Two Passions. One Pack.

This is the first post for our new  blog series (Two Passions. One Pack.) hosted by Lowepro Storyteller Travis Burke. Being an outdoor adventure photographer, Travis participates in just about every sport and activity he shoots. He needs a pack that not only holds his camera equipment securely, but is also extremely diverse and can handle any and every situation he puts it through. For Travis, that bag is the Photo Sport 200 AW.

 

STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN: The Hike of all Hikes!

Not made for the faint of heart or the less adventurous souls, this old metal staircase was built during WWII on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. It’s not exactly legal to hike, and there is actually a 24-hour security guard that sits at the bottom of the stairs; but people still manage to go up and down the stairs nearly everyday. I’m not trying to encourage others to break the law or put themselves in dangerous situations, but after ten years of looking at images, I knew I had to experience this incredible hike for myself… and the adventure completely exceeded all of my expectations!

Adrenaline pumping at 3am while sneaking through hidden trails among the bamboo forests, trying to make it around the guard without being seen or heard. Sage Long following the group closely.

The views were unbelievable as we were ascending the stairs pre-dawn with our headlamps on and the glow of the city off in the distance.

As we made our way higher up the old rusted stairs, we entered some extremely thick fog that was lingering on the tops of the mountains. I was extremely excited to have these conditions – with half of the stairs being in fog and half being completely clear, allowing for tons of different photographic opportunities.

Here I am pulling my Nikon D800 with a 14-24mm lens out of the Photo Sport 200 AW bag. There was a ton of moisture in the air and at least 40 mph winds along the ridges, so being able to quickly pull my camera in and out of the bag was extremely helpful. For this adventure, I was also carrying a rain jacket, headlamp, over a liter of water, Clif bars, multiple GoPro cameras, a Goal Zero portable battery and a 24-70mm lens in the bag as well. All proving to be useful during the five hours we were up there.

The fog was so thick at some points (even right before dawn) that Quin Schrock had to turn his headlamp on as he raced down part of the stairs to capture a different view.

Thick fog getting blown over the ridge revealing the rest of the ridgeline and beautiful blue sky above.

There are endless amounts of incredible viewpoints all along the ridge; here Ryan Robinson stops to soak it all in as we continue making our way up.

Lindsay Hurley nearing the summit as strong winds made the city appear then disappear again behind the dense fog.

Steeper sections of the stairs end up being more like a vertical ladder, requiring full-body strength to pull yourself up each step. Stopping for breaks is a must, but luckily the views aren’t terrible.

We were lucky enough to get a break in the clouds for sunrise and could see 360º views of the entire island. Not a bad reward for our 3am start and gaining over 2,700 ft of elevation.

The way down takes about a fourth of the time since its all downhill. The views were spectacular, and seeing them in daylight gave us a better perspective on how far we climbed and how beautiful the surroundings were.

This hike isn’t for everyone for multiple reasons, but for me personally, it will always go down as one of my favorite bucket list experiences. From the great weather and the incredible location, to sharing those special moments with some of the best humans I know! Hawaii is a magical place and the “Stairway to Heaven” alone made the entire trip worth it for me.

Katrina Neill

About Katrina Neill

Katrina was the Senior Editor & Communications Manager for Lowepro.

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