chilling feet

chilling feet

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hiking with the Johnsons

(Standing in front of a waterfall and ready to do some more hiking)
(Here we are near the beginning of the trail with no idea of what an amazing hike
we were in store for on this particular day)
When Wes and Katie asked us if we wanted to go hiking with them in Guam we said, "Does the Pope where a funny hat?" Well maybe I said something like that after we said "yes" and "most definitely" about fifteen times.  This past Sunday we finally all had a day where we could head off into Guam's beautiful landscape. When we started the Johnsons handed us some gloves and said something like, "You'll need these because of the sword grass and other stuff."  Other stuff? I thought that was pretty interesting as I have never done a hike where I needed gloves, at least not when it's super warm outside.                   

We both nodded, accepting our most generous gifts, and followed them down a trail that almost immediately slopes down the side of some hills (you can see below in a pic now steep and slippery the trail was from the get go). Wes and I have a nearly perfected technique for this part of the trail where one simply skis down hill on one foot with the other out in front for protection. My Mizuno running shoes worked pretty well for this as it turns out. Down and down we went until we made an abrupt turn and headed up river towards the water falls - yes water falls! This hike is called the Cetti Falls Hike, its name being significant because there are seven different falls one climbs up during the hike. Climbs?  Wait what? Oh, gloves! For the ropes and rocks you use to climb the waterfalls. 
(Click on the link to learn more about this particular hike)

After our first big waterfall climb Wes turned to us and said, "Do you see why we didn't exactly tell you every single thing about this hike a head of time?" He was wearing the same smile you see in the pictures of him in every single picture on this blog - a mischievous grin that implies so much. But perhaps we could see his point. Sort of reminds me of almost any run I go on with my brother Bryan. He is never honest about the distance, time it will take, or the difficulty of the run. They have been best friends for a long time. Perhaps they learned from one another.
(Yep, there is that grin.)

The hike was pretty awesome and we made it up all seven water falls, with advice from our experienced hikers in front of us to not only show the way but the best side for climbing so no one fell or died or whatever. In all seriousness it was great and we loved it, though we were sore in weird places the next few days (wait, still am as it was only this past Sunday).

(There is no way to not get wet on this hike, as you can see from us in the picture.  To much wading and climbing through waterfall water and such)

(I really loved climbing with the aid of these ropes who some sweet person left out here.  Yes it's a little crazy using the ropes but to be fair I let four other people use them first so unless it was just my extra weight or that one particular moment I figured I was good for the climb)
Once we finished the Cetti hike we got back to the cars and dropped some gear before deciding to head across the street and do Mount Lam Lam hike (the link is another report of the hike I thought was kind of helpful to read). The cool part about this hike is it takes you to the highest point in Guam, which is not super high but it's still the highest darn tootin' point in an entire country. And as Wes told us, and the link explains, this happens to be the biggest mountain in the world. Wrap your head around that little nugget - no I did not say it is higher than Mt. Everest as that is absurd. But starting from the bottom, which happens in this case to take us to the bottom of the Mariana trench deep in the ocean, we find one big mountain. Apparently if you count the part of the mountain covered by water, Mount Lam Lam over shadows Everest in total height (that's pretty cool). You can climb to the top of the highest mountain in the world and not have to deal with the pesky altitude of Everest, or snow or many other things (yes yes, I know what you're thinking but still).  
(Wes stopping to point out something significant. Maybe he is pointing to Cocos Island where you can see all that pretty water out there)

As usual I'm going to stop yammering on and on about these two hikes and just let the pictures and the captions do the talking.  Thanks to Katie for most of the pictures, to Wes and Katie for introducing us to this wonderful hike, and to Allison our new "trail troll" friend as Wes kept calling her.  I have a feeling we will be calling upon her as a guide a few more times in the next few months.
(Heading up Lam Lam was a much easier hike compared to Cetti. We are definitely still adjusting to Guam climate)
(The top of Lam Lam with some nice views - I was still soaked mostly from waterfalls even after this thirty minute hike, and yes just a little bit of sweat too. It was nice of a family to have been hiking at the same time to take this shot)
(There are crosses all up the trail as this hike is also used during Easter by local Christians to walk "stations" up to the top for part of a religious experience. Pretty cool.  I'm going to have to go back on my own and do a Christian ascent sometime. With plenty of bug spray on though)
(I just really like this shot of Sarah.  I'm looking out and probably wondering what I did to get here. It's truly amazing in Guam)
(Are you joking with me right now? Guam has some truly breath taking views.  Every hike we have done so far has a view of the ocean, as would make sense if you know how big the island is of course.  Just look at the photo!)
(At the end of our days hiking, with only a downhill to go, we are happy and ready for a nice break)
(It definitely looks much more straight up when you're climbing. Here Sarah is showing me how it's done - like a boss)
(Just a shot in between climbs but watch that footing - it's slick!)
(Like statues of mermaids in Norfolk or horses in Germantown or whatever your town does, Guam has statues of Carabao all around the country.  They are this guy! Click the link to read about them. We could definitely smell this one before we saw it. It was not super comfortable with us being this close but I bet it really just wanted a hug.  I thought Sarah might try)
I've already started thinking about our next post which will include why I'm having difficulty typing this post.  My hands are slightly bandaged from having been torn up a little by some rocks when a rogue wave decided to have its way with us on a coastal hike.  Till next time!!  (we are both fine so no worrying)

Sunday, July 17, 2016


(While exploring for caves, we wandered down onto the coastline.  Fun but
the ocean kept threatening to try and wash us out for a swim!)
Well we are at it again, it being the traveling and trying to see as much of this world as we possibly can.  I am revitalizing this blog with some posts just to keep family and friend updated with fun photos, hopefully some adventurous stories, and mostly so my mom knows I'm still alive.

