January 24, 2014

El Yunque cloud forest dwarf plants
 So in the middle of the night I heard something running around the tent, we were hundreds of feet up on a ridge and I have never seen any dogs or cats roaming around from the neighborhood below where we were camping at.  So there is something running around and all of a sudden it runs right into the tent and into my foot! I jumped up and grabbed my knife! "What the fuck was that"!?! It wasn't a hard punch into the tent but it was very mysterious to say the least. It might have been a mongoose or an iguana, but I am just sure, and it may never be known what it really was. We woke up early so we could go get ferry boat tickets to Culebra a day early and get to the north district for a hike. I wanted to check out the La Coca trail which is suppose to be a bit more rustic, waterfalls, and the only trail I haven't been on. We get to the trailhead and I noticed a lot of broken car window glass on the ground which is not a good look for me so we decided to summit the mountain via the El Yunque Trail which will take us to the cloud forest.
El Yunque Trail Puerto Rico
 We started up the gravel trail which made it a hell of a lot easier to hike up rather than bushwhacking and slogging our way through plant debris and mud.  We noticed the weather change as it got a bit cooler and the trees started to shrink and get smaller.
El Yunque Cloud Forest Puerto Rico
The fern growth started to appear and as we came upon a clearing we noticed ourselves near the top of the mountain.

El Yunque Cloud Forest Puerto Rico
It was a beautiful view as the clouds haven't quite rolled in yet so we had a window of opportunity to see the ocean to the North, East, and South of us.
El Yunque Cloud Forest Puerto Rico

The trees were dwarfed due to overall lack of sunlight and the wind was blowing with consistency which I imagine made these plants grow the strong branches that they have.
El Yunque Cloud forest

El Yunque cloud forest

Eventually, we made our summit to the top of the El Yunque trail and the clouds started to roll in with a hard drizzle of rain that followed. As we were a the top, I was thinking about how we were in a massive water cave with previous world class caves before that, and now we are on top of a cloud forest mountain.  This really put Puerto Rico into perspective for me as to how this island has so much diversity in terms of biology and geology.  I love this island!!
El Yunque cloud forest
We started to make our descent back to the clearing to catch more cloud action blowing past us.
El Yunque cloud forest
We got to the rock clearing and the clouds were blowing through us as they made their way over to San Juan.  We were on the windward side and the moisture from the jungle below us gave these clouds instant activity to develop even before they rolled over into the leeward side.
We made our descent back to the car enjoying the hike and watching the chance in weather with the plants around us.  Earlier in the day we got our tickets to go to Culebra for a couple days so we were really excited to be changing it up a bit and enjoying some R and R in a remote and beautiful desert island.

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