November 13, 2003

scuba, beaches, waterfalls and stitches

ritidian beach
Greetings from Guam,

Well, most of what I've been up to since my last update is pretty much just more of the same (hiking and snorkeling), although I've had a couple of more unusual moments as well (stitches and scuba class). I'll start by writing about the first week after I last wrote and get to the more unusual parts after that.

On Friday a friend and I drove up to the northernmost tip of the island for the afternoon. The wind and waves were pretty strong so we didn't get in the water there, but enjoyed watching the powerful waves crash over the reef. It was also fun to explore the beach area a bit and then check out the view from the cliffs above. On the way back we stopped
ritidian point
at Gun Beach where the waves were also quite big. I followed a trail on around the point to the next beach and back and got nice and wet along the way. Getting wet is never really a problem here though since the water temperature is pretty much always in the 80s.

On Sabbath afternoon we took a short hike to Melolo Falls which is located on the eastern side of the island. There is a nice big swimming hole there where you can jump in from the top of the waterfall, which most of us did several times. In the evening the Agat church had a games night which I went to. Several people asked me to bring settlers so I did and ended up teaching a couple more people how to play which was fun. One or two of the new players are thinking of getting the game themselves now which
gun beach with waves
will be handy since there were actually too many players there on Saturday night.

On Sunday I went and helped out at a church car wash in the morning and then tried to go snorkeling with a friend in the afternoon. I say tried because the waves and current ended up being a bit too strong for us to safely swim out past the reef at Gun Beach. We just enjoyed swimming and walking along the beach instead which was still pretty fun. We walked up the beach and then got in the water and rode along in the current parallel to shore which was moving fast enough at one point that we actually passed someone who was walking on the beach. In the evening we played some games before I headed back to my apartment.

jumping off melolo falls

The following Friday I hiked down to the beach near AWR in the afternoon. I got a couple of friends from work to come along and one of them showed us a trail that was a bit more direct then the way I had been previously. Down at the beach we enjoyed some snorkeling and then the other two guys who were with me headed back up the hill to the radio station ahead of me. They wanted to get back for one reason or another but I figured I'd explore the beach a little more before hiking back up the hill.

After checking out some tidal pools in the area I noticed that there was a decent sized stream emptying into the ocean just around the point from where we had been snorkeling. From the beach the stream appeared to be coming from the direction of the radio station
so I decided to follow it into the jungle to see if I could maybe find another way back to the station. I was surprised to round a corner early in the hike and come to the first in what turned out to be a series of small waterfalls. Since they were all fairly small I kept making my way up the stream, all the time getting closer to the AWR antennas that came into view from time to time. Just when I was thinking it couldn't be much further to the antenna field I came to a proper waterfall that was probably around 30 feet high. I was pretty surprised to see a waterfall of this size since I hadn't heard of any waterfalls this close to the station before.

Up until this point I had really been enjoying the hike just taking in the surroundings. I'd seen two grey eels in the stream as well as a bunch of crayfish along the way and the
this creature seems to be related to the lobster family
hiking had actually been easier than it was on the trail we used to get down to the beach. As I hiked I offered up the occasional prayer of thanksgiving for such a great afternoon and also asked for God's continued protection as I hiked. Just before I reached the waterfall I had been thinking that I should be careful since I was off the regular trail and by myself too. Well, as it turned out I wasn't careful enough and I started to climb the bigger waterfall. From the ground I thought I could see an easy route that would let me avoid leaving the stream to thrash through the sword grass. The first part of the route proved to be pretty easy but part way up it got too tricky to try on my own and I decided it wasn't worth the risk to continue. Just after I started to come back down, the rock I was standing on started to move and my heart leapt into my throat as I felt myself start to fall. I
there are tons of rock climbing crabs near the beaches
remember sliding while grabbing for handholds for a few feet, then landing on my feet on a ledge for a split second before falling backwards into spaceĀ…

