Tuesday, December 4, 2007

San Jose Cliff Hike - December 1, 2007

On December 1, eight of set off to explore the cliff line right next to San Jose Village, the main town on Tinian. We were to start at the Tinian Cemetery and follow the cliff to the Korean Monument, by the NMC Tinian campus. I have hiked this cliff line before so I knew that there would be interesting things to find.

Below is a picture of the group going on this hike as we get ready to start next to the cemetery. Form left to right are Pete, Melina (behind Erica), Erica, Mitch, Dan, Ariuka, and Rick.
To start the hike, I had to cut a few feet thought the grass to a point that the cliff forms near the cemetery. We hiked up to a notch in the cliff and found a cave that was about 10 feet above the ground. Most of us climbed up to see what what in the cave. On the floor of the cave was a lot of wood that looked like it was from cases used by the Japanese during World War II. Below is a picture of a few of the hikers in the cave with Peter climbing into the cave.

Below is a picture of Ariuka and Mitch climbing into the cave that they are pictured in above.
The slope that we walked on was fairly steep. Also after the last few typhoons that we have had here on Tinian, many trees were knocked down from the cliffs, which made walking difficult. Below is a video to show how difficult the walking was in some places.

As we hiked along the cliff line, we found many remains from and before World War II. Japan controlled the Northern Mariana Islands from 1914 to 1944, so there are many signs of Japanese occupation still found on Tinian.

Below is a water pipe stand that was used to move water between Tinian Town (the Japanese name for what is now called San Jose Village). You can tell if the pipe is from the Japanese period because it is made of cement or some type of ceramic. We even found a section of water pipe nearby.

The Japanese did a complete land survey of the Northern Marianas Islands between 1929 and 1939. Below is most likely one of the markers from this survey. According to Mitch, it has the name of the property's owner on it and a reference number.

As we hiked, we found many caves and bunkers that were made by the Japanese, in an effort to prepare for the invasion of Tinian by the Americans in 1944. Many of these caves were either dug by the Japanese or enlarged by them.

As I walked along the cliff line, I completely walked by one cave. As I waited for everyone, I was wondering what was taking them so long. So some one found me, and said that they had found a very large cave.

The cave was 10 or 12 feet above the ground and you had to use the roots of a banyan tree for hand holds. Below is a picture of Pete standing in the cave and you can see the banyan on the right side of the picture that we used to climb up to the cave.

We believe that many of these caves were used for medical aid stations. There are a lot of ampules, most likely for morphine, and other medical supplies found in these caves.

Below is a picture of Dan and Ariuka next to an oxygen tank, one of several that we found.

The highlight of this hike was a tunnel that is near NMC-Tinian. This tunnel most likely was use by the Japanese to store ammunition for a large gun. It has two openings and is cement lined, with bays for storing ammunition. In the picture, you can see the cement floor and the start of one of the bays to the right.

The picture below is in about the middle of the tunnel. Japanese still leave offerings in this tunnel, which you can see on the cement ledge to the right of Rick, near one of the ammunition bays.

As we left the other entrance to the tunnel, we walked down the slope, through a lot of spiny vines, called pako locally, and came out on the mowed lawn behind NMC.

A short walk from NMC is the Korean Monument. This monument commemorates the dead Koreans from World War II. After traveling in Korea, one can see that this monument follows the traditional monuments, which are found in Korea. These monuments always have lions, rams and wise men, as can been seen in the picture below.

Below are Pete, taking a picture of the back of the monument, and Dan reading it. It is not too complementary to the Japanese, and blames them for killing many Koreans on Tinian. The Korean monument is right next to two crematoriums used by the Japanese to burn the dead as part of the Buddhist religion.
After resting at the Korean Monument, we had a short walk back to the cemetery and our cars. The walk back to the cars was a lot shorter than the walk to the Korean Monument.

As for the boonie bee count, it was only one, and it was NOT me this time. We really didn't see any nests, but we went by one place where they were buzzing around where one of us got stung. It is rare for boonie bees to sting away from their nests.

The next hike will be to the Masalog area. I really don't know what we will find since I have not explored this area very much. I do know there is a nice latte site at Masalog which we will be visiting. Please bring water and a snack to eat, since I really don't know how long we will be out. We will meet at 8 AM at Grace Christian School, on December 8, Saturday. As always, everyone is welcome to join us.

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