Cabin Boy Special blog
Hi All "8:55.1S 140:05.9W"
[note - there are 2 blogs of todays' date - in no particular order]
The next day Simon and I prepared our expedition bags with the following:
- 1 liter red wine
- 1 half pouch of dried mango
- 1 package of Chorizo sausages
- 6 liters of water
- 2 hammocks
- 1 water purification system
- 20 feet of rope
- 1 tin Pork and Beans
-and the basics like matches, knives, and some cheesy literature that doubled as toilet roll (this wasn’t a tea and crumpets sort of excursion). We thought we were all set for adventure, little did we know that our rations and supplies could hardly preserve life atop the inhospitable Marquesan mountaintops.
Our goal was to climb the mountain without the aid of any roads or paths, we wanted to pave the way through thick, bug-infested jungle the way that the explorers of old would have done.
After the first steps on shore the sweat started to trickle down our backs, it was 0930 and the sun was quickly heating up the island. Simon and I realized quickly that the mission wasn’t going to be an easy one but there was something driving us, something instinctual and masculine that forced us higher and higher through the village until we met our first major feat.
Past the outskirts of the village, at the base of the mountain we reached a 10 meter wall of stone that rose vertically into the upper canopy of a now virgin jungle. To most this would have seemed a depressing fate however the BlueSky cabin boys were eager and quickly fashioned a plan.
“Let’s tie some ropes and hoist our bags up the face” I shouted with excitement.
“Yea I’ll start climbing up, pass that line to me” Simon responded equally enthused.
And as our packs slithered up the rock wall my “inner man” roared with satisfaction. Our adventure had begun.
Still energized by our first triumph over nature we trotted through the untainted wilderness with great agility.
“How bad-ass is this” I croaked between pants while whipping the sweat from my brow.
“Yea this is really great” my little Swedish friend replied.
Moments later our joy vanished as we looked up from the base of the waterfall only to find an overwhelmingly shocking obstacle; if the first rock wall was a rubber ducky then this was the Titanic. For a few moments Simon and I stood motionless, silent, gazing up at an impossible near vertical rock face littered with jagged rocks, scorpion holes, loose vegetation and prickly vines. Without words the ropes were out and bags were being tied together as I pushed up the Cliffside and after a many hours, torrents of sweat and a handful of near-death experiences we reached the next phase of our journey.
After a rigorous journey up the cliff we started heading towards were we thought the waterfall might be and some time later we started to actually hear the sound of flowing water. Victory! (or so we thought).
The sound of tricking perfection was up ahead but the route there was far from the yellow-brick road that we were hoping for. A muddy 60 degree slope led down into the forest below and to us it seemed the only way we could get down. We decided that we would just slide down on our bottoms, this, however, was not a good idea. From the word “go” we were sliding uncontrollably into the abyss snagging razor grass and disrupting creepy-crawlies the whole way down. Five minutes of horrible pain and anguish later landed us next to an idyllic little stream. Because of necessity more than choice we chose the stream as a lunch stop and a space to clean the blood and thorns from our wounds.
There was no way that we were going to go back up the hell-hole from whence we came and so once the swarm of mosquitoes started to muster we set off up the river bed. Our natural path quickly led us to another ridiculous overhang and after a few moments of potty-mouth banter we chose to go up the right side of the cliff, little did we know that this would later lead us to the most demanding part of our adventure, The Devil’s Fanny.
Slowly we made our way through the jungle, up and up over ledges, through thick bush and bamboo forests. It was at this point that we realized that a handful of dried mango was hardly appropriate for sustaining adventurers posed with such a challenge. We crawled along, and when I say “crawled” I don’t mean that the going was only slow but that we were actually on our hands and knees chopping through near-impenetrable vegetation.
We have reached the ridge! And the view is incredible. From here it looks like a nice little goat path the whole way to the top. At this point spirits could not be more high.
What was a once a perfect little goat path has turned into the most treacherous path ever designed, in front of us lies a massive rock wall that overhangs and to either side of it there are drop offs of over a thousand feet. At the base of this rock are the remnants of a poorly constructed ladder that surely led its builders to some horrible fate.
