Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hiking to the top of American Samoa

Yesterday was a good day. For the first time since I arrived on this island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I got to spend almost the entire day outside! For the past (almost) two weeks, I have spent 10+ hours sitting on my butt every single day. My brain is so tired and my butt feels like mush. I gave it some super intense exercise and I woke up sore this morning.

A small pack of WT'ers and our friends Khoa and Bo hiked the great Mt. Alava. Being in Nu'uuli, we had to travel far to get to the start of the trail in Vatia. We walked, we took two 'aiga buses, we walked some more (and by walked I mean tramped up an extremely steep road that just kept going and going and winding and winding) and we finally got picked up by some gracious Samoans that went out of their way to take us to the base of the trail. Khoa and I were lucky enough to sit in the cab of the truck and chat with "Big Mike" and Lema, who told us about their village and life in American Samoa. The generosity and friendliness of Samoans will never cease to amaze me.  As they dropped us off, they made sure to tell us to be safe on our hike, and to come visit whenever we wanted. Total travel time: 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Tramping up the super steep road, surrounded by jungle!

 Click on this picture to make it big. We started at the red arrow, followed the red line up the mountain trail, and kept going pass the yellow arrow. You'll also notice that this is a National Park Service hike. There is a National Park in American Samoa!

We took a few sips of water, tightened our backpacks, took a deep breath, and then we were off. I started sweating about a minute in. The first 30 minutes or so are spent going up, up, UP, and UP. This is not a hike for the weak - I was so happy to have my hiking shoes on, mainly for the traction. 

Khoa, Bo, Courtney, and I took the lead and charged ahead. The trail went from being intense to extreme. For the next 45-60 minutes, we had to climb stairs and ladders (complete with ropes to hold onto so you don't fall). Talk about a workout. My heart was beating so fast, and my body was literally glistening and dripping with sweat.

Our view, halfway up the mountain...not too shabby, eh?

After climbing ladder after ladder, some going up, some going down, we made it to the top. And what a relief that summit was. There was an open fale to rest in and rest we did. I was so tired, yet so exhilarated at the same time. My clothes were drenched, my legs were muddy, and my heart was happy from all the cardio!
The view of the island, harbors, and villages was breathtaking. You could see for miles and it really hit me that I'm living on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean. Fruit bats sailed around us, flowers and trees swayed in the breeze, and the peace and quiet of the summit relaxed us before our hike down.
The flowers here are so beautiful!

Hot, sweaty, and exhausted WTers!

There are hibiscus of every color!

Hiking down was a breeze, but we still had a long way to go to get back to Nu'uuli. When we finally got on a bus, we all took a huge sigh of relief and a big gulp of water. It felt good to sit and feel the cool breeze against our sweaty faces.

On our hike down, we turned around and our jaws dropped...we were all the way up there?!
We had a great day together and as we were 3 minutes from the school, my day wouldn't have been complete without my first "I almost got eaten by a dog" experience. I was leading the group and as I walked by a group of trucks, two dogs came around the corner about two feet from my achy shins. Not only did they bark, but they snarled, and bared their teeth, and basically scared the living daylights out of me. Thanks to the quick reaction of my friends, they Halu'd the heck out of those dogs. Who knows what would have happened if I would have been alone. Thanks, friends! 2 minutes later, as I was trying to get my heart pumping again, we laughed. Only in American Samoa.

After a cold, wonderful shower, I went to dinner with a few WT'ers and Khoa. We all devoured our food because hiking really makes you hungry! I had a delicious fish fajita salad and it hit the spot. I've been warned against eating chicken here - especially from restaurants. Word on the street is that it is mystery meat/aka it could be dog or something else. Ew. But back to the salad! It was incredible, and I can't wait to eat it again. The last thing to make the day even more incredible? Walking back to Nu'uuli under the bright, amazing sky of stars, and then having a McFlurry from McDonald's (haha).

Hitching to the Deluxe Cafe w/ Lauren next to me. Riding in the back of a truck at night is priceless!


mom said...

Your description made me feel like I was on this amazing hike with you. What great pictures, Quinn!

Anonymous said...

What an adventure! Really great pictures Quinn. Thanks for sharing this experience. My heart was pumping just reading! Intense.

jovan said...

Quinn, I felt like I was there! Love the pics! Ahhhhhhhh dogs!!!!

Anonymous said...

you look so happy!!! These pictures are BEAUTIFUL Quinnbo, and you are positively GLOWING from the joy of it all. That hike doesn't sound like something baby legs could handle. uh uh NOOOO way.

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