|Ramona and Tracy|
|The cheerful kitchen|
|Just outside the compound|
|Ramona and Tracy's compound|
The first day we lingered in the morning kitchen as the clouds rolled in outside. We set out and I was immediately taken by the beauty all around. Birds of prey, horses grazing, ibis, goose, and all sorts of songbirds caught my attention. There are several endemics that Tracy pointed out which are less striking because of their plummage, but more for their personality. We walked along cattle tracks in a steady incline until we reached the forest proper, at which point the path took a steep turn up. The constant presence of high humidity allows for a forest reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest forests. Thick underbrush of flowers and ferns covered the forest floor. The hillsides are steep and so we spent most of our time going up or down these steep mountainsides. We reached the top of one mountain and the views were astounding. Unfortunately, many people have moved into the National Park and established houses and grazing areas and harvest wood. This is all illegal, but the local government turns a blind eye. Ramona and Tracy have done their best to record coordinates of new houses or new fences as they find them in their transect walks and research trips. The most destructive thing, besides the humans themselves, is the cattle grazing. People allow for their cattle to graze without restriction and the cattle are everywhere in the park. We followed their muddy trails through the trees and came upon often.
|Settler at the top of the mountain|
|Before the forest|
|Views of the valley from the hike|