Sunday, November 22, 2009

Costa Rica Days 19 & 20 - Corcovado: Jaguar tracks and drunk birds

Quick side note: Corcovado National Park is definitely one of the most impressive places I've ever been to, and National Geographic refers to it as 'one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet.' So, well, that's pretty impressive. We spent four days backpacking in this spectacular spot...End note.

(Feb 6) We figured it would be wise to do laundry before we went to Corcovado and stank everything up worse, so while we waited, we drank excessive amounts of coffee and packed up our stuff for the hell ride to Carate, which took more than 2 hours to go roughly 24 miles. For a while, we wondered if we were being taken to a prison camp...because this is what we rode in:
We made it to Carate, which is not really a town - it's got a couple eco-lodges and a soda (which is basically a little roadside bar/old lady's kitchen) and that's about it. But, it's beautiful! We looked for a (legal) place to camp on the beach but were a little sketched out about it all. We were about 3 miles from the national park and it was getting dark so we didn't want to hike all the way there, plus, we didn't have reservations for that night. Anyway, pretty long story so I'll shorten it. There was a jackass from Canada who owned the soda and wouldn't sell us water. He also kicked an empty can at Zac when he went back an hour later to try for more water. I was livid but figured I would not exchange words because he was way too mean and scary. And I already had a really bad feeling about this guy. He told us we could camp anywhere on the beach (again, this is a really deserted place) but I was absolutely convinced he was going to come chop us up into little pieces in the middle of the night. I really have no idea what we did, other than try to buy his freaking bottled water that was for sale, to piss him off. Maybe he just hated Americans.
Anyway, we found a pretty spot to camp but there ended up being jaguar (AWESOME) prints - one adult and two young, all over the spot we were going to put up the tent. Needless to say, we wandered a half mile down the beach to a different spot. In the process, we found a predated turtle nest (bummer), tapir (above picture) and many other tracks. The predated nest plus the psycho soda owner plus not knowing if we were camping illegally kinda got me down for a while. But, despite my legit fear, I am still happy in the below photo!
I thought it wise to put up the tent in not so obvious of a spot, so we went about 50 meters into the jungle. I love my tent, because it so beautifully camouflaged in various different landscapes. It's a Mountain Hardwear Approach, by the way, and has survived a lot of good, hardcore stuff. I was on a roll and seriously weirded out by the aforementioned soda guy, so we covered our tracks with a giant palm leaf. yes, really. We ate some corn tortillas and beans for dinner at sunset by the beach (ohh la la!). When we came back to the tent, there was a spider monkey (again, awesome!) hanging out in the branches right above the tent. This definitely upped my mood! When it got dark, there were tons of fireflies. The heat was intense that night. I love being hot and can handle the heat no matter what...but the jungle was SO thick that there was no breeze, even though we were so close to the ocean. We were beading sweat like crazy, but somehow managed to get a pretty good night's sleep. I'm pretty sure we lost a handful of pounds thanks to the sweat. We woke up to a pretty sweet sunrise below.

(Feb 6) We got an early start, note the shadows! (despite some issues I had with my contact lenses, yeee-argh!). We got to the ranger station bright and early at 6 am, loaded up on h20 and hiked the 12 miles to the Sirena station. It was a hefty 12 miles, as a lot of it was in deep sand in the sun. We had to doge the tide at times. There were hermit crabs everywhere...thousands upon thousands! We would see them eat bananas and dead crabs and an almond that I dropped. When we stopped for lunch I was mesmerized by them for some reason, and watched one carry one of my almonds for about 20 minutes. It was quite an epic journey for the little guy. I'm happy to report that he had that almond all to himself and found a fantastic little hiding spot in some driftwood...

Zac found 17 ticks on him that day, I found 4...and if you know me at all, you might know that ticks kind of make me freak out. But, I'm used to them at this point in my life, even if Zac got Relapsing Fever from oneof the little bastards while we were in Costa Rica.

Bird-wise today, some of the guys we saw were a Northern Waterthrush, Black-hooded Antshrike (above), Red-legged Honeycreeper (my favorite), Gray-headed Tanager (above), Riverside Wren, Philadelphia Vireo, Blue-capped Manequin (actually, maybe she was my photo on this entry), Neotropical Cormorant, quite a few Mangrove Black Hawks, and a drunken Crested Guan. ha! This guy was a little tanked on some very overripe berries. He let us get within a couple feet of him because of it, and when he finally flew off, he was a little sloppy about it!
We also saw several agoudis, 6 javelinas, and tons of tapir tracks on the luck with actually seeing them however.

When we got to the first river crossing, we were relieved that it was low tide. Apparently, there are many crocodiles in this river mouth, and there have also been some human deaths because of it. It's highly advised not to cross at high tide. We made it across without any blood and no croc sightings...I REALLY wanted to see one!

We got to the Sirena Ranger Station, set up the tent and pulled ticks off ourselves for the next hour. Fun day and a great hike, but we were ready for a rest at the end of the day! This is a very tired Zac nearing the end of the day...


Gabe said...

The crazy arachnid thing is an amblypigid-a tailless whip scorpion. Pretty cool!

Shiloh said...

Cool blog. I completely agree about the Red-legged honeycreeper and the manakins. The honeycreeper is one of the most unexpectedly memorable birds, but it's hard to beat a manakin for personality. Oh, and I am pleased to see that you remain un-chopped. Damn Canadians. They don't even tip well...