Daily Archives: 02/03/2003

Going Hiking

Yesterday I took a hike with David down to Tarzan Falls. This is one of my favorite places to visit on Guam; rolling hills, a great waterfall, pockets of riverine jungle, and it’s a pretty good workout coming back up too. But it’s been a while since I last made the trek. At the top of the first hill there was a sizable encampment going on: three Toyota 4-Runners, two big tarps, a couple large tents, a big mess kit, a number of large coolers. At first I thought it might be a Chamorro family setting up house/ranch on public property (it’s been done before). But then I noticed the US flag flying and a couple haole guys reading a paper. We passed them by and then it struck me: Boy Scouts!

Towards the bottom of the trail, the effects of Typhoon Pongsana became apparent. The entire trail was covered in fallen trees and thick bramble. Hikers had made a detour around most of the fallen debris but the main trail was completely useless from the top of the third hill all the way to the falls. We made it down with no problem and spent about a half hour looking around and relaxing to the sounds of falling water.

The hike up was okay, but made difficult by the fallen trees. A lot of scrambling was involved. When we got up to the top of the first hill, the Boy Scouts were still camped out. Only one guy was there, so I guess the rest of the troop was off somewhere. I struck up a conversation with the guy.

“You guys Boy Scouts?” I asked.
“Yep,” he replied. “We’re out here for the weekend.”
“You know that trail is pretty messed up down there,” I said. “It could use some clearing and trailblazing.”
“Yeah, we’re hoping that GovGuam will send somebody down there to clear it out,” was his answer. “It makes it pretty hard for the boys to get to the falls with all those trees down.”

I said my goodbyes and moved on. I was a little dumbfounded. My memories of scouting include many an outing spent with saws and hatchets, clearing obstructed trails for other hikers. And I know my experience isn’t an anomaly: When I spent a month paddling in Canada in 2000, I encountered Boy Scouts working like beavers at several portages, clearing downed trees off the trail. And these weren’t little shrubby trees like the one’s on the way to Tarzan Falls, these were large pine trees across trails scores of miles from any civilization. It struck me as odd that this scoutmaster just didn’t give a damn and expected GovGuam to get around to it eventually. I don’t know what planet he lives on, but I find it highly unlikely that GovGuam has the money to send some dudes down there to open the trail. Or if they do, they’ll probably bring a backhoe and dump trucks down there and completely ruin the trail in the process.

I guess I am suggesting that an interest group of private citizens take the initiative and spend a little time clearing the trail for the enjoyment of all. And it would seem like the Boy Scouts are an ideal group to lend a hand in this effort. I’m not exculpable either; I could certainly spend some time pitching in on the weekends to clear trails or pick up trash. Hmm…