August Hike

At the end of August we decided to take a family hike up one of the hills on the backside of the hospital station.  Nathan has taken the older three to a cross on a rise that the Catholic Church erected sometime ago, but we had not yet taken the youngest two on a hike.  There were actually three crosses that once stood at various points across the river, but we chose the easiest hike, only hiking to the second cross.

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We crossed the river on the way up as well as the way back home

Since it is dry season, we were able to begin by wading across the river instead of out around the road.  Nathan led us up a path that he had taken before, but the people living there said there was a shorter way and point out another path.  This path was easy to follow up to a clearing holding a half dozen huts made from kuni grass.  After starting down one path, Nathan quickly decided to go down the next, but the kids in the area said it was actually the third path we needed.  The were happy to act as guides for the remainder of the trip to keep us going the right way.  

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We passed fields full of kaukau (like a sweet potato and a staple of the diet for most Papua New Guineas) as well as a field holding hundreds of pineapple plants.  A woman was out working in the pineapples with her daughters.  Her husband works at the hospital and after chatting for a minute, she gave us two freshly picked pineapples and sent us on our way.  

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At this point, the path become very narrow and followed little ditches etched into the hillside from heavy rains.  Tall grass grew around the path, much to our little guy’s chagrin.  He was in tears and wanted nothing more to do with hiking.  We were on the home stretch of making it to the top of the though, so I kept ahold of his hand and as we finished trudging up last bit of the hill.  We made it to the top with tears streaming down his face,  after getting a drink of water and a little rest without being bothered by that pesky grass, he was back to his happy self for the remainder of the morning.  

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And the view was amazing!  The sun peaked behind the clouds, casting a spot light on areas here and there around the hills.  The green was brilliant and really not able to be caught in its full beauty by a camera.  We posed for a family picture with all of the children guiding our way (and these are all still on Nathan’s phone!).

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After waving hello to the shouts of “Hello Dr. Nathan!” coming from neighboring hills, we headed back down, this time on a wide road with no grass getting in the way. 

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The girl on the right with the pink “bag” is carrying a baby around with the baby bilum hanging down her back from her forehead.

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Nathan carried our baby girl most of the trip, because she makes it only three or four steps before stopping to check out everything along the path.  As we said goodbye to the children in the little clearing that held their homes, Nathan took her off his shoulders, giving her a chance to stretch those eager legs.  She insisted on carrying one of the pineapple.  Just as I shot this picture, it shifted, poking her little arm and caused a great deal of distress.  A big brother rescued her from the offending fruit and she was quickly back to her friendly self waving goodbye to our hiking companions.

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The big kids loved getting to be outside hiking and searching for insects and showing me the beautiful scenery on this hike they’ve enjoyed before.  It turned out to be a wonderful time together and when time permits, we’ll try it again.

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