2014 . My mind, body , spirit (and coworkers)  all said to me "you need a vacation" .  After I decided on Honolulu Hawaii,  and my mental health stabilized then improved , every day after work I would look at "Things to do in Hawaii" websites, blogs and videos . It was at this point I found "The Haiku Stairs" and became intrigued. after a dozen blogs and videos on it , the climb turned in to an obsession   . I would disregard good judgment , personal safety, fear of heights and  travel 4900 miles, jump over numerous "No Trespassing" signs and illegally climb 3922 stairs into the clouds in the middle of the night .                                                                                                                                                                                              Homestead , Florida ( elev.5 ft.) is not the best place to train for a steep up hill hike , I made the best of it and loading 36 lbs. of steel into a back pack and holding 5 lbs. dumbbell's  in each hand   hike tomato and okra fields for 2 hours on my day's off .  My research continued every night on the computer  reading dozens of blog posts and news articles  studying pictures and Google   maps for hours.   With all the  research  the question remained would I really go through with it ? there was some doubt ? Climbing is a really selfish pursuit,  friends and family worry about your health,  welfare and safety and don't want to see you injured or worse all just so you can tell a boring  story over and over  .                                                                                                                                                                           With  the long work days  time passed quickly , soon the alarm clock chimed at 4 am for my Delta flight ..  I arrived in Honolulu exhausted , I had not slept much the night before.  I was on about 8 hours sleep for the past  48 hours.      Driving  the rental car I realized what a road hazard I was,  thankfully I soon  found my room, check in and proceeded to pass out about 7pm local time.   Three hours later  I woke up  full of energy I decided to" just do it" and  not  procrastinate , " load the wagon and whip the  mule". . I figured at worst I could gain valuable  knowledge  for a later attempt  . In the parking lot of the 24 hour "Saveway"  I ate 2 boxes of sushi  drank 1 qt. of Gatorade and 4 Red Bulls . double checked my backpack and  climbing equipment.                                                                                                                                                                        One of the blogs I had read said;  The TV series "Lost"  was filmed in the Haiku/ Kaneohe area, that was Ironic because I was Lost  most of the next 3 hours .  At about 1:30 am I was standing at the foot of "The Stairway to Heaven"  with no   security guard  around  I quickly ducked around 2 security fences  started climbing. The plan was get up about 100 yards then stretch, rest and rehydrate, I didn't want  "Five-0" to roll up and stop me after all I've gone through. . I had read the climb to the first platform ( 1643 ft.) was the hardest, this certainly was true. Yeah it was about 1200 ft. "shit just got real"  I think the moment my ears clogged up do to elevation. I took 1 hand off the ladder , hold my nose and blow to equalize the pressure, Dear God  I must really be high up ! I realized  I was laboring so hard  my 56 year old heart might fail , I could only see endless stairs above .  The last 450 ft. was pretty much strait up 80- 90 degrees . I just hung on for dear life and climbed 1 step at a time .                                                                                                                                            Reaching the first platform was a great relief, a safe place  to sit down and rest. My legs and arms were exhausted I sat down and drank a qt. of water.  I quickly went from over heating to shivering cold . I stripped off my sweat soaked shirt and put on a new one, still cold I put on my windbreaker and rain gear .  The first platform is  on the windward side of Oahu  it's cold windy and rainy up there. It was near 2:30 am and groups of hikers continued to arrive. Lots of Europeans,  healthy young people from Norway,  Sweden and The Netherlands  as well as groups of young Hawaiian kids.  we would chat, they would rest and continue climbing,  after about 30 minutes I tried my legs  they were sore and weak and I had gone through 3/4 of my water . Once you summit you're only 1/2 way there is the climbers rule .  would I continue ? could I continue ?  did I even have the legs to climb down and then hike another 2 miles to my car ?  End of part 1

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