Tag Archives: hike

What We Did Part 2

Day 5?

We had heard about this cool beach up north called Ritidian Beach that’s a wildlife preserve so we decided to just drive up there and see what it was. The cool thing about Guam and driving is that there are only a few major roads so you can just start driving and you’ll probably get where you’re going just with common sense.

We picked up breakfast – spam and rice and Chamorro sausage and rice and ate it on the beach.

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We have absolutely no pictures of the ocean but we saw some of the most amazing fish. Most of the fish from finding nemo, some really friendly guys that were always in a pair – they came up to our hands if we extended them. Really hope people haven’t been feeding them! We snorkeled for 2 hours in some of the most clear blue amazing fish-heavy waters we’ve ever been in.

We were pretty darn sunburned again even with frequent applications of supposedly-water-proof-sunscreen. So we spent the rest of the day indoors and had carrots and ranch for dinner.

Day Whatever: My birthday!

We were pretty conflicted on what to do for my birthday. After a somewhat disastrous breakfast at Dennys we decided we wanted to be alone. The crippling-introverts we are were not doing well with being surrounded by people who could understand us. Call us crazy- we haven’t been in an English speaking country for 2 years! We’re used to having open conversations whenever we want. A bad habit but a habit we’ve become accustomed to. It’s also somewhat of a coping mechanism. The Koreans draw a deep line in the sand that leaves us as outsiders. This can actually be  nice for introverts – so while it was so so wonderful to talk to people in Guam and be understood it was also uncomfortable. This will be a huge problem when we move back in February.

What I wanted for my birthday: to be alone, to relax and recharge. So Chris took us on the best hike of isolation from Cetti to Sella Bay. This is the one Chris fell on before we changed our minds and did LamLam.

It ended up being one of the best hikes we’ve ever been on and probably the best in Guam.

freshwater creek draining into the ocean
freshwater creek draining into the ocean

In the picture below you can see the two bays

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The hike starts at the top and you descend further into the jungle across the same creek a few times then you’re deposited right onto the beach – then you walk along the beach to the other bay.

Its a really rough beach, not the kind tourists lounge on. It’s covered in vines, decaying/sprouting coconuts, trash, and half the sand isn’t even sand. Half the sand is huge knobs of coral or just blackened volcanic rock with deep blue crystalized bits (don’t know my rocks anymore). It’s really beautiful how wild it is. It was also very secluded. It was nice to sit on a beach where no one else was for miles and just watch the ocean.

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The other thing that was cool was the hermit crabs absolutely everywhere. It was just us and a million crabs.

We also enjoyed seeing a progression of how palm trees grow, from the coconut falling to sprouting to getting bigger and bigger to eventually being a tree to decaying and falling over and all the other coconuts repeating the process. I decided if I wanted anything for my birthday it was a fresh coconut which was basically impossible with our lack of beach/ocean know-how. Still we had fun lobbing rocks at coconuts, attempting to climb the trees, and whacking at the low hanging ones with bamboo. We made the discovery of the day – besides an old 90s cellphone washed up on the beach (and a pair of scratched up Oakley’s) we found a 9 iron that even had a neoprene case. I don’t know if it was left on the beach or somehow found it’s way from the water onto the beach but it was ours to whack at coconuts as we saw fit.

Here’s Chris demonstrating the technical way of smashing a coconut against rocks. DSC05520

The trick is to not do it this way because eventually the coconut will leave the end of the 9 iron and go into the sea where you can’t get it back. Hypothesis- this will work. Findings- this doesn’t work at all. Science complete. Free spider-web-clearining-golf-club that we used for the rest of the trip.

Day The Next Day: it was a Friday

We had to give our rental car up because we were changing hotels from an isolated hotel to a hotel right on the beach. We figured we wouldn’t need the rental car after Thursday because we would be on the beach/downtown.

So we gave it up reluctantly and caught a shuttle downtown to our new hotel. The new hotel was called Holiday Resort and was mostly for Asian tourists – like everything else in Guam. It was almost alarming to be surrounded by Koreans, house slippers and ramen again.

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This hotel was much more expensive but had this amazing balcony facing the should-be-sunsets. We had coffee on the balcony every morning and beer and coconut water every afternoon after hikes and adventures. On the weekend all the locals came out and basically lived in the gazebos on the beach blasting awesome reggae music from their cars and boomboxes. This really set the beach-y mood.

Our favorite part of this hotel was we were right next to Guam’s only zoo. Some people online said they hated this but we enjoyed the resident donkey braying. Some other bird who didn’t like to be challenged by the noise would go off screeching over the donkey (also if the reggae music got too loud he would screech). It was pleasant to us – the only animals we’ve seen in Korea are magpies and house centipedes.

Saturday

We snorkeled and it was really weak compared to the amazing things we had seen at Ritidian. We felt hobbled without a car. So we rented one that night so we could get back to the adventuring. Time without a car: 30 hours.

