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We went back to the Frisby Ridge trail and now this ride is a favorite. The alpine section is sweeter than I could have imagined. There is a small, gentle loop at the top and the views in every direction make you want to bust open with happiness. Just check out these photos!

The trail is buttery much of the time and obstacles are small. There is only one (longish) rocky section where I had to hike my bike. The forest is downright beautiful, there are huckleberries everywhere, and other riders are mostly friendly locals. There is an amazing van camp near the trailhead, too. So many things to love!

I grew to love my new dropper seat post during this ride, too. This new biking toy allows me to raise and lower my seat by using a tiny lever on my handlebars. The seat raises using hydraulics; I just have to lift my butt. How nice. The added efficiency of raising my seat just a couple inches was truly amazing as I pedaled up the 2500 foot climb at Frisby Ridge. I popped over obstacles which before I wouldn’t have even tried, and climbing felt SO MUCH EASIER. Which is important when you are doing a lot of it!

I feel better about descending with my seat in a lower position, too, but it will take time to master big, technical obstacles. I have to approach this slowly and continue to increase my skill level in small increments. At the heart of it, I’m afraid of taking a bad fall on my bike from being too aggressive with this new toy. I’m taking it slowly with the downhill, and seeing improvements there already.

Two girlfriends stressed the importance of this mythical dropper seat post for mountain biking…thank you Alison and Heather. And now I am telling the world, for rides with a lot of elevation change, you must have a dropper seat post of your very own!

Category: Mountain Biking

Yesterday I tried something hard. And failed. I’m not used to that, and it felt like someone let all the air out of my balloon. Brian was very supportive. I didn’t shed any tears, but there was definitely some pouting going on. Brian said we could abandon this adventure whenever I wanted, and that was ok. I thought about it a couple more minutes and then I decided it was time to get off the mountain.

We had embarked on one of my most challenging mountain bike rides and one of the best in the area. It was Frisby Ridge in Revelstoke, British Columbia. It’s been a long time since my last big ride and I didn’t take Frisby Ridge seriously enough. We started late in the day and all I brought was a simple windbreaker for layering. Initially I hadn’t felt committed to completing the entire ride, but wanted to try. I figured I would ride the ridge out and back until I got tired.

So we began, and the trail went steadily uphill nearly the entire time. The surroundings were nice, although it didn’t feel much like a ridge. We rode through a forest full of cedar and huckleberries for five miles. I kept thinking the alpine riding would start any minute, but after hours of riding in the forest the big, open views I craved were barely starting to show themselves. A more accurate name for this trail would be Frisby Forest.

I wouldn’t see the good stuff until the summit. I pushed on, getting colder and colder as I gained more elevation. Then the saddle sores started because I hadn’t prepared for a long ride, just a feel good, out and back ride. No Chamois Cream in the pack! Oh no! I was also getting tired now that we had climbed 2000 vertical feet. I am not used to big rides like this right now. I am good at pushing through exhaustion for a time, but with the lack of warm clothing and saddle sores I was facing a trifecta of suffering. At least we had plenty of snacks!

Now the ride had become a push to the summit and nothing more. It also wasn’t good to climb higher into the alpine zone without warmer layers. It could have turned into an edgy situation if conditions changed or precipitation started.

Feeling my limits, I sadly turned around and tried to collect myself as I began descending. Focus on the positive. Think about what you’ve achieved. Think about the beautiful ride. Think about the huckleberries surrounding the trail and our plans to harvest them on the descent. What I really wanted was to ride my bike in the sun, on a Thursday afternoon, above treeline with big mountains looming on all sides. That was the stuff of dreams. Still, there were many wonderful things about the day to appreciate and I tried to think about those things instead of the one thing I had missed.

The positive thoughts were needed; the descent was very chilly at first. After about twenty minutes we stopped in the sun to pick huckleberries. Feeling the warmth of the sun was a great relief to us both, and we had also reached a lower elevation with a higher temperature.

