Exploring Saipan’s northernmost jungles

ARE you one of those individuals who are confined in your offices or work place the whole day through and waiting for the clock to strike five, punch out and go home, watch television and go to sleep, then repeat the cycle day in and day out?

It may be time for you to stand up, stretch those muscles and see what more this beautiful island has to offer by exploring the roads least taken.

After five weeks of having no exercise (except for climbing up and down 10 steps of stairs to the office everyday- if you consider that as exercise), my buddy Andrew convinced me to break our muscle hibernation and join the hash run again last Saturday.

Just before leaving the assembly area at past 4 p.m., we were informed that the trail would be somewhere near the Suicide Cliffs so off we went, hitching a ride in the jeep of another companion.

We went all the way to Marpi, turning right before reaching the Last Command Post and passing the rough road below the Far East Broadcasting. We emerged on the road going to the Suicide Cliff and met with our other companions on the roadside.

After the usual instructions, the hike began and we followed a trail in the jungle which started simply but just got harder and harder as we progressed. We had to hoist ourselves over tree trunks or crawl under thick foliage before emerging into another rough road.

I thought that was it, but the pink and orange ribbon strips and mounds of flour on the road pointed us to follow another trail across from the road. This time, I had to raise my hands above my head to avoid bruising them. The tall and sharp grass blades obscured everything else from view but we plodded on. We must have been going very slowly because we no longer heard anybody.

It seemed like hours of laborious walking and groping for handholds and footholds before we finally emerged from the thicket and came upon a fenced area that looked like an abandoned ranch.

Cow Town, the sign above the arch said. I have written about the place in my previous police and court stories but it was the first time I have seen the place. One side of the area was fenced off by rows of old tires with tall bushes. There were no cows and no sign of life in the area. The place looked deserted for years and vines and grasses of all kinds have covered the dilapidated buildings, or what’s left of the buildings.

I read that the ranch belonged to Larry Hillbloom of the famous DHL (he’s the ‘H’), the multimillionaire who lived on Saipan and died in a plane crash here in the 1990s. I would have loved to stay by longer but it was growing dark.

A few minutes more of plodding on and we were finally free from the canopy of the thick tangan-tangan and thick bushes. We were in a clearing beyond the landfill in Marpi and we saw our companions from a distance.

I counted only a few bruises in my arms, and muscle pains that I knew from experience would leave me limping for the next few days. Andrew was not so lucky, judging from the ugly, long red gash on his right arm he got from a tree branch somewhere.

You say you have been here ‘long enough to have been everywhere’ and Saipan is just a small island? You may be right, but if you go out and explore some more, you will discover that there’s more places waiting to be discovered.

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