Sunday

We drove all the way back to Ritidian to see a big fat “closed” sign on the outside. From this day forward we were in a “high waves and small craft advisory”. There was a typhoon near us – so the waves were high and it was supposed to rain. So bad, in fact, that the weather channel advised against hiking . The waves were high and the water clarity never cleared up but it actually never did rain so we could keep hiking/driving.

We drove to Gun Beach where there is actually a big fat gun rusting away on the beach. If you walk behind the gun there’s a secret path to a more secret beach.

The waves were so high you had to time it to get across the bridge without having the water spray/hit you.

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On the other side was a massive Asian tour group (surprise) but other than that the beach was secluded and beautiful

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The thing at the top of the cliff is Two Lover’s Point. It’s $3 to go fight with tourists to take selfies at the top and read the myth of two lovers Chamorro and Spanish who couldn’t marry so they braided their long hair together and jumped into the sea. We didn’t go there. We walked to the base of it and can confirm that they certainly wouldn’t have landed in the sea as the romantic story goes.

The view from the other side

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Some other day – Fonte Dam

We walked to Fonte Dam which was built in the 1910s-1920s. This is just in the middle of the jungle so it’s unexpected but pretty. Really mosquito heavy. Also some people think it’s not safe to swim in the water or even touch fresh water because of a bacterial disease called leptospirosis or swamp fever, sugar cane fever, mud fever, whatever fever. It has many names. We’d already been splashed by fresh water (apparently you can get it like this too) so we’ll have to see in mid September (symptoms don’t arrive immediately) if we caught it. Probably not.

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1,001 Steps to Taguan Point and Fadian Cove

This was another hike everyone said was amazing  – chance of dolphin sightings and wild coffee we didn’t see any of this but we met a guy trying to catch coconut crabs.

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Still nice to go for a hike with fresh air and good company (not the coconut crab guy) just Chris.

Second to Last Day

We wanted to hike to an old radio tower that had been used just after the war. The directions were basically cross a bridge, go up the hill, walk through sword grass and into the jungle, you can’t miss it.

Which are the stupidest directions ever because there is sword grass and jungle everywhere. So after a lot of false starts hacking at sword grass with the 9 iron (we kept it) walking face first through massive spiderwebs almost landing face first in a wasp nest we said it’s not going to happen.

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This was the first time directions had failed us/we had gotten lost so we were pretty lucky. We were disappointed we couldn’t find WW2 era stuff but we kept hiking around.

We don’t know what this is and no one had talked about it online. There had been a grass fire which revealed it and a bunch of random army looking stuff around it.

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It was half buried under the earth and said “Mag 22” on the outside.

We kept walking along this road because it was a known road leading to the Korean Air Flight 801 memorial. On August 16 th 1997 KAL801 was on approach to Guam’s airport – the pilots were relying too heavily on equipment and some people speculate the Korean culture lead to the copilot not speaking up about problems. Regardless mechanical and pilot error lead to the plane crashing into Nimitz Hill about 3 miles from the airport. 228 out of 254 people died – it’s possible the sheer amount of duty free alcohols helped spread a massive fire that killed many people.

We were hiking around enjoying the view near the memorial but we also didn’t know where the memorial was. That’s when we started finding stuff.

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Some of that stuff, when cleaned off with water or spit was a pretty distinguishable Korean-air turquoise blue. This was a huge surprise to us because we weren’t that close to the memorial. Upon further research we figured out the plane probably struck the hill we were on first before crashing/coming to a stop where the memorial is. I don’t know what airline debris looks like but the signs point to this being part of that plane. It was blue, there was lots of twisted metals and some of it had obviously been charred. We’re certainly sentimental- who wouldn’t be? Holding pieces of who knows what, was this part of a chair where someone died? Also to be holding this tiny little piece of what makes up a massive plane. Something so sturdy that doesn’t even look like it could be ripped into these tiny pieces. It didn’t help that we were only a couple days before getting on our own Korean Air flight back home.

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The day we arrived on Guam was the 19th anniversary of the crash. Actually at the same time to the exact hour of when the plane crashed – August 6th at around 1 am. Because we were flying Korean Air and it’s the same route and times. We visited the memorial a week later -there were flowers and soju cups laid out. memorial

After we visited the memorial we walked back and found some golf balls! What luck! Free 9 iron from the beach and about 5 balls (some damaged from a brush fire) from the golf gods.

Chris manufactured a tee out of sticks because we don’t care about the rules of golf plus we’re pretty sure the club was for a child because it was super short.

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The Last Day

We had to check out of the hotel but we did get to keep the car until 6 pm. From there we had to give it up and kill time until 2 am (!!!!) when our flight left. We didn’t make the rules and couldn’t see anyway around this.

