One of the reasons to visit New Caledonia was to see Charlotte - another YogaSlacker teacher who lives there. Since we were on that side of the world - why not? (in case you were wondering New Caledonia is northwest of New Zealand and east of Australia and has strong ties to France). Charlotte did a ton of work planning and setting things up for our visit and her housemates put up with an invasion by 7 people and way too much stuff. Thanks everyone.
23-12-2015 (I am using the local date convention) We flew from Bangkok to Australia and then on to New Caledonia arriving in the evening to a Christmas Eve eve dinner. We were all pretty tired but I did my best to partake of all of the delicious dishes followed by a proper cheese platter and then deserts. I was exhausted and wasn't doing very well following the conversations in French and I crashed before the party was over.
24-12-15 we packed up and headed to a highlining spot. This was in the channel below the dam for lake Yate. We hiked in and set up the highline as well as a shorter water line. The highline was about 40 M long and maybe 15 - 20 high. People jumped off the one side into the water below and it was lower than some of the deep water soloing in Thailand. Still I was not at all ready to go leashless and just fall into the water (but Charlotte did pinch her nose when she fell on the highline even though she was leashed). I wasn't doing particularly well with the water line or the highline and fell off of both repeatedly although I did walk a bit farther on the waterline and the falls were less traumatic.
|Charlotte goes for the nose pinch as she falls off the highline|
|A brief moment of balance before I plummet|
|Sam takes the ride|
|another brief moment of balance|
|Tony stands up on the highline|
That night we had duck breasts cooked on the fire and camped out (in general the French influence increased the quality and expenses of our food here).
25-12-15 For Christmas we were joined by Gianni who brought out the Hala SUP for us to play with along with the waterline and highline. I did better on the waterline but probably worse on the highline this day. After a satisfyingly tiring day we packed up our toys and headed back to Noumea where we were joined by Nalumon who was unable to get on the earlier flight from Thailand.
|Matt on the Hala SUP|
|Sam captured me getting a spide pic|
|It really was pretty scenic there|
|Charlotte and Tony re-rig the line|
|making up new SUP acro moves|
26-12-15 We got up too early to get in some yoga before heading to the Capoeira studio to teach a weekend acro workshop.
|a heap of acroyogis|
28-12-15 todays mission is to snorkel and dive (for those certified). We headed out on a smallish boat through some bouncy waves to Amedee Island where we snorkeled 'til we got too cold. I saw a sea snake and a few turtles and plenty of coral and fish. Others saw a shark. The visibility was pretty good - at least until my mask got somewhat obscured. Then while the divers went and dove the rest of us hung out on the island. Most napped and I busted into a few coconuts and did another snorkel run where I was menaced by an aggro parrot fish. Then we headed out to try to find some manta rays. We dragged Charlotte around behind the boat a bit but didn't find any so we went to a shallow spot behind the reef and did another snorkel. The visibility was even better here. That night we picked up a rental car and had a most excellent dinner at Gianni's.
|menacing parrot fish|
|a colorful tridacnid - giant clam|
|there is a shark hiding there|
|2cd snorkel spot - pretty pretty|
29-12-15 We pack up and head North in 2 vehicles. We went to a public camping beach near Poe. There we set up a few slacklines including one nearly 270 ft over a section of beach out to a mangrove tree. It was flapping pretty hard but a wind-dampener helped a lot. It took a few tries but eventually I was able to walk accross (nearly to the end) and back. I also took the SUP up a back stream where there were a lot of large land crabs behind the mangroves and fish in the water (that wasn't very clear). Once the tide came in it was a whole lot harder to walk the line - in fact nobody got very far over the water. That night the neighbors turned on a generator when it got dark and shot off a heap of fireworks later in the night before finally turning off the generator.
|the peanut gallery and the waterline|
|Eric watches the line flap in the wind|
|and sits on it|
30-12-15 The next morning there was some rain and a lot more wind. The long line was really flapping and the tide was coming in. It was a challenge just to stand up let alone walk more than a few steps. I also tried to use the SUP to surf the smallish waves that made it past the reef but didn't have much succcess. We packed stuff up in a windblown rain and headed N again. We stopped on the side of the road for a picnic lunch and then continued on up to Coumac where they let us stay in the campground even though they were closed for the night. We quickly jumped on a few climbs there. They were in limestone with little sharp inclusions. There was also a small cave here we checked out. That night there was quite a chorus of frogs as well as maybe a distant peacock. Some locals pulled in at some point in the night and talked to Eric for a while (he was in a hammock) and rushed my tent kicking out a stake. I don't know if they thought they knew us or were just being boisterous.
