Sunday, January 20, 2008

Return to Chiget - January 19, 2007

For this Saturday hike, we traveled to Chiget, which is a small beach on the southeast edge of the North Field area on Tinian. There were three of us on this hike, Judy, Mitch, and me. This was the second time for me into this area (for more pictures see the October 20, 2007, hike).

Chiget is a small beach that was created by a normal fault zone at the south end of North Field area. As you can see in the picture below, Chiget is a small narrow bay with a large cliff next to it.

Rocks have fallen from the cliff and some are quite large. These rocks litter the bottom of the cliff and make lots of areas where rock shelters can be found. In the picture below is one of these large rocks at the top of the beach at Chiget.

The bay at Chiget may be the only place where eelgrass (Zostera sp.) grows on Tinian. Eelgrass needs a sandy bottom with shallow calm water. Eelgrass is fairly common in the lagoon on Saipan but very rare in the coastal waters of Tinian. In the picture below, you barely can see the tips of the eelgrass sticking out of the water.

In the picture below, Judy is walking next to a very large rock that most likely fell off the cliff. This rock is at the start of the trail that leads to the base of the cliff that we will be following on this hike.

On the large rock in the picture of above is growing one of my favorite plants, Gausali (Bikkia tetrandra). This plant is endemic to the Mariana Islands, growing near the sea on limestone. Its English name is torchwood, and small sections of its stem can be used for candles or bundled together to make torches. The picture below is of Gausali growing on the rock in the picture above.

Below is a close up of the torchwood flower.

After passing the large rock, pictured above, we soon were near the cliff that we followed on this hike. In the picture below, Judy and Mitch are looking at the cliff which we will follow. I have also hidden a geocache near this spot (Chiget - Tinian's first geocache).

Near the start of this hike is a Japanese tunnel that was made by several large boulders leaning on each other. This tunnel ends in a platform with a wall that is about 15 feet above ground level. In the picture below is Judy coming back out of the tunnel. You can also see a red surveyor's tape in the left corner of the picture. Almost all of the archaeological features along this cliff were marked with this surveyor's tape. The Navy does surveys of the North Field area about every five to ten years, which includes archaeological sites.

Just above the tunnel, mentioned above, are some rock shelters where the Japanese hid during World War II. On my last trip here, we explore a few of them, but not very well because of the rain. In the picture below, Judy is entering one of the rock shelters.
Mitch took a careful look in the shelter, pictured above, and found a bone. I am not sure if it is human or not, but in another shelter, a little farther along on the hike, we found some bone fragments that I am fairly certain are human. The bone Mitch found is in the picture below.
After the tunnel and rock shelters, there were a lot of small rough boulders that we had to hike over. We had to be very careful where we stepped because you don't want to fall on these rocks. They have sharp points on them that usually cause some serious scrapes.

Another obstacle on this hike is Pago (Hibiscus tiliaceus), as pictured below. Pago grows branches that are parallel to the ground and difficult to walk over and through. Luckily for us, we were able to go around most of the Pago that grows in the lowlands below the cliff.

Near the bottom of the cliff the forest was fairly open and easy to walk through. One of the reasons for this was because of the dense tree cover. Most of the larger trees in this area are Puting (Barringtonia asiatica). In the picture below is a large Puting tree that had a lot of rock shelters behind it.

The picture shows the seeds of Puting and young saplings.

In the picture below, you can see me as I walk toward one of the rock shelters that is near the Puting tree discussed above. The white bag you can see me carrying is for the aluminum cans that I seem to always find in the jungle. These cans are usually left behind by coconut crab hunters.

In the picture below are some bottles left by the Japanese in a small rock shelter.

Judy and Mitch, in the picture below, are in another rock shelter that we found near the cliff behind the large Puting tree. I think this is the one that we found the bone fragments in which I mentioned above.

This was the last shelter we found behind the Puting tree. As you can see in the picture it was marked by red surveyor's tape. From here we walked back to the Puting tree and continued along the cliff.