Plus we were surrounded by tasty huckleberries, warm from the sun, and Brian said we could try the Frisby Ridge ride again in a couple days. All these things raised my spirits. It was time to let disappointments go and immerse myself in the present. We gathered huckleberries for about 10 minutes (trying not to eat too many of them) and took some with us in a one liter Nalgene bottle.

The rest of the descent was uneventful and we were happy to reach the van. We quickly went to a fantastic campsite near the trailhead we had scouted out earlier.

We reveled in scenic views of rivers and mountains and cranked the heater up to ninety degrees. We huddled under a blanket until our core temperatures returned to normal. We ate a tasty dinner and huckleberries for dessert. This was van life at its finest.

It can be hard to let go of a meaningful adventure like this one. Sometimes I wonder if these adventures have taken on an outsized sense of importance in my life. For me, adventures give meaning to living in a van. Otherwise it would be pretty boring sitting in a van in the middle of nowhere. Achieving goals and strengthening my mind and body matter more out here than they did when I was living in a house. Instead of something fun to do on weekends, they start to shape life and give it meaning.

I look forward to riding Frisby Ridge again in a couple days. This was a good reminder to take hard rides more seriously. I will start early, prepare for a long ride and take extra layers. Frisby Ridge, we shall have a rematch.

My friend Katie gave me crabs. It was an accident.

It started with a gift: a hermit crab named Pagoo. Katie and I were strolling the beautiful beaches of Fakarava when she handed me a 3 inch long, white, cone shaped shell. It was lovely, and I put it in my backpack. Later I would add it to my zen garden on our sailboat. I had been working on a tiny zen garden where I could put my favorite South Pacific shells, sand, and a small pink cat symbolizing the kitten I loved and gave up last year, named Sherbert.

When I unpacked my bag later and removed Katie’s shell I soon found it crawling around on the table.

A hermit crab was living inside.

We see hermit crabs all over the beaches of the South Pacific. They are entertaining but I never thought of them as pets until Katie unwittingly introduced one into my home and heart. I picked up the little crab and offered it a crumb of bread. It reached out, legs and antennae wildly waving, and took the bread. It nibbled delicately as I watched, and I started to fall in love with the sweet creature. It doesn’t take much for me, I guess. I named the crab Pagoo, after a crab Brian had as a child. I placed Pagoo in my zen garden and enjoyed watching him climb around on my favorite shells.

Everything about Pagoo is so endearing. He’s a tiny crab in a big shell, which means he is really clumsy. He’s an easygoing crab who enjoys gently crawling on my hand and being hand fed.

I learned on Wikipedia hermit crabs are social and need to be with other crabs, so Katie and I went to the beach to find friends for Pagoo. We selected four crabs of different sizes, all smaller than Pagoo. Pagoo did seem happier with his new friends. I sometimes found the five crabs huddled together, and they seemed to enjoy each other’s company.

It’s fun to give them new shells to call home. I offered them a small white shell my friend Morgan gave me, and left it in the garden overnight. By morning it was occupied and the smallest shell became vacant. The crabs were upgrading.

I walked the beach looking for more new shells for my crabs. I found a peach colored shell which seemed about the right size. I placed it in the zen garden and the next morning found one of the crabs had moved into it. It was hard to tell which crab was in the new shell, but I figured it out pretty quickly.

One of Pagoo’s friends, previously in a white shell, immediately stood out as the most rambunctious and active crab. He would race around my hand trying to jump off the edge when I would hold him, and was very active in the garden as well. This compulsive crab definitely seemed to be the one inhabiting the new peach colored shell. So I named him Peachy, and soon his escape antics began.

Peachy, empowered by his new shell, was ready to explore the world. A couple nights later he escaped the garden and I found him crawling on the table the next morning.

Then, one stormy night, Peachy escaped the garden and took a three foot fall onto the floor of the salon. It was about 2 AM and I was already awake because the boat was rocking dramatically at anchor in a storm referred to as a Mara-mu. When a storm has a special name, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised when it brings drama. I had just gotten up to put things away. Lying in bed again, I heard a distinctive sound, a soft clink, and I knew immediately what it was. Peachy had escaped again and this time had jumped onto the floor. That crab.

