Monday, July 21, 2008

The Old Man and the Kauna'oa

Chrissie and Lindsey wanted to hike down to Old Man by the Sea. The Old Man is a huge cropped out coral limestone rock that has a profile of an old man located in the village of Talofofo, Saipan. It usually takes between 30 to 45 minutes to hike down through the forest to the beach. I knew this was going to be a muddy weekend hike since it had been raining the past few days.

The muddy trail through the forestLots of native trees
I think I forgot to tell the ladies that there were some significant elevation to gain and lose requiring some rope work in between the telling of stories and warnings against paper wasps, slippery soil and barbed wire fences. It was all good though because from our last hike down at Forbidden Island, I gathered that I was with two troopers that can take it. I pointed out some trees of note on the trail especially native plumerias, native hibiscus, Pandanus and Fish-kill trees.

Fish-kill tree (Barringtonia asiatica) seedlings
Pretty leaf litter - Barringtonia flower
Native hibiscus flower: Hau to the Hawaiians like Chrissie, Banalo to the Chamorros,
and Thespesia populnea to those who can remember its scientific name

We found this weird tree hollow that looked like it spilled mulch

Weird looking mulch
A closer look revealed some Fagot (Neisosperma oppositifolia) seeds

The culprits- lots of big hermit crabs or Umang hiding in the tree hollow

I am a fun guy 'cause of my fungi

I was pretty disappointed though to see trash bags that were apparently left after a recent beach clean up. A few years ago, I joined the Division of Environmental Quality on their annual clean up of Old Man by the Sea, and my friends Peter, Richard and I planned to be the last ones out to make sure that none of the bags full of marine debris were left on the beach or on the trail. Sure we were stuck with the heaviest bags that no body wanted to carry (like the bags full of bottles for example), but we got everything out. Don’t worry though. I already made a call to our friends at DEQ and they’ll make sure that these bags are hauled out of the trail. Old Man by the Sea is on the Eastern side or the side that is the Pacific Ocean so you see a lot of marine debris there all the time.

Typical marine Debris at the beach
I found a kukui nut that the Hawaiians make seed leis out of.
I’ve never seen the trees here on Saipan, so this will take some investigating.

Another Hawaiian nut that needs investigating! Hahaha! Love ya, Chrissie!
Some craziness at the beach
Lindsey looking pretty with her shell collection.
We also found a lot of Hamburger beans (Macuna sp.)

A family fishing

A pretty and friendly girl who shared the beach with us

The Stoic Old Man

Memorable cliffs

I noticed some Dodder (Cassytha filiformis) near the beach and asked Chrissie to show us how to braid some into a lei. These plants are parasitic vines that are green, yellow or orange in color and they grow on other plants usually near the shore or on cliffs. In Hawaii, they have what's called the Native Dodder (Cuscuta sandwichiana) or Kauna’oa, and they make them into golden headdresses or horseshoe-style shoulder leis.

The Hawaiian island of Lana’i has the honor of having the Kauna’oa lei as their State Lei. I think that’s pretty neat since most leis are made out of flowers. Legend says that the goddess Pele fled to Lana’i from her angry sister, the goddess of the sea, and dropped her Kauna’oa lei at the beach. Soon, golden vines started growing on the shores of the island, an accidental gift from the goddess.
Chrissie consentrating seriously on her instructions

Close ups of the Kauna'oa twisting technique

We didn’t have enough time for Chrissie to finish a whole lei, so she just showed us how to make an anklet instead. I think I will try to make a head lei or mwarmwar with these the next time there is a need of one. I’ve seen some pictures online that are really beautifully done. I just need a little practice and take notes as to where I can easily find Kauna'oa.

I think I will try to make a head lei or mwarmwar with these the next time there is a need of one. I’ve seen some pictures online that are really beautifully done.

We spent about two hours exploring at the Old Man by the Sea and we also planned a snorkeling excursion at Wing Beach that same day. There was a little worry from the ladies on the way back since they knew that whatever elevation we lost on the muddy trail would need to be gained again by climbing via rope in muddy conditions.
What did you get me into?
Here's Lindsey, a bit worried about slipping but she did it!

In the end, I knew they'd both agree that the sweat, mud cakes and slippage would all be worth the adventure. I had fun Chrissie and Lindsey!

Ti napu.

The Beachcomber


Mai said...

I miss going on cool adventures with you! Thanks for sharing more of your lore!

Whimsy Peddler said...

Old Man is full of treasures. My favorite finds were always Hau/ Banalo. Unpredictable, simple but very exquisite. I will, of course, always remember the fagot seeds.

Glad you are sharing your knowledge with those around you, in person and in blog.

Lewie Tenorio said...

(On your post below on coffee) Didn't the Japanese farm coffee on Tapotchao before the war? I've heard there are still coffee trees up there left over from the old plantation.

Sean said...

I never cease to be amazed by how vast your knowledge is, BC.

Last night I had a dream that I found an old school textbook entitled "Lore" and I remember thinking in the dream that I should give it to you!

Your knowledge is a gift. Thanks for sharing it.

The Beachcomber said...

You're all too kind. Thanks.

I reread your blog entry entitled Marianas Coffee Trail Run and I am pretty sure that’s the trail where I spotted some coffee trees growing. This illustrates the excuses I have in not joining you in your runs- too fast to see the plants nei!