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.

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