I got up and found Peachy crawling on the floor, unharmed after his big fall. I placed him back in the garden and he buried himself in the sand. Peachy seemed mad at me for the rest of the day. Peachy is not easygoing like Pagoo.

Peachy proceeded to get out almost every night, and one time he was missing for a day until Brian found him on the floor in one of our storage bunks. We devised a double wall system to keep him from getting lost in the boat again. It worked, which I’m sure displeased Peachy. But ultimately, he was the one who would most enjoy his release back into the wild, and I didn’t want him to be deprived of that and end up trapped on Magic.

The crabs have their own personalities. Peachy dreams of escape while the other crabs seem content in the garden. Pagoo is inquisitive and enjoys exploring my hand. The other crabs seem more interested in finding their way back to the garden when I pick them up. Pagoo is the only one who will take bits of food directly from my hand. And then there’s Peachy. Peachy is the wild one.

They all seem to enjoy climbing to high points, though. They are often found perched at the top of the tallest thing in their garden. I can relate so I found them a climbing wall on the beach. It’s a steep piece of coral with many handholds, or clawholds. It has routes of varying difficulty. The crabs love scaling it and sitting at the top. Some people spend a lot of money on their hermit crab hobbies, but here in the South Pacific I can find all the things the crabs need on the beach. They are the perfect sailboat pet.

My friend Nancy found natural sponges for the crabs, and gave them as a gift. They love Aunt Nancy now. I soaked a sponge in water and introduced it to the garden. The crabs enjoy sitting on it and licking the moisture from its surface. Every now and then they all crawl under it, nestle in the sand, and hide for awhile. What they are thinking, I will never know.

UPDATE: Our crabs were released on a small island in the Raiatea lagoon a few days ago. This island is tiny and can be circumnavigated in a couple minutes. We found other hermit crabs just like them, so we know they will survive. We placed a small pile of food on the beach for them, then they crawled off my hand and began immediately exploring their new home. I hope Pagoo is growing into his shell and Peachy is enjoying his freedom. Mostly, I hope they had a good time with us.

Our short term visa is over in French Polynesia, so we had to store Magic and come back to the US for 9 months. I’m already looking forward to my hermit crabs and zen garden next season on the boat.

That’s my yearly theme: crossing over. Crossing over boundaries of fear. Instead of a New Year’s resolution, a good friend suggested people come up with a theme for the year, and I liked that better. Only I didn’t want to tell too many people about it until I was sure I could do it. Because these were big things. This was not your basic “I’m going to the gym every morning” type of resolution.

I wanted to cross the Pacific Ocean with my husband on our sailboat. I wanted to dive with the hundreds of sharks on the other side. But I was so afraid of both these things. They required placing myself solely in the hands of nature and suspending my sense of control over what happened.

After much analysis I decided at a mental level these things were reasonably safe, although they still felt scary. So I crossed over, despite the fear, and found only good things on the other side. Brian and I sailed across the Pacific Ocean and now I’ve done one of the biggest shark dives in French Polynesia. Five times.

For most divers, this will be the biggest shark dive they ever do. Only I get to do it over and over again, living minutes away aboard Magic.

The South Pass of Fakarava easily has over 250 sharks swimming slowly into the current. There are Gray Reef Sharks, Black Tip Sharks and White Tip Sharks. These sharks see divers every day. They are used to being observed and neither flee nor circle you, they just drift on by. They are bored with you.

The huge aggregations of sharks have been respectful of our personal space and are actually really nice diving companions. I challenge you to look at these creatures with an open mind and enjoy these images without fear.

Meet the sharks of Fakarava.

Yesterday we did the big shark dive at Makemo Atoll. It was one of the best days of my life. Brian and I had a simply wonderful day overall, plus the dive was exhilarating and empowering. Wow, just wow.

