To avoid mental meltdown after staying on the boat for too long, Zac and me got out to climb a mountain. The Mont Aorai with its 2070m should be a very beautiful hike and it has two huts in convenient locations to spend a night there.
So we took the bus around midday and arrived at Pirae at 13h. We walked past the village and asked our way through towards the Belvedere, a small restaurant at 700m where the actual trail will start.
It took us quite some time to get there and the walk on the paved road was quite exhausting but once on the trail I removed the shoes and we finally walk through nature. One of the better things is to walk barefoot and feel the moist, stony, muddy ground. The beginning of the trail follows along the side of a valley until it reaches the ridge on which it stays for quite some while. Actually most part of the trail is right ON the ridge with both sides being quite steep and usually leading a few hundered meters down.
Just before nightfall we reached the first hut on 1400m and we had a nice dinner with Couscous, vegetables, soup and coffee. The night was chilly and windy and we were glad that the backpack Zac got from the SY Ustupu would fit perfectly into the empty windowframe. That way it was much more comfortable and after having fun with our headlamps and the long-exposure mode of the camera, we slept until eight in the morning.
On the second day we continued our way up through the clouds and a wild, dripping wet rainforest full of fern trees and with everything covered with moss and lichen (old man’s beard). The air is damp and completely saturated and the scene might change on the next corner after which we might find ourselves out of the clouds and surrounded with pine trees and walking on dry grass.
After a short stop at the hut on 1800m we leave our backpacks and continue towards the summit. The path gets slightly more difficult and we reach the peak shortly after midday. A little snack and a few photos later we’re already on our way down where we soon again find ourselves surrounded by the clouds. Unfortunately those are now over-saturated and it starts to rain around us. It will continue to be wet until we reach the end of the footpath.
That of course means that a big part of the hike downwards is quite slippery and gets very tricky as much of the ground is composed of red clay. But we reach the Belvedere just before sunset and are very lucky to get a ride down to the village. And as we already know the polynesian way, we’re not surprised as one of the guys who is riding with us in the back of the pickup truck offers to get us to the marina. He just has to get back home and get his own car. The local people are extremely friendly and helpful and are not shy to drive two dirty, sweaty aliens around the island.
All of the above photos were made by Zachary Shane Orion Lough. You can find more pictures on his website.