Tuesday, November 27, 2007

December Hikes

December Hikes

For the month of December we will be hiking to the following areas on Tinian.

For all hikes, meet at 8 AM at Grace Christian School.

December 1, Saturday - San Jose Village Cliff Line
On this hike we will be hiking the cliff line behind Tinian Junior/Senior High School to the Korean Monument. This area has native limestone forest, some steep slopes (no cliffs to climb) and caves and tunnels made by the Japanese during World War II. Please bring a flashlight on this hike.

December 8, Saturday - Masalok Area
I have been told that there might be a small crashed airplane in this area. On this hike we will start above Masalok Beach and head south, in the hope of finding the airplane. I have been told that this area is fairly rough so wear good shoes. Additionally I have never been in this area, pass the beach, so who knows what we will find.

December 15, Saturday - Long Beach
There are two possibilities for this hike. The first possibility is to explore all of the beaches at Long Beach. The last time I did this I counted 13 beaches. Be prepared to get wet. I will be wearing swimming shorts and reef walkers.

If the ocean is too rough, we will explore the forest area above Long Beach, west of the road to the beach. This area has small cliffs and caves. So, bring a flashlight.

December 22, Saturday - Mount Lasu
We will follow the ridge line going south from the Shinto Shrine on Mount Lasu. There is a tunnel that goes through the ridge and down to the an old Japanese road. Usually I follow the road back up to the shrine, but depending on the group, we might go the other way on the road to see where it leads.

December 29, Saturday - Atomic Bomb Assembly Buildings and Lamlam Beach
I have been told there were three buildings built to assembly the different atomic bombs used in World War II. I have been to the first building. On this hike we will try to find the foundations for the other two buildings. After the hike, we will stop at Lamlam beach, one of the invasion beaches used by the Americans during World War II.

As always everyone is welcome to join us on the hikes.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ushi Point/Coke Bottle Hills Hike - Novermber 24, 2007

On November 24th, ten of us set off on an easy hike to look at a pile of coke bottles up by Ushi (North) Point. These hills of coke bottles are next to a latte site that was heavily disturbed by World War II.

As we met for the hike, the sky was very gray and it had been raining off and on all morning. Luckily for us, it did not rain on the hike.

I have to thank Jude and Mitch for the pictures for this blog.

This hike was through secondary forest that was composed of small tangantangan trees. A lot of these trees had been knocked over by different typhoons and storms that we have had here in the Mariana Islands. In the picture below, you can see Jude carefully steping over down trees as Stacy looks on.

I was a little off as we hiked into the jungle and missed the latte site and the coke bottle hills. We ended up near the shore. I asked the group if they wanted to wait in the jungle or by the shore while I looked for the coke bottles. They all decided to wait by the shore to avoid the mosquitoes in the jungle. To find my way back to the group, I had marked their location with my GPS. Below are Mitch and Erica enjoying the view from the rough coastline where the group waited for me.
So, I set off to look for the latte site and Coce-Cola bottle hills. I found the sites I was looking within 10 or 15 minutes. On the way back, I happened to bump into a big boonie bee nest. I was surprised that the nest was there since we really had not seen any on the whole hike.

After rounding up the group, we set off to the latte site and coke bottle hills.

Below is me sitting between two latte stones. The pillar stones are not very large, at the most one or two feet high. This site was heavily disturbed by World War II, but when the archaeologists surveyed the area, they found a lot of buried features. I happened to visit the site while the archaeologists were working here.

About 50 or 75 feet south of the latte site is the coke bottle hills. There are two or three huge piles of coke bottles left from World War II. Almost all of there are dated from either 1944 or 1945. Some of them even have names of different cities on their bottoms. In the picture below, you can see me sitting by the main pile of coke bottles.
In the picture below you can see more bottles and where some one had been digging in the hill, most likely looking for bottles with city names on them.

Below are Stacy and Mitch looking at the bottles in the hill. Even one Pepsi bottle was found by Ariuka.

The picture show how good the condition of the coke bottles are.

After the hike to the coke bottle hills, we walked down the road to White Cross. This cross commemorates the drowning of eight people that occurred in the 1970's. Also, next to White Cross is a memorial to more people that drowned in the 1990's. Usually the waves are great to watch from here, but unfortunately the waves were not too large on the day of our hike.
Below is a picture of most of the group. From left to right are Rick, Melina, Jude, Mitch (in the front), Erica (behind Jude), me, Aruika, and Dan. Pete and Stacy are busy taking our pictures.

