Pucon and Volcan Villarica
03.07.2012 - 03.19.2012
Pucon is a speedy (11 hour) bus ride from Bariloche. We arrived tired, but accomplished reading many more pages in War & Peace, the mammoth of a book we have both been reading since we picked it up at the Eco Camp in Villa O´Higgins (thanks Mauricio). We took a day to rest and prepare for our next trekking adventure, the Villarica Traverse, a 6 day hike across the Parque Nacional Villarica. Luckily, the weather was gorgeous and we got to spend our first hours in in the south basking in the sun next to a lake without crazy winds. I even went swimming for the first time since the beach in Pichilemu. So fantastic.
The next day was also gorgeous and since we didn´t want to waste any good weather time we hit the trail. The first two days we spent hiking around Volcan Villarica from the north, around the west side, and down to the southern side. The weather stayed clear the entire first day, but at about noon on day two we walked into the cloud. The views before the cloud were absolutely incredible. We could see all the way down to to the Lago Villarica and Pucon, out to another large lake, Lincan Rey, up to the top of the SMOKING volcano, and out to so many other peaks and volcanos in the distance. Around us we saw beautiful alpine plants, insects, grasses, and lava flows of many different ages and types. One of my favorite things about the hike was able to walk in the Arucaria Forests (Monkey Puzzle trees). Chileans claim that they are the oldest living trees (although I´m fairly sure that the Bristlecone pine claims that statistic). We also found some prints of the elusive Pudu, the tiniest deer on the planet (this statistic I think is true)!
Views down to Lago Villarica
Views out to distant volcanos (I tried to copy the shot I got of Mt. Hood with the grass I posted in the first blog..sorta worked!)
Pudu print with Delaney´s hand
We woke up on day three next to a beautiful river, with the sun just peaking out from the trees. We had a long slog back up out of the river canyon and back up into the alpine zone. We were now headed south eastward towards the other volcanoes in the park, Volcan Quetropillan and Volcan Lanin. Luckily for us the weather stayed gorgeous all day and we got amazing views once we got above the trees. We had a fabulous campsite next to a little creek and a view of Volcan Villarica. We dunked in a tiny hole in the stream, and enjoyed our first warm evening of the entire summer in patagonia. So refreshing and welcomed. The sunset that night was beautiful as well and the smoke coming out the the volcano blazed red. The picture I got doesn´t quite do it justice, but you get the point!
Volcan Villarica and Arucarias
Delaney with Volcan Quetrapillian and Volcan Lanin in the background
Views from the top
Luckily we met some Chilean hikers who got one of us both!
The next day we woke up to storm clouds. The good weather couldn´t last the whole 6 days could it?! So we got wet walking in the rain becasue we were lazy and didn´t get all our rain gear on in time. My boots leaked, D´s rainpants leaked, I got a blister, we got hungary, and a little cranky, and so after only three hours of hiking we stopped at Lago Azul to pitch the tent and get out of the torrents. Unfortunately the camp was really trashy...literally trash everywhere around the campsites, including poop with toilet paper above ground...come on people, really!? Our book recommended camping somewhere else because of the trash, but due to the rain, which didnt stop for a couple hours, we ended up caming at the trashy camp. No real need to get out of the tent much, so I tried to not let the trash bother me. War & Peace kept us occupied and happy. No pictures from that day, but just picture being inside of a cloud with about 40 feet of visibility on the ground in front of you.
Day five was also rainy with the same amount of visibility for most of it. We got a really great understanding of the alpine plants and lava rocks that we could see just around the trail. We also became expert mallin crossers. A mallin is a wet (very wet in the rain) meadow. By the end of the day it really didn´t matter anymore that there was mud in the middle of the trail or a stream flowing through it. We were already so muddy and wet, what was a little more. We got to camp and the rain stopped...yay! So we were able to at least get our rain clothes dry and eat dinner outside. The unfortunate thing about this camp was, yet again, there was human feces right in the camp. It was really the only dryish place to camp, so we made due and ignored the fact that we had to brush toilet paper away from our tent spot. But the next morning when Delaney realized that he had stepped in shit somewhere around the camp was the worst. I really appreciate that Yosemite rangers explain in a very detailed speech how to poop in a hole, how to carry out your toilet paper, and even sell folks plastic bags for the deed. The Chilean parks need to get their shit together...literally.
Luckily the weather broke that night and we enjoyed sun again for our hike out. Unfortunatley all of the supreme views we had missed as we hiked in the clouds the two days prior, were gone, but no matter. We walked through the forest and enjoyed the trees, streams, and mallins along the way. That night we stayed in a campground a few kilometers outside the park right next to the Rio Puesco. It was situated in a beautiful canyon that reminded us of the Merced River canyon back in Yosemite. A nice reminder of our most recent home.
The concept of home is becomming less clear for me the more I travel down here. It has been difficult for us to explain where we are from. At first we were saying ¨California and Oregon.¨ But that made it seem like we weren´t together. So we started to say ¨Oregon,¨ but that doesn´t quite work for me, since really just my stuff is living in Oregon, not me. Then I realized that I was getting a little homesick for San Diego (our nice day at the beach cured that!) eventhough its been a long time since I´ve lived there. Even though its confusing not quite having a home isn´t that big of a deal. It helps to not have a picture of somewhere that we could be instead of where we are and therefore helps me to stay present. Home is right where I am.
After the traverse we headed to two different hot springs (termas) near Pucon, rested in our hostel, and finally made the again long (12 hour!) bus ride up to Santiago. We are now getting settled back at Garrett and Pamelas. Maite Isabel, our new nice, is a beautiful little baby. One month old now. We are looking forward to lots of playtime with Amaya and Maite, helping Pame with whatever she might need, and Spanish classes. We´ll be able to nest a little bit here in Santiago and make our home here for the next couple months.
Pics of the Termas Los Pozones