hiking the Appalachian trail in Vermont… as nature intended

naturist 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Although the US has a fame for being a prude country, there are some local exceptions, and Vermont is one of them: there is no state law against public nudity (though there is one against disrobing in public :D) And with all those green mountains around (just think of the state’s name etymology), it’s a perfect destination for naturists!

My long-time pen pal Ed organizes an  annual summer solstice naked hike in Vermont, and though I could never make it for this group hike itself, I went on the same route with Ed and another friend, Matt, just later in summer (mid-August).

naturist 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

The route includes a part of the famous Appalachian trail, so you’d expect a few fellow hikers, but it’s great to have the law on your side – just make sure to leave your car naked, and you don’t need to hide!-)

naturist 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Shortly after the trailhead, we got to a small waterfall

naturist 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

– nice to start the hike on a fresh note!

Make sure to take advantage of this skinny-dipping spot, because after that the trail gets very steep.

naturist 0005 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

The forest is dominated by fir trees – young and old,

naturist 0006 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

and ferns are common in the undergrowth.

fern 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But then we came across something spectacular. You may know of the hikers’ tradition to pile stones into cairns, but here it has been taken to another level!

view 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

It looked like a miniature city lost in the woods.

naturist 0007 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We left our contribution too, but mostly just marveled at the scale of this cairn.

naturist 0010 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Some of the installations were amazingly balanced at the trees and appeared as if suspended in the air!

naturist 0009 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

When we got to the open space at one of the highest points of the trail, we enjoyed the great views

naturist 0011 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

and some flat rocks that served well for resting.

naturist 0012 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

What else could we ask for? Maybe some berries?

plants with berries 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

There weren’t any edibles around (at least as fat as we could tell), but we saw some pretty fruits,

plants with berries 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

including this dark-blue berry.

plants with berries 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Then there was another spot with cairns –

naturist 0013 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

not as massive but perhaps even more impressive in terms of the art of balancing those uneven stones.

view 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Yes, here hikers take cairns seriously!

naturist 0014 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We didn’t cross many streams,

naturist 0015 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

but about two-thirds of the route we came to a lake –

view 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Little Rock Pond, actually. It was great to refresh and swim in its clear waters. There was a ranger, but again, here we didn’t have to worry that our natural attire would cause any trouble in legal terms. There were a couple more nude swimmers, and the rest didn’t seem appalled by nudity either.

But then, all of a sudden, came a heavy downpour and we had to rush out. It was actually quite a warm rain, and as you might know, the skin is waterproof – so we didn’t feel the need to wear clothes. It was an interesting experience to walk in the forest in such a heavy rain, but it did prevent us from the idea of camping there.

Next day, we explored another trail, which lead to the Stratton Pond (east of the Stratton Mountain).

naturist 0017 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

This trail was mostly flat. About midway, it passed along a mossy swamp,

view 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

which provided a nice change of the scenery. However, many of the trees in the swamp were dead, and seemed to have died recently. This swamp was apparently a result of beavers building a damn on the stream there… Oh well, if only they heard about climate change challenge, maybe they’d spare some of those trees…

view 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Soon after that, we approached the lake, and of course we wanted to go for a swim.

naturist 0016 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We took the trail around the lake (to the left) and found a nice spot for a camp (would be perfect for an overnight stay!),

view 0006 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

even with some food supplies,

view 0005 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

but more importantly – with good access to the water!

naturist 0018 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

We weren’t the only ones enjoying the water though. This pristine lake was a home to many newts

newt 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

and dragonfly nymphs!

dragonfly larva 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

Amazing to see insects the same size of a vertebrate next to each other, and probably if newts lived in the water at juvenile stages, they’d be hunted by dragonfly nymphs. But their life cycles are reversed: the nymphs eventually come out of water and transform into dragonflies, whereas it is the juvenile form of newts, eft, that lives on land.

newt 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

The bright orange color of eft’s skin warns of its poisonous properties,

newt 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

so better don’t hold them in your hands however cute they may seem. (But who knows what they transform into on later stages?)

Same probably goes for some brightly colored berries that we saw on this trail, though I’m not sure what they are.

plants with berries 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But luckily there were some delicious blueberries too!

plants with berries 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

By mid-August, blubbery season is usually over in my local Harriman Park, but here in Vermont they seem to ripen later. So it was good to get some extra for the summer.

mushrooms 0001 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

There was an abundance of mushrooms of all kinds as well,

mushrooms 0002 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

some of them might be poisonous,

mushrooms 0004 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

others edible.

mushrooms 0003 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

I use an app from Audubon society to detect mushrooms, and boletes, like this two-colored one

mushrooms 0000 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

or white suillus, are easy to distinguish.

mushrooms 0005 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

A few of the local bolete species turn blue when bruised, especially noticeable against the yellow pores.

mushrooms 0006 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But in this case, the bright color is not a warning sign – just a result of the oxidation of pulvinic acid derivatives, none of which is poisonous. So, on the way back we collected enough mushrooms for a delicious soup!

mushrooms 0007 Appalachian trail, Vermont, USA

But even without all these wild gourmet treats, the trails of Vermont are calling us, we’ll surely be back!

expedición en uno de los lugares con mayor biodiversidad en el mundo – Corcovado, Costa Rica

English

view 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

En la entrada anterior del blog sobre Costa Rica, te tentamos con una muestra de nuestro informe naturalista, así que aquí está: ¡tuvimos una notable expedición en uno de los lugares con mayor biodiversidad en el mundo! Y bien, como ya imaginaste – la mayor parte de esta caminata fue hecha por mí (y en menor medida por mis amigos)- una vez más mezclamos naturismo con gran interés en la historia natural.

Costa Rica es uno de los destinos favoritos para los entusiastas de la naturaleza, con el mayor porcentaje de área protegida en el mundo; aún para los estándares de Costa Rica, El Parque Nacional Corcovado en la Península de Osa es muy especial. Simplemente no hay muchos lugares en el mundo donde la selva tropical se reúne el mar, y este parque conserva  la mayor bosque primario en la costa del Pacífico de América.

Para bien o para mal, visitar este parque está altamente regulado, por ejemplo, se prohíbe visitar sin un guía certificado. Lo bueno es que el número de turistas se mantiene en niveles bajos, por lo que no hay riesgo de uso excesivo, pero esto hace que sea costoso y depende de encontrar un guía. En nuestro caso, este guía también tenía que estar de acuerdo con la idea del “senderismo libre”, es decir, senderismo sin ropa. Tuvimos la suerte de encontrar uno (a través de CouchSurfing) – alguien libre de prejuicios y que está bien informado de la biodiversidad local. Si quieres tener una aventura similar, te recomendamos a Elias (puedes ponerte en contacto con él a través de WhatsApp +50683811556).

Gracias a nuestro guía pudimos disfrutar de este increíble hábitat natural en el atuendo más natural,

naturist 0000 Corcovado, Costa Rica

y a la vez también pudimos ver un montón de vida silvestre que de otro modo sería casi imposible de detectar – como esta serpiente Dendrophidion.

Dendrophidion snake 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Los “labios calientes” de la planta elata Psychotria eran mucho más fácil de ver, y a la vez parecían un saludo agradable en el inicio del sendero de Los Patos a la estación Sirena.

Psychotria elata – hot lips plant 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

El bosque estaba dominado por árboles masivos,

tree 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

pero durante la primera hora o así, también había vegetación densa alrededor del sendero.

naturist 0001 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Hay que tener cuidado de no tocar los troncos y las ramas de los árboles sin mirarlos, ya que pueden estar cubiertos de espinas.

spiny tree 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

¡Y algunos se ven perversos!

spiny tree 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

El primer pájaro en el sendero fue una  pava moñuda (Penelope purpurascens) (en realidad 3 de ellos).

crested guan 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Nuestro guía no parecía muy contentos de verlos, ya que deben ser muy comunes, pero para mí incluso este pariente del pavo parecía un buen comienzo para la observación de aves (y la pava moñuda es bastante diferente de los pavos que vemos en América del Norte).

crested guan 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

La primera sección del sendero después de Los Patos es bastante montañosa, así que ciertamente me alegro de caminar sin ropa, ya que te sientes sudoroso fácilmente en esas condiciones (y supongo que aún más cuando vas allí después de 3-4 meses de invierno del norte, ya que hicimos este viaje a finales de marzo del año pasado).

naturist 0002 Corcovado, Costa Rica

El siguiente animal que vimos fue una serpiente loro verde trepando por un árbol (esta fue mi primera vez viendo a serpiente de árbol).

Leptophis ahaetulla – green parrot snake 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

No seríamos capaces de detectar ll movimiento de la enredadera al menos que usemos cámaras durante mucho tiempo, pero era interesante ver cómo era capaz de subir el tronco verticalmente, con un tipo de hojas unidas al tronco.

tree 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Esta lagartija parecía estar bien curiosa de nuestra presencia,

tree lizard 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

y parecía estar dispuesta a modelar para la cámara mientras subía por el árbol.

tree lizard 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Mientras tanto, otro tipo de lagartija parecía ser mucho más tímida y prefirió esconderse en las hojas en el suelo.

lizard 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Entonces vimos un montón de animales de un tipo específico que no sólo no están tratando de esconderse sino más bien limpian su camino de hojas muertas …

leaf-cutter ants 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Mientras llevan piezas de hojas recién cortadas hacia su colonia para cultivo de hongos.

leaf-cutter ants 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Fue interesante ver el trabajo de las hormigas cortadoras de hojas en diferentes etapas

leaf-cutter ants 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

(Aunque los últimos pasos de cultivo de hongos están bien escondidos bajo tierra).

