Hiking an old historic Mt. Alava trail

Hiking an old historic Mt. Alava trail

After 2-3 weeks of consistent rain in American Samoa, the sun finally came out last weekend!

We wanted to get out of the house while still staying socially distant. Ian suggested an old historic trail by Mt. Alava that we could try, so we grabbed our hiking essentials (water, snacks, and my camera), and got Yodi in the truck and headed east. I’ll spare you the details on how to get there (for now) since the national park is still working on the trail and it’s still technically closed to visitors, but once it officially opens up, it’s going to be awesome.

Yodi and Ian led the way, and Ian shared some of what he had learned about the trail.

It’s said that the trail was used centuries ago when the invading Tongans ruled over Samoa, and Pago village had relocated up to the mountains.

We hiked slowly through the saturated forest. We started around 11am, the skies were finally blue, and we were in no rush.

I wandered around frequently, looking at all the beautiful plants and tall trees, excited whenever I could identify a few of them, like these abundant and beautiful tī plants.

This spot, where the trail crosses these trees, was my favorite. Standing in between the tree trunks, feeling the cold breeze, and the ferns on the ground made reminded me a bit of our trip to New Zealand. It was a nice little escape, and change of scenery for us.

Midway through our hike we stopped for a water break for ourselves and Yodi, and looked out at a great vantage points of coastal Pago Pago and the stream delta that flows into the harbor.

Might be hard to tell from this photo, but you can see my foot, and just a few inches away, the trail drops almost straight down. I didn’t realize how narrow the ridge was until I took this photo.

The hike had some difficult parts. We hiked along the Alava ridge and in some areas found ourselves scaling across steep and slippery mountain faces.

Not pictured, but as we neared the end of the trail, we climbed two steep sections with the provided rope. I had to hold on to tree roots as I ascended the slippery slope, and alas — we made it to the top.

Up here, is where Pago Pago village had moved up to long long ago.

There is also an archaeological site where a starmound (or tia seu lupe) sits.

Early accounts tell of Samoan Chiefs who participated in the sport of pigeon catching and the English translation of “tia seu lupe” is “platform for netting lupe” – the large fruit-eating Pacific Pigeon. This prized food was a delicacy reserved for chiefs, who often gave them in ritual exchanges, but locals believe their star mounds probably held much greater social and ritual significance.

We hiked back even slower than we started, just admiring all the plants — the mushrooms, random seeds I couldn’t place, coconut trees growing in thickets at the bottom, and in weird shapes. It was overall such a relaxing and enjoyable hike. I’m excited to come back here again in the future, and to learn more history surrounding it.

Mt. Tumu: My Favorite Hike

Mt. Tumu: My Favorite Hike


02 January 2019

What better way to start off the new year than with a restful day lounging at the beach (which is basically all I did on New Years Day), followed by a strenuous hike up Mt. Tumu! Our awesome hosts, Ben and Deb, at Vaoto Lodge offered to drive us to the trailhead just pass the wharf in the main Ofu village, and we started our trek up Tumutumu.

I was super slow to start. I forgot how difficult the hike was (the last time I hiked Mt. Tumu was about 2 years ago!) and had to stop a bunch in the first hour to catch my breath, rehydrate, and rest my little legs while Rick and Polly blazed ahead. The trail looked surprisingly good for not having been maintained over the last couple of weeks since the government shutdown, and I whispered a thank you to the Ofu National Park Service team for their work.

In the second hour, I finally found my rhythm. While trudging forward, I actually tried to mentally harden myself for the hike and told myself we were probably only halfway there. But as soon as I said that, we came upon the blessed sign that said ‘Tumu Overlook’ and I almost cried hahaha. I hippity hopped up behind Ian through the last 15 minutes of the trail and laughed out loud when I heard Ian hoot at the top.

Mt. Tumu is my favorite hike thus far. Making it to the top is worth every bit of the struggle it took to get there. Besides, it really wasn’t that bad, right? We drank in the view of the Ofu, Olosega, and Ta’ū isles. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was happy to see the top of Mt. Piumafua which is normally enshrouded in clouds. Another reason I love this hike is the view below. Standing at the precipice, you can look down and see the lush green mountain drop almost straight down to the blue To’aga lagoon and stretching into the Pacific horizon. It just feels epic. Being here with Ian and his parents made my heart swell with gratitude for our time together in this magical place.