So we were just trying to kill time and enjoy the island for the last time.

We gave the 9 iron back to the earth – some other lucky hikers can use it. Then we just drove around.

I want to give a shoutout to my dad – we were actually able to play the license plate game! Our favorite game while driving. We imagine military families import their cars so we played heartily on the 30 mile island often seeing the same cars with the same plates. In the end we found 16 plates (Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, New Mexico, Idaho, South Dakota, Washington, Illinois, Florida, Georgia, California, South Carolina, Minnesota, Iowa, Louisiana and Virginia)

We gave up the rental car at 6 pm. Caught a taxi to do some waiting-drinking-and-eating at Chilis then waited until 2 am to get our flight back.

 

 

What we did in Guam

Days 1 and 2

The first 2 days we didn’t have a car yet because we were being stubborn and cheap. Also we’ve never really rented a car before, There are just  so many horror stories about renting cars online. So we didn’t. Yet.

We haven’t really seen the sun in a while because we work indoors and also because the sky is blue maybe 1% of the time. The haze and air quality usually blocks it or deters us from even leaving the house. Guam is also the closest we’ve ever been to the equator and we underestimated what that meant. The pictures don’t do it justice and after the 3rd sunburn (with sunscreen that time!) we stopped taking pictures because the shame and feel were too strong.

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PIcture is from my ipod, it doesn’t show how deep red it was

Kaeti here-  I swell a bit on airplanes. I didn’t think about this and  wore my chacos on our 5 mile walk and completely destroyed my feet. I had blisters the size of well you can guess. We bought some duct tape and powered on.

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The tan line from that was pretty great.

The second day our the people at the front desk of our hotel were super upset we had walked downtown  (“what do you mean you walked?!) and told us they actually had a free shuttle so we took that and went shopping downtown in the tourist area. The lack of freedom from the shuttle combined with the sunburn-lets-stay-inside combined with the blisters motivated us to finally, finally rent a car.

Day 3 – Rent a car and drive around the island

First we went to the Asan overlook to see where the soldiers first stormed the beach.

DSC05637 We saw memorials to the soldiers and also the Chamorros who died in World War 2 (pictured in the other blog). Then we drove down to Asan beach where it actually happened.

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Chris and I are suckers for WW2 history but we’re also sentimental. 1,866 soldiers died fighting for Guam, surely some of them on the very beach we were standing on. We thought about that for a moment.

There was a hiking symbol so we thought lets go up and see what that is. It’s Japanese gun embankments and pillboxes! *and mosquitoes.

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This was unexpected. It turns out that there are hundreds and hundreds of World War 2 guns, pillboxes, embankments, and artifacts. In fact theres loads of “unexploded ordinance” that everyone has to look out for when hiking or snorkeling/scuba diving.

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We drove to the nearby Piti Coastal Defense “hike” where you just walk upstairs.  There are 3 guns the Japanese had been planning on using to defend the beaches. They were never actually fired though, and were found a few weeks after the island had been secured.DSC05129

After we went to the Latte of Freedom – we said in the other post lattes are a major symbol of Guam. This is something they’re very proud of. There was a story about what they were and how they saved up pennies to build this Latte of Freedom as the symbol of Guam behind the Governor’s Complex.

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From there we drove around the island more until we found Taga’chang Beach.

It was unreal how beautiful it was. It seemed like a different country like Europe or pictures we’ve seen of New Zealand.

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You can drive down a small road to the actual beach.

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The view from below:

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You could just walk out on the rock and see tidepools. Some people were swimming in big ones, others were fishing.DSC05195

The tide pools were beautiful but scary. We found a nemo-type fish twice (we’re that good). They’re not as vibrant as the movie but it’s the same fish.

No pictures of nemo but we do have pictures of a fish next to an urchin, the clear water… and picture three (bottom left) is some kind of water-centipede horror. Chris spotted it and said “don’t come over here.”  We’ve googled any combo of “sea centipede” “sea worm” “horrible sea thing” and can’t say what it is. If anyone knows what kind of unholy critter it is, let us know.

Finally we saw these creepy things that we didn’t like one bit, no sir, but then realized that they are strange looking star fish (bottom right). You think star fish are fatty, thick, and cute, these are really thin and long and spidery. They are actually called Brittle Starfish which is apt. Only some of them sticks out of whatever hidy hole they’re living in so it looks like a bony skeleton hand coming out of the hole.

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It was like snorkeling with the same horrors (we are not an ocean folk) but without getting wet. Just up to the ankles.

Excuse the shameless pictures from the car widows, I went fully Grammy “isn’t in beautiful the way the sun is shining on that part of the mountain?!” 🙂  I’m not as classy as Grammy is, she at least parks and gets out to take pictures of the mountains, I just snap them from the passenger seat.