Simon and I decided that at this point we could not be stopped, we had covered so much ground and climbed up many places were a descent would not be possible, no, we had to press on.
Simon scouted around the corner and soon vanished behind the rock, I knew that if just one rock slipped that he would fall hundreds of feet before even hitting another object. I sat perched on a fallen palm and waited for the scream.
After about an hour Simon emerged from the top of the rock and we hoisted the bags up.
What Simon said is far from being suitable for such a respectable blog but he basically said how getting up was the most difficult, dangerous, and stupid thing he had ever done in his life (We subsequently named this place the Devils Fanny). I was next and I was not excited. My sense of adventure had vanished and my “inner man” had transformed into “inner boy”, that boy wanted a cold beer and a massage, instead he was being asked to scale the tropical Everest.
I won’t go into detail about my trip around the “fanny” but I will tell you that it involved tears, sweat, and blood.
[Editor’s note: this is the “ridge” (in shade) and the Devil’s ahem is the step at the top right. It is true that there was a sheer drop straight down both sides of the ‘ridge’]
The sun was setting and the terrain was as unforgiving as ever, we needed to find water and set up camp.
We triumphantly dragged ourselves into camp and set up the hammocks. A fire was lit and in what seemed like no time we were sipping wine and eating chorizo. After eight hours of hell we had finally happiness, it seemed that what we were looking for all along was some red wine and sausages
The night did not end as the fire went out thought, after about an hour of tossing and turning we rose from our hammocks cold and exhausted. The location of the fire ended up changing three times, our hammocks were repositioned four times and the mosquitoes never slowed their attack.
Red eyed and trembling we set off the next day having only slept a couple of hours, we had to get out of the jungle at whatever cost.
Our food supply had disappeared, water was scarce, every part of our body had been ravaged by an unforgiving jungle and our spirits could not have been lower.
This is the moment were we did not think that we would ever find our way out of the forest.
Hope came at 1000 on Day 2 when we climbed to the top of a ridge and spotted a fence; from there the need to survive energized our torn bodies. Faster and faster we pushed up the cliff and through the forest. Adrenaline pumped though my veins and I could no longer feel the razor grass ripping at my sides, I didn’t care that my arms were bleeding or that my stomach was empty, fatigue was gone and I was now a machine built for one thing, to survive.
We emerged from the jungle overjoyed and barbaric, the noise we made must have been heard from even the village below. After yelling and celebrating for about 2 minutes we realized that we were being watched, a group of Marquesans were sitting on a bench in a viewing terrace staring at us. We ended up approaching the bewildered onlookers and told them of our adventure, they of course thought that we were totally insane. We chatted for a good 20 minutes but Simon and I were in no rush, there were people, there was a road, and we weren’t going to die anymore.
The Locals we met at the viewing platform could not believe what we had done and it was only because that they had seen us climb over the cliff before their eyes that they actually took what we said for truth. The guys proclaimed that Simon and I were now honorary Marquesans and with a fist to the chest he showed us his appreciation, it was a gratifying moment, so much so that it made his next move seem a little odd. I noticed that he had a vehicle and I motioned to the road, he told me that it led down to the village and it only look a couple of hours to walk, the guy wasn’t getting my message and promptly the two men walked off and drove down the road in their empty pickup leaving Simon and I to fend for ourselves once again, so much for Marquesan hospitality.
Simon and I started walking and we agreed that nothing on this road could be as horrible as what we had experienced and for once we were right. We flagged down a taxi about 45 minutes later and returned to the safety of Blue Sky were we immediately cracked some ice cold beers and rested before George served lunch.
The epic quality of the adventure can’t quite be put into words but it has somehow founded in me a new appreciation for what George and Michael do for cabin boys around the world.
[Editor's note: in the photo below, Blue Sky is in the bottom right of pic., the waterfalls are the valley in the middle, the ridge is on the right and the viewing platform which the boys climbed to is at the top lowest point of horizon. These mountains are the inner edge of the caldera which forms most of Nuku Hiva.]