“Group 54…very far.” Pierre mentions to me as we crawl uphill at an 80-degree angle.
“No problem, Pierre.”
Two hours later, and I want to retract this statement. The hike has continued only uphill and with my rain pants, jacket, layers of fleece and heavy pack full of gear, I am beginning to feel weighed down. My sweat is turning into cold pellets against my skin, and the rain soaking the ground makes it slick, my feet giving way every few steps. Along the way, Pierre teaches me how to call to the rubriventers. An acoustic grunt that takes me a while to even begin to mimic, we use it every so often to prompt a response. Finally, as we make one of our usual calls, we receive a reply.
We look up into the hazy canopy and see several dark figures huddled on a branch. I raise my binoculars to my eyes and see two males- one adult and one juvenile to the left. They have white patches under their eyes, the light fur going slightly up the sides of their nose to their eyebrows. The females, also one adult and one juvenile, have white chests and are cuddled together to the right of the males. I find another small female, most likely born the previous year, sitting alone on the branch above. All have a reddish-brown fur coat and a long bushy tail. Their faces were soft and curious, somewhat scared. The pouring rain limited a superior view. We settle in to watch them, ready for them to wake up and start scurrying towards food. Two hours later and they’re still asleep. I know the cold and rainy conditions are forcing the family into a higher amount of sleep and rest, so I expect it to be like this most of the day. Sitting in the cold, wet mud, I acknowledge and approve of their strategy.