Probablemente había muchos más insectos que pasaron desapercibidos, ya que la mayoría de ellos están bien camuflados

grasshopper 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

… a menos que tengan los ojos ​​excepcionalmente rosados, como este saltamontes!

grasshopper 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Este escarabajo brillante no se molestó en esconderse, pero estaba bien blindado, como si estuviera hecho de metal.

beetle 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Después de tres horas de caminata, cruzamos el primer arroyo. Era superficial, pero el agua era clara y refrescante. Estaba lleno de peces pequeños (también bien camuflados).

fish in the stream 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Después de caminar en el denso bosque, era agradable estar en un espacio más abierto,

y más agradable aún – encontrar un arroyo para refrescarse (desnudos, obviamente).

naturist 0004 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Aquí vimos otra lagartija, un basilisco, pero sólo vimos ejemplares jóvenes (no se comparaban con la iguana en el hotel Villa Roca).

basilisc lizard 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Uno de ellos estaba en la búsqueda de libélulas,

basilisc lizard and dragonfly 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

aunque no con mucho éxito.

basilisc lizard 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

No muy lejos del riachuelo, vimos un momoto de corona azul (similar a la que vi por los cenotes en Yucatán).

Blue-crowned Motmot 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

De vuelta en el bosque, nos quedamos impresionados de nuevo por los árboles y sus raíces. Esas raíces entrelazadas pueden crear nichos acogedores para otras plantas

palm tree in ficus 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

o cualquier otro organismo dispuesto a ocuparlos.

naturist 0021 Corcovado, Costa Rica

¡Algunas de esas raíces eran verdaderamente masivas!

naturist 0006 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Vale la pena señalar que en gran medida las raíces no serían capaces de funcionar sin la simbiosis con hongos, que hacen mucho trabajo invisible en el bosque. Sólo los notamos cuando producen cuerpos fructíferos para la reproducción sexual, como este hongo púrpura.

purple mushroom 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

En otro lugar, el suelo estaba cubierto de flores moradas.

view 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Esto nos hizo darnos cuenta de cuánto estábamos perdiendo por no ser capaces de ver el bosque desde la cima. Muchos de esos árboles debían estar floreciendo, pero la única forma de ver las flores era cuando caían al suelo.

Además de los árboles, las lianas constituyen una parte importante de la vida vegetal en el bosque tropical,

liana 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Y vimos lianas realmente masivas en Corcovado, tan gruesas como árboles. Y algunos tuvieron que tomar formas peculiares en su camino hacia arriba (¿un giro en U?)

liana 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Muchas lianas se entrelazan y retuercen sus tallos, y éste en la foto de abajo me recordó la doble hélice del ADN.

liana 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

A veces era incluso difícil distinguir los límites entre árboles vecinos, o dónde terminaban sus raíces y comenzaban las lianas, como si estuvieran todas interconectadas.

tree 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Y por supuesto había un montón animales viven en los árboles y se les gusta este tipo de lío.

squirrel monkey 0005 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

A medida que nos cruzamos con un gran grupo de monos ardilla, fue increíble y divertido ver cómo se movían fácilmente saltando entre todas esas ramas y lianas (en la foto de arriba se puede ver cómo utilizan la cola para equilibrar).

squirrel monkey 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Y eran igualmente buenos usando esas ramas para descansar  =)

squirrel monkey 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Era difícil decir quién estaba más curioso: ¿los monos de nosotros, o nosotros de ellos?

squirrel monkey 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

(Aquí se puede ver cómo utilizan la cola como una quinta extremidad.)

Aunque no todos parecían divertidos por el mono desnudo en el suelo …

squirrel monkey 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Mientras estábamos observando a nuestros familiares peludos con cola y de rápido movimiento, Elías notó otra criatura en los árboles – ¡un oso perezoso!

sloth 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Estaba durmiendo (¡por supuesto!) A pesar de toda la locomoción alrededor.

Los monos no tenían prisa por alejarse, y podríamos haber pasado mucho más tiempo mirando el uno al otro, pero tuvimos que continuar nuestra caminata.

squirrel monkey 0006 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Para entonces, el bosque se volvió mucho más seco (según los estándares de selva tropical) y más plano.

liana 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Pasamos a través de una arboleda de bambúes que eran muy altos pero mucho más delgados que las especies típicas, pero estaban todos entrelazados y, por tanto, se apoyaban entre sí.

view 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Para entonces ya habíamos visto y oído un montón de loros, todos estaban a la distancia; así que cuando nos encontramos con una guacamaya escarlata que se alimentaba tranquilamente a simple vista, ¡fue una vista hermosa y rara!

Scarlet Macaw 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

La próxima oportunidad de observación de aves se presentó poco después y fue igualmente emocionante, aunque el pájaro no era tan brillante excepto por su cara roja. Estaba muy entusiasmado con algo también, ya que anunció su presencia con unos gritos agudos (¿era una advertencia para nosotros?)

Mountain caracara 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Era un ave de rapiña, un tipo de caracara, pero no puedo decir la especie exacta. Parece más similar al caracara andino, pero esta especie no se ve en la Península de Osa … ¿algún especialista entre los lectores aquí?

La tarde estaba muy caliente, así que cuando cruzamos otro río, nos pareció muy oportuno.

view 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Como el sol se estaba poniendo, tuvimos que continuar al campamento en la estación biológica de Sirena, pero ya estábamos cerca. ¡Fue entonces cuando me di cuenta de que perdí mis pantalones cortos cuando dejé el bolsillo abierto en la mochila! Por desgracia, el camping no es de ropa opcional … pero afortunadamente uno de mis amigos tenía un par de calzoncillos de repuesto que parecía pantaloncillos de bicicleta.

Al acercarnos a Sirena, pasamos por una arboleda de palmeras frutales con hojas gigantes.

palm tree 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

El último animal que vimos en el sendero ese día fue un tranquilo pájaro martineta (tinamúe).

tinamu 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Pero eso no fue todo por ese día. ¡Mientras estábamos instalando la tienda en el campamento, un tapir se aventuró a la luz!

tapir 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Me sorprendió – este era el animal más grande que había visto en la naturaleza.

tapir 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Pero el tapir no podía importarle menos, sólo pasaba la pradera sin mucha prisa antes de desaparecer nuevamente en el bosque.

tapir 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

A medida que se oscurecía, nos fuimos a la cafetería para cenar, donde tuve que explicar que mis boxers eran shorts – ya sabes, todavía quieren mantener un poco de estilo para cenas incluso en medio de la selva. 😀

Por la noche estábamos disfrutando de nuestro sueño a pesar de los sonidos de monos aulladores (¡que pensé primero eran jaguares!) y una tormenta. Por la mañana, todo estaba en calma de nuevo. Después del desayuno, nos aventuramos a continuar nuestra caminata.

view 0005 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Casi inmediatamente después de la estación, el camino llega a la playa y continua a lo largo de la costa, pero como ya he dicho, este es un lugar donde la playa y el bosque se encuentran – por lo que aquí se puede disfrutar de los dos. La arena es predominantemente de origen volcánico negro, aunque no tan negro puro como en Kehena en Hawai.

tree with yellow and red flowers 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Había un árbol con las flores que eran amarillas o rojas, que parecían muy inusuales.

tree with yellow and red flowers 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Una posibilidad es que el color cambia a medida que las flores maduran, porque las más frescas tienden a ser amarillas. ¿Alguna otra idea?

tree with yellow and red flowers 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Tuvimos que cruzar bastantes bocas de río, pero todos eran bastante superficiales. Creo que esto puede cambiar bastante dependiendo de la lluvia y la marea.

view 0006 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Esto explicó por qué había tantos pájaros en la playa que son más típicos para los cuerpos de agua dulce,

bittern 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

tales como estas garzas.

bittern 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

En la playa, los cocoteros eran a menudo la especie predominante; pasamos por unos cuantos bosques de esas palmeras.

naturist 0007 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Y las condiciones parecían ser buenas para que los cocos germinaran allí. También encontramos un coco que estaba lleno de zumo, y nuestro guía lo abrió para nosotros usando rocas y un cuchillo regular. Fue un refresco perfecto.

coconut sapling 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Pero aquí y allá el sendero iría más profundo en el bosque, con sus árboles gigantes y sus intrincados sistemas de raíces.

naturist 0009 Corcovado, Costa Rica

No te sorprendas si ves algo como esta araña de seda de oro sobre su tela entre esas raíces.

golden orb-weaver spider 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Aunque si tienes suerte, puedes ver algo más bonito. Generalmente no se ven muchas orquídeas en el bosque, porque la mayoría de ellas crecen más arriba en los árboles.

orchid 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Pero aquí en el borde del bosque, incluso las orquídeas epífitas pueden crecer más cerca del suelo, donde hay más luz disponible.

orchid 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Debe haber mucha competencia entre las plantas en este denso hábitat que no nos damos cuenta, a menos que sea algo más obvio, como esta higuera estranguladora que se apodera de otro árbol.

strangler fig 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Estas sorprendentes lianas me permitieron quedarme suspendido en el aire, y dejé que mi Tarzán interior saliera un rato =)

naturist 0010 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Este sendero nunca se alejó mucho de la costa, así que había una brisa refrescante.

view 0007 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Y en la playa, había bastante sombra en la primera mitad del día.

naturist 0012 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Así que en general, esta sección de nuestra caminata fue mucho más relajada; sólo de vez en cuando necesitábamos pasar por encima o alrededor de las rocas.

view 0009 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

A pesar de que es una selva, hay algunos árboles aquí que se adaptan para los períodos sin mucha lluvia acumulando agua en el interior de sus gruesos troncos. Estos son ceibas, y pueden llegar a ser muy altos también.

naturist 0013 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Y si golpeas sus troncos, puedes escuchar una resonancia debido a su naturaleza hueca.