|picnic spot off the road|
31-12-15 I got everyone up early to get on a few climbs before we had to move. I still failed to get on the one steep line that looked good. We headed on to another climbing area - Notre Dame. There we climbed at the Jane wall for a while until some serious rain sent us to a more overhanging wall. There I did a one-fall ascent of a 7a cllimb and some steep fun lines as well as a very pumpy top rope on a long tree root growing from the roof down to the ground. I think it was about 20 or 25 M tall. That night we drove back to Noumea. This was a bit sketchy because we were scared the gas stations were going to be closed. I think Charlotte sweet talked us into one. Also there were a number of sobriety check points. We decided not to use our limited new French phrases that were useful but not cleared for polite company. I think the guys that made Sam take the breathalyzer couldn't believe that there were people who didn't drink. We did see and hear a lot of distant fireworks at midnight and when we got to Noumea close to 2 am there was a party across the street still going strong...
|Charlotte climbs on the Jane Wall|
|Gianni heads up the tree root|
|Kristin's first lead|
|Hand to Hand is a lot easier with a toprope|
|near the top of the tree root route|
|this gives a better perspective on the height of the root|
|looking up at the climbs|
|Nalumon on the "5a" that was really a 5c+|
|Nalumon climbs into the light at the top|
1-1-16 This was a rest and recovery day with laundry, computer work, attempting to buy food for the next mission (most everything was closed though). Despite taking a ferry boat to Ile Des Pins we had a weight limit. We didn't know how hard it was, but took the time to pack things as best we could.
2-1-16 There was another too early morning to get to the ferry on time. There was quite an element of hurry up and wait. Eventually we got onto the ferry aided by the fact that they allowed us to have an aggregate weight and Matt's pack had a good bit of weight supported by the ground when they weighed it. They also didn't weigh our carry on bags so had we known we would have packed differently. Ile Des Pins looks like a stereotypical tropical paradise with super blue water, white beaches, and green hills. We lugged our stuff to the campground and set up before returning to a beach. There we played in the warm water and on the beach and with the paddleboard. It was possible to embed your legs into the sand past the knees by pumping them up and down on the shore. Then we played with leaning various directions.
3-1-16 This day we had a rental car to shuttle us about. First we went to a cave. This was relatively undeveloped (not really at all) and we swam in the crisp water to another room. Sam and Matt and Kristin explored a lot farther and got muddier. I played around with long exposure pics but gave up when another group arrived. Then on to Bay Gadji where we explored by paddleboard and packraft a bit and harvested a few coconuts. That night we took a longer than expected walk to take some night pics and explore.
|the water in the cave got more muddy on the return|
|this was another entrance I would have liked to explore more|
4-1-16 This day we had a mission. It involved getting permission and renting a kayak (and we were joined by Tito). Then we paddled and swam out about 1.5 K to an island with a little archipelago of sub-islands where we set up slack lines over the water. This was made more difficult and exciting by the fact that the islands were sharp and overhanging on all sides. Eventually the lines were set up and walked or at least attempted to be walked. The short one wasn't so hard, but the long one bouted us all after a few steps. Still it was a spectacular setting. Then we had the challenge of taking it all down and shuttling everyone back. There were a few mini- adventures along the way, but it was a success. We were a little scared the last 4 of us would be walking the 15 K back to camp but Charlotte and Alexandre came through and rescued us. That night in typical YogaSlacker fashion we decided to hike up to the highest point on the island for sunrise, and why start in the morning when you can go the night before and sleep on top? So 6 of us did that. It was quite hot and sweaty even in the dark until we cleared the treeline and got a breeze. There was even a little copse of trees on the summit for those with hammocks.
5-1-16 Of course there was a bit of rain at night, but we got up and to an overlook in time for a most excellent sunrise. Somewhere on the hike back down I lost my Sunski sunglasses.
|overcooked fisheye in camera HDR of the sunrise|
|waiting for the sunrise|
The rest of the morning we were all pretty beat and in the afternoon we walked to a private beach and ate coconuts and swam. I saw a lionfish but the snorkeling was frustrating because I needed to shave so my mask leaked.
That evening we went to Alexandre's for a ceremony to get permission to set up the water line (graciously they allowed us to do the waterline first). I had no idea really what to expect but as the oldest I was to be our spokesperson while Gianni translated. Basically I said how we had come from far away to do what we loved in this beautiful place and thanked them for allowing us (the island is all private property held by the pre-French natives). This was accompanied by traditional gifts of tobacco and cloth. Then we all had tea. We also got a small pile of fresh mangoes and were shown how to harvest coconuts with a long pole. While we were waiting before hand we set up a slackline and the kids tried it.
6-1-16 This was our last day. We took group pics and went to the private beach. Freshly shaved the snorkeling was a lot better and I saw a giant ray as well as some blue coral and plenty of fishes and floating rocks (pumice). Then we returned for a final shower and to walk to the ferry to return to Noumea. There was a fair bit of acro on the ferry as well as a nice sunset. That night I was up far too late packing and messing on the computer.
|enacting our favorite French idiom "la tete dans le cul"|
|Raquel and Sam play catch with his hat|
7-1-16 Morning came far too early along with a trip to the airport. There we departed for more adventures in New Zealand.
|the Noumea area from the air|
|and we are off to New Zealand|