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Lush, lush, lush jungles everywhere. There were times when you could see bamboo as thick as a human leg being pulled over, bent, and broken by thick vines and foliage. It was messy jungle. Wet, hot, lush, buggy jungle.

The mountains are covered in sword grass which is sharp (more on that later) but blows in the wind which is absolutely beautiful to see the mountains rippling like some kind of wheat field. Crazy different place.

We stopped at Fort Nuestra Senor de La Soledad  (more pictures on the other blog about the history of Guam)

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Chris has another wonderful example of my sunburn. Mistakes were made. Sunscreen was bought and applied frequently after that.

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And we saw this incredible peach colored hibiscus. Also I’m a sucker for palm trees.

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Day 4 – Hiking

This day we thought maybe we’ll go hiking, but we certainly didn’t wake up that day thinking we would hike the highest mountain the world.

The highest mountain in the world? Surely you’re exaggerating.

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As you can see by my really well drawn chart, from the bottom of the Mariana Trench (or Marianas Trench, both are correct) to the top of Mount LamLam it’s 37,820 feet which is a lot more than Everest which is at a meager 29,030 feet- thats like 8,000 more feet! Obviously that’s not how it works but that’s what people say to make Guam and their hike sound better.

I also included Mt. Jumullong on this chart which every asshole seems to think is LamLam but IT IS NOT!!!!

We were thinking of hiking from Sella Bay to Cetti Bay which is a a hike between two neighboring bays.  We found the trail from Sella Bay, and it was immediately horrible with mosquitoes and the trail starts with a huge drop down a muddy ravine. Chris immediately slipped and fell on the blood-red mud which stained all his clothes (permanently). There was almost no way to start the hike without falling and we didn’t know how much the impossibly slick mud would last.  So we left.

We parked at the Cetti Bay overlook to see if the trailhead for the same hike was easier on that when we saw a sign for Mt. LamLam. Well obviously we’re going to do that, so we just went for it.

This was a crazy hike because of how many terrains we went through. It starts with that blood red sand/mud. It’s actually old volcanic sand and it’s super pretty contrasted against how wonderfully green the rest of Guam is.

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Then you have to go through sword grass which is actually sharp and can cause cuts. We had read about it online and were scared about how sharp everyone said it was. So we brought pants and gardening gloves.

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Then you go into super super deep jungle where it’s immediately 10 degrees warmer, 70% wetter- there’s no breeze. There are strange sounds, bugs everywhere and spiders as big as half dollars with webs as big as a horse. Massive unbelievable webs.

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At the end you have to scramble up very sharp rocks for the last 15 feet. And that’s the false summit (but universally recognized as the summit) of LamLam There is a marker that says “Guam Geodetic Triangulation Station LamLam”, and if you don’t see that you’re obviously on Mount Freaking Jumullong which is, again, not LamLam.

view from the top
view from the top

What’s up with the false summit thing?  The Geodetic Triangulation marks the false summit which is 22 feet lower than actual LamLam but the actual LamLam is surprisingly far away ridge (even though it doesn’t look like it). Between the false summit and real summit you would need a machete, GPS, and probably spider anti-venom because hardly anyone ever goes there and there isn’t actually trail.

It’s a great hike but with a couple problems. One is that there’s a fork in the road left is LamLam and right is Jumullong. Going right is all pretty and wonderful and easy. The left doesn’t even look like a path, it looks like unholy boonie stomping through sharp sword grass.

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The path to LamLam:DSC05321Which is why we can’t condone people taking saying they climbed LamLam when they took the easy way to Jumullong. It was properly hard with all the spiders and sword grass. Slow going work.

I want to pause again to talk about snakes. So if there was any chance at all of snakes being in these horrible thick wet steamy noisy buggy jungles I would’ve been really reluctant to go. There are snakes, there are hundreds and hundreds of brown tree snakes. But they’re nocturnal. Whats really insane about these snakes is that they’re invasive – accidentally came to the island around WW2. Somehow, someway they have killed off all the birds in Guam. So the hiking is super quiet. No birds cheeping or chattering. This is also that’s why the spiders are out of control – no natural enemies, and no competition for food.

On our way down we figured we would march on over to summit Jumullong. To give Jumullong credit, the views were probably better and it was easier. It had 100% less spiders.

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We went to a gas station on the way to the hotel and got 2 liters of water, 2 large coconut waters (natural gatorade) and 2 large gatorades (actual gatorade). And drank all of it. Neither of us have ever sweat so much in our lives, the jungle heat and wetness. With the humidity you never evaporate. It’s crazy.

We rewarded ourselves with the mac and cheetos – that super American deep fried macaroni and cheese with cheetos around it and shared that while watching a sunset.

Guam is supposed to have really spectacular sunsets but while we were there we only saw this one. Not really even a sunset, just some clouds.

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Still, losing out on some of the vibrant sunsets was worth it for all the fun we had doing other things.