Las ceibas tienen hermosas flores, pero sólo encontramos restos de sus estambres.

fallen flower 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Y había más árboles con impresionantes raíces de apoyo.

tree 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Cuando se acercaba el mediodía, el sol se estaba ponía muy fuerte, y había menos sombra.

naturist 0015 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Pero encontramos un buen lugar para tomar un descanso, un chapuzón en el océano y revolcarnos en la cálida arena …

naturist 0016 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Y para subirse en un árbol también.

naturist 0017 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Luego el tiempo cambió rápidamente, y temimos que nos encontraríamos en medio de una tormenta, pero nunca llegó a ser más fuerte que una llovizna.

view 0010 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Hasta el momento, ese día no era muy rico en avistamientos de animales, sólo podíamos esperar ver algo en el océano – Costa Rica es un destino conocido de observación de ballenas, pero no había nada que ver en el agua desde la costa … ¡Pero Elías señaló que había una ballena en la playa misma!

Bueno, era una ballena muerta …

naturist 0019 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Estaba bien muerta, pero es lo más parecido que he llegado a tocar una ballena. Y sólo podemos adivinar cómo llegó hasta aquí.

En el mismo lugar, vimos una familia de curiosos monos araña.

spider monkey 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Estos monos debían estar preguntándose cómo perdimos nuestro pelaje 😀

naturist 0018 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Pero sería justo decir, sentí como si estuvieran reconociendo algún parecido familiar. Más tarde, vimos un grupo mucho más grande de monos, pero demasiado alto en los árboles como para tomar fotos. Sin embargo, también se interesaron en nosotros, y estaban arrojándonos frutas (y no parecía que lo hicieran de manera agresiva). Esto me recordó una historia reciente de una niña que fue perdida / abandonada en la selva pero sobrevivió al menos parcialmente gracias a la comida que los monos compartieron con ella. Por desgracia, los mangos que nos ofrecieron los monos a nosotros no estaban maduraos excepto por uno que era apenas comestible.

Nuestro siguiente encuentro no fue tan sociable, pero yo estaba muy contento de poder verlo – un oso hormiguero. Era un tamandua septentrional, que no es una especie rara, pero todavía muy evasiva, especialmente durante el día.

anteater northern tamandua 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Y es un ágil escalador de árboles, utilizando su cola como una extremidad adicional.

anteater northern tamandua 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

También vimos dos halcones negros comunes.

mangrove black hawk 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Uno de ellos estaba disfrutando de una comida.

mangrove black hawk 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Vimos un montón guacamayas escarlata volando, fue una hermosa vista, pero pasaron demasiado rápido como para tomar fotos.

Luego pasamos a través de un bosque de plátanos, al que probablemente no hubiéramos prestado mucha atención, aunque sólo fuera para comprobar si había alguna fruta para merendar (y no había maduras). Pero nuestro guía nos llamó a mirar debajo una de las hojas. ¡Y había un grupo de murciélagos! Sin embargo, sólo uno de ellos se quedó para las fotos.

tent-making bat 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Estos murciélagos son conocidos porque hacen “tiendas de campaña”, se alojan debajo de las hojas grandes mordiendo la sección central de modo que se pliega como formando el techo de una tienda de campaña.

tent-making bat 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Y como son frugívoros, los plátanos pueden proveer alimento y refugio.

Por cierto, aunque la mayor parte del Parque Nacional Corcovado es un bosque primario, algunas secciones en la orilla, donde pasa este sendero, pasan por antiguas plantaciones. Ya he mencionado mangos y plátanos, estas no son especies nativas de allí. Y aunque Costa Rica es el mayor productor de piña, esta tampoco es una fruta nativa.

wild pineapple flower 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Supongo que esta es una planta de piña en flor, pero podría ser otro tipo de bromelíaceas.

El último animal que vimos por el sendero antes de llegar a la estación de guardaparques La Leona fue un coatí (conocido en Costa Rica como pizote).

coati 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Estos parientes de mapaches están entre los mamíferos más ubicuos del Corcovado, y por lo general viven en grupos, por lo que fue irónico que vimos sólo uno y al final de nuestra caminata, después de haber visto un montón de animales más exóticos.

Después de un poco de descanso en la estación de guardabosques (ya vestidos), continuamos caminando en la playa hacia el asentamiento más cercano – Carate. Allí, tuvimos una buena cena y una ducha, y luego acampamos en la playa (desnudos de nuevo).

view 0011 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Era una noche oscura, cálida, pero con brisa, y el acampar en la arena era cómodo – todo prometió una buena noche de sueño. Pero no nos dimos cuenta de que había numerosos cangrejos esperando a salir de sus agujeros por la noche. Y algunos de ellos pasaron a estar bajo nuestra tienda. Así que, si acampas en una playa así, trata de encontrar un lugar sin agujeros.

Al día siguiente, planeamos explorar el bosque a lo largo del Río Nuevo, pero el coche que se suponía que nos recogería no llegó, y no había servicio de telefonía móvil … Entonces alguien vino a hacernos saber que el coche tuvo un desperfecto cuando venía de camino, así que tuvimos que coger un autobús a Puerto Jiménez.

Elías entonces organizó otra excursión para nosotros en la tarde. Ya no estaba dentro del parque, en realidad fue al lado de un pastizal de vacas, pero la perspectiva de nadar desnudos en el río sonaba bien.

naturist + monstera 0020 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Encontré una planta de monstera con frutos, poco antes del viaje había probado esta fruta por primera vez me encantó (y era muy caro en un supermercado de Nueva York), estaba ansioso por probar esta fruta en la naturaleza. ¡Incluso su nombre científico es Monstera deliciosa!

monstera 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Pero lamentablemente no estaba completamente madura, y todavía tenía algunas escalas irritantes. 😦

Cuando caminaba por el río, volví a ver un basilisco.

basilisc lizard 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Y esta vez, finalmente vi con mis propios ojos, por qué también se llama la lagartija Jesús – ¡puede caminar sobre el agua! Bueno, no realmente caminar, sino correr –

basilisc lizard 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Y tan rápido, que apenas se puede capturar con la fotografía (a menos que estés bien preparado para ello).

También vi un par de tortugas en el río. Pero en un agujero en la orilla del río, había otro reptil icónico del trópico americano

boa constrictor 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

– una boa constrictor. A diferencia de la lagartija, no lo vi en acción. Realmente noté unas cuantas garrapatas unidas a ella – así que en vez de una boa constrictor que succionaba la vida de su presa, vi a esos pequeños arácnidos chupándole su sangre.

boa constrictor 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

¡Es increíble la cantidad de fauna que vimos en diferentes formas en esos 3 días en el Parque Nacional Corcovado y sus alrededores!

Si eres un entusiasta de la naturaleza, sin duda es un destino de primera. Esperamos que también puedas encontrar un buen guía. Y en caso de que también pierdas tu pantalones cortos, puedes encontrar el mío en algún lugar en el camino. 😉

Traducción por Ivan

trekking through a biodiversity hotspot in Costa Rica

español

view 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

In the previous blogpost from Costa Rica, we teased you with a prospect of a naturalist report, so here it is: we had quite a remarkable expedition in one the most biodiverse locations in the world! And well, you guessed it – most of this trek was done by me (and to a less extent by my friends) in the buff – so once again, we were mixing naturism with big interest in natural history.

Costa Rica is a favorite for nature enthusiasts, with the highest percentage of protected land in the world; but even by Costa Rican standards, Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula is very special. There are simply not many places left in the world where tropical rainforest meets the sea, and this park conserves the largest primary forest on the American Pacific coastline. For better or worse, visiting this park is highly regulated, e.g., it is forbidden to visit without a certified guide. The good thing is that the number of tourists is maintained at low levels, so there is no risk of overuse, but this makes it expensive and dependent on finding a guide. In our case, this guide also had to be OK with the idea of free-hiking, i.e. hiking without clothes. We were lucky to find one (through CouchSurfing) – both open-minded and knowledgeable about local wildlife. If you want to have a similar adventure, we highly recommend Elias (you can contact him via WhatsApp +50683811556).

So, we could enjoy this amazing natural habitat in the most natural attire,

naturist 0000 Corcovado, Costa Rica

but thanks to our guide we could also see a lot of wildlife that would otherwise be nearly impossible to spot – like this Dendrophidion snake.

