Biology Reference
In-Depth Information
out of riveted wooden slats, fitting them with padded webbing for shoulder and waist
straps. The first day, my new boots were stiff as cardboard, and after twenty miles on the
Abraham Lincoln Trail two other boys dragged me blistered and whimpering into our
camp near the former president's Knob Creek childhood cabin. Next afternoon, we ar-
rived at his birthplace, aimed three-fingered salutes at an American flag, and recited his
272-word Gettysburg Address. Then we did the nearby twenty-mile Daniel Boone Trail
in two more days. One of my medals from the trip is inscribed, “Scout Harry Greene
walked in Lincoln's footsteps,” but I was too young to fully reap the rewards of long-dis-
tance hiking.
My next backpacking trip was in 1983, traversing montane Costa Rican rainforest
between La Selva Biological Station and Braulio Carrillo National Park. In two weeks
our team of seven scientists, two trail cutters, and a cook covered distances I could per-
ceive on a map of Central America, our goal to survey biodiversity across an intact el-
evational transect. 49 Clothes never really dried, and perhaps deafening rain and fetid
socks in my tiny tent inspired several bizarre, predawn dreams—once I was a tick on a
showering woman's underarm hair, but over and over, just as I contemplated latching
onto her breast, water sloshed me off like some acarine Sisyphus. During daylight hours
we photographed black-and-yellow harlequin frogs mating beside a stream, made par-
affin casts of jaguar and tapir tracks, and otherwise surveyed the flora and fauna. As
dusk fell, beat up by the steep muddy slopes and sated on beans and rice, I reflected on
dichotomous activity cycles—among frog-eating serpents, we always found three spe-
cies of parrot snakes and a racer by day, two more of blunt-headed vine snakes and two
of cat-eyed snakes only after sunset. As for diurnally adapted primates, when campfire
talk turned to what if one's lights failed on a night walk, answers were unanimous: wait
for dawn rather than walk and risk snakebite, tripping on a root, or careening off an
unseen embankment; wonder what it'd be like to meet a jaguar in the dark.
By 1991 I was with Kelly, and together we marveled at the seven-hundred-year-
old ruins of Keet Seel in Arizona's Navajo National Monument—ten miles of downhill
switchbacks, a rickety ladder, and leisurely viewing of the cliff dwellings, then up out of
the red gorge the next morning. In 1995, just before getting married, we passed four
glorious days backpacking the slickrock country of Utah's Paria River Canyon, which
empties into the Colorado just upstream from the Grand Canyon. At dawn on day one
we dropped into Buckskin Gulch—twelve miles of convoluted, yard-wide passageways,
under colossal logs washed in by flash floods, past two live rattlesnakes and the rot-
ten carcass of an owl—and camped on a bench by late afternoon. For the next couple
of days, ambling the canyon in blissful solitude, we scrutinized petroglyphs of bighorn
rams and scorpions, photographed chuckwallas and leopard lizards, and contemplated
the ruins of old Mormon settlements. Nights we talked about bats and planets, listened
to the trills of red-spotted toads. By the fourth day our water filters had clogged, but we
found a spring and made it out without having to drink from the muddy river, determin-
ed to make our lives together.
Visiting Kelly's Peruvian homeland as 1996 ended, we dined on cuy (guinea pig) and
prowled the Indian markets around Cusco while acclimating to high elevation, then
hiked the fifty-five-mile Inca Trail without guide or porters. At one point, as I trudged
through the puna grasslands of Warmiwañusca—Dead Woman's Pass, fourteen thou-
sand feet above sea level—an elderly Quechua wearing shorts and sandals, hefting
Search WWH ::

Custom Search