Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Costa Rica: Jungle Trek

by Donna L. Watkins

With 4000 acres of reserve here at La Selva, there are a lot of trails. I do my trail walks in the mornings when it's cooler and for the most part I've stayed on the paved trails since I enjoy getting to look up more, not having to worry about where I'm stepping.
© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Jungle Trek - La Selva
The problem is that I always expect more of myself ... so I knew when I ran out of paved trails, I'd begin wanting to try some of the more rugged ones. After discovering the Jungle Shack, the mood was set for more adventure and the very next day seemed to be as long as I could delay this desire to try one of the trails that went deeper into the jungle.

Although my body and spirit were in it, my mind was abuzz with nasty possibilities as the sides of the path were now much closer and the continual up and down climbs took my attention away from watching as closely for snakes. The challenge had a tingle of excitement to it, but I had to ask myself, as my imagination wandered, what the point was of needing to do this.

The trail kept my interest, and most of the time, my imaginations at bay, since the trail would disappear over a bank now and then. At these more rugged areas, there were some well-placed concrete stepping stones at the difficult places, to ease the way through and give a foothold. With the ground wet from rain, it was wonderful having concrete against the soles of my shoes, but the comfort of that did not match the desire to have my husband by my side.

Alas, this trek was just for me. The "Oh My!" moment of the journey was when the path seemed to end at the edge of the bluff above the river. I stopped not even wanting to know what the trail looked like going down. Many seasons of life you can't hold on to your safety net. You just have to let go, hoping that your faith and determination will carry you through. (See Is Anybody Else Up There)

The path went down to a river and bridge and "somebody" had placed ropes along the side. I found myself so grateful to the men that placed them there. I could not have gotten down the path without them. At the bottom, I felt compelled to shout, "Thank You!" for this useful gift, but I withheld my voice. Who wants to sound silly on a jungle trail, right? Besides, there's such a stillness in the jungle that it would feel like an interruption to all life there.

I was now pretty excited to be making the journey without having to turn back. The further I got the more self-satisfaction took over that I could do this regardless of the fear bubbling up inside. I wanted to complete this trail so that I could color it in on my map. Was that a silly goal? Was it the real reason I wanted to do this? Would it enable me to face other fears in my life? I can keep up a good internal conversation when I'm alone on a trail.

The end of the rugged trail led back onto a paved trail and the rest of the way was easy. Besides the great feeling of accomplishment, I brought back a photo of a huge ant. Thank goodness there was only one. I have never seen an ant that big. It was at least an inch long and the photo I took happened to have a flower bloom in it and also a twig which are both great comparisons for the size of this ant. I could see the pinchers on the front of the ant and imagined it belonged to some Army Ant colony and was out scouting for food sources. I'm glad he didn't consider me a possibility.

© 2008 Donna L. Watkins - Jungle Trek - La Selva
Another interesting thing was a plant growing at the base of a tree. I had never seen anything like it nor have I since then on more trails. The bright red roots outnumbered the leaves and grew all over the base of the tree. It was as if the plant was bleeding with the roots looking like blood running down the tree. Very odd indeed. I hope to discover one day what the name of it is.

This trail had the biggest tree I had yet seen. I took a photo with my binoculars at the bottom of the tree to show how tiny they were compared to the tree itself.

I returned to my cabin with the task accomplished feeling really good about it, but within an hour I knew the answer to one of my trail questions. Yes, it would enable me to face other fears. I was already thinking about the trail on the map that went through the swamp and it only took me two days until I headed out for The Swamp Hike, not remembering to use boots. By the end of that day, this Jungle Trek memory was a piece of cake.

View photos of the jungle trek (click double arrows to right to continue).
View La Selva photo albums and more.

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