OKINAWA, Japan - The faces of people on the bus were filled with hope as a glimmer of sunlight was seen through the rain clouds covering the sky. As time passed and the bus arrived at its destination, the rain continued. As participants stepped off the bus, reality set in that the day would be filled with a gloomy sky, mud puddles and gusty winds.
The bad weather did not stop those involved from enjoying a hike to Hiji Falls hosted by Marine Corps Community Services on Okinawa March 31.
Hiji Falls, home to the largest waterfall on Okinawa, is located in the northern region of the island and includes a one-mile hiking trail to the falls. The falls are home to more than 380 rare species of plants and offer the opportunity to see many different types of rare birds, including the Okinawa Rail, Akahige and the Pryor’s Woodpecker.
Participants took their time hiking the trail and observing the scenery, taking photographs and asking questions about its history.
“I love having the opportunity to experience the Okinawan culture,” said Sara A. Sloane, an amateur photographer. “My husband and I take advantage of every opportunity we can regardless of the weather.”
Prior to the hike, coordinators presented background information on the popularity of Hiji Falls and forewarned everyone of the stairs they would be climbing through the trail.
“I was very proud and surprised my daughter was able to make it through the hike with no complaints,” said Melissa J. Warthen, a hike participant.
After hiking up and down countless sets of stairs, the trail eventually leads to a waterfall, measuring 85-feet in height — the largest waterfall on Okinawa.
“I would advise everyone to continue to learn and educate themselves about everything Okinawa has to offer,” said participant Steven A. Sloane. “A [tour] on Okinawa will not last forever, and I don’t think a lot of service members take full advantage of what it has to offer.”
To learn more about MCCS tours, visit www.mccsokinawa.com or call 646-3502.