On a clear day from the trailhead, at an elevation of about 7,000 feet, you can see nearly to the flat expanse of the Amazon. The Guacamayos Ridge Trail is cut into a steep slope on the Eastern side of the Ecuadorian Andes. The slope here create a temperate habitat island surrounded by the more typical subtropical habitat of this elevation of the Andes.
That unique habitat means unique animals, and in particular, a wide variety of birds. I am here with a guide, and a friend of his from the nearby San Isidro Lodge, who is known as one of the most accomplished birders in the region. Their goal is to find an Andean Potoo, a difficult-to-spot bird which had been seen by a group the day before not far from the trailhead. My goal is to look for and photograph a frog.
The night before, Gabriel and I had visited the Yanayacu Biological Station, a biological research facility in the area, because we knew that a variety of frog species were known in the area. When we pulled up at the station, we were greeted by two dogs behind a chain-link fence that were terribly angry at our presence. Their enclosure followed the path to the facility, so they had a football-field length to follow us and bark menacingly.