Up early for a longer hike. We parked at Cloudbridge and then walked back to the beginning of the Chirripó Trail which goes to the top of the mountain. Since we are not ready to climb 14 km we opt to stop 100 meters short of the fourth kilometer and take a 1 km trail back to Cloudbridge.
The first kilometer is pretty tough as it is steep. In fact, the first 500 meters seem to never end. We both felt that by the time we got to the first kilometer we had been struggling a lot more than we did on this same stretch a few days ago. Just past the first sign we had seen an emerald toucanet last week, and several in the same tree two years ago, but none this time. The second k is a bit easier and even has a long easy stretch with a great view. We fortified ourselves there as we perched on a log. It was time to unzip and remove the leggings and let fresh air cool off our calves.
The third k is uphill again but not nearly as bad as the initial leg. One section even has circular steps made from trees with a side trail for the horses who help the porters with baggage, trash, etc. for those strong enough to hike the whole way. BTW, this has to be done in one day! No overnighting to rest mid trail. Lots of views of the valley and San Isidro de el General where we shop, etc. We got to see some of the primary growth with trees that never seem to end.
Volunteers at Cloudbridge had reported seeing two different types of monkeys while hiking last week. We were disappointed not to enjoy that fun. Every time we stopped, which was often, we would check the treetops for monkey movement as well as quetzals. Alas, they were off somewhere else….On the Sendero Montaña we saw orchid leaves littering the ground so the monkeys had been through that way recently.
The trail back to Cloudbridge was narrow, slippery, and steep. It seemed much longer than 1 km! Bill led the way and slipped many times on roots. In fact, I eventually thanked him for showing me where the slippery spots are! Towards the end of the trail I thought to myself, just watch, I will fall the one time he doesn’t show me a slippery spot. Oh, yes, down I went with my right leg straight out and my left leg bent back as my boot didn’t move. So glad the pull of my thigh muscle didn’t yank as hard as I thought. Looking back I had been daydreaming and missed a mucky small drop out in the open.
The entire hike until just before the fall was in the forest. I had been so enjoying the trees and reminiscing about my childhood. Mom and Dad had many acres of land, a lot of which was wooded which made a great play area. Nothing like nature to feel one with the world. Much of the mission of Cloudbridge is to reforest the land that decades ago was cleared for farming. The trees abruptly stop towards the end of the trail, and there is much evidence of tree planting to take the ridge back to the way it used to be. I was sad the forest ended, but silently thanked Cloudbridge for trying to get it back. The saplings people have planted have finally begun to make the transition to their new home after a few years of many dying for one reason or another. It seemed like a typical movie metaphor that at the point I was missing the forest a light rain began to fall mirroring my feelings.
Back at Cloudbridge we stopped by the director’s house as Linda wanted some photography advice from Bill. First, though, she treated us to her homemade muffins with jam inside. Yum! She also showed us a clip of a jaguar that a researcher gotten from the mounted cameras in section on the other side of the ridge we had hiked for the greatest part of the hike. Fun! She and Tom, the director, were quite excited!
A great hike, good weather, but no unusual sightings. Maybe next time?
A video of the hike….