Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lake Hagoi - March 1, 2008

On March First, seven of us set off to explore the area around Lake Hagoi. Lake Hagoi is really not a lake, but a marsh. It does have some open water in the center, but this water does dry out in extremely dry years. I have walked on the dry bottom of Lake Hagoi at least five times in the last 18 years. So, this means that Lake Hagoi will dry out about once every three years. I did not really expect to see Lake Hagoi because it is surrounded by large areas of Pago, Thespesia populnea, and tall reed (Karisso), Phragmites karka.

Below is a picture of Lake Hagoi today. This picture was taken by a friend of Mitch's as he flew back to Saipan.

On this hike, we hoped to find signs of the old village that used to be on the west side of Lake Hagoi. During Japanese times, Lake Hagoi was extensively farmed. I have seen pictures of Lake Hagoi with extensive rice fields.

By the way, Hagoi means lake in Chamorro. So we were going to explore the area around Lake Lake.

On this hike we had three new people, pictured below, along for the first time with us. First there was Kaori, on the left, next Lisa, and our first flat person, Nicole, next to me. Nicole is from the U.S. mainland and goes to the third grade. This picture was taken outside the Grace Christian School, before we left on the hike.

After everyone got into my truck, I drove them all to the North Field area. Once we got to the circle on West Avenue, we took a small side road toward the east. I was not sure where to stop the truck so as to start the hike. There used to be a dirt road that went from the road we were on to the west side of Lake Hagoi, but it had fallen in disuse because of the many typhoons we had since the road was last used. I ended up stopping at a place where I thought the old road might have been. I took a quick look around, but did not see the road. Even so, we all got out of the truck and headed into the jungle.

I tried to hold a straight course toward the north, but ended up going more northeast than straight north. We happened to come upon some large banyan (nunu) trees growing on piles of rocks. As we rounded the banyan trees, we found the remains of an old Japanese torpedo from World War II. Below are pictured the tail fins and propeller of the torpedo.

The torpedo was broken into three sections with the warhead missing. There was the tail section pictured above, and two air tank sections. The Japanese torpedoes from World War II used compressed air to drive them. Below is a picture of one of the torpedo's air tanks.

In the picture below is Lisa sitting next to the other air tank from the torpedo.

Below, in the picture, are some other parts of the torpedo that was near the air tanks.

After the torpedo, I tried to head more towards the west. I wanted to head toward the old village site, which was on the west side of Lake Hagoi. As we walked in the jungle, we came across a path that someone had cut through the jungle. This path was not here last spring, when I had previously been in this area. Next we started to see clumps of banana plants in the jungle, as pictured below. This meant that we had to be near some place that had once been used by people. Bananas need people to spread since they do not make seeds. I felt we must be getting near the old Japanese or Okinawan village we were looking for.

Just past the bananas, we came to a place were we could finally see the lake. The lake is just behind the group in the picture below. The lake is just pass the trees behind the hikers. In the picture are Nicole, Mitch, Kaori, Lisa, Erica and Judy.

Pictured below is a closeup of the tall reeds that border the lake. This picture is a closeup taken from the picture above.

As we followed the edge of that lake toward the northwest, we came upon a huge grove of bamboo. Below is a picture of the dead leaves of the bamboo covering the vines and small shrubs that grew on the edge of the grove.

The picture below is of the same place as pictured above, but it shows more of the surroundings with Judy and Nicole in it.

I had to cut a hole through the old dead bamboo stalks and vines to enter the grove. The picture below shows Mitch entering the bamboo grove through the hole that I had cut. Inside the grove it was fairly easy walking. I did have to cut a few dead bamboo stalks or break them by jumping on them, which is sort of fun to do.

Because the bamboo grove's canopy is so thick, there is not much growing on the ground, except for a few mushrooms. This makes it easy to walk through a bamboo grove. and the dead stalks are easy to break and get out of the way. All you have to watch out for are the small bamboo branches that have large spines on them.

I decided to leave the bamboo grove and head off toward some large tree that I saw west of the bamboo grove. As we walked toward the trees, we found the cleared path that we had seen earlier in the hike. There were also two large coconut trees that I sort of remembered from years ago when I used to visit this area. We really didn't find much by the coconut trees. So, we headed back towards the lake

As we walked back towards the lake, we came upon the largest kamachili tree,
Pithecellobium dulce, that I have ever seen. It is very difficult to take a picture of a tree this large in the jungle. Below are two pictures of this tree. It was huge and must have been planted before World War II.

As we got near the bamboo grove again, we walked across an old coconut trunk that had a lot of small mushrooms growing on it. These mushrooms are pictured below. There were a lot more mushrooms than I expected to see on this hike. Since it is the dry season, there are not normally a lot of mushrooms in the jungle. Of course, we did have a week of rainy weather just before the hike, which would encourage the mushrooms to produce fruiting caps.

We walked in the bamboo grove for awhile until it started to thin out into pago and tangantangan forest. Just a little ways past where we left the bamboo grove, we came upon an old cement tank. At least we think it was a tank. We really don't know what it was used for. In the picture below is Kaori, on the edge of the tank, looking into it.

Below is a picture of Nicole checking out the tank.