Dendrophidion snake 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

‘Hot lips’ of Psychotria elata plant were much easier to notice, and they seemed like a nice greeting in the beginning of the trail from Los Patos to Sirena station.

Psychotria elata – hot lips plant 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The forest was dominated by massive trees,

tree 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

but during the first hour or so, there was also dense vegetation around the trail.

naturist 0001 Corcovado, Costa Rica

One has to be careful not to touch tree trunks and branches without looking at them, as they may be covered in spines,

spiny tree 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

and some look just vicious!

spiny tree 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The first bird on the trail was crested guan (actually 3 of them).

crested guan 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Our guide didn’t seem too excited to see them, as they must be very common, but to me even this relative of turkey seemed like a good start for birdwatching (and guan is quite different from the turkeys we see in North America).

crested guan 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The first section of the trail after Los Patos is quite hilly, so I was certainly glad to walk without clothes, as you get sweaty easily in those conditions (and I guess even more so when you go there after 3-4 months of the northern winter, as we did this trip in the end of March last year).

naturist 0002 Corcovado, Costa Rica

The next animal we spotted was a green parrot snake creeping up the tree (this was my first tree snake).

Leptophis ahaetulla – green parrot snake 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

This plant creeper’s movement we wouldn’t be able to detect unless we used cameras over long time, but it was interesting to see how it was able to climb up the trunk vertically, with one type of the leaves attached to the trunk.

tree 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

This lizard seemed to be quiet curious about us,

tree lizard 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

and it was posing well for the camera while climbing up the tree.

tree lizard 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Meanwhile, another kind of lizard seemed to be a lot more timid and preferred to hide in the leaves on the ground.

lizard 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Then we saw plenty of animals of a specific kind that are not only not trying to hide but actually clear their path from dead leaves…

leaf-cutter ants 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

while carrying freshly cut leaf pieces towards their colony for mushroom farming.

leaf-cutter ants 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

It was interesting to see the work of leaf-cutter ants at different stages

leaf-cutter ants 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

(though the final steps of mushroom farming are well hidden under ground).

There were probably many more insects that remained unnoticed, as most of them are well camouflaged

grasshopper 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

… unless they have outstanding pink eyes, like this grasshopper!

grasshopper 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

This shiny beetle didn’t bother to hide, but then it was quite well armored, as if made of metal.

beetle 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

After three hours of hiking, we crossed the first stream. It was shallow, but the water was clear and refreshing. It was full of small fish (also well camouflaged).

fish in the stream 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

After walking in the dense forest, it was nice to be in a more open space,

and even nicer – to cool off in the stream (skinny-dipping, obviously).

naturist 0004 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Here we saw another lizard, the iconic basilisk, but only young individuals (nothing like the dragon at the Villa Roca hotel).

basilisc lizard 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

One of them was on the hunt for dragonflies,

basilisc lizard and dragonfly 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

though not very successfully.

basilisc lizard 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Not too far from the stream, we saw a blue-crowned motmot (similar to the one I saw by the cenotes in Yucatan).

Blue-crowned Motmot 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Back in the forest, we were impressed again by the trees and their roots. Those intertwining roots may create cozy niches for other plants

palm tree in ficus 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

or anyone else willing to occupy them.

naturist 0021 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Some of those supporting, buttress roots were truly massive!

naturist 0006 Corcovado, Costa Rica

It’s worth noting, that to a large extent the roots wouldn’t be able to function without symbiosis with fungi, which do a lot of invisible job in the forest. We only notice them when they produce fruiting bodies for sexual reproduction, such as this purple mushroom.

purple mushroom 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

At another spot, the ground was covered in purple flowers.

view 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

This made us realize how much we were missing out by not being able to see the forest from the top. Quite a few of those trees must have been blooming, but the only way to see the flowers was when they would fall on the ground.

Besides the trees, lianas constitute a large and important part of plant life in the tropical forest,

liana 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

and we saw really massive lianas in Corcovado, as thick as trees. And some had to take peculiar forms on their way up (a U-turn?)

liana 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Many lianas interweave and twist their stems, and this one on the photo below reminded me the double helix of DNA.

liana 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Sometimes it was even hard to tell the border between neighboring trees, or where their roots ended and lianas began – as if they were all interconnected.

tree 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And of course there were plenty of tree-dwelling animals that like this kind of mess.

squirrel monkey 0005 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

As we got across a big group of squirrel monkeys, it was amazing and amusing to see how easily they moved jumping between all those branches and lianas (on the photo above you can see how the tail is used for balancing).

squirrel monkey 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And they were equally good at using those brunches lounging =)

squirrel monkey 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

It was hard to tell who was more curious: monkeys about us, or we about them?

squirrel monkey 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

(Here you can see how the tail is used as a fifth limb.)

Though not all of them seemed that amused by the naked ape on the ground…

squirrel monkey 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

While we were goggling at our fast-moving tailed and furry relatives, Elias noticed another creature in the trees – a sloth!

sloth 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

It was sleeping (of course!) despite all the locomotion around.

The monkeys were in no rush to move away, and we could have spent much more time staring at each other, but we had to continue our trek.

squirrel monkey 0006 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

By that time, the forest became much drier (by rainforest standards), and flatter.

liana 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

We passed through a grove of bamboos that were very tall but much thinner than typical species, but they were all intertwined and thus supported each other.

view 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Although by then we had seen and heard plenty of parrots, they were all in a distance; so when we encountered a scarlet macaw feeding calmly in plain view, it was a beautiful and rare sight!

Scarlet Macaw 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The next birdwatching opportunity presented itself shortly after and was equally exciting, though the bird wasn’t as bright except for the red face. It was quite excited about something too, as it announced its presence by piercing screeches (was it a warning for us?)

Mountain caracara 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

It was a bird of prey, caracara, but I cannot tell the exact species. It looks most similar to mountain caracara, but this species is not known on the Osa peninsula… any specialists among the readers here?

The afternoon was quite hot, so when we crossed another river, it felt very timely.

view 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

As the sun was setting, we had to continue to the campground at the Sirena biological station, but we were close already. That was when I realized I lost my shorts from the open pocket in the backpack! Unfortunately, the camp site is not clothing-optional here… but luckily one of my friends had a spare pair of briefs that looked like bicycle shorts.

At the approach to Sirena, we passed through a grove of fruiting pam trees with giant leaves.

palm tree 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The last animal we saw on the trail that day was a quiet bird tinamou.

tinamu 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

But that wasn’t it for the day. As we were setting up the tent at the campground, a tapir ventured out in the open!

tapir 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

I was stunned – this was the largest animal I’d seen in the wild.

tapir 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

But the tapir himself couldn’t care less, was just passing the grassy area without much rush before disappearing in the forest again.

tapir 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

As it was getting dark, we went to the cafeteria for dinner, where I had to explain that my boxers were shorts – you know, they still want to keep some style for dinners even  in the middle of the jungle 😀

At night we were enjoying our sleep despite the sounds of howler monkeys (which I first thought were jaguars!) and a thunderstorm. By the morning, everything was calm again. After breakfast, we ventured out to continue our trek.

view 0005 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Almost immediately after the station, the trail comes to the beach and it goes along the shore, but as I mentioned, this is a place where the beach and the forest meet – so here you can enjoy them both. The sand is mostly volcanic black, though not as pure black as at Kehena in Hawaii.

tree with yellow and red flowers 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

There was a tree with flowers that were either yellow or red, which seemed very unusual.

tree with yellow and red flowers 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

One possibility is that the color changes as the flowers mature, because the fresher ones tended to be yellow. Any other ideas?

tree with yellow and red flowers 0002 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

We had to cross quite a few river mouths, but they were all pretty shallow. I believe this may change quite a lot depending on rain and tide.

view 0006 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

This explained why there were so many birds on the beach that are more typical for fresh water bodies,

bittern 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

such as these bitterns.

bittern 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

At the beach frontline, coconut palms were often the prevalent species; we passed through a few groves of those.

naturist 0007 Corcovado, Costa Rica

And the conditions seemed to be good for coconuts to germinate there. We also found a coconut that was full of juice, and our guide opened it for us using rocks and a regular knife. That a was perfect refreshment.

coconut sapling 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

But here and there the trail would go deeper in the forest, with its giant trees and their intricate root systems.

naturist 0009 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Don’t be surprised if you see something like this golden orb-weaver spider on the web between those roots.

golden orb-weaver spider 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Though if you are lucky, you may see something prettier. You don’t see many orchids in the forest, because most of them grow higher in the trees.

orchid 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

But here at the edge of the forest, even epiphyte orchids can grow closer to the ground, with more light available.

orchid 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

There must be a lot of competition between plants in this dense habitat which we don’t notice, unless it’s something more obvious like this menacing strangler fig getting a hold of another tree.

strangler fig 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

The amazingly intertwined lianas allowed me to stay suspended in the air, and I let my inner Tarzan out =)

naturist 0010 Corcovado, Costa Rica

But this trail never went too far from the shoreline, so there was a refreshing breeze.

view 0007 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And on the beach, there was quite a lot of shade in the first half of the day.

naturist 0012 Corcovado, Costa Rica

So overall, this section of our trek went a lot more leisurely; just once in a while we’d need go over or around the rocks.

view 0009 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

Even though it’s a rainforest, there are some trees here that are adapted for periods without much rain by accumulating water in their thick trunks. These are ceibas, and they can get very tall too.

naturist 0013 Corcovado, Costa Rica

And if you smack their trunks, you can here a ringing resound because of their hollow nature.

