Hawaii Firefighters Rescue Hikers From Trail

KANEOHE, Hawaii --

The Honolulu Fire Department rescued two hikers from the hiking trail known as the Stairway to Heaven on the side of the Koolau Mountain Range on Monday.

The fire chopper picked two hikers off the Stairway to Heaven trail and airlifted them to safety.

The friends were hiking for hours when the weather turned ugly and fear set in.

"We made a decision. I mean, it was either take a risk and try to go back the way we came or play it safe and call the authorities," hiker Mark Nelson said.

They read about the trail on the Internet.

"We looked it up online and it seemed like it was the thing to do -- a tourist attraction supposedly," Nelson said.

However, the trail was closed in the 1980s.

One of the men said he knew the trail was off limits.

"People should heed the warnings -- the no hiking warnings -- and stay off the trail. It's closed for this reason exactly right here. These guys were lucky," HFD's Jason Racoma said.

Gates are locked and no trespassing signs are posted along fences at the bottom of the trail. Instead of turning back, hikers typically access the trail by trespassing onto private property and jump over a fence.

The city posted security guards at the trailhead, but neighbors said hikers still find their way onto the trail.

"They just come here all kinds of times causing a raucous, annoying the dogs. The dogs bark at all kinds of time and wake me and my family up," area resident Ryan Lonnon said.

The men face possible fines. HFD officials want hikers to understand the greater risk.

"They put themselves in jeopardy, and they also of course put our rescuers in jeopardy when they go into an area where they are not suppose to be and takes resources from our availability to respond to other people that have emergencies," Capt. Terry Seelig said.

Copyright 2008 by KITV.com All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.