In the picture below is the tank and you can see that it is very near a grove of pago. This tank was about the only remains from the old village that we found. We did find an old Kirin beer bottle and some pieces of ceramics, but no other structures. This was a fairly large village, but it could have been almost completely destroyed during World War II, or heavily overgrown by the jungle during the more than 65 years since it had existed. This is why we did find much in this area.

Below is part of a bowl that we found. It was one of the two pieces of ceramics that we found on this hike.

Below is a picture of a small herbaceous plant that we happen to find in the jungle. It was about 2 feet tall with white flowers that were about 2 inches long. The flowers were really beautiful as can be seen in the picture.

We also found a few hot pepper plants, but not as many as we found on the Marpo Valley hike. Pictured below is the flat person, Nicole, picking some peppers to use later.

We also found a patch of snake plants. Since Nicole had never seen snake plants before, she had to stop and take a closer look at them with Judy.

On the hike, we happened to enter a forest of African Tulip trees, Spathodea campanulate. These trees sprout from there roots forming large groves, as shown in the picture below. Because a single tree can dominate an area because of the sprouts from its roots, it is considered an invasive species in many areas. They also have fairly soft wood and are easily damaged by strong winds and typhoons. That is why there is a lot of branches trunks on the ground in the picture below. These trees can grow to be 90 feet tall, but in the Mariana Islands, they rarely get over 40 feet high, because of typhoons.

The African Tulip Tree has large showy red-orange flowers, as shown in the picture below. These beautiful flowers are why this ornamental tree has spread from its home in central Africa to most tropical areas in Asia and the Pacific.

Just pass the African Tulip Tree forest, I saw some kapok trees, Ceiba pentandra. I knew that we were almost to the road that runs from Chulu Beach, one of the World War II invasion beaches, and North Field, because this is one of the two places where I know kapok trees grow in the jungle on Tinian.

Below is a picture of Judy, Nicole, and Kaori as they leave the jungle right next to the road mentioned above.

We followed the Chulu-North Field road to a road that runs on the east side of Lake Hagoi. Below is a picture of the rest of the hikers waiting for Judy, Nicole and Kaori to get out of the jungle.

The picture below is of the kapok trees that line the road from Chulu Beach to North Field.

As we walked along the road, we saw a sign that said that the Lake Hagoi area is a Mariana Common Moorhen (Pulattat) Sanctuary. The Pulattat, Gallinula chloropus guami, is endangered mainly because of habitat destruction. Lake Hagoi is one of the few wetlands in the Mariana Islands where this bird still nests. They build their nests in the reeds above the water and very few predators can reach them. I have been told by a biologist from Guam that the monitor lizard (Hilitai), Varanus indicus, can swim out to the nests and eat the eggs and young, thus endangering this species even more.

Just a short walk down the Chulu-North Field road, we turned down the side road that runs on the west side of Lake Hagoi. This road is not traveled that much and sometimes remains blocked after a typhoon, with downed trees, for months.

There are many interesting plants along this road and Nicole had to stop and look at a few of them. Below is Nicole looking at a payaya plant.

As we walked along the road, we noticed many stands of wild Canna growing beside the road. Most likely they were introduced during the Japanese period as an ornamental plant and have gone wild. I have seen two varieties of Canna on Tinian in the jungle, a red one, as pictured below, and a yellow one. They are usually found in areas that once had settlements.

Below is a picture of the Canna flower.
Mitch and some of the other hikers were interested in seeing Lake Hagoi, and since I knew a fairly easy way to get the lake, I agreed to show them the lake. Below is a picture of the water in Lake Hagoi. We had to make our way on a trail through the tall reeds. I had even taken my shoes off, just in case someone wanted to see the open water. But no one wanted to go any further than the water in the reeds, as pictured below.

Below is a picture of Erica on the trail through the tall reeds to Lake Hagoi.

After putting my shoes back on, I led the hikers back to the road and truck. As I was driving to leave the Lake Hagoi area, I decided to take the road that runs along the south end of North Field and to the circle on Broadway. This road had not been used very often and there was a lot of tall grass overhanging the road. I am not sure how much the people in the back of the truck liked this road, because of the overhanging grass, but I enjoyed the ride back.

On the way back to town, just before we reached the airport, it start to pour down rain. During the hike, we had had a little rain, but it stopped after a few minutes. What we entered was a downpour, which kept raining even after I dropped everyone off at the school. All I can say is on the way back to the village, I was glad I was driving and not in the back of the truck.

Nicole would like to say hi to all of the third graders back in her classes and that she really enjoyed her walk in the jungle.

I would like to thank again Judy and Mitch for the additional pictures I used in this posting.

As for the boonie bee count, it was only one, me of course. I got stung on the left hand while I was trying to cut a bamboo stalk to leave the bamboo grove the second time. We did see a lot of nests and I walked into one that was a foot off the ground. I had a lot of bees flying a round me, but luckily I did not get stung.

The next hike will be to the Harlem area on the southwest side of North Field. This was were the asphalt plant used to be located while the American's built North Field and the road system on Tinian during World War II. From the asphalt plant, I hope to walk to the cliff line near it and explore this area. I have never been to this cliff, so it will be a new place for us to explore. We will meet at 8 AM, on March 8, Saturday, at Grace Christian School.

Everyone Is Welcome On These Hikes.

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