After I finished the magnetic traversing of the Panguna-Barapinang survey grid, I thought it might be a good idea to make a long magnetic traverse from the prospect area to the northeast coast. It would be a long trek, maybe nine or ten miles.
Someone warned me to look out for old Japanese foxholes at the intersections of trails. They were narrow, deep, and well hidden. Snipers had used them to watch trails in all directions. They were well hidden, even yet. Falling into one of them could easily cause a severe injury. And the location might be remote, with no help available.
The trail started from Barapinang camp. I measured distances by pacing. Every seventy paces I recorded the local magnetic field.
The trail led upward, following ridges.
At several places the trail emerged from the jungle and went past village garden plots. The gardens were hardly distinguishable from jungle growth. They only appeared different from the jungle because of the fruit- and vegetable-bearing plants that grew there.
Some of these gardens were quite large.
At one point it went through a small, immaculate Nasioi village. The few houses seemed empty. The only person there, was an elderly woman who was sitting on the lawn, grooming the grass by plucking individual blades. Not surprisingly, she spoke neither English nor Pidgin, only Nasioi. The only word I recognized was “Nanaiai,” which means “go away.”
The climb was moderately steep, but I was used to that by now. As compared to the Panguna-Barapinang grid, it was easy going. Near the pass and off to the side of the trail was an old Japanese artillery site. The guns were gone but the earthwork was still there.
It was jungle on both sides of the pass until the trail got down to near sea level. Then it followd a wagon track through Arawa copra plantation.
Going through the plantation was a great walk. The terrain was flat, the track passing between two rows of huge, stately coconut palms. Looking to either side were rows of coconut palms as far as the eye could see.
A rather troubling sound was the occasional fall of a palm frond from a tree. Most were far away in the distance, some were closer. One fell from a tree maybe 200 feet from me. Nervously I realized that these fronds were big and heavy, and they fell without warning. If one hit me it could hurt.
Finally I emerged on the coast road. Kobuan camp was about six miles to the southeast. It seemed I had some more walking to do.
Then a pickup truck came along the track, full of CRAE workers. To their offer of a ride, I told them never mind, I could walk the six miles back to the Kobuan base. They insisted that although they were already crowded, they could still fit me in.
Gratefully I accepted the ride.