Below is a picture of Pete trying one of the wild passion fruits that grows along the road.
On the drive out from Ushi Point, we were on the outlook for papaya that was low enough to pick. Pete wanted to try some. So as we got near the atomic bomb pits, we found a papaya plant that was low enough to pick the fruit from. Below is Dan holding some of the harvested fruit.
As we drove back from the hike, it started to rain fairly hard. At least for the hike, be avoid almost all of the rain. We did have a few light sprinkles, but nothing too serious.

Everyone was really impressed with the huge piles of Coca-Cola bottles that we found. As for the boonie bee count, there was only one, me as I wandered the jungle by myself.

The next hike will be on December 1, Saturday. We will be hiking the cliff line behind the high school to the Korean Monument. This cliff line has a lot of features left from World War II. There is even a cement lined tunnel. This hike should only take a few hours and may have some steep areas, but no cliffs to climb. Meet at 8 AM at Grace Christian School.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Lion's Head Videos - November 17, 2007

Mitch Evangelista took some video with her camera. So, I decided to try to post them on the Hikes on Tinian Blog. It looks like it worked.

This first video shows the group walking through the canyon area on our way to Lion's Head.

This second video is from the eastern promontory that is next to Lion's Head. It shows what the view looks like from this outcropping.

I hope you enjoy the videos and I will have to add more to my next postings. My camera will also take videos.

Remember the next hike is this Saturday, November 24, to the North Point area to view a latte site and two small hills of Coke bottles. Meet at 8 AM at Grace Christian School.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Lion's Head Again - November 17, 2007

On November 17th, I led 13 people to the rock promontory called Lion's Head that is above Marpo Valley on Tinian. Nine of the hikers where from the Upward Bound program at Northern Marianas College, Tinian, including the program coordinator, James San Nicolas. The rest were people that had come on previous hikes with me. They were Rick, Mitch, Erica, and me.

It was a nice day for the hike. The sky was clear with just a few clouds. Additionally, I knew exactly where Lion's Head was located because I had marked its located with my GPS on the October 8th hike. The only problem I had was that I did not have my camera with me this time. My wife had taken it on her trip to the Philippines, she and my daughter are currently on. So I am very thankful to Mitch and Rick for providing the pictures that are in this blog posting.

Every time I lead this hike, I see new things. I don't think I have ever followed exactly the same path up to and back from Lion's Head. That is what makes this hike so interesting, and maybe one of the reasons why I have done it four times since August of this year.

The start of the hike was about the same, we left the truck in the usual parking place and headed out through the tangantangan forest toward the cliff line that I follow to a draw that leads to Lion's Head. This time we ended up walking through some small canyons that followed the cliff line. As usual there there many bottles and rock walls, which were the remains of Japanese defense structures during War World II.

Below is a picture of the group as we took a rest. We were about a third of the way to Lion's Head and the hardest part still laid ahead. Luckily we had to only climb two cliffs on this trip. On past trips, we have had to climb three cliffs.
At the last cliff that we had to climb to get to Lion's Head, I found an old Japanese shelter, were I let everyone rest while I looked for a way up the cliff. Rick walked along with me, while I explored the cliff line. A little distance from the shelter where I had left the group, I found one of the notches in the cliff that I had climbed before and that was fairly safe to climb. Rick waited there while I went back to get the rest of the hikers.

When I got back to where Rick was waiting, he said that there was a coconut crab in a crack between two rocks. Below is a picture of the crab in the crack.

James and two of the Upward Bound students got the crab out of the crack and took it to the top of the cliff. I encouraged them to let it go since we were not on this trip to hunt coconut crabs.

They let the crab go on a nearby tree. I hope that it got away okay. One of the things I try to encourage on these hikes is a respect for nature. We should only take pictures with us and leave footprints.
Below is a picture of a flower of Arbus precautorius, also called rosary beads, crab eye, or old man's eyes. The plant has very poisonous seeds with only three seeds needed to kill an adult. It grows as a vine that has leaves that sort of look like tangantangan leaves. This plant is found throughout tropical Asia and Southeast Asia.

