05 Apr Hakatea (Daniel’s Bay), Nuku Hiva – Thursday, 05 April 2001
We left Taohae for Hakatea (Daniel’s Bay), Thursday April 5. We spent the afternoon hiking to 900′ high Vaipo Falls, the tallest waterfall in the Marquesas Islands. We began our trek by taking the'”rubber duck” over to the neighboring Hakaui Bay, crossed the sandbar at the river mouth and tied off to a tree at the river’s edge. A handsome young man in his early twenties, who introduced himself as Augustine the Prince, pointed the way to the trail. At first, it was like walking along a garden path. We passed a small chapel and many fruit trees on a path set on top of a raised foundation of many stones. This was the ancient stone road of the early inhabitants of Hakaui Valley. Alongside the trail and buried in the undergrowth were many Paepae (house foundations), and an occasional tiki. It was very very hot and extremely buggy. As we don’t go ashore unless we are wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts, we sweated profusely. Actually, we dripped and had to use towels that we carry in our belts to mop our faces.
We hiked on into Hakaui Valley. Up the stone road, over slippery logs over the river, deeper and deeper into the long narrow valley. At times tall rock walls that dripped with moisture and buried us in deep shadow surrounded us. Twice more we had to ford the river by wading over slippery moss covered stones through water that was above our knees. We were covered with bugs sweat and mud. Cairns of small rocks, stacked as markers by others attempting to identify the path, marked the trail. More than once we lost our way, split up to search and found it again. After two hours of trudging we arrived at the bottom of the falls and discovered that Vaipo Falls is buried in a deep crevice and is not visible from its base. We turned around and trudged back. It was worth it; the valley is a jumble of ancient archeological ruins. We left the valley with a sense of the population of many thousands of people that lived here when the French took possession of the Marquesas in 1842. On our way back to the bay, we waved to the few families still living there. All are descendents of the historical Chief. Augustine, the Prince, and his handsome younger brother are the next in line to rule this ancient kingdom that is now reduced to a few families deriving a small income from the production of copra, harvesting fruit from the land, crabs from the beach, fish from the sea (and baguettes from Taiohae). Unfortunately I wasn’t able to take any pictures of Prince Augustine and his brother, because when we reached the bay, it was pouring down rain.