The day was beautiful and we hiked in the shade of the jungle most of the way which kept us cool. Here we are taking a much needed break with Elders Ferguson, Blackwell, Conk, Amato, Johnson and Gibb.
As we neared the summit we began to get glimpses of the densely forested hills and coastline below.
Our guide, Ned, although barefoot, set a brisk pace. The Elders were kind enough to slacken it a bit for us. It was still an aerobic challenge to keep scrambling up and up. The trail was barely discernible and followed narrow ridges, climbed steep, muddy hillsides and passed through the roots of giant trees. It looked and felt like an enchanted forest from Middle Earth.
From the top we could see much of the north and east of the 43 square mile island. The population is concentrated in villages along the coast. The main road runs part way around the island but there are no roads into the interior which is covered by dense jungle and uninhabited. Beyond the beaches, a shallow reef rings the island. Beyond the reef, where the surf was breaking, we could see a school of large fish churning up the sea.
At the top we rested on a narrow ridge, cushioned by thick moss covered with ferns. We were too tired to make the final push to the summit as it involved using a rope and we weren't sure we could trust our legs at that point. We enjoyed watching the Elders who, as you can see behind Grant, did make it to the very top. As we rested, a cloud formed around us, cooling us with its moisture.
The trip down was treacherous. Gravity and tired muscles made it hard to control our descent and by the time we reached the bottom, we were straining to put one foot in front of the other. Again, the young Elders were very kind to slacken the pace for our sakes. Although it took several days to work out the aches and pains, the hike was well worth it. We are now reputed to be the oldest people to have ever climbed Mt. Mutante!
Tuesday we bid farewell to Elder Ferguson at the Kosrae Interanational Airport. His departure brought the number of Elders on Kosrae down to five. (Elders Amato, Gibb, Conk, Ferguson, Balckwell and Johnson)
On Friday night the Lelu Branch had a farewell party for Elder Blackwell who will leave next Tuesday. Some of the Branch members sang "The Spirit of God" in beautiful unaccompanied harmony. The Kosraeans are the best singers in all of Microneisa.
Saturday afternoon we participated in a service activity with the Elders and helped clean the Utwe chapel. Here Elders Conk and Johnson wipe down the glass louvers. They and Elder Amato and Milson Albert, President George and his daughter Sina also helped.
After several months of hard work, Grant was able to record the spoken part of the soundtrack for the Book of Mormon pageant on Sunday afternoon after Church--something of a miracle in our estimation. These members from the Utwe and Lelu Branches each had a part.