Below is a picture of the leaves and seeds of Arbus precautorius. The seeds in India were used as a unit of weight called the ratti. In more modern times, because the hardness of the seeds, they are used in decorations and rosary beads. If you have these seeds around, you should make sure they are out of the reach of small children.
Finally we made it to Lion's Head. Below is a picture of everyone climbing on to the top of Lion's Head.

Below is a view of the jungle that is on the terrace below Lion's Head.

I have a logbook that I have placed on Lion's Head. Every time I lead a group of hikers to Lion's Head, I ask them to sign the logbook. In the picture below, we all took a long break while the logbook was being signed.
There is a second, higher promontory to the east of Lion's Head that I always like going to. In the picture below, you can see the backside of Lion's Head as seen from the second promontory.

The picture below shows the view, looking down on the jungle, between Lion's Head and the second promontory.
Only about half of the group went to the second promontory to enjoy the view. In the picture below, you can see me standing up and enjoying the view, while other hikers climb upon the promontory.

Two Upward Bound students look over the edge of the second promontory in the picture below.
Below is a view of the cliff line that makes up the top of the Carolinas Plateau. The picture is toward the southeast from the second promontory, next to Lion's Head.
The picture below shows Mt. Laso and the upper Marpo Valley, going toward Masalog. The rise in the right foreground is the start of the Pina Plateau. This picture was taken from Lion's Head.
In the picture below, you can see Saipan in the distance, with Mount Tapotchau clearly visible. This picture was taken from the eastern promontory.
As we hiked back down from Lion's Head, I tried to use the GPS to follow our path back. I did follow it for a little ways, but soon gave up (I need to wear my glasses to see the GPS screen, but then I can't see where I am walking.) In the picture below, you can see the group walking thought the jungle, with the roots of a pandanus tree visible on the right side of the photograph.
After cutting my way through the jungle, I took a rest next to a banyan tree while I waited for the rest of the hikers to catch up. Banyan trees are believed by Chamorros to house Taotaomonas, spirits of the ancient Chamorros. The Chamorro name for banyan trees is Nunu.
After walking a little farther, we can out on the ranch that was near the truck. Everyone was glad to be back, especially after I had to clear a path through about a seventy-five feet of grass to get out into the cleared area of the ranch.
As always, everyone enjoyed themselves on this hike. It is one that everyone remembers for the rest of their lives even if they never go back to Lion's Head.

As for the boonie bee count, by the time we reached Lion's Head, three of us had been stung, including me. I think two more were stung on the way back down, but I really don't know, since the boys were teasing each other and the girls about bee stings and nests. I had expected more bee strings because of the nice weather we had for the last week.

The next hike will be on November 24, Saturday. We will be going to an area by the White Cross, up on North Point (also called Ushi Point). We will explore a latte stone site and two small mounds of coke bottles from World War II. The ground is fairly level and through tangantangan forest. If time and interest permit, I would like to go an look for two atomic bomb assembly buildings near this area. We will meet at 8 AM at Grace Christian School.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Chiget Hike Cancelled - November 10, 2007

I had to cancel the hike to the Chiget cliff line today because of the rain. It is now 9 AM and we have had 1.42 inches of rain since midnight last night.

When I got up I was worried because I had heard rain most of the night on the metal roof of our apartment. It was a gray wet morning, but I had hoped that the sun would burn off the morning rain clouds as it sometimes does. The first thing I did was check the weather report for Tinian. It did not look good. Here is the report from the National Weather Service on Guam.

Today: Scattered showers and thunderstorms. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 87. South southeast wind around 10 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Chance of precipitation is 40%.

When there is a percentage for a chance of precipitation, that means we will get rain!

Next, I looked at the weather satellite picture and it looked even worst than the report. The mass of clouds in the middle of the picture is right over Tinian and Saipan.

Anyway, I got ready to go on the hike since it looked like it might be clearing a little. I drove into San Jose Village to see if any one was going to show up. As I drove to town, the rain became even more intense.

So I sat at Grace Christian School watching the rain. About five minutes after 8 AM, I decided to drive over to Dan's and Ariuka's apartment to tell them I was going to cancel and just to talk. As I started to turn around, I saw Dan and stopped. He was soaking wet and then I saw Ariuka standing next to him. We talked for awhile, while I watched Dan get more and more wet. Yes, I told them I was going to cancel because it was too dangerous to hike along the cliff line with the rain and wet conditions. It was just too easy to slip on the wet rocks.

Below are some pictures of my front yard with the rain coming down.