Ceibas have beautiful flowers, but we only found their leftovers with stamens.

fallen flower 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And there were more trees with impressive buttress roots.

tree 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

As we were approaching noontime, the sun was getting very strong, and there was less shade.

naturist 0015 Corcovado, Costa Rica

But we found a good spot to take a break, dip in the ocean and roll in the warm sand…

naturist 0016 Corcovado, Costa Rica

and climb a tree too.

naturist 0017 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Then the weather changed rapidly, and we were afraid to get in a rainstorm, but it never got stronger than some drizzle.

view 0010 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

So far, that day wasn’t very rich on animal sightings, we could only hope to see something in the ocean – Costa Rica is a known whale-watching destination after all, but there was nothing to be seen in the water from the shore… Then, Elias pointed at a whale on the shore itself!

Well, it was a dead one…

naturist 0019 Corcovado, Costa Rica

Very much dead indeed, but it’s as close as I’ve ever got to touching a whale. And we can only guess how it got this far in.

At the same spot, we saw a family of curious spider monkeys,

spider monkey 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

they might be wondering as to how we lost our fur 😀

naturist 0018 Corcovado, Costa Rica

But it’d be fair to say, I felt like they were recognizing some family resemblance. Later, we saw a much bigger group of monkeys, but too high up in the trees to take photos. However, they also got interested in us, and were throwing fruit to us (and it didn’t seem like it was done in an aggressive manner). This reminded me of a recent story of a girl that was lost/abandoned in the jungle but survived at least partially thanks to the food that monkeys shared with her. Unfortunately, the mangos that were offered by the monkeys to us were not ripe at all except for one that was only barely edible.

Our next encounter was not so sociable, but I was very glad to be able to see it – an anteater. It was a northern tamandua, which is not a rare species, but still very elusive, especially during day time.

anteater northern tamandua 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And it is quite an agile tree climber, using its tail as an additional limb.

anteater northern tamandua 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

We also saw two common black hawks.

mangrove black hawk 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

One of them was enjoying a meal.

mangrove black hawk 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

We saw a plenty of flying scarlet macaws again, which was a beautiful sight, but they moved too fast for taking photos.

Then we passed through a banana grove,  to which we probably wouldn’t have paid much attention, if only to check if for any fruit to snack on (and there weren’t any ripe). But our guide called us to look under one of the leaves. And there was a group of bats! Only one of them stayed for the photos though.

tent-making bat 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

These are called tent-making bats, as they roost under big leaves which they bite in central section so that it folds as if roof of a tent.

tent-making bat 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And since they a frugivores, bananas can provide both food and shelter.

By the way, although most of the Corcovado National Park is a primary forest, some sections on the shore, where this trail passes, go through former plantations. I’ve already mentioned mangos and bananas, and they are not native species there. And even though Costa Rica is the largest producer of pineapples, those are not native either.

wild pineapple flower 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

I assume this is a flowering pineapple plant, but it might be another bromeliad.

The last animal we saw by the trail before reaching La Leone ranger station was a coati.

coati 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

These relatives of raccoons are among the most ubiquitous mammals in Corcovado, and they usually live in groups, so it was ironic that we saw only one and by the end of our trek, after having seen plenty of more exotic animals.

After some rest at the ranger station (already clothed), we continued walking on the beach towards the nearest settlement – Carate. There, we had a nice dinner and a shower, and then camped on the beach (naked again).

view 0011 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

It was a pitch-black night, warm but with a breeze, and camping on sand was comfortable – all promised a good night sleep. But we didn’t realize that there were numerous crabs waiting to come out from their holes at night. And some of them happened to be under our tent. So if you camp on a beach like that, try to find a spot without any holes.

Next day, we planned to explore the forest along the river Rio Nuevo, but the car that was supposed to pick us up didn’t arrive, and there was no mobile phone service… Then someone came to let us know that the car broke on the way, so we had to take a bus to Puerto Jimenez.

Elias then organized another excursion for us in the afternoon. It was no longer within the park, actually next to cow pastures, but the prospect of skinny dipping in the river sounded good.

naturist + monstera 0020 Corcovado, Costa Rica

I found a fruiting monstera plant, and as I had tried this fruit for the first time just briefly before the trip and loved it (and it was very expensive at a NYC supermarket), I was eager to munch on this one in nature. Even its scientific name is Monstera deliciosa!

monstera 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

But unfortunately it wasn’t fully ripe, and it still had some irritating scales 😦

When I walked along the river, I saw a basilisk again.

basilisc lizard 0003 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

And this time, I finally saw with my own eyes, why it is also called a Jesus lizard – it can walk on water! Well, not really walk but rather run –

basilisc lizard 0004 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

and so fast, that you can hardly capture it with photography (unless you are well prepared for it).

I also saw a couple of tortoises in the river. But in a hole on the riverbank, there was another iconic reptile of the American tropics

boa constrictor 0000 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

– a boa constrictor. Unlike with the basilisk, I didn’t see it in action. I actually noticed a few ticks attached to it – so instead of a boa constrictor sucking life out of its prey, I saw those small arachnids sucking on its blood.

boa constrictor 0001 Corcovado, Osa peninsula, Costa Rica

So much wildlife in so many forms we saw in those 3 days in Corcovado National Park and its surroundings, it’s amazing! If you are a nature enthusiast, it is certainly a top destination. Hopefully, you’ll have a good guide too. And in case you lose your shorts, you may find mine somewhere on the trail 😉

walking through the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

naturist 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

The oldest living forest is as sacred as it gets for someone who is into natural history – and that is what Schulman grove of the ancient bristlecone pine forest is. Just imagine walking among the living beings that are as old the Egyptian pyramids! Discovery of these ancient plants was very important for dendrochronology, the technique of dating events, particularly climatic changes, by the characteristic patterns of annual growth rings tree trunks. There is a nice tourist information centre, where you can get brochures about these trees and maps with the trails. This is not an official naturist territory, but being a part of the Inyo National Forest, it is a federal land, and there’s no federal law against nudity; needless to say we wanted to experience the hike in this ancient forest ‘as nature intended’, naked. We of course picked the longest trail, which is ~4 miles, and didn’t see any other hikers.

cones 0000 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Looking at the cones, you clearly see how this tree got its name. Young seed cones are quite brightly colored; it takes them two years to mature.

cones 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Pollen cones are also bright but much smaller and mature within one season.

cones 0003 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Given very dry conditions in the area, fallen cones accumulate in massive numbers before decaying,

cones 0006 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

sometimes forming “rivers” of cones.

naturist 0005 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Some lucky seeds would sprout in conditions where hardly any other would be able to…

view 0008 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

and eventually would grow for thousands years on!

tree 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Perhaps a part of the bristlecone pine can die, even a large part, but even then it can go on with whatever is left. We were hiking on a beautiful warm and calm sunny day… but at these elevations of more than 3km above sea level, conditions can change drastically from hot to cold – throughout the day, and throughout the year; and surely it can get very windy there too.

view 0010 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

There is hardly any rain, winter brings precipitation but as snow. As the brochure explained, the bristlecone pines reach their record age not despite these harsh conditions but rather because of them, because they have to grow extremely slow. However, even though bristlecone pines clearly dominate this ancient forest,

view 0002 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

there are some other plants too.

Rock Spiraea creates a very dense moss-like cover, soft to touch.

plant 0000 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

But it’s certainly no moss, with its flowers sticking out… and attracting flies. I thought that they would stink, as many flowers do when they use flies for pollination, but I couldn’t smell anything.

plant 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

The bushes of mountain mahogany cover a few less steep slopes.

tree 0007 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Their long fuzzy-tailed seeds drill into the soil, when moisture causes them to untwist (according to the brochure).

tree 0008 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

If you are not so much into botany,

naturist 0006 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

the views are pretty amazing too!

view 0004 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

And it’s just a very pleasant hike – not too easy, but not too demanding either. (But keep in mind there are also shorter trails, if you don’t have much time or aren’t adjusted well to lower oxygen levels at this altitude).

naturist 0011 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

Also keep in mind that sun radiation is much stronger at this altitude;

view 0007 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

so even though I’m not a fan of hats, I appreciated I had one on the hike (I hope that still counts as a naked hike).

naturist 0001 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

But you can always chill in the shade too…

Sitting on the roots of these trees, you can’t help thinking of their impressive longevity… or brevity of our civilization? The oldest known specimen has lived virtually throughout our entire written history!

naturist 0002 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

And some of them offer even cozier seats for lounging

naturist 0013 Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, California, USA

(or artsy photos, if you consider the first one of this blogpost as such).

PS For weather reference, this hike was done in early September of 2016.

Ramanat – naturist guesthouse in SE Brazil

português

Ramanat is a naturist guesthouse in the state of Minas Gerais, Brasil.

naturist 0000 Ramanat, Minas Girais, Brasil

The guest house is no longer affiliated with the naturist federation,

naturist 0002 Ramanat, Minas Girais, Brasil

but it is still a great place for a rustic getaway with pools and numerous trails to explore the forest.

naturist 0001 Ramanat, Minas Girais, Brasil

However, the website of Ramanat is not functioning at the moment, and we haven’t been able to reach them by phone either, unfortunately. Hopefully it’s just a renovation!