It was a drift dive where we rode the current of the flooding tide into the lagoon. We took our dinghy up to the place where the lagoon empties into the ocean. We tested the current to be sure it wouldn’t push us out to sea and then entered the warm water. Brian clipped our dinghy to his BCD using a floating line. We then descended about 50 feet and rode a gentle current into the lagoon.

Beauty abounded as we drifted past caves full of fish and enjoyed healthy coral blanketing the sea floor. During the dive the current steadily increased due to the rising tide. After 30 minutes the current had become significantly faster and I was starting to run out of air. Then we drifted by the sharks.

It was an intense and agitated scene. First I saw schools of shimmering Big Eye Scads darting around crazily. The fish were fleeing from at least 25 feeding sharks, which began to come into view as the current carried me directly toward them.

Gray Reef Sharks, Blacktip Sharks and Whitetip Sharks were rapidly flowing over the colorful coral bottom, chasing fish and rooting around in crevices. I flew by them on the rapid current, awestruck. They swirled around me, continuing their activities with an attitude of indifference. It was such an overwhelming scene I could barely think. But the thoughts I did have were focused on the fact I was nearly out of air. I kept telling myself not to lose myself in the moment with these sharks.

I felt no fear. The sharks were doing their thing and I was doing mine. We shared space for a brief moment in time, and they graciously accepted us. That’s how I thought of the sharks. Gracious. Sure, they could get right in our faces and scare us, but why? It would be a waste of time. They are more pragmatic than that. Better to be gracious hosts and tolerate the strange black divers until the current quickly sweeps them away.

A couple sharks found a tasty morsel in a crevice and a small feeding frenzy began right at the end of our time with them. You can see a little bit of it at the end of the video. And then that was it. We had drifted past them and they were gone. We began our ascent back to the surface and to our dinghy, glowing from an unforgettable dive.

There are plenty of sharks in the Tuamotus. This morning when I was at 60 feet a gray reef shark swam by and checked me out. I hovered in place and turned on my video camera as the graceful, curious creature slowly became larger and larger in the frame. It continued closing the distance between us until it was only 15 feet away. Then it veered off and went the other direction.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about shark diving. I’ve done it, yes, but always felt a jolt when I saw a shark nearby. I definitely felt plenty of jolts last year at the Revillagigedos when a few Silky Sharks got too interested and started circling us. Brian finally hit one of them with his camera and then they left. Oh yeah, big time jolts.

I love sharks, but they can be frightening, too. They don’t always flee like other fish; they’re more curious and attentive than other animals I’ve met underwater. And sometimes they’re bigger than me.

We’ve been in the Tuamotus for eight days and we see sharks on almost every dive. I am fascinated by them and they haven’t been aggressive at all. We haven’t seen any Silkies either, which I like. We see plenty of Gray Sharks, Blacktip Sharks and Whitetip Sharks.

Each day I have become more comfortable with the sharks. The jolts have nearly gone away. When I surprised a sleeping shark a few days ago I felt a tiny jolt, but not much. I swam around a corner and had a close encounter with a small whitetip shark. It darted right in front of me and quickly swam away.

Today when the reef shark came right up to me and I didn’t feel a jolt, I realized I am ok with this now. I’m ok with these sharks. I’m ok with their curiosity.

The next question is, am I ready for the big shark dive? There’s a pass here where you can ride the current past 50+ sharks and thousands of colorful fish. Brian and our friends Dan and Kristy have been doing amazing drift dives there each day. I’ve snorkeled the pass and seen the sharks. It’s truly an incredible sight and I want to experience it close-up, underwater.

I think I’m ready. I want to drift dive with 50 sharks. Internet, what do you think? Am I ready? Should I do this tomorrow?

“Lagoon” is one of my favorite words now. We just arrived in the Tuamotus yesterday and I still can’t believe this is real. The lagoon water is clear, warm and calm. It’s protected on all sides by coral. It reminds me of a placid Idaho lake, where waves don’t get very large. This lagoon is about 8 miles wide.

