Day 7 – March 23
Hiking – 19.5 km (12.1 miles), 615 meters (2,018 ft) elevation gain, 1,933 meters (6,341 ft) elevation loss.
Got out of camp around 6:30 a.m.
The Continental Divide
The last day on foot was the longest distance, a big climb and the most elevation loss (which is actually harder when you’re old like me). We left civilization barely above sea level on the Caribbean side but on the Pacific the drier climate allowed ranches to climb much closer to the continental divide.
It was also the most dramatic example I’ve ever experience of man versus wild.
By the time we climbed to the continental divide we felt like we were on another planet. It wasn’t just the bizarre otherworldly pink moss covering every surface not staked out by the dwarf bonsai elfin cloud forest trees and shrubs. It was also a week of heading away from civilization. A continual diminishing of human presence that culminated in the sense that we must be the first people ever to visit this alien world.
A mere 10km from that isolated other world it was all gone.
It’s an amazing shock to walk out from under a green dripping lush canopy of primary forest into a desert but that’s literally what happens when you leave La Amistad park. It’s complete with cactus.
Once people move in and remove the trees everything fails almost instantly. The water cycle stops. The animals leave or are eaten. The erosion starts. The cactus bloom.
A few hundred acres of the most biologically diverse and beneficial terrestrial environment in the world can be clear cut to support a few dozen cattle (the invasive African grasses and weeds are very poor grazing) and provide an income four or five thousand dollars a year.
Oh well, I’m over 50. Over the hill now and will be dead in another 30 or 40 years when it’s all gone. You twenty year olds better get a move on though. If you wait until you’re 50 you’re going to have to settle for Club Med because this is going to be gone.
The Soccer Field Camp
So how about this for crass. After that lecture on leaving the wild in the wilderness I have to tell you that the generator powered lights of the camp already set up and waiting for us on the soccer field in the tiny community of Ujarras was one of the most welcome sights of my life.
I’d contracted an outfitter named Javier Cañas that I found online to be waiting at the end of the trail with a 4WD to carry our gear and mountain bikes for us to ride to the Pacific. As with anything in Costa Rica you never know when they might take the money and run but Javier had hot potato soup waiting and turned out to be one of the best guides I’ve ever had.
We hadn’t planned on the porters running out of food so hadn’t asked Javier to provide for them. Fortunately we had just enough emergency supplies left to sustain everyone until morning when we could shop. Thanks again Porter Number 6.
Photo Gallery Day 7 – Rio Lori to Ujarras
Each of the images below is linked to a larger version with a detailed description