André

Happy Nude Year! (after a somewhat pagan Xmas celebration)

naturist 0005 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

I rang in the New Year just as you’d expect me to do – in the nude! It was a fun Naked Comedy Show, and perhaps I’ll write about it in more detail later. But here’s a report from my Christmas day celebration, which came unexpected event to me – it was a naked hike in my beloved area of Pine Meadow Lake in Harriman State Park. With the current temperatures almost at their seasonal norm levels (cold!), it’s hard to imagine that we had those almost summer-warm days just a week ago. You might have heard that this December has seen record-high temperatures in NYC, so I decided to take advantage of the freak weather and get out for my first winter hike in Harriman park. I thought the previous post would be the last one about this place from 2015, but thanks to this winter adventure I can now say that it’s truly great any time of the year!

view 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Well, there were no blueberries or raspberries, but quite a lot of other small fruits decorates the bushes.

view 0002 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Otherwise the forest appeared pretty dead… which felt even weirder because it was as warm as in late spring. Just a few trees kept the leaves, while almost all were naked – and we followed the case 😉

view 0003 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

It was actually nice that the trees were leafless, because the sun could go through – in summer almost all of this hike is in shade, but this time it was good to feel sun rays throughout the hike.

naturist 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

The forest was very quiet and besides this friendly prehistoric crocodile that let me pose with him, we hardly saw or heard any animals.

view 0006 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Maybe he also put this rock up like this?

view 0005 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Mountain laurels were the only green bushes (besides coniferous), and they looked somewhat overoptimistic about the weather… Well, maybe they can keep their buds safe throughout the winter, but they looked like they were ready to open and grow.

We then noticed one tree had its tiny flowers open – most likely confused with the weather…

view 0008 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Others were decorated with fruits that seemed to be more suited for winter.

view 0007 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

But once we got to the lake, we decided to decorate a small “Christmas tree” – with what we had: food, and berries from the plants around.

naturist Xmas tree 0002 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Before you call our decoration blasphemous, you should know that it was approved by Jesus. And before you think I’m crazy, that’s a true name of my friend (too bad he didn’t want to appear on photos).

naturist Xmas tree 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

In any case, the tradition of decorating trees has pagan roots, and our phallic theme referred to fertility and revival…

naturist Xmas tree 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Too bad there weren’t many fellow hikers to appreciate that, and we soon ate our decorations. There was a small group of hikers though, who seemed to be genuinely interested in why we were naked. We explained a little about naturism, and how we wanted to enjoy the rare occasion of being able to be naked outdoors in December in NYC area. I have a feeling I may see them hike naked next summer! Otherwise, our company was limited to squirrels, chipmunks and a woodpecker.

woodpecker 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USAwoodpecker 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

We walked around Pine Meadow Lake a little more, and discovered two interesting places. One seemed to be like a secret meeting point of a Stone Age tribe… or dwarves?) With stone chairs around a fire pit, it should be a great spot to camp out with a group!

naturist 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Then we saw a strange structure on the neighboring hill. This was particularly surprising, as it was in a part of Harriman State Park that I knew very well, having hiked through these woods many times. But only now, with the forest being naked, did we notice it. When we got closer, we started guessing what it could be.

view 0009 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

It was not an abandoned mansion, as we first thought, but rather a water tower.  Just to make sure it wasn’t some kind of giant sacrifice place, like mayan cenotes, we wanted to look inside.

naturist 0004 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

There was a fallen tree leaning against the wall, so we could actually climb it and have a look. No, it was a water tower after all…

view 0010 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

or a Phallus temple?

We soon had to leave as it was getting dark and cold, but we still hiked naked all the way back. I think it might have been my most memorable Christmas day so far! And having spent the New Year’s Eve at the naked comedy show, I am sure this year is bound to have lots of fun in the buff, which I also wish to all of you!

PS Of course we also skinny-dipped, and the water was shocking-cold, so it was literally a dip. I plan to go to Sandy Hook on Sunday for Polar Bare Plunge for a more social winter skinny-dip – is anyone else up for it?

turkey and mushrooms in the woods of Harriman State Park

wild turkey 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

After seeing the title of this blogpost, you probably pictured a naturist picnic at Harriman State Park for Thanksgiving – but no, this wasn’t the case. I had a traditional (and clothed) dinner. However, the Thanksgiving meal reminded me of sighting a few wild turkeys in the woods of Harriman park this past summer, so this is kind of a bonus to the previous post about my favorite outdoors spot around NYC.

wild turkey 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

This was a fairly large group of adult females with the offspring – I shot just a few of them (I refer to photography). How many can you spot here? Turkeys camouflage pretty well, and if not the noise they had made running away from me, I wouldn’t have noticed them. I had seen wild turkeys on other occasions, but this was the first time I managed to take a photo of them. It could be sharper, but in my defense it was getting dark and they moved fast.

Another animal that I finally saw and photographed this summer was a snapping turtle.

snapping turtle 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

I can imagine a few male readers cringe thinking that this is the same lake where we swim naked, but snapping turtle is quite a secretive animal and wouldn’t try to hunt you. I was happy to snap a photo of this prehistoric-looking creature though.

And if we talk about ancient animals, there are some more peculiar creatures, like the pretty impressive moss animal Pectinatella magnifica!

sponge 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Here is a pretty big colony from the Turkey Pond (I have some photos of us swimming there in the previous post, but that time we didn’t have a waterproof camera).

sponge 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

These look somewhat like corals but are not related to them (well, not any more than us).

American five-lined skink 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

And here is an American five-lined skink. It’s a young individual, as it still has blue colors. Adult males apparently have a red head, similar to another species of skink that I showed in the previous post.

American five-lined skink 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

Chipmunk is nothing special in North America, but I like this photo of one sneaking out from under the rock.

chipmunk 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

And again, with the reference to the previous post, I just mentioned there that I wished I had known local mushrooms – and this summer I finally started using the Audubon app to detect mushrooms, and we collected quite a lot of them on several hikes:

mushrooms 0004 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

e.g., chanterelles

mushrooms 0003 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

and various boletes in June around Pine Meadow lake. Actually I used some of the boletes right away for making a soup there.

In early October, Li and I ventured to a new lake for me – Island Pond, and one area on its shores was incredibly rich in boletes!

mushrooms 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

These are no magic mushrooms, but they make a great soup.

Well, enough of naturalist photos, here is a couple of naturist ones:

naturist 0000 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

On the way to the Island Pond, there was a tree of a weird shape – almost perfect for taking a nap, if only it was softer.

naturist 0001 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

And right by the lake, there was the most interesting ruin that I’ve seen in Harriman park so far – a pretty well preserved fireplace with a chimney.

naturist 0002 Harriman State Park, NY, USA

I see some more photo opportunities for the future 😉

trail running race at Sunny Rest, PA

naturist 0006 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a trail race that has now become a yearly tradition for me – 4th time at the  ‘Bouncing Buns’ race at Sunny Rest, PA, with the 5th result overall out of about 130 participants. Most of my naked runner fellows couldn’t join me this time, including Casey, who came first last year but had an injury this June. My result  (30:51) has improved by a lot compared to the previous, but it wasn’t as good as in 2013 (even though I was 7th) and 2012 (when I was 3rd). But it doesn’t really make sense to compare the results here rigorously, as the track and length of the race varies from year to year. This time the trail was a bit easier in terms of lack of very steep uphills/downhills and extended parts where you had to run over wet rocks and roots, like last year, but there was more running through the tunnels of rhododendron bush and a pretty long uphill part towards the end of the race (where some of the frontrunners almost stopped). In other words, it was still lots of fun 😉

Here is a recap video for you that we made with Peter, so you get an idea of what it was like. It was the first time I used my GoPro camera in this way, so next time it’ll be better (I have some ideas for free-running/chasing vids, stay tuned!)

Maybe you also remember that “floating bed” in the woods at Sunny Rest 2 years ago. Well, now it’s gone (pretty much entirely rotten), and the only thing left are the ropes hanging on the trees. We thought it was fun to climb walk up the trees using those 🙂

naturist 0005 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

We weren’t the only ones around to climb trees

toad 0000 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

or hang from them either…

caterpillar 0000 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

(Some trees were actually full of these caterpillars – what’s happening this year? Not enough birds to eat them?)

As we went on a hike, we saw a very old rusty car in the middle of the woods,

naturist 0002 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

which by now is impossible to guess how it got there, being completely surrounded by trees. It reminded me of the abandoned settlement of several houses, also in the woods of Pennsylvania, that we discovered 3 years ago, and where a car with bullet holes also rusted… But here, it was just this one car with nothing else around…

If you go to the edge of the forest, you may get some picturesque views of the fields.

naturist 0001 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

But I don’t think you’re allowed to venture out [naked] onto those fields. The forest itself is quite picturesque too; here is a “field” of ferns.

naturist 0004 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

(Seemingly even bigger than the ‘sea of ferns’ at Lake Como resort in Florida.)