After a five day passage we dropped our anchor with great relief. Almost immediately we jumped in with snorkels to see the coral under Magic, and were ecstatic to see 100 foot visibility and one small shark which soon darted off into the darkness. Unicorn Fish, which are light blue with a little horn, greeted us in a large school under the boat.

Now this is what we crossed the Pacific for, and the water here is the nicest I’ve ever seen. The coral is healthy and we found a good spot to snorkel and dive just a one minute dinghy ride from where Magic is anchored. We also have a good internet connection here. This place has it all!

Sharks are everywhere! They have been small, cute and indifferent. They came by at the beginning of our dive today, then acted like we didn’t exist the rest of the time.

UPDATE! Just as I was writing this blog post on the trampoline of the boat a shark swam by just 20 feet in front of us. Brian spotted it cruising along the surface.

Anyway, yeah, sharks are everywhere. I’m glad I like these sharks. They are fascinating and haven’t been aggressive at all. They do their thing, I do mine. Right, sharks?

I’m back on night watch. This time we are sailing 500 miles southwest to the largest group of atolls in the world, the Tuamotus. Brian just went to sleep but tonight I have a companion. A medium sized seabird, a Booby, chose to spend the night on Magic.

The Booby settled onto our solar panel late afternoon yesterday and hasn’t moved since. It wobbled around for awhile, getting its sea legs, and now it’s roosting in a light rain. It’s head is tucked against its wing. I can see it from where I sit and it definitely makes my night watch more fun. I hope it stays with us throughout the five day passage.

The Marquesas were great and we spent much more time there than we planned. It’s not the best destination for diving because the water is often murky. We still ended up exploring Nuku Hiva for three weeks. The friendly attitude of the locals, the fascinating fruit and the manta rays were incredible highlights. The lesson of the Marquesas was to keep an open mind about each new landfall.

Now we’re headed to the Tuamotus, with white sand, palm trees and very clear water for diving. This sounds like paradise. I can’t wait to be anchored in a turquoise lagoon surrounded by fish and coral.

But first night watch, with my Booby companion. Just a couple more nights at sea.

It was a great Pacific crossing, our longest passage ever. We were at sea for 21 days and when we made landfall at Nuku Hiva, French Polynesia we were thirsty for land, food, and other people. We dropped our anchor in the busy bay and felt victorious. We had crossed the largest ocean in the world together.

We relaxed in the cockpit, awestruck by our new surroundings and spent from the passage. About an hour later two really nice men in a dingy slowly motored over to Magic. I was excited to have visitors in this new place.

They offered us a large bag of Marlin they caught and froze solid. We still had plenty of the 35 pound tuna we caught the other day, but we accepted the Marlin gratefully knowing we’d appreciate it once our tuna was gone.

We prepared our dinghy and went to land. We began exploring and soon realized around 10% of the trees around town were fruit bearing. The delicious, grapefruit-like pamplemousse grows everywhere, and the scientific name is citrus maxima for good reason. These gorgeous green globes are huge, and can grow as large as a cantaloupe.

They are sweeter than a grapefruit and a whole lot more work to dissect, too. You must commit to a pamplemousse. It takes around 15 minutes to peel an average sized pamplemousse. I know because I enjoy making Thai pamplemousse salad with peanuts, onions, coconut, lime juice, garlic, chiles, brown sugar, and fish sauce. This salad is a strange combination which will confuse and delight your taste buds. The fruit is also fantastic on its own.

We continued to try other fascinating fruits which became available at the market, and thanks to a recommendation from our friends on a boat named Pino we stumbled on to the Sugar Apple. It is my favorite fruit here.

Sugar apples look like purple pine cones, but I bought four of them anyway because of the way Recka’s eyes glowed when she told me about them. These had to be good.

We went to Daniel’s Bay for a couple days, taking the sugar apples with us. We grabbed the softest one and enjoyed it our first night there, sitting on top of the boat in a beautiful anchorage with green walls and waterfalls around us.

