Sunday, April 27, 2008

Mt. Lasu Shrine Area GPS Coordinates

Hi Everyone. I said I would publish GPS coordinates for Tinian on this site every now and then. So, I am going to start with the Mount Lasu area. If you happen to visit Tinian, bring a GPS with you so that you can find some of the more interesting sites on Tinian.

The first is the small hill that used to hold the Japanese Radar on Tinian. It is just to the north of the Shinto Shrine on top of Mt. Lasu. N15 degrees 02.495 minutes, E145 degrees 37.803 minutes.

The next coordinate is to an old crane from World War II. To get to this old crane, you need to get below the cliff that the shrine is on. To do this, to the stairs that go up to the shrine. If you look carefully to the south, just before going up the stairs, there is a train that goes into the Jungle. This trail leads to an old cattle guard and road that takes you below the cliff. As you follow the trail, you will get to an area with a small stone wall to your left, you will be above the wall. You need to leave the road at this point and head north along the cliff. N15 degrees 02.466 minutes, E145 degrees 37.810 minutes.

The next coordinate is for the Bomb Cave. This is a cave is full of artillery shells left by the Japanese from World War II. This cave is to the north from the crane. On the way to this cave, just past the crane is the remains of the old Japanese radar. Once at the radar remains, I have found it best to go down the slope to the flatter terrace area and than climb back up the slope to this cave. N15 degrees 02.569 minutes, E145 degrees 37.867 minutes

Right next to the Bomb Cave is the Window Cave. The Window Cave has a huge stone wall, built by the Japanese, with a window in the wall. It is one of the most interesting features along this cliff below the shrine. N15 degrees 02.587 minutes, E145 degrees 37.852 minutes

South of the Shrine, along the ridge line, is an old Japanese tunnel that cuts through the ridge. It is hard to find, but once located, it is easy to get back to. N15 degrees, 02.408 minutes, E145 degrees 37.781 minutes

Once through this tunnel, if you go to the north a little, there is another cave made by the Japanese. Once at this cave, if you head down the slope a little ways but not all the way to the bottom, and go south, following the cliff, you will find more caves and remains from World War II.

The last set of coordinates I have for this area are for a saddle in the ridge line south of the Shrine. This was one of my favorite places on Tinian because there was always a good breeze here and it was shaded. N15 degrees 02.352 minutes, E145 degrees 37.776 minutes

I do miss Tinian and the freedom to hike about any place you wanted to go. Maybe one of these years I will return.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Saturday April 19, 2008 - San Jose Cliff Line

My apologies for taking so long to get this entry posted. Before talking about the hike I have to say that I doubt any of us ever appreciated how much work Howard put into this blog. Doing one of these write-ups is far tougher than doing any of the hikes!
Also, Howard when you are reading anything I enter here please feel free to insert corrections, comments or addition in ( parentheses ) wherever needed. Thanks, Jude

On Saturday, April 19th 4 of us, Kim, me, Mitch, and Lina, as shown below, set off from the San Jose Cemetery to explore the cliff line from there to the Northern Marianas College Campus.

Following the route Howard had taken in the past, Mitch led the way straight up a rather steep slope then turned back to get a picture of Lina, me and Kim making our way up to join her.

At the top she showed us a small notch in the cliff that would have been used as a shelter in WWII. To demonstrate its small size I posed inside it. Short though I am I could barely stand up in there. We decided it would have been tight quarters for more than one man with supplies and equipment.

Later Kim demonstrated how small another of these shelters, chiselled out of the face of the cliff, really are. This one was nothing but a small indentation at the base of the cliff, probably enlarged a bit by man.

After climbing, scrambling, slipping or sliding our way back down, Mitch led us along the cliff line. As we went we noticed many freshly cut shrubs and saw evidence that coconut crab hunters had been there recently. Next we came to some old pipe and a series of cement supports for the old pipeline that ran down through there.

In the picture above is a length of pipe on the ground between the green leaves and the cement support. The next picture shows the groove the pipe was supported in. And in the shadows beyond the next support in the series can be seen.

A short ways later Mitch pointed out a different sort of shelter, low to the ground, with an opening partially constructed out of 55 gallon drums apparently filled with large rocks.

Exploring within she found one of the numerous old bottles that we see on the jungle hikes.

