Honolulu taxpayers shelling out big bucks for every hiker rescue
HFD responded to 77 distress calls so far this year.
It takes nearly 4,000 steps to reach the top of Haiku Stairs but when you do, some say it’s one of the most breathtaking views in the world.
“You can see all the way up the coast to Chinaman’s hat and beyond and all the way up to Leeward Coast,” Vernon Ansdell, Friends of Haiku Stairs said.
It may be beautiful but it's 100 percent illegal. The stairs: also known as the Stairway to Heaven attracts hundreds of trespassers each year.
Firefighters evacuated two hikers in distress near the trail Sunday. The pair made it off the mountain without any injuries.
HFD says every rescue costs taxpayers about $1,500 an hour and it isn't the first time one was made near the popular Windward Oahu trail.
There’s more than one entry point that’s closed off and locked up. Hikers say its closure will only lead to more distress calls.
Ansdell says that’s because hikers opt to take risky routes from the Moanalua side of the mountain to access the stairs.
“A lot of people get into trouble on that trail there. They're coming up the backside and it's quite a dangerous trail especially when it's been raining a lot. People get lost up there they get injured and they call for help,” Ansdell said. “They also come in the other way through Haiku Valley - going through people's property or going into the valley and getting lost.”
Residents near fenced off areas of the trail say they’ve seen tour buses and Uber drivers drop off hikers trying to access the trail through the neighborhood.
The stairs sit on land owned by the city and the Board of Water Supply. The utility is assessing options on whether to remove the stairs or transfer ownership.
For years, The Friends of Haiku stairs have been advocating to manage the trail themselves.
“It's just a way of controlling the number of people that go up, when they go up and how they go up, whether they're dressed appropriately, they would have a safety briefing before they go up and make sure they understand what to do if there's any issues,” Ansdell said.
The group is working with the city on a management plan which would include staff maintaining the trail, guiding hikers and also providing security.