May 15, 2006
NKM Adventure Day 6
Candido showed up right on time at 6:30 so we could start our trip into the park early. Craig had already cooked lunch that we could eat cold on the way. We took as little as possible to make the bike riding easier: A tent, sleeping pads, sleeping bags, four day's food, and some emergency supplies.
With all our gear ready, we walked over to Don Juan's house to pick up our bikes. Unlike my Sajama experience last November, they were actual mountain bikes, but they didn't appear to be in great condition. Still, we were optimistic as we set off on our journey, hoping to make it to Los Fierros, the first campsite 40 K's away, by midday.
Before we even got to the river which marked the beginning of the park, we had our first problem. The lunch of curried pasta that Craig had so carefully prepared fell off his bike, and it was still in the cooking pot. He was behind Candido and I so nobody saw where it fell. We still probably had enough food left for the four days, though, as long as we could catch a few meals.
The entrance to the park was marked by a large hand-pulled ferry. We pulled down a large log to make a ramp for the bikes, rode up, and pulled the ferry across.
The first half hour of our ride went well, but soon we encountered a series of problems. First, Craig's pedal fell off. We were really lucky to find the nut that came loose and screwed it back in place with a pliers. Next, Candido's chain broke. This time we weren't so lucky because we couldn't find the part that fell out. Candido spent the next hour pulling an entire link off the chain and putting it back together. A few minutes later, my chain broke and my tire went flat at the same time. Once again, Candido rescued us by putting the chain together and patching the tire. Finally, my tire exploded and there was no way it could be fixed. I ditched the bike on the side of the road and walked the last two hours to camp.
We made it to camp at about 4:00 with just an hour of daylight left. The path was bumpy and there was lots of vegetation growing over it in places, but it would have been easy terrain for a good mountain bike to handle. We cursed our bad luck as with only two bikes left, someone would have to walk the rest of the way and there was almost no way we would get to see the waterfall.
Still, we saw a lot of wildlife along the way. At one point, Candido heard some rumbling and we all stopped. Suddenly, a puma emerged from the bushes about five meters away. It looked at us for a few seconds, turned around, and headed back into the jungle. Pumas are very rare animals, so it was lucky for us to have seen one. We also saw golden monkeys, martin monkeys, countless eagles, vultures, and oriels, a ton of butterflies, a fox picked out by Candido's flashlight, and lots of other animals that I can't even remember. The jungle has so few visitors, it remains in pristine condition, making it easy to see a ton of exotic animals.
Los Fierros was a good place to stay the night. On the way into the camp was the airplane runway that most people use when entering. The site also had a kitchen, dining room, and several cabins with beds. Solar power gave it electricity and it had a well that provided running water, two luxuries that Florida didn't have. We cooked a meal on the gas stove and slept inside. We were all alone in the site, so when we asked Candido if we could use the facilities, his response was, "I won't tell if you don't tell."
The photo album for this entry is here.