Monday, October 15, 2007

South End of Tachonga - October 13, 2007

This was an easy hike for a change, compared to the Lion's Head hike last week. Six of us set off from the parking lot at Tachonga beach to look for the latte stone site at the south end of beach. After visiting this latte stone site, we were going to head south to an old dump site.

We all took a leisurely walk down the beach to its south end. At the end of the beach, I had to look around for a minute or two to try to figure out where to go into the jungle to find the latte site. I didn't quite find the stop I was looking for, but luckily we ended up finding an old Chamorro grinding stone. The ancient Chamorros may have used these stones to grind Fadang nuts or rice.

Below is a picture of all the hikers, Ariuka, Dan, Melina, Rick, Ed, and me, next to the grinding stone.

About 20 or 30 feet to the north of the grinding stone, we found some small latte stones. The ancient Chamorros built their house on top of these latte stones. Each pillar stone had a cap stone on top of it. Latte stones are usually found in groups ranging from 6 to 14 pillar stones, forming two parallel rows. In the picture below, Ariuka is sitting next to one of the small latte stones that we found north of the grinding stone.
I knew that there were larger latte stones in the area. After a few minutes of looking south of the grinding stone, I found the larger set of latte stones. This set of latte pillar stones are some of the most symmetrical and best carved stones I know about in the Mariana Islands. Below are Rick, Melina, Ariuka, Dan and Ed next to one of the pillar stones.
From this latte site, we head south to look for some World War II Japanese bunkers that I knew were nearby. As we walked in the jungle, Ariuka happened to step on a big spine that punctured her shoe. So, we had to take a break to bandage her foot. The injury was not too serious and Ariuka was able to continue the hike with no problem. While bandaging Ariuka's foot, Rick found a small branch, or part of a vine, on the ground that had rows of inch and a half long spines on it. These were most likely the spines that got Ariuka, so be careful.

The accident that Ariuka had was right next to one of the bunkers I was looking for. After taking care of Ariuka's foot, we took a few minutes to look at the bunker. It was made of old railroad rails and sheets of metal. On top of the metal had been placed sacks of cement. In the following picture you can see the some of the rails and one of the bags of cement that were used to make this bunker.

In the picture above is of the whole group sitting in front of the bunker that was made out of railroad rails and cement bags.

After the first Japanese bunker, we headed toward the shoreline. The shoreline is fairly rough and you have to watch your footing, but sometimes it is easier to walk on the rough rocks than fight the vines and shrubs in the jungle. In the picture below, Tachonga Beach is visible behind Dan, Ariuka, Melina and Ed.

After a short walk on the rocks near the shoreline, we came to a small carved notch in the rocks, facing out toward the ocean. It was obvious that the notch is man-made. If you look up the notch, you can see the opening of the other Japanese bunker that we were looking for. In the picture below, you can see the gun opening that faces toward Tachonga Beach. It is at the bottom of the flat wall in the middle of the picture, behind the dead branches and rocks.
This bunker is well made and constructed of reinforced cement. The opening to it is blocked by large rocks, so you can't get inside it without doing a lot more work than I wanted to do.

If you look toward the south end of Tachonga, you will see a cement platform at the edge of the cliff right above the ocean. This was our final goal for this hike. As we approached the platform, there was a large canyon next to it. In the picture below you can see Melina resting before crossing the canyon (I am taking the picture from the other side of the canyon).

This little canyon is easy to cross if you go inland a little bit. If you go toward the ocean, it gets deeper and deeper. Near the ocean, and right next to the platform, there is a little cave in the bottom of the canyon. You can see Ed in the picture below looking for a way to climb down the canyon as it nears the shore.
At the platform we took a fairly long break to enjoy the scenery and the blue starfishes we could see in the water below it. This platform was used by trucks to dump garbage into the ocean either before, during, or right after World War II. The current would have carried the trash out into the open ocean from this point. In the picture below, you can see Aguigan behind Dan. Aguigan is also called Goat Island because of all of the goats that live on it. Melina and Ariuka are sitting on a rail that stopped the trucks from going into the ocean when they dumped their trash.

In the picture below, you can see me, Melina and Rick sitting on the truck stop rail at the dump platform.

As we left the platform, we followed the old road to it toward a road that I knew would head back toward the Dynasty Casino. It really started to rain in earnest as we headed back. It had been raining a little on and off all morning, but now it started to rain more steady.

As we got to the road, I found it was overgrown with tall grass. We walked a few hundred yards down the road, thought the tall grass, before I got tried of it. It is easier to walk thought the jungle than all of that tall grass. So, we headed back into the jungle.

After a short walk in the jungle, we came out at the south end of Tachonga Beach. That was when the sky opened up with a down pour. Below is a picture of us, soaking wet, sitting under a pillion at Tachonga Beach.

As for the bee sting count, there were none because the weather was too wet for the boonie bees. This is a nice easy hike that has a lot of history, and some great places to just relax and enjoy the view.

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