The trip began in usual “Boonie Stomp” fashion (which may or may not be true because I have only experienced one other “Boonie Stomp”, but it was the same as last Saturday so we’ll stick with it). Michael, Akashi, Wilson, and I left the dorms in the morning right around 8:30 a.m. heading to our pre-hike ritual, McDonald’s. From there we made it to the briefing, and then after were making the trip to the start of the stomp which was a located at the north eastern part of the island.
This hike started in different fashion from last weeks in that we went right in to the jungle foliage, and I didn’t feel like the trail was hugging me (but don’t worry the trail ahead makes up for it, or should I say the lack of trail). We made our way descending through the rocky jungle landscape. Using vines, trees, and the occasional stationery rope to help maintain our balance, we moved on a constant decline on our way to the Pacific. We moved at a slow pace especially with a new enemy entering the game. Last week we had to watch our feet for puncture root (large patches of black thorns, think nature’s barbed wire, seemed to be randomly dispersed through the area, they are said to penetrate all shoe soles an exception being army boots). This week we had to watch our hands and what we used as a railing (think about watching for gum or such things on hand railings). We weren’t watching for gum but for the two inch thorns that a number of trees wore (now, I’d definitely take the gum). Every one was very careful though to not have to learn this lesson the hard way. Despite the lingering dangers we made it safe and sound to the ocean.
After reaching the ocean, it was time to take our nice, relaxing, ocean walk. As I said before, we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. We traveled out to what seemed like an ideal rocky ocean side photo locale. Its amenities included a couple of blow holes (the movement of the waves below the holes caused air to be forced up through). This obviously led to a lot of inappropriate innuendos (even when I didn’t try they just kept coming out). We hung out there for a bit and then decided to continue the opposite direction a long side the ocean with some of the more experienced stompers as some returned up the trail away from the ocean. Much of the way (as opposed to trail which is usually cleared and marked) had us stepping on jagged rock beds much of the time covered in coarse vegetation. Ahead we encountered the aforementioned drop offs and the mix of vines and thick brush. It was here that we had no choice but to be “one with the earth.” Although the good thing about it was there was definitely no confusion as to which was the right trail. It was very simple. Follow where it looks like somebody just tore their way through the bushes.
We finally arrived at the furthest point from the start about two and half hours in to the hike. Many got out their snacks during the pit stops. After some time here, we made our way back towards the trail leading to our truck. On the way back, we stopped and climbed down to take a much deserved swim. The climb down to the pool was a little unnerving with a jump down on to a boulder below. The pool was basically an indention in the rock face with large boulders in place to form somewhat of a horseshoe shape. The pool really sucked (literally). I guess that’s what happens when your pool has ocean currents running right through it. We went through a constant cycle of relax, “uh oh here comes a big one, GRAB SOMETHING!”, to relax again, etc. After cooling off at the pool, it was time to leave the ocean behind (as much as you can on a small island surrounded by a big ocean). We made our way back to the original trail towards the start. Before we got off the trail about midway up, one of our guides, who owned part of the land we were on, was serving up some grapefruit and tangerines found in the surrounding area. The fruits were welcomed, especially by the many who had extinguished their water supplies. From there, our citrus high carried us to the finish. We had our complimentary lemonade (seemingly a staple of the finish, prepared by one of our guides in a large 5 gallon cooler), took one last photo, got in the truck and were on our way. Stomp # 2 is in the books.
Don’t be afraid to step outside of what you think is your comfort zone. You may find out that you’ve sold your self short. If someone would have explained this trip to me before hand, I may have not decided to take it. I am glad I did though because I learned that when your standing in the thick of it, covered in vines, surrounded by jagged edges (waiting for your misstep), with an occasional drop off, covered in dirt and a few bleeding scrapes (battle scars), it’s really not bad (which is something I would not have guessed from the outside looking in). Don’t underestimate your ability to handle new situations. You’ll end up watching others have all the fun.
"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." ~Richard P. Feynman