National Geographic : 1889 Oct
324 National GeographicMagazine. all outlines except the more prominent irregularities of the ter rene, and have blended different mountain ranges, one of which may be several miles beyond the other, into one, of which only the sky profile is distinct. Naturally under these conditions estimates of distance may be half or double the truth. There are two ways of extracting reliable information from these tree-top reconnaissances. If it be in the rainy season the observer must be prepared to make a day of it, and when he ascends the tree in the morning he takes with him a long light line with which to pull up his coffee and lunch. Then aided by the successive showers which sweep across the landscape, leaving fragments of mists in the ravines, and hanging grey screens between the different ranges and mountains, bringing out the relief first of this and then of that section, an accurate sketch may gradually be made. The time of passage of a shower from one peak to another, or to the observer, may also be utilized as a by no means to be despised check upon distance estimates. If it be the dry season, the observer may take his choice be tween remaining on his perch in the tree from before sunrise to after sunset, or making two ascents, one early in the morning and the other late in the afternoon. In this case the slowly dis persing clouds of morning, and the gradually gathering mists at sunset, together with the reversed lights and shadows at dawn and sunset, bring out very clearly the relief of the terrene, the overlapping of distant ranges, and the course of the larger streams. This kind of work cannot be delegated to anyone, and besides the arduous labor involved in climbing the huge trees, there are other serious annoyances connected with it. The climber is almost certain to disturb some venomous insect which revenges itself by a savage sting which has to be endured; or he may rend clothes and skin also, on some thorny vine, or another, crushed by his efforts, may exude a juice which will leave him tattooed for days; then, though there may not be a mosquito or fly at the base of the tree, the top will be infested with myriads of minute black flies, which cover hands and face, and with extremely annoying results. On the other hand the explorer may as a com pensation have his nostrils filled with the perfume of some bril liant orchid on a neighboring branch; and there is a breezy enjoyment in watching the showers as they rush across the green carpet, and in listening to the roar with which the big drops beat upon the tree tops.