We started on the fruit. We peeled its soft, leathery skin off in little pieces. It put up no fight. This was a task easily accomplished without fingernails. Inside we found a soft, creamy, pink substance. It was similar to an overripe avocado in texture, with a sweet, earthy, and loamy flavor. The creamy substance lines the leathery skin, and at the core of the sugar apple are large brown seeds enveloped in a delicious white pulp. We devoured it.

The sugar apple is a succulent little bomb of enjoyment, and when it gets very ripe it even starts to take on hints of cherry and become more complex. I wish I could have one every day and take them with me everywhere I go. I’ve never seen them anywhere else, though. I will have to enjoy them as often as possible in the South Pacific.

I thought mangoes would be easy to pick here, but it took time to find any that we could harvest. The mango trees around town which are not on private land are harvested heavily. We persisted, though, and one day with the help of a rental car we found all the mangoes we could possibly handle! Picking mangoes is a sticky experience. The stem of the mango begins oozing sticky white liquid as soon as the fruit is removed from the tree. We drove all over the island taking in fantastic vistas and enjoying the mango and banana trees by the side of the road.

We had a great time seeing the entire island and picking fruit. The driving is adventurous, though. At one point the road is extremely steep and curvy, and for about 1/8 of a mile it has only one lane. There are no pullouts. You’re supposed to honk loudly to declare your right of way before driving up or down the one way section.

We’ve also tried different types of bananas here, both at the market and from the wild, and these are the best bananas we’ve ever eaten. They are rich and make American bananas seem airy by comparison. They are sweet and don’t ripen as quickly as the ones back home, either.

In addition, the stores have a good selection of other foods like cheese, bread and Asian foods. There’s a café where we can get a good meal for about $10. We’ve been impressed. Rumor has it the South Pacific is a remote and difficult place to find food, but that is certainly not the case on Nuku Hiva!

Our 39 foot long catamaran looked pretty small floating at the base of the 2300 foot high walls in Daniel’s Bay. The walls were wavy with green and black horizontal bands, dotted with white birds drifting on air currents. We were entering the bay from the ocean, and it kept its secrets hidden. We could see only a green corner straight ahead and big walls all around us. The place where we would anchor our boat wasn’t visible yet in the right lobe of the heart shaped bay. As more of the bay came into view we were delighted to see a small, wild beach full of palm trees and crashing waves. Thousand foot high waterfalls punctuated the dark folds in the cliffs far beyond the beach. They looked like tiny white ribbons. It was a scene out of a tropical fairytale.

The other lobe of the bay was calm and surrounded by rolling green hills and small, pointy peaks. This would be a good place to anchor and there were already two more small boats here. We made sure we had a good view of the waterfalls and then dropped our hook in the most beautiful place we’ve ever taken Magic. We moved to the trampoline to properly appreciate the scene, with wine and sugar apples in hand.

The next day we would hike to the base of Vaipo Falls, a 1300 foot tall waterfall. We got up early and went to the wavy lobe of the bay to begin our hike. Even on the beach we found hints of the abundance of fruit here. A half dozen rotting, yellow pamplemousse were nestled in the tan sand along with coconuts in varying stages of decay.

We wandered through a small village of about a dozen people. Horses, dogs, pigs and chickens darted in and out of the lush forest. It looked like a peaceful life and the people living there were very friendly. They spoke a tiny bit of English and I spoke a tiny bit of French. Their English was better. We chatted for a few minutes.

We continued down the road and found clusters of trees laden with pamplemousse, lime, papaya, banana and mango. We paid our $10 entrance fee to Paul, a friendly man who lives at the end of the road and watches over the trail. He offered to give us fruit when we returned.

We enjoyed a powdery blue sky as we left the village behind. It was a nice break from all the rain in the Marquesas. There’s a reason everything is so green here.

The trail was wide and grassy at first, and it took us through an open valley of palm and fruit trees. The valley became deeper, and then we were in a dark jungle splashing through puddles and mud. The trail was hard to find at times. Luckily we were wearing sturdy sandals which could accommodate this wet jungle hike and we enjoyed the terrain immensely.

