P-MAN XVI Update #06 - How a padlock can (temporarily) spoil a nice hike
20 March 2014
Casey Doyle made it in late last night from Okinawa. All of us are a bit jealous because Okinawa's in the same time zone as Palau, so Casey doesn’t have to adjust to a new time. So no need to give him time to adjust. Casey plugged right in and after briefing this morning we went to an area of jungle close to where we were yesterday, but an area yet to be explored by us. The plan was to spend about five hours moving from one point to the next. This ended up taking us about seven hours, but we made it safely and did discover some new sites, the most interesting of which is an old Japanese microbiological lab -- or what is left of it, at least. Our plan is to return to the area in the future and explore some other points of interest.
We had two vans today, which in theory made it easy to move from point to point. We dropped one van off at our planned extraction point and drove the other to the insertion point. When we finished we'd be able to pick up the first van and return to the start point to pick up the other one. Great plan, except when the first van gets locked on the wrong side of a gate after you leave it. The van we are using this year doesn’t have the same markings as last year's, and was mistaken as an unknown by the folks whose property we parked the van on. So after dragging ourselves through the jungle for most of the day we finished the hike to discover that our van was trapped. Cell coverage was sketchy, so Casey and I gathered up some water and began the trek a couple of miles up the road to where our other van was parked. We had just started to grumble on our extended hike about getting our boots wet in the river we just crossed when a nice man in a Bongo truck picked us up. Casey and I happily jumped in the back and hitched a ride to our own ride. When we finally got back to the other guys, we found out that they had managed to get through on the phone and someone would be out to unlock the gate in a few minutes.
Casey picked Krämers for dinner so after cleaning up and debriefing, off we went. Tonight Flip Colmer arrives. Pat and I are departing shortly to pick him up at the airport. Tomorrow is part administrative and part dive warm-up. Tomorrow morning Casey and I will be planning for an event on Peleliu later in the mission, while others gather things, run errands, and work. In the afternoon we're off to get a dive or two in. Most of us don’t have a chance to dive when we're not in Palau, so often it has been a year since we've used SCUBA. Tomorrow the intent will be to just reacquaint ourselves with our dive gear on relatively basic dives, which will feel nice after two long days in the jungle.
- Derek Abbey, with all photos © Sean Richardson 2014