Saturday, October 20, 2007

Chiget Cliff Line Hike - October 20, 2007

On October 20, 2007, we were off to explore a new area of Tinian. The area went to explore is the cliff line near Chiget Beach.

Chiget Beach is a small narrow beach on the southeast side of the North Field area on Tinian. Chiget was formed by a normal fault that goes from Tinian to Saipan. This fault zone forms a narrow channel that ends at a small beach. This is one of the few areas on Tinian that you can see turtle grass. In the picture below, you can see the small Chiget channel with the eelgrass behind us; me, Melina, Rick, Ariuka and Dan.

While at the beach, it was time for photographs. Below is Dan taking a picture.

Below is the cliff line we have come to explore.
Luckily for us some one had cut a trail for us through the thick undergrowth near the beach. Most likely the path had been cut by coconut crab hunters. Below, the group gets ready to enter the jungle near the base of the cliff line. To the left of the group is a huge rock. There are several near this area that stick out of the jungle's canopy.

At the cliff we found a lot of hermit crabs eating the algae off of the wet rocks. Each crab is about the size of a hand. Almost all of these crabs are wearing shells from the Giant African Land Snail. This snail was introduced into the Mariana Islands some time around or just after World War II. It became a serious pest until a fluke was introduced to control it.

One of the nice things about this hike was the open jungle that we walked through. The large trees blocked the sunlight that reached the ground and there were not a lot of plants that we had to cut our way through. Below are Melina and Rick under a big Puting (Barringtonia asiatica) tree.

We took some time to explore areas that we found with lots of bottles. Bottles on the ground are usually a good indication that Japanese troops were in this area during the invasion of Tinian by American troops during World War II. We found one area that was like an amphitheater with lots of small caves and hiding places. Below Ariuka looks at Dan as he checks out a tunnel behind a stone wall built by the Japanese that leads to the amphitheater area that we had just finished exploring.

As we left the amphitheater area, we started to explore some areas that looked like the Japanese hide near the cliff line. We found another tunnel that is is in the picture below with Rick walking through it. This tunnel led to a shelf that was about 10 feet about the ground, an easy area for the Japanese to defend. We had to go back through the tunnel and walk around this area.

As we left the area with the Japanese defensive structures, we hit an area that was made up of loose boulders about 1 to 2 feet in diameter. This was one of the flatness talus slopes I have been on. As we walked through this rocky area, we had to be careful of loose or slippery rocks.

As we walked through this rocky area, I started to hear strange sounds that I have never heard before in the jungle. As I listen more, I realized it was someone calling. So I called back and soon realized it was Mony, who had gone on the Lion's Head hike. So I quickly headed back to the beach to lead them to the rest of the group.

We found the rest of the group in the rocky area waiting for us. With Mony was Ellen. The group continued along the rocky ground being careful not to slip. Below, you can seen Mony, Dan, Rick, Melina and Ellen walking carefully over the rocky area.

After the rocky area, we had to climb a little to get around an area with Pago growing in it. Pago is a hibiscus tree that grows branches that parallel the ground. A Pago grove is very hard to get through. As we started to climb it was raining. That is why there are drops in the picture below of Ariuka standing on a rock, being tall.

Just a little farther away from the Pago grove was a place with a lot of cement bags on the ground. It was have been 20 feet by 40 feet in size. Below is a picture of me sitting on the bags.

Below is the picture of the whole group sitting on the cement bags. From left to right are Ellen, Dan Ariuka, Mony, Melina, Rick and me.
On the way back to the beach, just below the cement bag area, we found two large water tanks, and maybe a Latte stone, at least that is what Ellen thought it was. I did not see it and will have to go back one day soon to check out this site more.

Because of time limitations, we had to turn back soon. So we had about five or ten more minutes to explore the cliff line. As we continued a little farther, we found a huge cave, with an opening of more than 30 feet in size. It must have gone done more than 40 feet, with maybe many lower levels, but we didn't have time to explore it. In the picture below is Mony trying to get a better view down in to the cave.

Below is Ariuka's hand pointing down into the cave.

I decided to walk along the cliff line a little more to see if there was another opening to the cave. A lot of these caves along fault lines usually have more than one opening. About 50 feet to the west, I found a second opening to the cave. If you look carefully in the picture below, you will see a three inch artillery round sitting on a rock. It is just below the middle of the picture on the right side.

While looking down into to enterance of the cave, we could see a ring of stones. Most likely this was a fire ring made by the Japanese during World War II. In the picture below, you can see Mony looking down into the cave toward the fire ring (not in the picture).

As we walked back to Chiget Beach, I walked past this bird nest. These nests are common in the jungle and 3 or 4, if not more, are seen on most of the hikes. They are made by either the Tinian Monarch or the Rufous Fantail.

Below, in the picture, is the dreaded boonie nest. They are a paper wasp that have a very painful sting. Most of the time, if you stay away from the nest, they will not sting. But if you get within three or four feet, watch out!
Well for the bee sting count on this hike, it was only one, me. Everyone was really impressed by this area and want to go back. I will have to schedule an all day hike to this cliff line to explore more of it more carefully.

The next hike will be on Saturday, October 27th. We will be going to the Long Beach area to try to find the latte stones. There was a trail to them about 4 or 5 years ago, which is now well overgrown and gone. We will meet at 8 AM at Grace Christian School.

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