Although I have improved significantly over the past few years, I'm still not as good of a beach bum as my Mom or Sister. These sun goddesses can lay in the sun for hours on end. I'm good for a couple hours of sun with countless layers of sunscreen before I have to transition to a couple hours of shade. And after that, I have to get moving.
On Rarotonga, there was a large hill/small mountain near our accommodation that was listed as a 'strenuous' hike and offers sweeping views of the West Coast of the island. Perfect! I"ll take it!
I also needed to get away from the beach time because I was BURNING through the first Hunger Games book I bought in the airport on the way there. I was having to put it down intermittently to try to pace myself so I wouldn't read it all in a couple days then have nothing to read. So to burn off some energy and to peel myself away from my book, I decided to go on this hike..
Oops. I mean 'We'. 'We' wanted to burn off some energy and go on this hike. Tera was very clear that we all did this hike and we all loved it, even though it was steep and hot. and we all thought the views were incredible. I'm sure you'll agree
The top of that hill is the destination.
I set out We set out with a picture of the page from the guide book that had a vague description of how to get to the trailhead. Turn at the church and you'll get to another road. Check.
That's where my guidebook stopped being helpful.
Once I got to this point, I started wandering looking for the 'path that leads up the hill, eventually to an abandoned pineapple plantation with some old terraces. From there find a dirt path that leads up the mountain' or something like that.
Luckily I found a local girl that pointed me in the right direction, but things were still pretty murky for a while. Turns our the real directions should have been: Turn at the church, then pass this cemetery:
continue up the road:
Pass this luscious garden:
Turn left at the Goat:
Then keep wandering up an increasingly overgrown road until there are only two options, one of which says 'no entry'. So walk through the weeds for a little while and then you'll see the trailhead! EASY!
And this was the trailhead.....
Clearly not a well-traveled track. There was a sign-in book just inside the tunnel opening there. There had been two people the day before me. The people before them were a few days before, and they wrote that they didn't finish... not a good sign.
The trail at its best. not really joking.
These were just growing wild in the jungle there! Crazy!
Finally got a view of the coast after a while. Maybe 1/3 of the way up.
A little higher now!
And the path just kept getting better. this was actually the trail. The worst part was the underbrush. It was actually quite scratchy, and was tearing up my legs.
So after about an hour and a half of a steep, slippery hike through the wet jungle, I get to this:
I was actually pretty excited about this. My little guide book never mentioned that you needed ropes and bolted-in pegs to scale the rocky face at the top of the mountain. I had assumed the trail would wind around the back side of it or something, but nope! Straight up it!
And this was the view I was rewarded with:
Feeling good about the hike.
Zooming in on the lagoon. Our place was somewhere along here I think.
The next mountain over. I thought about heading on over to the top of that one, but there is actually a huge drop-off between where I was and that next green peak on the left.
There were some really cool rocky outcroppings across the valley.
Maybe the nicest picture of the hike. Looking down on the canopy of the forest was great. It looked so smooth in some places.
I was basically on a big plateau on the top of this. On each side, it just dropped off in vertical cliffs. Southwest view.
Climbing back down the cliffs. Look how scared I was.
This was a serious trail!
Peg ladder built into the rocks.
This trail was pretty rough.It definitely wore me out... oops... I mean us. It wore us all out. And anywhere above that I typed 'I', I really meant 'we' : ) And since we're still running with that story, I'll just say that ONE of us fell down on the way down and cut his leg and smacked his knee. It was one of those ugly falls too, with limbs going every direction before finally collapsing in a twisted pile headfirst down the hill, laying on your back. Luckily it wasn't a fall off the cliff, but on the rocky wet trail in the jungle below. It was so steep and loose that every step was precarious, and combined with being out of view from all the ferns along the trail, there was a lot of slipping and sliding the whole way down.
And since we're apparently in full disclosure mode, I'll also admit that one of us got temporarily lost on the way down too... All of a sudden I realized that I had just passed that same tree about 5 minutes before... then a lot of things started looking familiar and then I was at a dead end. I had to walk back and forth across a 200-yard section of trail about 8 times before I finally found the trail down. Still, all that said, it was a great use of 4 hours that day.
I'd We'd do it again.