Sunday, July 1, 2012

Three Coconuts Pass

According to the Mo'orea tourism folks, one should carry out any hike on the island under the watchful eye of a professional guide. This attitude is supported by an almost complete lack of signage at any of the trail heads.

View from the Belvedere - Opunohu Bay and Mount Rotui

Rani levitating in front of Mount Rotui at the Belvedere - we climbed Rotui a couple of days later.

We started the day by driving up to the Belvedere (view point) at the head of Opunohu valley with our friend Vicky from 'Inspiration at Sea' and John and his son Jonathan from 'Sherpa'. We had intended to do a 40 minute short loop, but managed to find our way onto the trail to the Three Coconuts Pass (although we did not know this at the time). Jonathan is 10 or 11 and we had great fun with him as his maturity level seems to match ours (Rani says it matches mine, anyway). We found some vines to swing from (although John broke his vine while showing his son how it should be done). Jonathan also made a blow pipe out of a reed.

An impressive epiphyte

Chris of the jungle

Jonathan of the jungle

Even ' mature' Rani had a go and got some good air

The trail crossed several streams and passed through rain forest as it crossed the valley under the ancient caldera that dominates the island. The vegetation was similar to what I saw when I visited Costa Rica 12 years ago. Epiphytes grew from most trees and vines created a thick canopy, slowly strangling their host trees. The trail also passed through dryer Mape forests. The Mape is a graceful tree that produces a chestnut-like nut that is edible and quite sweet when eaten raw. At one point we entered a bamboo grove with giant plants towering 30 to 40 feet above us.

Jonathan about to deploy his MK I blow pipe.

Towering bamboo

Land snail and Mape nuts

The paths were extremely well defined and maintained, despite the tourism map's statement to the contrary and we had no dificulty following switchbacks to the pass. On a hillock above the pass, we found spectacular views over the other side of the island and back toward Opunohu Bay. The pass was named for three coconut palms planted about a century ago. Only one now stands, though people have planted new palms on the plateau above the pass.

Vicky at the plateau above 3 Coconuts Pass. The mountain behind is featured on the French Polynesian 100 franc piece

View back toward the highest mountain on Mo'orea - Mount Ohiea

We returned after a 5 hour hike reaching the end of our water and food as we hiked down to the car. It felt really good to do a solid hike - the first since we left the Marquesas.

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