Last weekend I spent some time exploring the trails of the Cloud Bridge Preserve on the northeastern border of the Chirripó National Park. Though it is primarily a research facility, the preserve maintains several miles of trails. This was what I like to call a ‘light and fast’ day. Which means I take nothing that would encumber me or detract from my experience.
This is one of the few places where you can still drink pure mountain water. The rivers that run through the Preserve start in the Chirripó mountain. There are no human development activities that would contaminate the water with pesticides, fertilizers or animal waste. The only thing to worry about, and one should keep this in mind, is that wild animals may die or do their business up river. The river was engorged from the rainy season and flowing fast.
At one point, heading down to the river to refill my water bottle my eye caught a fluorescent green lump lying off the trail to my right. It took me a second to recognize the round, stair shaped coil lying on the ground. The bright green and brown speckles were almost mesmerizing. I was looking at a Black Speckled Palm Pit Viper, locally known as the bocaracá. This species has many color and marking variations. It can range from leaf colors to yellow, green and pink. I knew it only because I saw pictures of one just like it but in yellow.
I am terribly afraid of snakes but if I know they are a garden snake I don’t worry about them. This one, well, I had to hold off a panic. As a I made my way up the hill I reminded myself “panic kills”.
That day I carried no camera. I wanted to travel light and fast and take in everything I could without the filter of technology. My reward? One hell of an experience with a gorgeous, albeit dangerous, snake.