Mountains, monsoons and mosquitoes: highlights from amphibian biologist Dr Jodi Rowley's diary of her recent field trip to Central Vietnam.
At 2.45pm, we headed off up the mountain on the other side of the valley we were in. The trail was initially relatively flat, then increased gradually in slope until we were climbing on all-fours. My gym membership in Sydney has really paid off, and I’m able to keep up with the extremely fit guides (although I’m purple and puffing and they are barely breaking a sweat).
We waited for the rest of the team on a mossy cliff, with a stunning view to the mountains surrounding us. After a brief stop, we walked/climbed through a leafy forest with bryophytes thick on the ground, and into a dense forested plateau, with multiple streams and swamps. At about 5.30pm we stopped to eat bags of sticky rice and peanuts, and wait for nightfall.
We waited for dark, gradually freezing (due to a combination of the cool mountain air and us being wet with sweat from our climb), until frog calls erupted from the vegetation all around us. We scurried around trying to see what was calling - after some searching we found small tree frogs, high up in the trees. I spent the rest of the night on the mountain knee-deep in mud, recording the calls of frogs in a swamp.
On our way back down the mountain, we got lost, and took a rather difficult alternative route. Most of us had at least one decent slip, but we made it back safely to the hut in the early hours of the morning.