Jungle hike

Prior to the 2nd World War, northern Guam was sparsely inhabited. Most people lived further south, in Agana, Sumay, and elsewhere. Northern Guam, being on a plateau surrounded by 300ft high cliffs that drop to the sea, do not offer access to the ocean that is available further south on the island. There were a number of ranches and farms spread throughout the area.

Following the Liberation of Guam in 1944, many Japanese soldiers went into hiding in these northern tropical forests. Over the months that followed, Guam was transformed into a huge military base and became the hub for operations in Okinawa, and the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands that never occurred due to surrender. Japanese stragglers were hunted and captured in the months leading up to the end of the war in 1945.

Much of the area surrounding my housing area has been untouched since the early 1950s. Pre-war farms and copra plantations disappeared into the jungle. Wartime roads and camp areas also faded away. Several roads still exist, however these are primarily left from the former Naval Communications Station between 1948 and the early 1950s, when operations were consolidated further north.

I decided to head into the jungle to do some exploring, using a compass to leapfrog from coconut grove to coconut grove, knowing that these were former areas of habitation.

One of many farms, reclaimed by the jungle. The coconut trees were grown to harvest copra in the pre-war years.

After only a few hundred feet of hiking, I stumbled across a real neat formation – an old sink hole, perhaps 35ft deep and 200 feet across. The ground here is mostly flat, so this was unexpected.

One wall of the sink hole is undercut, but no real signs of life other than the ground that has been rooted by pigs
Another look at the sinkhole wall, from the bottom
Pig skull found on the sink hole floor
I date this Olympia beer can to the mid 1960’s – most likely left here by a hunter

I decided to hike around the rim of the sink hole, knowing that Humans like to fill holes with garbage. About 3/4 of the way around, I proved myself right…

Many Coke and beer bottles scattered about, muddied by pigs who have a trail that passes right through the old dump.

I found a large area with bottles scattered about. All were WW2 style American beer bottles and old Coca Cola bottles dated 1945. I also found a number of white ceramic shards, which I later determined were broken US Navy watch mugs – handle-less coffee cups.

This is the underside of a watch mug, showing the Corning name and logo.

The most recent datable objects were the coke and beer bottles dated 1945, and a liquor bottle dated 1943. Because of the 1945 dates, this was obviously post liberation. I found no Japanese bottles, and headed deeper into the jungle.

You can’t tell in the photo, but this is an old 4WD vehicle path
The old road is becoming more readily apparent as I followed the path
The path eventually merged into the main trail, which leads to the opening of Hilaan Point, seen here
This is Hilaan point, heavily overgrown with tall grasses. The trees in the distance mark the old Japanese anti aircraft gun positions
These coconut trees led me to the Japanese bottles and US tray I found during my last hike

While I did not find any Japanese bottles today, I did find a few things of interest. First of all, I want to re-visit the dump site to see if I can find any whole Navy watch mugs. I didn’t know what they were until I researched them online, and they seem quite interesting, especially if I can find one whole. Also, I found an old aerial photograph from the very early 1950s that shows the trail I found was formerly a road – I would like to walk it in both directions to see if I can find something along it’s length.