We all had to take our turns examining this one as it was so low and so small. Though we thought the earlier one would seem crowded it would was spacious compared to this.

While I was having my turn at the shelter, Mitch, ever the observant one spotted one of the several bird's nests seen on this hike.

In a much larger cave we found medicine ampoules, shards of pottery, and several other items left as reminders of earlier uses of these caves.

Outside were many rusting objects. Mitch's friend in Japan had told her there used to be a railroad line in this area. Some of the bits and tools we saw could fit with that.

A well preserved land marker also reminded us that this secluded area was once more heavily populated. Sounds of boom boxes and traffic nearby served to remind us that we were not really so far from it all today.

Other finds also typical on these hikes are grim reminders of less than peaceful times.

Sometime the solemnity of thinking about our two nations in long ago battles here needed to be broken with a bit of levity. We tried to convince our New Yorker, Kim, that the head of an old sledge hammer was actually a submarine sandwich. She cheerfully pretended to believe us.

The next cave was one of the largest we've seen. Mitch told us it had been a hospital cave. Large though it is for caves around here, it still seemed rather small for the purpose.

It took a bit of a climb to get there. Mitch and Lina, below, negotiate the face of the cliff toward the opening just above Mitch. Watching them, I was wondering how they got patients in and out when it had been used as a hospital cave.

Within were more items that suggested it's former usage. Ampoules, vials, a piece of a glass stirrer, microscope slides, etc.

Moving onward, we soon came to the largest site of the day, a cave/tunnel that had been well reinforced by concrete. We had to proceed with caution as it was 'guarded' from high above by a huge bees nest. Below, taken from the tunnel opening, is Lina looking up toward the bees nest.

This was not the usual boonie bee nest. It looked about 15-20 inches high and a foot or so wide with hundreds or perhaps thousands of bees swarming on and around it. Howard, can you give us more info here? ( edit: in 'comments' Howard says they're honey bees ) In spite of all the bees seen here, there were no signs of booonie bees and no stings on this hike.
Once we were all safely past the bees who seemed rather oblivious of us we explored the tunnel/cave. With an opening at each end, and alcoves in between it was hard to decide if it was a cave or a tunnel.

Near the exit, alerted by water on the floor, we examined the ceiling and found stalactites forming there. Even closer to the exit Lina pointed out a huge spider. One very different from the ones we often 'battle' in the jungle outside. We were content to give him wide berth and were relieved that he didn't seem to mind our presence or all our camera flashes. So, of course, we shutter bugs aimed a few of those flashes at him.

A short hike from the tunnel/cave brought us to the grounds of the now closed college,

and then to the cave now used for the stations of the cross and the Santa Lourdes shrine. We took a refreshment break at one of the tables there.

Then a short walk along the road brought us back to our starting point - the San Jose Cemetery.

Several torrential downpours shortly after the hike ended convinced me that we finished just in time. Actually we'd had one brief shower just after leaving the hospital cave. But the jungle was dense enough close to the cliff that barely a drop reached us though we could see and hear the rain.
For more information and pictures of this same hike see Howard's entry of Dec 1, 2007. And at Mitch's blog entry for this hike:
A big thank you goes to Mitch and Lina for sharing their pictures to be used in this post.

The next hike will be Saturday April 26 to the Tachonga Lattes. Unless we find more than the two main groups we know, it will be a short hike so will end with snorkelling. Everyone is welcome. Meet at 8a.m. at the Tachonga Beach parking lot.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

April Hikes

Note: post editted to add date of April 26 for the Tachonga hike. for details, see below. Since this will likely be a short hike we are also suggesting that those who wish come prepared to snorkel afterward. Bring snacks and beverage as you see fit.

Hello hikers!
Hikes may be somewhat less frequent (and probably less interesting) without Howard to lead and explain. Neither Mitch nor I has a GPS so we are limited to hikes we can do without one. Also there is a transportation problem since I have no vehicle and Mitch's small car is shared by multiple drivers.
Thus we will begin with hikes close to town and will experiment with having hikers meet at the starting point. For further distant hikes we will have to arrange for transportation in advance. Also, if you have a bush knife you might want to bring it along. With those conditions we will try to continue the hikes when possible.

If you are off island and want a hike that we can handle on a specific date please contact me in advance to make arrangements. tel 433-7171 or post as a comment here. Jude

Everyone is welcome to join these hikes

or to suggest hikes they can lead.

