(photo courtesy of Kristi Drexler).
Kristi and Larry Santos from FCD dropped us off about 2km down the Monkeytail Trail from Las Cuevas Research Station. There is a large tree fall that blocks the road...and several others after that. We unloaded the jeep and started dragging the kayak at 11am.
unload (photo courtesy of Kristi Drexler).
With the boat flipped over I was shocked to see the rear bilge hole stripped back exposing a large crack. Oh no! This is not good...definitely not good. We turned off the trail and headed down a small side trail to the water. Dropping the kayaks we immediately took our empty water bottles and plunged into the water; not moving for several minutes as our bodies cooled in the clear pool.
We then drifted up to the nearest flowing water and downed a couple liters of water. What a relaxing moment. Ahhh, time to get back to the kayak and inspect the damage.
Now had a crack on the rear hole.
Rufous-tailed hummingbird near nest.
We tried several configurations, for example, putting a couple of bags on the bad boat and riding tandem on the good one. In the end, we had to load all of the bags on the good boat, leaving the cracked boat empty, and then just walk both of the them downstream. Then we just had to bilge every couple of hours.
Brad climbing the nest on Monkeytail and installing a temp sensor.
Pulling the kayaks down the river.
We've been sleeping in a little later than usual as a result of our weariness but were on the river early and continued ambling towards the confluence with the Raspaculo Branch. We had a great look at a large Tapir crossing the river, loads of lekking butterflies and an immature Ornate Hawk-Eagle that Brad spotted above one of the leks. What a brutal walk, slipping, bruising shins. The nice part was continuously being in the cool, clear water and not in the searing heat.
We reached the confluence before noon and made our way below the lowest rapid, now located at Kodd's Camp. Every week the reservoir dips a couple of feet so the flat water is always a little further downstream. This was our objective. We pulled over, bilged the Hobie, and Brad got a lunch fire going while I readied a fiberglass patch made to repair water tanks and radiators. I slathered the resin and hardener around the entire bilge hole, placed the clothe over the bilge hole and saturated the cloth with more resin/hardener. We then focused on lunch while the patch job dried.
After half an hour we carried the Hobie (or Hobiewan as we call it) kayak to the water and loaded it with my gear. No apparent leaking...alright! Back in business. So we paddled down and verified the active nest near Kodd's Camp. Passed the spot where a nest had been chopped down and stopped at the newly discovered nest downstream from that. We attempted to climb it but ran out of time as evening was approaching. Will have to revisit in the morning. Hot, tired and thirsty, we headed down to our camp located by a spring above the Macal/Raspaculo confluence. Along the way, Brad spotted a couple of trogons taking turns snacking on wasps. They would fly up every 30 seconds and pluck a wasp from the air just below the wasp nest and flutter back down to a perch and then repeat. Didn't realize they would eat wasps. I've only seen them eat fruits.
We made our way up to the nest visited the previous day. Again, the tree seemed unstable so the climbing attempt had to be aborted. We planned to visit a couple of nests on the Macal portion of the reservoir when I noticed that the patch on my kayak was beginning to fail and take in a small amount of water. Time to get off the reservoir! Now!
We paddled to the confluence and I was able to call Kristi on the sat phone. We had to get off the river a day early but looks like it'd work out fine. We bilged the kayak, had lunch, and paddled hard down the reservoir. Two hours later, often fighting with my kayak's tendency to drift in the wrong direction, we pulled into the Ballerina Rd cove. Not five minutes later Kristi and our good friend Daniel Velazquez pulled up in the jeep with BBQ chicken and cold beer. What a treat! That's how you raise morale.
(photo courtesy of Kristi Drexler).