Stairway to Heaven - I did 3,700 of the 3,922 stairs.
It was 2:15 a.m. when I opened my eyes, after just falling asleep at midnight. We were supposed to be at Rayce's (@raycecar) place by 3 a.m. and it would take us 34 minutes to get there. By 3:15 a.m., we picked him up and eventually found Eric (@kushpush) roaming the streets looking for us. He had ridden his scooter an hour and forty-five minutes across the island to join us on the hike. By 4a.m., we had hopped over a barb-wired fence and had the neighbors' dogs barking at us. Quickly and quietly as possible, we scurried up the paved path towards the unofficial trail head. Here, we were met with a security guard who warned us that we were about to trespass on government property and should turn around. "No, that's okay. We'll take the chance and deal with the consequences" someone piped up. "Okay," she replied. "The cops will be waiting for you when you come down then." We thanked her and went around another fence with a posted trespass warning.
With our dimmed headlamps, we were on our way up!
Hiking in the dark isn't too bad, but it's frustrating when you can't see more than a few feet ahead of you -especially since the first section of stairs had become mangled from a landslide. You had to constantly be looking down to make sure you knew exact where to place your foot. However, not being able to see ahead could be mentally easing as well. "Out of sight, out of mind," right? The steep sections of the stairs required the use of both hands to help alleviate the work from the legs.The railings were moist, wet, sharp and rusted through in some parts. Gloves recommended, but not necessary.
An hour and what seemed like two miles miles later, we reached the first platform. With legs trembling and sweat soaking through our layers, we broke out some granola bars, drank water and took in the views.
We took a half hour to catch our breaths and then we were on our way back up. As we climbed higher, the full moon help lead the way. In another half hour, we would reach the next platform.
The next couple of platforms were close enough in distance, where taking a break was not a necessity. However, the steep incline did not let up. By 6:15 am., we finally made it to the top, joining a few others whom arrived before us, sitting atop the abandoned satellite building. Sunrise was in some-20 minutes, so we took the chance to explore the area -back down the stairs and around the back ridge of the summit. I hear the back ridge is the legal way of accessing the summit, but it's a 10 mile hike on top of the ridge, which seems WAAAAY more sketchy than the stairs.
About 10 minutes before sunrise, climbing the stairs out from the clouds, comes Bianca. She had done the stairs by herself! After unsuccessfully attempting to wake her sleepy friends, she caught an Uber and beast mode that shit on her own!!!
The series below contain a sequence in which I asked Rayce to be my human scale subject up top the back ridge. Click on the images to "Find Waldo!"
The walk down wasn't as bad as the walk up, but definitely more demanding that I thought it'd be. Ever try walking down a ladder, face-forward with a backpack on? Yeah, thank goodness for rusty hand rails. I won't bore you with more ramblings of our hike down, but we'll let the images and captions tell the story.
Eventually, we got out heads out of the clouds and the sun started to beam us with its warmth. Click an image to enlarge it.
We started from the bottom as strangers and by the time we reached the top, we were friends. Even those that we met up top quickly became friends. The camaraderie and experience was pretty dang special. I look forward in searching for an experience to top this one!