Saturday - April 12. No hike was scheduled in deference to the Red Cross Walk-a-Thon.

Saturday - April 19. San Jose Cliff Hike - for a description of this hike see the Dec 1, 2007 hike.
We will meet at the San Jose Cemetery - behind the High School - at 8 a. m.
Note: Editted to add - Mitch says we should bring our flashlights on this hike, there's a tunnel in which we will need them.

Saturday - April 26, 2008 - Tachonga Lattes. We will meet at the parking lot at Tachonga Beach. We've found one more set of the lattes in the Tachonga area so can lead a hike to those and then backtrack and try to find some of the points of interest that Howard showed us on the Jan 26, 2008 hike. Or we could try to find other sets of the stones as shown on the following map at Long Beach. We discussed the plans and scheduling for this hike during the April 19 hike.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Farewell Party

On March 28, the hikers gave me a farewell party. This party was at Monster Pizza at the Dynasty Hotel and Casino. I said I would post pictures for this party in my last posting, so here they are.

Below is a picture of everyone that attended the party. Even Mony showed up briefly, but did not stay to eat pizza with us.

Completely unexpected by me was a certificate of appreciation that was prsented to me. Below I am reading the certificate.

Along with the certificate was a boonie bee nest, I think in appreciation of all the bee stings I took for the group. It had a red bow on it and is at the end of my left hand in the picture below.

The certifate was passed around and signed by everyone on the back. In the picture below, Kaori is signing the back with Mictch and Masa looking on. Now I will have to find someone that reads Japanese so that I know what Kaori and Masa wrote.

In the picture below, I am reading what everyone wrote on the back of the certificate. This certificate will be something that I always will treasure. Thank you all for the company on the hikes and the great party.

Farewell to everyone. I leave tomorrow afternoon. I will miss you all and the hikes.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Turtle Cove Cannon - March 29, 2008

This will be the last hike that I will be posting for awhile. I am leaving Tinian to look for work soon, but I might be back in June or July for a short period of time. I will miss all of the people that have been my regulars on these hikes; I will miss Tinian, where I was free to roam the jungle and cliffs; and I will miss my way of life here on Tinian.

Before we began this hike, Masa presented me with framed picture that was a collage of photographs from the hikes that we all had gone on. He also had unframed copies for the rest of the hikers. I was really touched by this gesture. I also want to thank everyone for the appreciation party that was given for me the night before this hike. I will be posting pictures from that party later this week. Again, Thank You All!

On this hike, 12 of us set off to look at the cannon, tunnels, and beaches by Turtle Cove. Below is a group picture of the hikers at the parking area below the cannon. From left to right are Masa, me, Lisa, Amanda, Jessabel, Stacy, Erica, Judy, Pete, Kimberly, and Bonnie (my sister-in-law, visiting from California), with Mitch taking the picture.

The cannon was a short walk from the parking area. The cannon is in a cave that was a rock shelter that had been enlarged by the Japanese. In the picture below, I am by the cannon and Kimberly and Pete are walking up to it. There are also bent railroad rails in the picture. I don't know what the rails were used for.

Below is a picture of most of the group standing by the cannon. This picture shows the cliff that shelters the cannon. From here, the Japanese could have protected the northern entrance to Tinian harbor with this cannon.

The picture below shows the breech of the cannon. It is missing the breech door. Also, the rails are clearly visible in the picture.

Mitch happened to notice a red insect crawling on a rock. I didn't have my glasses on and didn't get a good look at it, but from the picture, I can tell that it is a hemiptera. These are true bugs and have sucking mouth parts. I have seen similar bugs, not as bright as this one, hanging on vines, and sucking plant juices.

After we left the cannon, we hiked to the bottom of the slope below the cliff. I was a little worried that we had gone too low and might miss something along the cliff line. So, we ended up climbing back up the slope, which was real steep, as can be seen in the picture below of Erica climbing the slope. After getting up the slope, I found there was nowhere to go, so we headed back down the way we had come.

A little further along the slope, I decided again to climb back up it, to see if it was worth the whole group going up. I decided it was not worth the hike up the slope. You can see how steep the slope was in the picture below of me climbing down it.