This time we witnessed the beginning of rhododendron blooming season,

rhododendron 0003 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

as this majestic bush was adorned with flowers of

rhododendron 0000 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

fifty (???)

rhododendron 0002 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

shades of pink.

rhododendron 0001 Sunny Rest Resort, Pennsylvania, USA

I hope to get back to ‘Bouncing Buns’ race next year with a bigger team again, but I’ll be back to Sunny Rest Resort even sooner – the weekend of 25-26 July is SunnyBowl, a pretty big volleyball tournament there that promises to be fun! See you there?

Harriman State Park? Anytime!

naturist 0028 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I’ve written about Harriman State Park near New York City on multiple occasions, but I guess you won’t be surprised that I’m at it again, given that it is the most accessible location for me where I can enjoy and explore nature “as nature intended”. So as Sandy Hook has become my default beach and the latest post about it proved it’s good anytime of the day, Harriman is my default outdoors location, which I find to be great anytime of the day – and I’d like to say anytime of the year, but I’ll have to limit this statement to spring, summer and autumn, as I haven’t been there in winter.

autumn view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Last October wasn’t so warm, but we did snatch a nice hike with some skinny dipping. I have some pictures of autumnal skinny dipping in another post, but here are just great views all the way up to Manhattan (Didn’t I say it was close? The photo is pretty zoomed in though.)

autumn view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

It was nice to see all those bright colors, though frankly I prefer summer green (compare to this photo of Pine Meadow Lake view from a previous post). (Not to mention that I like swimming in those lakes when it’s warm, but we’ll get there.)

autumn view 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Still, the autumn colors were spectacular, especially in contrast to the dark sky on that day.

autumn view 0004 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But it’s not like summer doesn’t offer more colors than “50 shades” of green. Here is the photo of the same islet on the Pine Meadow Lake with mountain laurels’ white-pink bloom a week ago.

naturist & mountain laurel bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And here is a close-up of one of those:

mountain laurel bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

these bushes provide a fabulous backdrop for naked hiking 🙂 (And again, you can see more of such photos in an earlier blogpost.)

naturist & mountain laurel bloom 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Pink and purple tones seem to be particularly fashionable in Harriman:

flowers 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I’ll be happy if my more botany-inclined readers will identify these plants for me,

bush bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but anyone can surely appreciate their beauty.

These wild roses also smelled sweet,

rose bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and probably to preserve that smell they close for the night, when insects wouldn’t visit them anyways.

rose bloom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And even young oak leaves in the beginning of May were of purple tones too.

oak bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But some berberis shrubs bring the intensity of the color to the next level!

plants 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And you can see an occasional red-leaved branch in the end of the summer, standing out among the greenery of the rest of the forest.

leaves or flowers? 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

The leaves of the plant below are usual green, but the shape is quite interesting, as if the tips were cut by someone.

plants 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And some more flowers from this spring-beginning of summer:

flowers 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

viola,

bush and trees bloom 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

berberis (green this time),

bush and trees bloom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and multiple white-blooming trees;

bush and trees bloom 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

blueberry bushes also bloomed intensely this year, so we can expect a nice blueberry season later in summer.

blueberry bloom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Plants aren’t the only ones to please your eyes with bright colors in Harriman State Park:

eastern newt (eft) 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

orange juvenile newts (efts) are a common sight in the beginning of summer,

eastern newt (eft) 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and we also saw an orange frog!

frog 0003 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

This frog from last summer was not conspicuous at all though,

frog 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but I wanted to take a picture of it, as it still had not finished its metamorphosis and featured a long tail.

frog 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But then there was also a lizard with an orange head, a broad-headed skink:

I waited quite a bit for it to come out from the whole between the rocks,

broad-headed skink 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and it was worth it.

broad-headed skink 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And again, for contrast, here is a less conspicuous reptile, but at the same time a lot larger and dangerous.

hidden rattlesnake 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Can you see it? If you don’t, check out another blogpost of mine, where I have much better pictures of it.

Usually insects are a part of my nature report, but this time they’ll be represented only by this vaguely seen dragonfly which photobombed a photo of a turkey vulture taken at the Turkey Pond.

turkey vulture + fly 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Here is a better picture of a gliding turkey vulture. I’ve also seen wild turkeys there but have never been fast enough to snap a photo of them.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/423/18688531185_f9068c5495_z_d.jpg

A lot more exciting though was a sighting of a bald eagle! It was soaring higher than turkey vultures, but its profile was unmistakable. It is even more exciting that I’ve seen this iconic American animal so close to New York City (so as a black bear 3 years ago).

bald eagle 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Even if you don’t see a bald eagle in the sky, the sky itself may present quite a spectacle.

sunset view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

We witnessed a very colorful sunset last September at Pine Meadow Lake. Just scroll down,

sunset view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and see

sunset view 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

how

sunset view 0003 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

colors change

sunset view 0004 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and eventually

sunset view 0005 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

disappear!

sunset view 0006 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

The sunrise (on another occasion, in July) wasn’t as nearly as colorful,

view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but the fog made it mystical.

view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Well, and I’m not even nearly done with nature photos for this blogpost! Besides purely esthetically pleasing sightings, Harriman State Park provides a few possibilities for encounters that may be pleasing for the stomach too 😉

I’ve already mentioned blueberries (and have some yummy photos of those in another post),

raspberry 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but you can also find raspberries and blackberries of different varieties – look for those in the openings in the woods.

This kind of blackberry is my favorite. They usually ripen in August, after blueberries.

blackberry 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Didn’t I say pink and purple were trendy in Harriman?

raspberry 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Here is a pink raspberry with purple flowers!

https://farm9.staticflickr.com/8896/18500556378_c8e7a815af_z_d.jpg

And even young grape leaves (early May) have a purple rim!

grape vine 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

You can see flower buds on this photo too, so hopefully they will develop into grapes by September, like last year. They aren’t as sweet as cultivated grapes, but you can’t be too picky while hiking in the woods – it’s great to have a snack courtesy of wild nature!

grape vine 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

These bright mushrooms below should probably have stayed in the esthetically pleasing category,

mushroom 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

as I am not sure if they are edible, but I want to think they are… I’d like to join the local mycological society to learn about mushrooms in the area on their foraging outings.

mushrooms Harriman State Park

The idea of foraging while backpacking is very appealing on many levels, but one has to be careful, especially with mushrooms.

mushroom 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But I guess you can’t go wrong with the fish here! Although my father and grandfather are avid amateur fishermen, I haven’t learned much about it.

naturist 0027 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Luckily, my new naturist fisher friends were willing to share their catch! I’m yet to buy fishing gear, but meanwhile I’ll enjoy fish as a naturalist.

Most of the fish that you see in the video are sunfish species, and what I like about them is that they are quite tame and even curios about people – they often come close and stare at you, and sometimes nibble (not painfully, don’t worry). Snorkeling at the Pine Meadow Lake may not be as colorful and diverse as at the coral reefs of the Red Sea or in Hawaii, but those friendly sunfish spawning among water lilies make it really interesting.

naturist 0011 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I certainly like swimming in the lakes of Harriman park a lot more than in swimming pools, which are easily accessible in New York (including my workplace). Besides having more space, beautiful surrounding and fish to observe, possibility to swim naked is of course another strong factor 😉

naturist 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

If dogs can do it, why can’t we?

naturist 00000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

These lakes are good size if you want to exercise swimming by crossing them forth and back,

naturist 0010 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and some of them, e.g. Turkey Pond, have small islands

view 0002 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

providing nice resting spots…

naturist 0013 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

or nude posing opportunities 🙂

naturist 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

If you will to carry a kayak with you,

naturist 0035 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

paddling around is another fun way to explore and experience these lakes,

naturist 0037 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and a great exercise for the upper body too.

naturist 0036 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And if you want some extreme (well, admittedly, just a hint thereof), there are cliffs at Pine Meadow Lake from which you can dive in the lake.

naturist-0043-Harriman-State-Park,-New-York,-USA

Nudity will make it a little more extreme and fun 😉

naturist 0055 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But besides exercising and observing nature, such naked outings by the lake provide nice opportunities for social bonding, and we kicked off this season with a good group of 8 butt-naked people.

naturist 0065 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

We had nice summer weather already in the beginning of May, and the water was warm enough for swimming.

naturist 0063 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

We were lucky to have one of the nicest spots at Pine Meadow Lake all to ourselves, with perfect flat rocks to sit on just above the water and in the water.

naturist 0056 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Splashing

naturist 0058 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and talking proved to be a great mix 🙂

naturist 0059 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And if you can’t find such nice flat rocks for your rest spot, perhaps a tree will do 😉

naturist 0015 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

This one turned out to be good as a lounge chair and an observation deck alike!

naturist 0023 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And if all those lakes are great destination points, journey to those (hiking) is just as good in its own merit. There are lots of well-maintained and marked trails in Harriman State Park, but bushwalking is fun too.

naturist 0008 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Most of the time though we take known trails and consult with the map.

naturist 0068 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

The terrain and surroundings are quite diverse,

naturist &0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

from soft soil of the woods to rocks and cliffs.

naturist 0066 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

It’s hard to predict how many people you’ll encounter on the trails,

naturist 0067 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

but once we were lucky to have even this well-known rock formation all to ourselves.

naturist 0070 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

And just as a reminder of the “other world” (and proximity to it), once in a while you may get to a viewpoint where you can see Manhattan skyline.

view 0003 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Such points are great for taking pictures (such as the first one in this post) and rest/stretching alike.