When I landed I was obviously stunned but was relieved to find that I was still OK. I was wearing a backpack at the time and I think I landed mostly on my back although I'm not entirely sure. I did get a cut on my forehead which bled some but stopped after I applied some pressure. Apart from that I got several scrapes and a couple of big bruises, most of which I didn't really notice until later. After stopping the bleeding I said another prayer and took a few deep breaths before planning my next move. After considering the options I decided to try and climb up the steep bank next to the waterfall which was covered in sword grass. This proved to be rather difficult but not impossible and once I
i was about half way up this waterfall when i fell
reached the top of the ridge the vegetation thinned out considerably so the rest of the walk to the AWR property was easy. I still ended up taking a couple of wrong turns though once I got inside the AWR fence and had to back track before eventually making it to the station. The vegetation is very thick in some areas and I hadn't been in that part of the property before so didn't know the best route through it.

When I got to the station I took a shower using the garden hose and then one of my friends who lives at the radio station called a doctor from the SDA clinic. My friend drove me up to the clinic where we met the doctor who cleaned me up and put in 6 stitches plus 2 deeper ones, all on my forehead. He said that the cut went clear to the
we followed the stream down to the ocean
bone but that I would be just fine with some time to heal. I'm just so thankful that it wasn't any worse. It's been almost 2 weeks since I fell now and I've already had the stitches out for a week. I'm almost all healed up with just a small scar and a couple of lingering bruises remaining. I have been very fortunate to not have any broken bones in my life. The last time I even had stitches was when I was about 6 years old so visiting the doctor for "repairs" is not something I'm familiar with. God is good!!

Well, the Sabbath morning after my fall I went to church and had to explain my bandages to everyone. In the afternoon I just took a long nap and then in the evening a couple of people came over to play settlers. On Sunday I originally had other plans but ended up
my first experience breathing from a scuba tank
staying home to rest instead. For the rest of the week I was fine at work but certainly had some sore spots and couldn't sit in certain positions. :)

This last weekend I took a couple of friends back to the waterfall where I fell. So far I haven't found anyone at the station that had been there before. This time we took a machete and started to make a little trail through the areas where the sword grass is thick. Using the way that we went this time it's pretty easy to get down to the stream at a point downstream from the waterfall. We followed the stream all the way down to the beach and enjoyed a swim in the ocean before following it back up to the waterfall. We then found our way through the sword grass to the top of the falls from which you could see
looking into the fisheye observatory from outside
out over the ocean. On the way back we decided to continue following the stream for a while but as it was getting late we stopped eventually and took a more direct route back to the station.

On Sunday I worked so that I could take Tuesday off for scuba class. Since most of the others in the class are teachers they had a holiday for Veterans Day. We finally got to do our first real dive on Tuesday which was a lot of fun. After practicing some skills we spent about 30 minutes at a depth of around 30 feet. We did the diving near the underwater observatory called fisheye and at one point we could swim up to the windows and wave at the tourists who were looking out at us. It was really fun and I'm looking forward to more diving on Sunday. I was also able to finish up the book portion of the course this week by taking (and passing) the final test, so I should be done with the certification before too much longer.

Well, I think that's all the news from here for this time. I've had a little too much excitement this month, but I'm still enjoying myself here on Guam.

Talk to you later,


Posted by andrew on November 13, 2003

Nice pics! The Melolo falls jump looks fun. The underwater pics are interesting - what's the scale on that "related to a lobster" creature? Well... if you ate meat I'd ask you to enjoy some fresh seafood for me...

Don't know if I told you this, but someone cut down the flag pole out on the island... can you believe that?


Posted by: lauren 'master of all he surveys' smith on November 14, 2003

That's too bad about the flag pole...was it actually sawed through then?

The "lobster like creature" was in about 12 feet of water and I dove down to take the picture. It seemed pretty big at the time and I wasn't even sure if it was alive at first but it started moving around as I watched. The "body" area is probably about the size of my whole hand including fingers while the white spike like things were each well over a foot long. There are a couple more shots of this creature in the photo albums if you want to see another angle or more detail.


Posted by: Andrew on November 14, 2003