As we walked along the cliff, we found a really large Puting tree, which Judy is standing next to its trunk in the picture below.
Along the cliff I noticed a notch which was filled with large rocks, pictured below. I decided to climb up in this notch to see if there was anything worth looking at. Once I got to the top of the notch, I found a canyon full of artifacts from World War II. I did a quick walk through the canyon looking for an easier way to it, which I did find.

As I walked back to the other hikers, I saw the large pile of cement bags that I had found on the October hike. Below is a picture of a small area of this pile of bags. See the October hike for more pictures of these bags.

The easier path that I had found to the canyon was a notch that looked like it had steps in it. Below is a picture of Mitch entering this notch.
In the picture below are Judy and me at the top of the notch that leads to the canyon.
Below is a picture of the first canyon with Mitch entering it. To the right side of Mitch is a huge pile of bottles left by the Japanese during World War II.
Below is a picture of the bottles that are to the right of Mitch in the picture above.
There was also an old metal cup near the bottles in the picture above. This cup was in fairly good shape for being out in the tropical weather for over 60 years.
On a rock toward the end of the canyon was a pile of bullets. I am not sure what caliber they were, but they were large and most likely 50 cal.
Next to the bullets were the souls of shoes. They must be Japanese because of the slit toe design.

It is really hard to get a good picture of this canyon. Below is a short video of the canyon taken by Mitch.

The picture below shows Judy and Mitch looking towards the end of the first canyon. After exploring this canyon, we climbed out of it to explore another canyon right behind it.

The picture below is of the second canyon. It just had a few bottles in it.

The two pictures below are of the same area of the cliff above the second canyon. It was almost straight up, but it looked like it could be climbed if needed.

After exploring the two canyons, we returned to the area next to the cement bags to have lunch. Below are Judy and Mitch enjoying their lunch.
I can't quite remember were this tree, in the picture below, was located. I think it was near the canyon we had just explored or it might have been next to a rock shelters that we found next. I just thought it was neat how the root/trunk has spread out to form a ring on the rock, as can be seen in the picture below.

After lunch we climbed up on a small shelf, above the cliff's base, where I found a cave. At least I thought it was a cave. In the picture below, you can see Judy in the entrance to what I thought was a cave. (I happened to have left my camera at the entrance to the cave and have to thank Judy and Mitch for all the pictures from this part of the hike).What I thought was a cave turned out to be a tunnel. In the picture below, you can see light from the other end of the tunnel, which Judy is standing in the entrance of in the picture above.

The tunnel came out into a flat area and was protected by a chest high stone wall, which can be seen in the picture below.

To the left of the wall was a narrow path that led up above the tunnel. This path widen and lead to an area with a few rock shelters. Near the cliff, we found that platforms had been built to make a smooth and level path continuing up the slope. In the picture below, I am on the path that continues up the slope near the cliff's face.

As we walked up the path, we came upon a large stone wall built next to the cliff. The picture below shows me looking behind the wall. There was nothing behind it.

The picture below is taken from upslope and shows the area behind the stone wall.

The path continued up the slope to a rocky area. At the top of this rocky area was a rock shelter carved into the cliff, near its top. It was obvious that the Japanese had dug this large cliff shelter, where the path up the slope ended. After reaching this shelter, we hiked back down the path to the tunnel, and started to follow the cliff line again.

Not far from the tunnel was a large cave/crevice where we had ended the trip in October at. In the picture below, Judy and Mitch are looking into the cave.

It is really hard to take a picture of the large opening of this cave, so below is a short video that tries to show the size of this cave's opening.

About fifty feet from the first opening to this cave/crevice was a second opening. In the picture below you can see the roots of Nunu (Banyan) trees growing into the opening. Also on the rock in the center of the picture is a 3-inch shell, just to the left of the white root in the center of the picture.

Right next to the second opening is a small hole in the cliff. It had roots growing through it and someone had tied a white flag on one of the roots. This hole lead into the large cave that could be seen from the second opening. In the picture below, Judy and Mitch are standing on a slope that leads down to the cave's floor.

In the picture below, I am working my way through the Nunu roots toward a place that we had to climb down about 5 feet.

