Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Hiking through the Monteverde cloud forest

Join me for a hike through the Monteverde Cloud Forest.

A blog critic (Tim's spouse) chastised us for letting Tim get too close to the venomous snake in an earlier post.  So I'm carefully editing.  Here, Tim, with his hands safely in his pockets, listens to Mark explain...

Here's Tim standing safely in the middle of the path, with tall, snakeproof boots on.

 It's so wet that to maintain the trails, they use these concrete pavers.

 Here's what a cloud forest looks like.  It's hard to convey the soft, cloud feeling.  It was quite windy and wet and cool - cold.

 Bekah taking it all in....

 This tree is full of epiphytes, plants that live on another tree but don't harm it.  There are many, many, many kinds of epiphytes with lots of different life histories.

 Mark explaining epiphytes.

 Check out the size of the limb (right of picture, about 3/4 of an inch) and the size of the mass of epiphytes (about 4-5 inches).  It's very heavy and wet - you can see why the branch broke.

 Oh, here's one of Dr. Tim Parshall, safely walking (but not alone) in the cloud forest on the smooth even pavers whilst wearing his snake proof rubber boots.  He's well hydrated and had a nourishing warm breakfast.

 This forest giant fell over (likely from a strong wind), opening up a gap in the forest where light can get in.  As you saw in the previous photos, light is rare in the forest, so this will allow many species to make a go of it.

 Here you can see how well-lit the area is.

 A different orchid, where the flower is safely imbedded in the leaf.

 Mark coaxes out a tarantula.

 Mark discusses the dynamics of army ants, which live in colonies of up to 8 million ants that have to scavenge or kill some 30,000 prey items per day.  It turns out that Chris is an ant attractor.  He got bitten many times.

 The top.


 We're up on the continental divide, where rain on one side of the picnic area goes west to the Pacific Ocean, while rain on the other side of the picnic area goes east to the Caribbean Ocean.

After lunch, every one walked back solo.  I took the steepest trail (to the right) to try to work off some Christmas calories.  Mrs. Dr. V. is a wicked fine cook.

 Back down at the bottom of the trail near the cafĂ©,  Mark had found several species of orchids.  So, these are for my wife.

Mrs. Dr. V. added: I did not get to come on the trip this time, so I am living vicariously through this blog. I especially enjoy the many orchid pictures. There are more than 1400 types of orchids in Costa Rica! The website of the Monteverde Orchid garden shows - and identifies - some of the 460 +/- orchids native to Monteverde.


  1. Happy Birthday Bekah! Mom and I love you.

  2. Bekah seems to be expecting some sort of Pork Tenderloin when she gets home. She told me the whole elaborate menu while we were hiking...you might well have guests!

  3. I'm glad I found this blog! I'm going to Monteverde, specifically UGA Costa Rica to be a naturalist intern in January of 2019! I cannot wait and this post made my day, loved the tarantula and the orchids!

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