The trail was littered with fruit. Sometimes we would find a mango and look all over for the tree it came from, only to find that the mango trees were very tall along the path. I bent down to pick up one mango which was perfectly ripe, soft and bright yellow, but my heart sank as I turned it over and found a gash teeming with tiny ants. I examined it. Wanted it. We hadn’t found a mango in edible condition yet. I carefully peeled away the skin from the ant-free half and quickly snuck a bite before the insects claimed it. The juicy, slimy flesh was sweet and delightful, the most delicious mango I had ever tasted. I regretted having to leave the rest behind but felt highly motivated to find more mangos.

We got our first glimpse of Vaipo Falls after about a mile. Our spirits soared and we started hiking faster.

It was still over an hour to the falls, and when we reached the deep gorge near the waterfall the sky began to darken. A storm was building. We hiked up the river to reach the base of the falls, sometimes crossing it to find the trail on the other side.

“Look, there’s a snake!” I squealed as a fat, brown, serpentine creature squirmed down a small rapid in the swift flow of the river.

I waited at the side of the river and watched it pass a few feet away from me, but this wasn’t a snake. It had gills and looked like an eel. Who knows what it was doing here, or how many other little critters we were hiking with in the murky river.

We reached a pool near the base of the falls but before we could see the waterfall we had some obstacles to overcome. We swam across a brown pool, probably full of eels, and then scrambled past a short jumble of rocks.

After the rocks came the most exhilarating part. A deep plunge pool with rounded walls guarded the base of the falls, and had a strong, pushy downstream current. We swam against the current in the turbulent pool with curtains of mist filling the air. I swam with my face toward the mist at first, but soon a heavy wave of water droplets hit my face and partially filled my mouth. I began gasping, choking, and felt like I couldn’t breathe. I thought back to the times I’ve rappelled waterfalls and turned around so my back was to the mist. Now I could swim against it, no problem. I made my way across the pool and reached the base of the falls.

It seemed to be the base of a lower cascade, where the falls broke up into big curtains of mist instead of a huge, thundering firehose that must be hitting further upstream. I floated, gazed around in wonder for a couple seconds, and then got the heck out of there. Floating at the base of the falls meant lingering under an overhanging, crumbling wall with a risk of rock fall.

Soaked and smiling, we returned to our packs and prepared to hike back. It was right at that moment the rain began suddenly and it felt warm and heavy. We were already wet from the swim so it didn’t matter. We walked through the jungle, dripping, united with all the plants around us, also dripping.

It was sunny on the way in and now this felt like a whole new hike. Instead of sweating and guzzling water in the steamy jungle we enjoyed warm rain which kept us at the perfect temperature. We saw spires shrouded in mist. The waterfalls were gone, hidden behind curtains of white clouds.

We hiked back to the village and did not see Paul or the fruit he offered to leave for us. We didn’t care. We were tired, wet and satisfied. It had been a great day. The best part was enjoying the trail in complete solitude after we left the village. It was just us and the eels out there.

As we left the beach to go back to Magic, Paul ran after us to let us know he’d have a big bunch of bananas for us in a couple hours. We thanked him, and planned to return and enjoy some surfing after the sun dipped down below the tall walls of the gorge.

Later on we surfed small waves in brown water thick with runoff. Paul returned as promised with a beautiful 20 pound bunch of bananas. Brian balanced the bunch on his paddleboard and stoically headed into the surf zone while I watched with bated breath. Our precious bananas made the passage through the breaking waves and were safely deposited in our anchored dinghy. Soon they would be hanging in Magic’s cockpit, a yellow pop of color to remind us of our time at Daniel’s Bay and of Paul’s generosity. We snacked on them for a week and were able to eat or give away almost all of them, no small feat.

This was our first hike in the South Pacific, and we were surprised by the solitude and beauty. We love it here.


About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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