The next hike will be on November 17, Saturday, to Lion's Head. This hike was arranged for the Upward Bound students at NMC-Tinian. Of course, as always, everyone is welcome on this hike, even if you are not an Upward Bound student. For more information about Lion's Head see the October 8th hike.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Coordinates of Some Sites on Tinian

Since I go hiking with a GPS, I have been collecting coordinates for different sites on Tinian. I have decided to post them so that others will have an easier time finding these sites.
  • Lion's Head - N 14 degrees 58.260 minutes, E 145 degrees 39.522 minutes
  • Masalog Large Latte Site - N 15 degrees 1.116 minutes, E 145 degrees 39.331 minutes
  • Tachonga Latte Site - N 14 degrees 57.111 minutes, E 145 degrees 37.948 minutes
  • Long Beach Large Latte Stone Site - N 15 degrees 2.313 minutes, E 145 degrees 38.741 minutes
  • Chiget Beach - N 15 degrees 3.6711 minutes, E 145 degrees 39.311 minutes
  • Beulah marker at Dump Coke - N 15 degrees 3.156 minutes, E 145 degrees 35.793 minutes
I also recommend the following sites if you are into using a GPS to find things. Just do a search for Tinian, to see what I have posted on these sites.
I will be publishing other coordinates as I slowly get more during future hikes.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dump Coke - Sunday, November 4, 2007

After election day on Tinian, November 3, it was time for a relaxing hike that still had a little adventure involved. So we were off to watch the sunset at the North Dump Coke area and hopefully climb down to a cave that had ancient Chamorro petroglyphs. I was a little worried about the trip because of all of the rain we had received earlier in the day. Luckily the rain had stopped by the time we went on this hike.

The reason why this area is called "Dump Coke" is because right after World War II, the US Army and Navy dumped surplus bombs and equipment into the ocean here at this area. Along with the surplus equipment, tons of Coke bottles were also dumped here. Phosphorous still can be found on the ocean floor in the Dump Coke area from the incendiary bombs, used during World War II, that were dumped here.

There were 11 of us on this trip. I felt sorry for my poor old truck carrying all of those people. After a long drive up to the circle by North Field on West Avenue, we had to drive down a dirt road for quite aways. Everyone was very happy to get out of the truck and start the hike when we finally arrived.

The hike to Dump Coke is a short one down a well traveled road to the cliff line. This area is a popular for cliff fishing. The road is fairly steep and I will not drive my truck down it. I did drive a 2-wheel drive truck down to Dump Coke once about 15 years ago. I could not get the truck back up the road and had to walk all the way back to San Jose village with my girlfriend (and future wife) at that time.

The road goes through secondary forest dominated by tangantangan trees. Below is a picture of us walking on the road that leads to Dump Coke.

You know that you are getting close to the cliff line at Dump Coke because of the stunted growth of the tangantangan trees and the road becomes a lot more open.

Once we got to Dump Coke, everyone was amazed by the height of the cliffs rising straight up from the ocean. The cliffs must rise at least 50 feet or more. Everyone had to stop and enjoy the view for several minutes once we had arrived. In a flat area with short grass growing there, we left our packs to explore the more rugged areas of Dump Coke.

The picture below shows the bay at Dump Coke with the high cliff line that surrounds this bay. If you look carefully, you can see the Voice of America microwave antennas in the background, above the cliff line.

The picture below shows the rough ground that is common near the shores of Tinian, especially near the cliff lines. This rough ground is caused by the differential erosion of the limestone rocks. It is very difficult to walk over and one should be very careful while walking in this area.

In the lower left corner of the picture below, one can see the Beulah marker that was placed by the SeaBees during World War II. Just a little to the southeast of this marker is a small crack in the cliff line that leads to a very small cave that has Chamorro petroglyphs. This crack is right on the edge of the cliff and about 30 to 40 feet above the ocean's surface.

Below is a view looking up at Dan as he stands at the top of the crack that leads to the petrogyphs. I am standing on the bottom of the crack that leads into the cave. The climb down to the cave is not easy, especially near the bottom where there are no real hand or foot holds. It is even made more scary because of how close it is too the cliff edge. Only two of us, Ariuka and me, made it down to the cave to look at the petrogyphs.

