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Spots on The Rock

Into the jungle, out to the sea

Exploring Pågat – a living museum of CHamoru culture and natural wonder

  • 3 min to read
'Spots on the Rock' book now available for purchase

SPOTS ON THE ROCK: The Guam Daily Post's hiking book, "Spots on The Rock: A Guide to Guam Hikes and Nature Trails," is now available at Bestseller Bookstore in Guam Premier Outlets and the Micronesia Mall, and Pika's Café and Faith Bookstore.

Ancient latte stones, lusongs and pottery shards, a natural rock arch and a dark, freshwater cave pool? Sounds like an adventure fit for Indiana Jones!

Trek to preserved and pristine Pågat, a living museum in its own right, as well as an adventure for the most daring of daredevils.

Crossing the limestone-studded northeast coast, remnants of an ancient CHamoru village lie prominently around. You don't have to wander too far to find heaps of history.

The trek to Pågat is on the more difficult end of the medium rating, especially if you decide to add on the optional portions, but it's worth every drop of sweat!

This hike is not ideal for pets or small children due to the deep water inside the cave, the generally rough, rugged landscape and close proximity to dangerous cliffs. Even for adults, extreme caution and preparation are encouraged.

Our adventure begins

To start, follow the beaten path as it heads toward the ocean. Immediately, you're treated to fluttering butterflies, wild flowers, harmless bees and, possibly, some coconut crabs, among other fantastic flora and fauna.

Soon, the trail will slowly descend a jungle canopy-covered slope for the next 30 minutes, transforming from a dirt path to one of slick and slippery limestone, characteristic of northeastern Guam.

Near the end of the descent is the final test: a steep incline down sharp coral and moss-covered rocks. Carefully make your way down with the assistance of available ropes and other handholds.

After conquering the coral descent, about a mile into the hike, you'll reach home base. From here, there are three features to freely visit.

Going straight ahead will lead hikers through a brief spot of jungle before opening up to cool coastal views of the deep blue Pacific Ocean. Feel free to venture anywhere along the jagged cliffs, but remember the entrance back into the jungle.

When you're tired of stumbling over rocks and baking in the sun, retreat to home base, and this time, take the other path to your right to reach the cave.

Cooling off at Pågat Cave

Descending another short limestone path into a depression, traverse a few minor coral rocks to reach the bottom.

To the left, you'll notice a couple of dark entrances, which lead to Pågat Cave. Note, the cave is pitch-black inside and requires wading in through waist-deep water. Bring flashlights or lamps, and tightly pack your belongings before venturing in.

When you're ready, slowly make your way into the cave lobby, entering the shallow pool of freshwater that opens up inside.

Wading through the waist-deep water, depending on your height, cling to the walls of the cave for support. In just a minute, you should reach the main room of the cave, a cavern with dry ground to the left and a large natural swimming pool to the right.

Settle your belongings and set up some sort of lighting system for your temporary stay. Go for a swim in the super-deep, refreshing water. Cherish the complete and utter silence – and try not to let it creep you out.

After cooling off in the underground oasis, head back out to the mouth of the cave for another two tantalizing treks.

Wandering amid ancient wonders

Exiting the cave, to your left, climb another short limestone hill, which leads to another jungle path, covered by a cool, leafy canopy.

At the first fork in the trail, travel left, farther into the jungle. You'll reach the plateau of a hill. Continue to follow the beaten path for another few minutes.

Soon, another fork, divided by a tree, appears. This time, take a right. The peaceful jungle juncture eventually will lead to the site of one of the most well-preserved ancient CHamoru settlements on island.

There are dozens of ancient lusongs (a stone tool used to grind food) lying around, as well as tons of ancient potsherds to be found.

At the end of this trail, you'll find several small latte stones, though they won't look like the ones branded across Guam's tourism imagery. The signature stones stand upright and are mostly aligned, signifying the site of an ancient dwelling.

Ecstatic from the exciting finds while exploring the jungle, move your adventurous momentum to the coast!

Shaped by nature

To reach the natural rock arch found only at Pågat, follow the same path past the latte stone site to another fork. Take a right, and follow it all the way to the breathtaking coastline.

As you break out of the jungle and into the sun, you should be able to hear waves crashing against the weathered cliffs, followed by the sun's warm greeting.

The arch is naturally shaped by the waves and is definitely a sight to see in Pågat paradise. Take in the thrashing water and vast views of the northeast, but don't stray too close for comfort.

After snapping a few photos of this preserved nature park, retrace your steps past the ancient village and underground cave to home base, and from there, back up the long, sloping hill to your vehicle.

Happy hiking!

Reporter

The Scoop coordinator, Spots on The Rock columnist and Life documenter. Email: tihu@postguam.com. Follow Tihu on Twitter and Instagram at @tihualujan.

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