naturist 0029 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

The greenery of the forest provided a nice background, and while it appeared massive,

naturist 0025 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

we were quickly reminded about fragility of the ecosystem,

burnt view 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

as we saw traces of the recent wildfire.

burnt view 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Luckily, it wasn’t that big (though it’s not the only instance, as you’ll see below), and we could continue our hike safely.

naturist 0030 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

But even the most active naturists need some rest after all this hiking and swimming 🙂

naturist 0031 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Sometimes a cup of tea is the only thing needed,

naturist 0033 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

and sometimes nothing at all – you just feel blessed with what mother nature provided, especially when it is a thick soft layer of moss just at the time when you want to lie down…

naturist 0071 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Though not for too long… and if we’re not moving forward in some way, we find another activity;

naturist 0072 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

trees, dead or alive, serve well as apparatuses for exercises 🙂

naturist 0032 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

 

When the evenings get cooler in the end of summer, it’s nice to get the last sun rays before sunset.

naturist 0034 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Note the “obelisk”, an erect dry tree trunk in the background… This picture was taken mid-September last year, and this is what it looked like this May:

burnt view 0003 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Unfortunately, that little peninsula that we liked so much has burned out quite badly, though large trees have survived.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/297/18067815753_227f559a38_z_d.jpg

We discovered traces of exploded camper stove, burnt batteries and parts of a tent, so we speculated that could be how the fire started, though we of course couldn’t tell if all this wasn’t actually the result of wildfire, simply having caught the flame. However, most likely it was a man-made disaster-ish. Regardless, hopefully nobody suffered seriously.

burnt view 0005 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Not all human activity is devastating of course, and here is an example of some rock painting art.

rock art 0000 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Doubtfully it’s older than a century though; I couldn’t find any information online about it, so maybe for a moment we can think we uncovered art from the neolithic era… or maybe someone craftily imitated it last year 🙂

rock art 0001 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Well, the ruins of what apparently used to be a pump house by the Pine Meadow Lake are certainly not that ancient, but I couldn’t find much information on that either.

naturist 0075 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

Regardless, the ruin inspired us for more exercising and posing 🙂

naturist 0074 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I think there hardly can be any better combination for photography than decaying constructions being slowly overtaken by nature and nudes!

naturist 0073 Harriman State Park, New York, USA

I am happy to have captured all this and share it with you, and surely there’ll be more material from this summer!

Orient Land Trust, Colorado

naturist 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Orient Land Trust is an amazing piece of land between San Luis Valley and Cottonwood Peak of Rocky Mountains in Colorado; it encompasses wildlife corridor with numerous hiking trails to explore, pristine spring waters – including geothermal springs for you to relax, an abandoned mine that now hosts the state’s largest bat colony, and rustic cabins and camping area for you to stay. And what makes this place truly natural, relaxing and liberating is that it is very much nude-friendly! When we went there in July, the weather was just perfect for that – it only cools down at night, but then you’d hang out at the hot springs 😉

naturist 0015  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

We stayed at the Oak House community lodge, but if I come again, I think I’ll go for tenting next to one of those natural hot springs.

This place is perfect if want to connect with nature at ease – it’s everywhere around you, and even such luxury as hot baths are natural there. On my first walk around, I was amazed to see several deer right off the trail that seem to be quite tame. I didn’t have my camera that time, but when I grabbed it, there was a rabbit instead, but it was a bit shier.

rabbit 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USArabbit 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I saw quite a few deer on a random trail afterwards, and it looked like they felt pretty much the same as human visitors of OLT – relaxed 😉

deer 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Fawns, however, seemed to be more alert and cautious,

deer 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAdeer 0003  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

so as squirrels (unlike their Central Park counterparts).

squirrel 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As I continued going up the mountain, I also apparently scared the whole flock of grouse, as they noisily took off the ground and sat on the trees around me.

grouse 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAgrouse 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The views from the trail were beautiful: multicolored hills and mountains,

view 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

magnificent San Luis Valley,

view 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

and cute tiny settlement of Orient Land Trust itself…

view 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

At the top of the nearest peak to OLT, there was a primitive stone construction by a dead tree – not sure about its purpose, but it could protect you from the wind if you decide to camp there.

view 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As I looked down at the forest on the opposite slope, it caught my attention how various the vegetation appeared to be, with patches of different broad-leaf and coniferous trees sticking to each other, and other parts covered by grass or bushes.

view 0005  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Aspen trees with their white barks stood out in the sea of green.

aspen forest 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As aspens let a lot of light to reach the ground, a lot of other plants can grow in such a forest.

aspen forest 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

And if aspens caught my eyes’ attention, my nose was pleased with conifers –

conifer 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

many of them released sap on  their young cones, and it provided a pleasant aroma.

conifer 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Too bad I didn’t see any edible fruits. This one below looked like a gooseberry, but I wasn’t sure.

gooseberry 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

This plant below had beautiful leaves,

plant 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

but the main attraction was of course flowers,

flowering plant 0006  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

which were in abundance all over the mountain but especially on non-forested slopes.

flowering plant 0010  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0009  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0008  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Colors spanned the whole spectrum.

flowering plant 0007  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0012  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USAflowering plant 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

My favorite was probably this one below.

flowering plant 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Flowers mean butterflies (and hummingbirds, in this part of the world, but we’ll get to them later).

holly blue butterfly 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

But not all butterflies were busy pollinating flowers.

butterfly 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Cactus flowers seemed to be more popular among bees though.

cactus 0003  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I was surprised to see so many cacti species so far up north and at relatively high elevation,

cactus 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

but they were clearly at limit of their ecological tolerance,

cactus 0005  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

as all of them were very short.

cactus 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I wonder if sticking together helps cacti survive winter.

cactus 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Well, at least some of them clearly showed their love to the place ❤

cactus 0006  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

And as much as I love cacti, I don’t like stepping on their spikes… oh, have I mentioned that hiked not only bare but barefoot too?

naturist 0016  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The terrain was quite rough even without spikes, but all that pain made relaxation in hot springs only sweeter.

naturist 0009  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

So, finally I’m getting to describe you what Orient Land Trust is probably most known for – geothermal springs in truly natural setting! There are a few pools with different temperature of water, different levels of accessibility and seclusion. The uppermost of the upper three pools has an extra feature: air bubbles seep through its bottom caressing your body on their way to the surface.

naturist 0011  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The middle of the upper pools is one of the smallest, but its depth is just perfect to lie down and enjoy the flow of warm water over your body.

naturist 0012  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

After that, I was ready for another hike! (I’ll get back to description of other hot springs of OLT in a bit.)

view 0006  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

At around 18:00, together with many other visitors and a guide, we headed out to the abandoned Orient Mine turned home to the largest bat colony in Colorado to see the spectacle of thousands bats leaving their cave to prey on insects at dusk.

view 0007  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The views on the way were stunning again.

view 0008  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The excavated red earth stark perfect contrast to the green, whereas the valley literally on the other side of the road was covered by dry grass.

view 0009  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Typically for OLT, we were greeted by a deer chilling by the bush.

deer 0004  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I snacked on ‘Bear Naked’ energy bar (I see an ad potential here!)

naturist 0013  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The trail was very easy, with only one decent uphill hike, after which we had a break at a cliff with magnificent view of the valley.

naturist 0003  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

The sea of dry grass  spotted by green trees and bush thickets presented a beautiful picture.

view 0010  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Then, the beams of sunlight coming onto the valley between the mountains and clouds created yet more splendid view.

view 0011  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

As the last sun rays of the day touched our skin, we hurried to the Orient Mine cave.

naturist 0005  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

While we waited for the bats to emerge, I was try it to figure my at-the-time-new-to-me camera settings, that would work well for a fast moving small object in dark conditions.

view 0012  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I could certainly catch the colors of sunset,

view 0013  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

and an airplane gaseous trace,

view 0014  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

but I failed to take any decent photograph of bats.

bats 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

You’ll just have to believe my word or go to OLT webpage about their bats to see photos and videos.

bats 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

It was a mesmerizing nature’s spectacle! As we were told by our guide, these bats were mainly males of a tropical species that migrate there for the summer, it was funny to think of the cave as a huge bachelor resort for bats and their huge night feast in the valley.

By that time, it got substantially colder and I was the only one left naked. It was still ok for me, especially after we started walking, but I was looking forward to the hot springs. At night, we only went to the pools that were closer to the campground, and although they were pretty full, it was still easy to find a nice spot for yourself. At the biggest pool, we were treated with yet another amazing nature’s spectacle: incredibly bright starry sky and fireflies ‘dancing’ around us. Unfortunately I didn’t even try to photograph this, but the whole experience was magic.

Next morning, we went to the upper pools again and enjoyed the views from the lowest of the three. By the way, there was mint growing right next to it, so it smelled nice around too.

naturist 0007  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

This geothermal infinity pool is just priceless, and I hope I’ll enjoy it again some day!

Right before our departure, I found hummingbird trapped in the bathroom.

saving hummingbird 0000  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

Luckily, I have a lot of experience handling birds,

saving hummingbird 0001  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

so I easily caught it while it was bumping into the window and set it free outside.

saving hummingbird 0002  Orient Land Trust, Colorado, USA

I must say that I myself felt pretty much free as a bird at Orient Land Trust, I wish there were more places like that!