En route to Daniel's Bay
Taioa (Daniel's Bay)
After lying quietly for a few days in the company of the amiable yachtees, we motored out the bay and traversed west five miles to an anchorage called Taioa (Tah-ee-oh'-ah), known more simply as Daniel's Bay. This is a small but landlocked bight, enclosed by strikingly steep-to and lofty bluffs covered in dense greenery, as was nearly everything here that did not move.
The Australians accompanied us on this jaunt, and that evening we invited Bruce and Leslie Atkinson aboard for dinner. During a six-month cruise of the South Pacific, they had recently come from some of the places we hoped to visit. So we spent an enjoyable evening listening to their stories and learning of their experiences.
A'Strayin was a marvelous, steel hulled 38-foot sloop. We were astonished to learn that Bruce had designed her, and with his wife's able help, had built her with his own hands, in only two years, and on a stringent budget.
“We awoke to a loud splash. A large turtle, head above water, scrutinized us curiously.”
The nights were sultry, and Jenny and I usually slept in the cockpit, first laying plywood boards athwartships, onto which we placed settee cushions. This provided pleasant bedding, until typically a sudden downpour would send us scrambling belowdecks. But this particular night was without much rain, and early the next morning we awoke to a loud splash. A large turtle, head above water, scrutinized us curiously.
Daniel's Bay. Cascade Hakaui is the vertical cleft in the center of the photo.
A Trek to Cascade Hakaui
Mid morning we joined forces with Bruce and Leslie, and headed ashore with the intent of visiting a spectacular waterfall a few miles inland. On the beach our bare legs were swarmed by voracious nanus, but after we had left the beach they bothered us no more. We paid a quick visit to the venerable resident, Daniel, who greeted us with a toothless grin and bid us to stand around his coconut-husk smoldering smudge-pot. "Beaucoup mosquitos," he said. In answer to our request for directions, he pointed to a trail passing through his lavish garden of fruits and vegetables, and past a capacious drying-bin laden with sweet-scented copra, or coconut meat.
For several miles we followed an ancient pathway leading into the lush interior. The stone-laid foot path was about three feet wide, and several feet above ground level, presumably to remove one's feet from the ever present mud, and as a hedge against the occasionally flooding river. Wending through the jungle, we passed stone platforms built long ago to serve as house foundations. Most were heavily overgrown. Also we found stone tikis standing near some of the platforms, or lying toppled in the choking brush. Here was the vestige of the civilization so aptly described by Herman Melville in his account, "Typee." My mind was aglut with his lucid descriptions written some 125 years previously. The comparisons of what he wrote about and what we were seeing were staggering in their similarity. Lost to my imaginings, I had an eerie sensation that at any moment some head-hunting savage might leap from the bush.
Suddenly the scene was rent with nerve shattering pandemonium.
“They're chickens," I mumbled, incredulously. "Super chickens." And at that they burst into another flurry of commotion, and with great heaving efforts they flew away.”
It was only a few large birds taking wing. But my how large they were! In curiosity we pursued, and soon found them perched in branches high overhead. "They're chickens," I mumbled, incredulously. "Super chickens." And at that they burst into another flurry of commotion, and with great heaving efforts they flew away. I had no idea that chickens could fly, but later learned that after the English departed in the 19th century, their abandoned domestic chickens had taken to the wilds. And for some reason the islanders had considered the fowl tabu ever since.
Drenched in bursts of rain we pressed on, our feet occasionally slipping off the smooth, wet stones and slapping into the mud. Admiring the mango and lime trees, and the banana plants - for technically a banana is a plant not a tree (someone had told us) - we climbed ever higher into the jungle, at one point gaping at a waterfall rumbling into the river. While crossing each cascading rivulet feeding this river, we observed a variety of strange and beautiful plants which thrived in the additional moisture provided by the streams.
Eventually the stone pathway terminated in a small clearing, in an area of many foundations, called paepaes (Pie'-pies). The way ahead was uncertain. Bruce and Leslie had gone ahead, leaving Jenny and me uncertain of the way. We were about to turn back when Jenny noticed a small sign nailed to a tree. Below the words "Cascade Hakaui" (hawk-ah-ooh'-wee) was an arrow pointing improbably down the hill.
Proceeding as directed, soon we came to a cairn: a small pile of rocks. From there a faint trail led into the thicket. The trail was so faint that we lost it several times, although each time we eventually found the next cairn. These led us through a dimly-lit and magnificent forest of strangely fluted mape (Mah'-pay) trees. (When roasted, the seed pods of this tree are known as Tahitian chestnuts. Raw they were not tasty.) As we wandered eyes agape among the odd trunks, which at ground level resembled generously apportioned ribbon stalagmites, I mused that perhaps we had indeed stumbled upon Tolkien's Middle Earth.
“What the Green Berets do for training, we do for fun!”
After wading calf-deep in ooze, and thrashing through tangles of limbs that had us climbing over and crawling under, I jested to Jenny: "What the Green Berets do for training, we do for fun!"
A rock-walled gorge 40 feet wide and hundreds of feet high.
Once again we reached the river, and could see the next cairn on its opposite bank. We forded the swift and thigh-deep water, and twenty minutes later found ourselves wading up a smaller tributary - the outflow of our elusive waterfall. This was unmistakably the Hakaui, for we could see its upper cascade perhaps a thousand feet overhead. Between us and it, was a rock-walled gorge 40 feet wide and hundreds of feet high. This led to the base of the falls, which pounded into a large pool of water of a temperature just right for swimming.
“We flung ourselves back out, alarmed at certain prickly sensations on our bare feet.”
Wading into the muddy, brown water, within moments we flung ourselves back out, alarmed at certain prickly sensations on our bare feet. Returning to investigate, we found fresh water shrimp in the pool. Big ones. Ignoring these spindly creatures, Jenny swam to the back of the pool, shrieking with delight in the waterfall's refreshing spray.
The pool at the base of Cascade Hakaui.
Darkening skies prompted our return; and indeed, during the long trek back the rainfall fell with a vengeance. We slipped, slid, and squished our way along, while wiping the rain-sweat from our brows. How eagerly we anticipated reaching dry shelter - ironically our floating home.
At the beach we found that Bruce and Leslie had returned aboard, without having found the falls, we later learned. But two days later we joined forces again for another equally rewarding hike to the splendid Cascade Hakaui.