Mount Alava Hike

I typed this post on Tuesday the 6th but couldn’t post it until laundry day. The laundromat down the road is open 24 hours and has free wifi. It’s crazy!

On Saturday morning we moved out of VoTech and into housing. Since we can’t leave for Manu’a until after the DoE orientation happening this week we are crashing with the volunteers here on Tutuilla. Matt and Chris are staying in the Leone house and Sasha and I are staying in Gataivai. I hear that we are going to be flying to Ta’u on Saturday! We can’t wait to get there and settle into our houses and classrooms for the year! We have plastic tubs full of food and supplies for first semester that will be making the trip along with our suitcases on the boat this weekend. At least that’s the plan as of now. It could easily change but I’ll keep you updated. Today was a day off for the 4 Manu’a volunteers and Alex so we ventured out early this morning to hike Mount Alava. There are a few ways to do it with varying levels of challenge. We chose the hard way but it was so worth it. I attached a picture of the National Park map I have so you can follow along if you want. Gataivai is by Utulei and was our starting point this morning. The 5 of us met in Pago Pago around 8 am. It was supposed to be 7:30 but the Leone crowd (Chris, Matt, Alex) were running late. They blamed it on the rock slide. Lame… From Pago Pago we grabbed a bus into Aua. From there we hitched a ride to Afona Pass. We walked a bit more before hitching another ride with a village matai (chief) into Vatia. We pulled over at one point to take a look at Pola Island. There we met some workers from the National Park Service (NPS) who made sure we had plenty of water before sending us off for our hike. The Matai drove us the last stretch of the road right to Vatia Bay and showed us to the trail head. We started hiking at 9:30. We followed the trail up from Vatia Bay and to the summit of Mt. Alava on the Adventure Trail. It’s easily the hardest hike I’ve ever done. Many points had us climbing straight up the side of the mountain using ladders and ropes. A little less than 2.5 hours later we arrived at the summit (1610 feet – we started at sea level). There is a fale, some phone antennas, the remnants of an old cable car, and some gorgeous views at the top. You could even see across the harbor to a village nicknamed ‘Alaska’ because of its high elevation and cooler temperature. We took it all in and had lunch (peanut butter sandwiches and banana chips) before starting the journey down. Instead of retracing our steps we followed the mountain ridge to Fagasa Pass. The trail eventually turned into a swamp and covered us in mud, but a few hours later we made it to the road in Fagasa and started walking towards town. We eventually passed the sign warning us that we were back in the tsunami hazard zone. I’ve never been so happy to be back at sea level. We then walked from Fagasa to Pago Pago and back into Utulei for some ice cream at Samu’s. To reward myself I had 2 scoops of mint chocolate chip. I’m now sitting on my bed and may not move again tonight. It was 5.2 miles of actual hiking through gorgeous forest and several more miles through towns to get to the trail before hiking and back home after hiking. Shout out to NPS for maintaining such awesome trail. Pictures are attached :)

Hopefully the next time you hear from me I will be on Ta’u! Tofa! 0

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