Expedition Diary: Inside a Rain Forest Quest

March 5, 2004

(Page 4 of 4)

Gilmar is talking to them on the radio. He takes off his shirt, puts it on a stick and waves it. I take off my blue rain jacket and do likewise.

How on Earth are they going see us in the middle of this mountain? We wave vigorously and, improbably, they do. Now all we have to do is wait.

I spend the afternoon looking, listening. Abundant black-and-golds call. We're above an exposed ridge, where the wind stunts the trees. This is supposed to be the gray-winged's prime habitat. If it were here, I would hear it.

By 5:00 p.m. our rescuers are within shouting distance in the valley below. At 7:30 p.m., just as it gets dark, six of them enter our camp. They'll guide us out in the morning.

Tuesday, December 9, 2003

It blew hard last night, but there was little chance I would lose my tent—it had seven men sleeping in it. Still, the wind snapped one of my tent's poles and it's oddly misshapen at first light.

After a few days of isolation, the number of people around camp—ten of us—seems strange. There's a trail bar and a cup of tea for everyone, one lump of sugar in each cup. That exhausts all our food, but we're happy.

To run out of food before leaving would have been inexcusably bad form. To leave our equipment behind would have been worse. Luckily we just have enough helpers to carry it out.

The hike out is downhill all the way, sometimes steep, sometimes through dense bamboo thickets, but mostly through forest with a closed canopy that shades the forest floor and keeps it free of undergrowth.

Every step, I'm watchful of my feet and use every handhold the trees and vines afford. This is not the place to sprain an ankle.

An hour down, I see a bright orange frog on the ground. It's about the size of a dime. As I admire it, others see another, then more.

Continued on Next Page >>




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