Judy in the picture below has just finished the small climb down that we had to do to get to the cave's floor. If you look carefully in the picture below, on the rock on the left side of me is the 3-inch shell that was in the picture above of the second cave's opening. I am looking at a small room below the rock, which leads nowhere.

In the picture below is the second opening for the cave, looking out into the forest canopy.

As we worked our way toward the first opening, there was a room off to our right. We could not explore this room because the floor was about 20 feet below us and we had no way to get down to it. Below is a picture of this room.

As we worked our way to the first opening to this cave/crevice system, we had to stop when we reached a steep slope with a lot of loose rocks. This slope lead to a 20 or 30 foot cliff which I could see no way down. I tried to get a picture of the second opening from this rock slope, but there was not enough light. I took the following picture by setting my camera on the cave's floor, turning off the flash, and using the self-timer. As you can see, there is a little light coming in from the first opening, but not much of the cave can be seen.

After the cave, we continued to follow the cliff line. The cliff became a smaller and smaller as we traveled along it. As we followed the cliff, we started to follow a coconut crab hunter's trail because it was easier going. We did not find any more openings, rock walls or shelters past the cave in the pictures above.

As we walked along, I saw the road through the jungle. We had to walk about 100 feet past a large Umumu tree and some pandanus trees to get out. In the picture below is Mitch on the road that leads to my truck, which is located just past the end of the road that you can see in this picture (the road really does not end, but turns toward the north).

It was a short walk down the road and back to my truck. We finished the hike around 1:30 PM. In the picture below, Mitch and Judy are loaded up for the trip back to town. They seem to enjoy riding in the back of my truck. I think the ride is part of the adventure on these hikes.

As always I would thank Judy and Mitch for the additional photos and videos in this posting. As for the boonie bee count it was zero. We didn't even see a boonie bee nest on the whole hike.

Everyone really enjoyed this hike. The forest was beautiful, it was easy walking, and we found a lot of stuff from World War II. I think this is one of the best hikes on Tinian and I highly recommend it, just take your time and explore every little hole you find.

The next hike will be to Mt. Lasu. We will start from the Japanese Defensive Caves at the base of the first cliff line on Mt. Lasu, and climb to the Shinto Shrine at the top of the Mt. Lasu. On the way back to the Japanese Defensive Caves, if time permits, we will explore the second cliff line on Mt. Lasu. Mt. Lasu is made up of a series of three cliffs and terraces, and I have never been to the second cliff area. Because I have not been to the middle (second) cliff, I am interested in seeing what might be there. We will meet at Grace Christian School at 8 AM on January 26, 2007.

Everyone is welcome on these hikes.


Dexter said...

Happy New Year Howard,

Excuse me for not emailing you sooner; I got caught up in my world over here.
Anyway, I look over your blog now and again, and I reminisce about my trip. I really appreciate being able to see as much of Tinian as I did, though I see that you have visited a number of sites that I would love to see, like your Chiget hike. Those canyons look amazing. The photos on your site are as always excellent.
Something about Tinian, its loneliness or its feel of being a lost island, really got under my skin. I don't really know why. But your fine hikes gave me a real sense for the place. I want to go back, though I won't be going for a while. And you may be gone by then, so make sure you put your hike coordinates on google earth.
I will have to contact Don Farrell, because I am reading his recommendation "The Making of the Atomic Bomb" by Richard Rhodes--an excellent book. I also liked your proposal to protect the bomb assembly building areas off North Field.
Keep up the good work on "Hikes on Tinian" and if you are ever in San Francisco please give me a call.
And if somehow I wash up on the shores of Tinian, save a good hike for me.

James Carmichael

PS: what is your email address?

K said...

Hi Howard!

Thank you so much for your offer! I've been looking at these hikes you've posted and they look fantastic. There seem to be so many intriguing places on Tinian.

My boyfriend and I will be in Saipan from March 13th - 17th. I'm not sure yet which day we will head to Tinian but we are flexible so if the 14th, 15th, or 16th works best please let me know.

You can email directly at kfkrayer at gmail dot com if you like.

Thanks again!