So why Guam?  A lot of people asked me that the past few months, especially since I had to leave a wonderful job at Hope to head off into the wilderness.  Perhaps the best answer, and the one that will remain true for us on most questions like this, is the one George Leigh Mallory gave in 1924 to the New York Times.  When asked why he would go off and pursue being the first to climb Mount Everest, risking life and limb, his response was succinct.  "Because it is there."  While Mallory paid the ultimate price in hopes of climbing the world's tallest mountain, we use the same response for answering the 'whys' when asked.

(The hotel we stayed in for the first two weeks while Sarah got started in
work and we searched for our first home had a nice view over Tumon Bay.
This shot shows more of the trees and other hotels but notice the color of the
water!  More pics to follow)
There are always motivations for why we pick a certain location though, I suppose, and this one was no different.  Sarah had a job offer for working here in Guam and so it rested on a list in the back of our minds for a while as a possibility. When we decided we wanted to make a run at getting both of us to the South Pole in Antarctica and it started becoming a reality (we actually both have jobs there for the next winter beginning in February but that's another story and there are still some hiccups), a place like Guam started gaining a little bit more steam mostly because, you guessed it, it's warm.  Sarah has been on two Antarctic journeys now and it made sense to both of us to seek out a place with a little bit of sun before retreating it for months at a time at the Pole.  But Guam also holds some of our best of friends, Wes and Katie Johnson and family.  When we added all the factors together, including Guam's location being near to other places (Japan, Vietnam, China, etc) we would like to visit, it became our top choice for next the next stop.  We will be in Guam until December 10th, with a short pause to head up and do the Northwest Passage, but again we are getting ahead of ourselves.

(That gives the basic location)
Where in the world is Guam!!  In the words of Jane, "Guam is a real place?!" Yes.  We are in Guam as pictured on the map I borrowed from online. It is part of the Mariana Islands which form an archipelago (8th grade geography terms hard at work being refreshed in my brain - click on the link to learn more from wiki). Guam has an interesting history and was first found by explorers when Magellan (yes, that Magellan) landed on Guam when attempting to circumnavigate the world.  We are reading a book about the history of Guam and have not made it far yet, but the natives were subject first to Spain, then to the Japanese, and now the Americans.  Yes it is still an American territory and remains one of the last remaining "colonies" in this world, according to the book.  Click on the link for a brief synopsis of Guam's history, again according to wiki.

Hafa Adai!  Hafa Adai (pronounced "hoffa day") is "hello" for Marianas (the island chain Guam is located in) Native Chamorro language. It's used more or less the same way as "aloha" is used as a greeting on the Hawaiian Islands and the people are super friendly so far.  Ok, enough info for now.  Pictures and a few with stories of what is behind the photo.  

(Just hanging on the beach in my sweet Agape North t-shirt from Memphis.  Not a bad view)
(Two Lovers Point, where as the story goes two lovers threw themselves into oblivion rather than to live apart.  Apparently some Spaniards where going to have her marry one of their own and the lovers would have nothing to do with that.  It is a high cliff and if the story is true it would have been a heck of a fall. It's a pretty place for a lookout but our day was cloudy. We will be going back on a more clear day to enjoy the view)
(Sarah is posing by what are called lattes.  Not the kind you drink silly. These are ancient structures the original Chamorro people would build to support certain important structures.  Now one can see latte statues around as memorials to the native way of the Chamorro lifestyle.  I like to imagine them full of tasty hot joe)
(We made it down the hike and into the caves.  This one has a nice underground swimming pool in it!!  In total darkness unless you bring your head lamp.  Gollum??  He wasn't there but next time we are taking our second head lamp because Sarah likes to turn it off and then just stand there to freak me out.  No thank you. We wadded in water just to about our waste until you get to this little pool, making our way through the cave in water, and then you can swim with your feet not touching the ground. A really special place!)
(With the flash you can see how beautiful the cave pool really was - even though when Sarah turned out the lights you cannot see any of this!  So crystal clear)
(I had to add one more photo from the cave wanderings in the water.  It was pretty fantastic even though it scared me. The photos with the flash really showed the beauty even more than the small head lamp could by itself)
(So we get to hang out with these "savages" as their dad calls them while in Guam.  Evie and Wesley.  Pretty fun crew.  This pic was taken while watching a little bit of Hercules. When I'm not ninja fighting with little man (he loves the ninja turtles and is always saying "fight me"), the princess gives Sarah and me drawings and helps me take down the little man)
(A little bit of a blurry shot but it shows the hike down the side of a cliff we took to go in search of a cave where we could wander and even swim??  Some nice folks had put up some rope for people who would come after them. Sweet)
(A Spanish plaza built to commemorate the one the Spanish built here a long long time ago.  Pretty cool.  There used to be a palace but now just a few porticos and such.  Cannons.  Cool.  Beautiful park)
(We turned the head lamp off and took a pic.  I would have kept working to get one where the water could be seen behind us but it was already about as much as I could do to take one like this.  I kept figuring when I looked it later we would see some creature behind us creeping up to get us! I think I would rather have one or two other people with us for caving.  So who wants to come?  Come on!)