Recall, when we last left the blog, Bekah was having her 21st birthday. Here, she's checking out the view of Arenal Lake and Arenal Volcano. The top of the volcano is in the clouds. It is an active volcano, and stopped erupting just a few years ago.
Mark gave a talk on the history of the Children's Eternal Rain Forest, along with some of the value of the forest.
And then, the amazing cook served a chocolate cake for Bekah's birthday. Bekah seemed to enjoy it. After this, the crew split into two groups. One did a night time acoustic activity with Deb, while the other group went on a night hike hunting frogs, snakes, and other organisms with Mark. I don't have pictures of this - its wicked dark.
The next day. Here's the view I enjoyed from the porch, as I had my morning cup of tea. Life is, indeed, very, very, good.
I saw some of the morning birding crew, looking for birds - and drinking coffee. The cook at San Gerardo is FAR AND AWAY the most awesome field station cook ever. The food is really great here.
Bekah, now a crusty old person (like me:-) rests in one of the hammocks.
Chloe hides from the morning by cocooning...
And another Orchid...
and another Orchid...
Here you can see the crew, and a view of the forest.
More forest. This doesn't really show the scale, but it is HUGE, dense, and intensive.
If you were wondering why its called a cloud forest, this is why. It's cool, wet, and windy. The trade winds blow the moist air from the Caribbean and the clouds catch here on the mountain.
Here, Mark talks about the forest.
Tim uses his cool new Christmas binoculars.
In this, I'm trying to give you a little bit of an idea of the scale. You can see a student walking on the left side and compare that to the trees.
Mark spoke a lot on this hike about butterflies. Most students had a copy of Mark's Mammal book that they bought and got him to autograph.
Sam holds one of the many butterflies we saw.
This was an old farm that was not allowed to regrow, so there is habitat for species that need early successional habitat. It is maintained by a cow (give yourself a point if you can find the cow. Hint: look down the lane).
Here's what the well-equipped butterflier is wearing this season. Dr. Parshall, model.
Nick is on the hunt for a butterfly in the old pasture.
Mark was excited about this black lump, which he swears is one of the very few parasitic plants. It feeds off the roots of trees, and this black lump has the flowers on it (not there now), that are the reproductive structures. Truth is stranger than fiction.
Close up of the Orchid flowers.
This picture is intended to show you how big the forest is, how deep this gorge is we're walking around, and how dense the vegetation. Most of the students are in this picture. Give yourself a point for every one you see. Give yourself 100 points if you see a picture of someone that is related to you.
Many trees in the cloud forest and rain forest have wide buttresses to keep the trees from falling over in the shallow soil. This one is about 5 feet high. I was interested in how this side toward the light is so vegetated, while....
the other side is nearly devoid of vegetation.
Don't forget, we're in the tropical cloud forest.
If you did forget, I'll remind you one last time. We're in the tropical cloud forest, one of the rarest types of forest.
Q: What type of forest is this a picture of?
A: The Children's Eternal Rain Forest, a cloud forest in Monteverde.
We ate lunch, and Mark gave a talk on the decline of frog populations and amphibian populations around the world, and especially in Monteverde and Costa Rica. That night, the groups switched places, and one did the night time acoustic activity with Deb, while the other did the night hike with Mark.
The next morning, we had breakfast and everyone walked back up the mountain at their own pace. If you remember, in the blog post on the way in, I said I would take a picture of the Orchid flowers after they open, on the hike back up. Here they are, as promised! Tah Dah!
I hiked up with Tim and Deb. We stopped on the steep trail often to "discuss scientific matters" (and huff and puff like a steam engine).
We caught up with a group of students that were looking at the view (or huffing and puffing).
And finally, we made it to the trailhead. Hot, muddy, tired, and...ready to go on the Zipline, which you saw in an earlier post.