|Boarding the boat|
8:00 A.M. seems a little early to meet here in Palau, but every single youth and leader arrived on time. Too bad the boat didn't! After the boat was fueled and prepared, we loaded each person, our gear, and multitudes of groceries for our trek to one of the rock islands.
After about twenty minutes of motoring towards one of the islands, we arrived at the base of a tall mountain that hosts the German lighthouse. Made during the war, this lookout point was the perfect spot to see anything coming by sea or in the air. Our boat captain dropped us on shore and promptly left, so no turning back.
Just after beginning what we thought was going to be a half mile hike, we heard screams from the girls in the front. They discovered bushes with long, spiky thorns and a nest of four-inch long centipedes that bite. Hiking through the jungle was an experience difficult to describe. The canopy of green shaded us, but the humid conditions made all of us sweat buckets. The beauty of the jungle made up for our discomfort with its gigantic plants, massive trees and root systems, Tarzan-like hanging vines, and metallic leftovers from the war.
|Halfway up the mountain|
Our hike extended to a mile and a half uphill, but we enjoyed short breaks and heard stories about the pioneers. Once at the top we surrounded the lighthouse and sang all verses of "High on the Mountain Top" and heard a couple of more stories.
|Can you see the centipede?|
When we picked our way back down the trail again, we met our boat and was whisked away to another island covered in white sand, crabs, picnic tables, and a covered barbecue area. Some of our youth got right to work on hamburgers and hot dogs while most jumped in the ocean or built sand sculptures on the beach.
|Sister Carter and one of the massive trees|
|Swimming at Milky Way|
|Sculptors with the Salt Lake Tabernacle, church office building, temple|
|Cement pool in the middle of our hike|
After loading all of our gear again and another short boat ride, we found ourselves at the Milky Way, a small lagoon known for its spa-like sand. Many dove to the bottom and brought up armfuls of sand, covered their bodies, waited for it to dry, then swam to wash it all away. We're sure they all looked at least a couple of years younger after this organic mudbath.
|See the cannon and shells?|
All too soon we found ourselves back at the dock unloading our supplies, taking some last minute photos, and wishing the day hadn't ended so quickly, yet happy that all had an enjoyable time making memories together.
|Catch straight from the ocean|