After going up and down the slope a few times, I found a valley and decided to follow it up the slope. The picture below shows Erica and Stacy nearing the top of the valley and slope. It got real steep again. After we crossed a small ridge, we ended up going down another valley that paralleled the first valley that we had just gone up. It was a lot of ups and downs for the beginning of this hike.

As we followed the base of the slope, it slowly became a cliff! One of the areas that we walked through has Moses in a Basket, Tradescantia spathacea, growing in it. In the mainland U.S. this is a common ground cover plant. In the picture below, the plants with the green and purple leaves is Moses in a Basket growing on the cliff.

Below is a closeup of the flowers of the Moses in a Basket plant. The white flowers are contained in a bracket that forms the basket.

Just a little way past the Moses in the Basket plants was the tunnel that I remember seeing about 12 or 15 years ago. I really don't know if it is a tunnel or just a cave with three entrances. It may have been a natural cave, or a group of natural caves, that were expanded and connected together by the Japanese during World War II. In the picture below, Bonnie, Stacy, me and Lisa are entering the tunnel/cave.

On the floor of tunnel were a bunch of corroded 3 inch shells. The picture shows three of these shells on the cave's floor. The middle one has been almost completely destroyed by corrosion.

In front of Bonnie, in the picture below, is the tunnel that was built by the Japanese. This tunnel runs to another entrance that might have been a natural opening in the cliff's face, or it might have been dug out by the Japanese.

Below is a picture taken by Judy of Mitch taking a picture of Pete in the tunnel. This is the same tunnel that Bonnie is standing in front of in the picture above.

This is the picture that Mitch took, mentioned above, of Pete in the tunnel.

Below is a picture at the third entrance to the tunnel, just before we all left the system of caves and tunnels. In the picture are Kimberly, Lisa, Jessabel, me, Mitch and Pete.

Next to the tunnel-cave system was another cave/shelter. It had some neat nunu (banyan) roots growing in it. The picture below shows Judy standing in the shelter, with the roots on its roof.

Mitch, digging around as always, found some bones in the shelter pictured above. Some of the bones are pictured below. I am not sure if they are human or some other animal's bones.

After the shelter, it was time to head back to the van. The reason why we turned back is because I knew there was nothing else to see along this cliff line. So we walked back through the tangantangan forest, since it was a lot easier to walk through it than trying to follow the cliff back to the cannon.

As we got back to the parking area, there was an area of grass that we had to cross. I knew that there was a road that went through the grass nearer to the ocean. So we followed the grass until we came to the road. It was a lot easier to use the road than to cut a path through the grass. In the picture below is my daughter, Amanda, following the road back to the van.

After everyone had gotten back to the van, I told them that the hike was not over yet, and that we were going to walk to a nearby beach. So after a brief rest, we headed back down the road, through the grass, to a small path. This path leaded to a nice little pocket beach. The picture shows the entrance to the beach from the trail. There are a lot of puting and banalo trees on this beach.

The picture below shows the edge of the beach as you look north. In the picture Bonnie is taking off her shoes to enjoy the beach.

The following picture shows the land side of the beach. This part of the beach has a nice shady area to rest in.
The picture below was taken from about where I was sitting, in the picture above, looking out towards the beach. I really like this beach.

Judy had baked some brownies for me. I decided to share them with the rest of the hikers. Below, in the picture, is Judy getting a piece of a brownie, while Jessabel looks on enjoying her own brownie. Everyone enjoyed the brownies and none were left to carry out.

Mitch and Judy pointed out the rock that is in the picture below, which sort of looks like either a turtle or a camel. I think it looks more like a turtle, and since it is close to the ocean, it must be a turtle. Maybe the beach next to it should be called Turtle Beach, since it is also next to Turtle Cove.

Except for climbing up and down the steep slopes at the beginning of this hike, this was a very good hike, especially with the long break on the beach. I would like to thank Stacy for driving the van for this hike, and Judy for making the brownies. I also need to thank Judy and Mitch for all the pictures in this posting. Seems my camera decided to stay in Bali, instead of coming back with my wife.

The boonie bee count was one. I got stung in shoulder, and it didn't even hurt that much. Maybe I am starting to get use to being stung after all of these hikes.

I am sorry to say there will not be any more Saturday hikes, unless Mitch or Judy organizes them. It was fun while it lasted and I wish I had started these hikes earlier.

Goodbye everyone, I really did enjoy you all on these hikes and as my friends.