After a long day on the trails, we decided to take it easy on day two of our trip to Corcovado National Park (if you missed day one, look here). We rose with the sun and hung out around the biological station, enjoying the sounds of the jungle. We chatted with the guide we had met the day before and finally discovered that his name is Pablo. He helped us to identify some of the birds that we had seen the day before and pointed out some of the critters that were hanging out in the trees in front of us.
The peaceful morning sounds were soon interrupted by the buzzing of a small plane approaching to make landfall right before our eyes. No worries though, it wasn't crashing, just dropping off a load of park visitors that decided to take the easy way in. This routine continued well into the morning and started up again in the afternoon to pick up other visitors.
In between the comings and goings of the morning flights we enjoyed listening to the excited (or perhaps aggravated) grunting and shouting of the howler monkeys occupying one of the trees alongside the landing strip. We also laid eyes on more squirrel and spider monkeys and some toucans and parrots that were flitting about the runway. We ate some granola bars and raisins, watched a coati make a playful appearance and then went on our way.
We walked across the airstrip and were immediately engulfed in the jungle. The trail was well maintained, yet it swallowed us in a blanket of green as we made our way along the log cookies that were placed to help hikers out during muddier times. Butterflies and birds bounced gracefully from branch to branch as we passed them. We stopped to adore the monstrous trees that grew around us, their bark ranging from pure while to rich red. Occasionally the howler monkeys would make their presence in the jungle known, grunting off in the distance. We arrived at a fork in the path and took the option that would lead us to Rio Sirena.
The trail popped us out onto the beach. The Pacific Ocean greeted us with a wave and we tracked hermit crabs and little sideways running crabs along the shore until we reached the mouth of the river. We had been warned that this river is frequented by bull sharks at high tide, we did not have the pleasure of seeing one of their fins, but we did see a crocodile sunning itself on the opposite shore. We talked to Pablo a little bit and then took our leave, ready to see what the other trail had to offer.
As we made our way back to the fork we had earlier encountered we spotted spider monkeys dancing overhead. As we were watching them we crossed paths with a guide who asked if we had seen the peccaries yet. We told him that we had not and he let us know that they were just 100 meters down the trail. We proceeded with caution, Pablo's tale of attacking peccaries still fresh in our minds. As we approached the herd we kept an eye out for trees to climb and then watched the animals graze the jungle floor. Just our luck, they were getting ready to cross the trail that we were walking down. We tried to inch forward, but when one large peccary started grunting we were quick to give it all of the space it could have dreamed of. It stood ground as its family passed in front of us and then moved on its way.
We moved forward and a few meters later we safely arrived at the fork in the road and took the remaining path. This led us back to the Sirena, though a little further down river. There we could see the crocodile sunning itself as well as an additional one swimming through the river. We watched it for a minute and then continued on our way. As we made progress down the trail we heard one of the most beautiful bird songs I have ever heard before. We crossed some muddy streams and bypassed large tour groups.
As we continued on our projected loop that would have us returning at the biological station in time for lunch we stumbled across a family of coati. They were sniffing out their own lunch and sneaking through the underbrush. Our presence was of no concern to them, they were intent on completing their mission. We watched in awe for several minutes and then decided to go find our own food.
After quick PB&J tortillas we headed back into the jungle. This time our ventures took us up, and up, and up. Every time that we thought we might start heading down another hill would present itself. As we journeyed uphill we discovered many lizards, frogs and toads hanging out alongside the trail. We arrived at a point where we were above the sounds of spider monkeys screaming below. It was the most prolific monkey sound any of us had ever heard. The imagined argument was "stay away, she's mine." These were some pretty impassioned creatures.
As the sounds of those spider monkeys died off we continued on our way. Not too much time had passed when we discovered a family of spider monkeys hanging out overhead. They were dancing in the treetops and enjoying life to the fullest. Then one noticed that we had paused to watch them. It wasn't too happy about it and growled at us. It wasn't exactly the sound one expects to hear from a monkey. We moved a little further down the trail, but continued to watch. When it growled again we took our leave.
The day was growing long and we wanted to make it back to the beach in time for sunset. We picked up the pace (just as we were going downhill - my least favorite part of any hike) and before we knew it we had arrived at the mouth of Rio Claro, the river we would need to cross the next day. Chris and I ventured off trail at that point and walked along the river; however, not knowing if it would safely get us to where we wanted to be for sunset Kevin ran down the remaining bit of trail and we all met up later on the beach.
The sunset was a magnificent way to end the day. The clouds were pretty much perfect, the sound of the crashing waves and the glowing orb that descended into them reminded us just how wonderful nature is (in case we hadn't been reminded enough throughout the days adventures!). A family of coati snuck through the jungle behind us and made a presence on the beach. The end of day bird calls got us moving so that we would return to the station by dark.
We ate some cold bean burritos for dinner followed by Christmas cookies drenched in dulce de leche. Then we crashed. What a day!
Stay tuned for day three!
[note: linked photos were those taken by our friend Kevin, photos appearing in the blog were taken by us]