Did your mother ever tell you not to play with jaguars? I'm sure it never even occurred to my mother that this would be an issue, so I cheerfully accompany our scientists up the mountain in search of large jaguar paw-prints.
Because of the trek on the rugged terrain, my knees will never be the
|Jaguars were here.|
same. We didn't run into any large cats, but did see a tapir and a few spider monkeys. (Just as an aside, I have learned to be wary of spider monkeys, as they seem to like throwing stuff at you from the treetops).
SPECIES: See some of the mammals found along the way.
We did, however find an excellent gateway to the Kanukus while looking for jaguars. Gasping and struggling to climb to the highest peak, Wilmer set aside his heavy tree-trimmer to pick up on the way back, while Jim talked of having heart palpitations. I'm glad I never took up smoking – I'd never make it up this mountain.
PEOPLE: Meet Jim Sanderson, big cat expert.
We climbed the sheer rock-face holding onto roots and rocks, and chiseling foot holds out of the clay with machetes. The mountain is one solid mass of magnetic iron. A compass set on the top spins wildly – north colliding with south. The view is also
|Size of a jaguar print.|
disorienting: miles of mountains and untouched rainforest with no people to be found, not even indigenous groups.
I creep to the edge of the cliff, trying to get a signal on the satellite phone for the first time in days. It is a 200-meter drop down the side of cliff I'm perched upon. King vultures whiz below me. I see a harpy eagle in its ratty nest of branches in the valley. But I can't get a phone signal – I'll have to try upriver tomorrow.
I sum up the day like this: No jaguars. No satellite phone signal. But one heck of a magnificent view!
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