Day 226, Year 1: In Search of a Waterfall
Date: Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Weather: Periods of Rain Mixed with Sunshine
Location: Daniel’s Bay, Nuka Hiva Island, Marquesas

Now I know why they would do a Survivor series here. Beautiful, beautiful place, but rough and rocky terrain. There were a few times today when I wasn’t sure I was going to survive the walk to the waterfall, but we all made it with no injuries and it was spectacular.

At 9 AM, Candice and Ed of Stillpoint (sailing out of Bellingham, Washington), Randy and Sheri of Procyon, and Mark and I head off in our dinghies to the next bay over to begin the hike to the waterfall. The guide books are very vague about directions and most indicate that the walk should be about three hours round trip. Our trip took us five hours round trip, and I felt like we were moving as fast. There were problems, however, because of the recent rains. On Sunday we had 24 hours of torrential rain in this part of the world, and the path to the waterfall was flooded and muddy, as well as rocky. This slowed us down quite a bit. We also lost the path on the way up and waded back and forth across the raging little river many times before finding out way again.

When we landed and tied up the dinghies, we found ourselves in a coconut grove with lots and lots of coconut crabs. These are huge crabs that dig holes in the sandy mud away from the beach. We hear they are good eating, but today we just had to move on. We next came to a place where we could see a house on the other side of the river. There was a man and woman waving to us to come across to their side. This was the first of many river crossings during the day. The couple had a neat looking little home with beautiful plants all around. The woman’s name was Monet and the man’s name was Marcus?something. They spoke no English, but they tried to show us with hand directions how to get to the waterfall. We walked on along a very wide grassy path and past two other homes and a little church surrounded by the most beautiful plants I have ever seen. The path got wetter and wilder and eventually we found ourselves at the edge of the river again with no place to go. So we walked in the river, hugging one shore and then the other trying to find our way. We were doing this while trying to make sure that the cameras we brought with us didn’t get wet which required a lot of rock hugging in the water. We finally had to get out of the water and climb the bank as the river was getting too deep. It took us a while, but Candice finally found the real path. We continued on, slopping through mud and rocks. We came to an area that was once the location of a village and marveled at the stone platforms and structures. By now we are deep into a rain forest and have discovered that some nice people before us have left stone cairns to mark the way. We still had to do a couple of more river crossings, but eventually we made it to the waterfall. The cliffs around us rose straight up for hundreds and hundreds of feet, and the waterfall appeared to fall straight from the sky. It really was spectacular and certainly worth the two and a half hours walk. We all jumped into the pool of water, swam across to the huge boulders that were between us and the actual location where the water was falling. We climbed the rocks, but only Ed was brave enough to jump in and fight the current to get to the final pool where the water was pounding down. We had to leave our cameras on the shore, so we couldn’t get pictures here . . . but we will forever have the memories.

We walked back and stayed on the path this time which required few river crossings. This was a good thing and Mark and I were tiring quickly. The age spans today ranged from 44 to 46 to 48 to 51, and then to 59 and 63. We were definitely on the upper end and we could feel it! On the way back, Mark and I stopped to talk to a man who appeared to live in one of the houses we had passed on our way up to the waterfall. We were admiring the ancient looking mortal and pestle sitting on the rock wall in front of his house when he saw us. He immediately came out with a papaya for us and then went back to get us a pamplemouse (grapefruit). He was probably in his upper seventies and could speak broken English. He explained that the mortal and pestle was for grinding taro root. He explained that he lives in the main town on the island, about three miles from here by water, but comes here during the week to work to raise his food. His wife stays in Taiohae, and he travels back and forth by motorboat during the week. His name was Simione and we had a hard time breaking ourselves away. He exuded such kindness. If we hadn’t been with others, we would probably have spent all afternoon with him.

As it was, we didn’t get back to Windbird until about 2:30 in the afternoon and we both needed a rest. Candice and Ed were kind enough to have us over for dinner tonight and it was a wonderful treat to not have to cook dinner. Procyon will be heading to the north side of this island tomorrow morning, and Stillpoint and we will be heading to Taiohae. We might take time in the morning to go ashore once more to see if we can find Daniel and his wife Antoinette. We did not find them in the other bay today.

I told Mark today that I feel like I am in a fairy land. The mountains are so beautiful and as you walk on land, the plants are just unbelievable. Fruit drips from all of the trees and every tree and bush has blossoms. Every tropical plant that is sold in nurseries in the US grows here, but here these plants are larger than life. By this time next week, we will be on our way to the Tuamotus. We will need the break of the passage to get ready to see what wonders will come our way next.

060531 Day 226 Marquesas, Nuka Hiva–Daniel's Bay Waterfall Trek