The picture below shows the view from the edge of the crack that leads to the cave, looking straight down toward the ocean. It is about 25 to 30 feet down to the ocean from the edge of the cave. There really is no place near by to swim to. So if you fall in, it is a very long swim to anyplace where you might be able to get out of the water.

The picture below shows the view from the petroglyph cave toward South Dump Coke. The top of the cave in the picture is not closed and leads up to the crack that one has to climb down to get to the cave.

From the crack, the cave extends back about 10 or 15 feet into the cliff. There is a large shallow round hole in the bottom of the cave that is cause by the dissolving of limestone where the water sits. The petroglyphs are on the right side of the cave in the reddish area. They are protected by a slight projection that can be seen on the right side of the picture below.

The petroglyphs in this cave must be at least 350 to 400 years old, if not older. The Chamorro's society was soon destroyed after Magellan visited the Mariana Islands, in the early 1500's. Tinian was the last bastion of Chamorro culture until the Reduction, when all Chamorros were moved to Guam except for a few on Rota, which occurred in the mid-1600's.

The difference between petroglyphs and pictographs is how the images are created. "Petroglyphs are images created by removing part of a rock surfaces by incising, pecking, carving, and abrading." While pictographs are an image drawn or painted on a rock face. (Wikipedia) The Chamorros created these images by craving into the limestone surface of the cave and filling it in with lime. So, I guess, they really are a combination of petroglyphs and pictographs. I am still going to call them petroglyphs because the main way they were created was by removing the limestone surface on the cave's wall.

No one really knows why the Chamorros made petroglyphs. It may have been part of an initiation ritual or it may have had religious importance. In the picture below you can see the petroglyphs in the cave at Dump Coke. Most of the figures are stick figures that represent humans, I think. Some are headless, and may be part of the ancestor worship that was practice by ancient Chamorros. There are also crescent shapes.

Below are a series of photographs that show closeups of the petroglyphs, starting in the upper left corner and going to the lower right corner of the picture above.

As I got to the top, after climbing up from the petroglyph cave, I saw my daughter, Amanda, and her friend, Pearl, out exploring. In the picture below you can see Saipan in the background.

After returning to where we had left our backpacks, we happened to see a boat coming toward us. It was a SCUBA diving boat that was returning to Saipan after a day of diving near Tinian. They pulled right up next to the cliff, and we waved at each other.

Below is a picture of the whole group that went on this hike to Dump Coke. From left to right are Beverly, me, Amanda, Pearl, Dan, Erika, Raybrent, James, Mitch, Stacy and Ariuka.

While we waited for the sunset, we shared different snacks that everyone had brought. Everyone really enjoyed this part of the hike, and it gave us a time to get to know each other.
I had thought that the sunset would be disappointing because of the heavy cloud cover. But I was wrong, and we had a great sunset to watch.

Below are Ariuka and Dan next to a fantastic sunset.

I was playing with the exposure setting on my camera to see how it would affect the pictures of the sunset. Below, I over exposed the picture so that the people could be seen. Still did get nice colors in the clouds even with the over exposure. In the picture are Ariuka, Amanda, Pearl, and Stacy.
As we got ready to leave, we looked up into the sky and could not believe the colors the clouds had become. There were splotches of pink mixed with a very dark blue.

In the picture below is Dan with the fantastic clouds in the background. I took this picture as we were leaving Dump Coke to walk back to the truck.

The hike back was in the twilight and flashlights were not really needed. Below are Dan and Beverly walking back to the truck up the steep road that leads down to Dump Coke.

Everyone had climbed into the back of the truck for the long ride back to the village. But, I had to have everyone get out of the truck so that I could turn it around. After turning the truck around, loading everyone up again, it was time for the ride back to town. Everyone was happy to get out of the truck once we got back to Grace Christian School.

This turned out to be a much better trip than I had expected, especially with the rain earlier in the day. We had not expected the great sunset that we all saw. Everyone was impressed with the Dump Coke area.

As for the boonie bee count, it was none this time, since we did not have to go through the jungle. But, I did have a nasty run in with ants that climbed all over my backpack and got on my camera while I tried to take pictures.

The next hike will be next Saturday, November 10. We will be going back to the cliff line by the Chiget area. This will be an all day hike, so bring a lunch and plenty of water. To get a preview of some of what me might see on this hike, see the posting for the shorter Chiget hike on October 20, 2007 (Click here to go direct to the earlier Chiget hike). We will meet at Grace Christian School at 8 AM.