P-MAN XVI Update # 31 - Casey, Derek, and Joe hike Arakebesan. Casey tries out for the circus.
14 April 2014
Two or three weeks ago, a local resident of Meyungs, a village on the island of Arakebesan, told Joe that he knew where an aircraft was on one of the hills of Arakebesan. Ever since then, Derek and I have been jouncing for a hit-and-run mission to see what's on that hill. Dennis (the man in Meyungs who told us of the aircraft) has been difficult to contact ever since then. At one point, Joe even stalked him outside of his work. We thought we had a day set aside where he could show us what he had found, but some stupid typhoon got in the way. So on our last day here, when we couldn’t dive, Derek and I couldn’t wait any longer. Who needs a guide anyway? At this point we longed for a mission uncorrupted by media, VIPs, or science and technology. Therefore today we threw off the bonds of cameras and logic and headed into the hills with just Joe, betel nut, and water to see what we could see.
From a distance, this hill didn’t look like much to conquer. As we drove onto Arakebesan Island, we realised that this hill was actually quite a HILL. Driving through a small neighbourhood to the end of the road where we intended to park the car and start our trek, a local man yelled at us in Palauan to ask us what we were doing. Joe explained in local Palauan that, “Blah, blah, blah…..more Palauan words I don’t understand….skoogie.” And the man replied back, “Oh, BentProp?” And feeling stupid, we all said, “Yep. BentProp.” He said he had found some aluminium pieces that he thought belonged to an aircraft, which he subsequently produced and let us keep. Derek, Joe, and I thought we were on a hot trail, so we kitted up with our packs and descended into the jungle ether.
Come to find out, even though the island of Arakebesan is quite populated, there is a healthy amount of untamed jungle there. Up the ridge. Down the ridge. Up the ridge. Down to the shore. Up the ridge again. Damn, there was a lot of jungle on that hill. Joe even once spoke the words that can strike fear into the heart of any BentPropper: “Oh my, there is so much poison tree in here.” So through the poison tree we proceeded up and down the hill. Up near the top of the hill, where the most sunlight is, we found “sticky vine.” “Sticky vine” is a very polite way of saying “Tear-the-crap-out-of-you-and-your-clothes-thorny-vines.” It’s like walking into a giant rose bush with no flowers that has been growing wild for hundreds of years.
But I can’t complain too much about the sticky vine because it probably saved my life. As we spread out near the top to canvass the circumference of the summit, we hit a dramatic steep cliff that was a sheer rock drop-off of about 150 feet. With the jungle as thick as it was, I didn’t see the drop-off until I was...well,...over the drop-off. But luckily, sticky vine had hold of my arms, legs, pelvis, chest and everything else, so I didn’t fall over the edge. Instead I got a great view of Ngerchaol island and Koror as I lay there suspended in the most thorny, painful, trapeze net ever. Derek got a good picture of the view:
During all of this, Joe had completed his trail around the mid-level of the hill, made it to the next village over, and come back for us. Humility is a dish Joe can serve to all of us.
Some time after I got un-hooked from the sticky vine and back on solid ground, we decided to call it a day and come back next year with Dennis. Derek and I had gotten our fix for a jungle adventure on P-MAN XVI. We found some evidence that may or may not be indicative of an aircraft jettisoning its excess when going down, so we would just have to consider that a success for today. So, in all, we found one snake, one big ass cliff, a few acres of sticky vine, a mountain full of poison tree, a great view, and no lollygaggers — Mission Accomplished! It was off to Bem Ermii for post-jungle shakes, and back to the house to start the pack-out for leaving tomorrow.
Photo © Casey Doyle 2014