Tuesday, July 22, 2014

La Selva Perimeter hike

As we approached the end of our trip, we decided to dedicate a day to hiking the perimeter of La Selva (basically we did a giant outline of the map below). 

We began our 7 hour hike in the wee hours of the morning excited to test the notoriously tough hike.

Wildlife awaited us in the beginning of our hike.  Turtles trampled across the leaf litter, while monkeys mingled in the canopy.  Frogs frolicked along the paths. 

 Turtles are less common along these trails, so we were overjoyed to spot this little guy at our feet.  Here he is a little camera shy, hiding in his shell.

We came across a family of howler monkeys welcoming us to their home.  There are two abundant species of monkeys at La Selva: The howler monkeys and spider monkeys.  Spider and quick and curious.  Howler monkeys are loud.  They serve as nature's alarm clocks on the station.

Pumilios are the most common poison frogs at La Selva.  They raise their tadpoles inside bromilleads, so we suspect this frog is a mother.  (We met many people studying them in our time at La Selva).

Unfortunately we are not too great at identifying frogs, but when Lindsay caught these, we thought they were a pretty exciting find.

This was one of the many beautiful views on our hike.  Shannon commonly goes on morning runs just to see this tree because it is her favorite. 

This was the last picture we took on our hike because after this, it got quite difficult, to say the least.

Our hike quickly turned into a climb, where we used every part of our bodies to shove ourselves up hills and to keep from tumbling down the other sides.  At one point we figured we had made a wrong turn and were stranded in unfamiliar territory.  We eventually found a broken metal sign that let us know that we were still on La Selva's perimeter.  The rusty, moss overgrown sign also declared these trails had not been hiked in awhile.  By this time, we had figured out why. 

The rest of our journey was filled with intense adventures, including wading through rivers, balancing  across tree trunks, and Providence's encounter with the much feared bullet ant.  A few miles from the station, tired, dirty, but victorious, Carrie met us and helped us finish the hike.  

Clearly it was an adventure that I am sure we will remember in many ways for the rest of our lives. We returned to the station feeling like champs, with a ton of stories to tell our friends. We even inspired someone else to hike the perimeter the next weekend! All in all, it was a triumphant day!

Friday, July 18, 2014

We know it's been a while but...

We made it back safe to Colgate! We know we haven't posted in a while (sorry about that!). The last couple weeks in Costa Rica were very busy! We plan to update the blog in the next couple weeks with some info about how our last few weeks at La Selva went! Spoiler alert: it involves a lot of lab work, some climbing, a really cool night hike, a really intense day hike, an awesome rafting adventure, and an amazing visit to an active volcano. Stay tuned! To start, let's talk about this incredible night hike, shall we?

As you know from previous posts, during our time at La Selva, we became friends with a group of people names Brian, Meaghan and Michelle. )Meaghan is a grad student and Michelle is her field assistant, and they're both studying Pumilios (aka the blue jean frog, the cutest poisonous frog in the world), and Brian is a Ph.D student in Herpetology, who studies reptiles and amphibians). One exceptionally rainy night, we went out to La Selva's experimental swamp to look for frogs...

Before we even left the lab clearing, we had out first find of the night. We saw a boa constrictor climbing a tree directly outside of the cabins we were staying in...

We found this brown frog right outside of the swamp. It's shaped like a guitar pick, and is a pretty rare sighting.

This gorgeous green frog was huge! Lindsay caught this one, she's turned into a true frog wrangler.