Wednesday, 24 January 2007

Trekking & TV

We're back in Orsono today having some R&R after doing two treks around nearby Volcano Puyuhue. The first trek we went one was called 'Pampa Frutilla' (Strawberry Field), a fairly easy trek we'd deliberately chosen as a warm up and to sort everything out with our gear. Over three days we went up (& back) to a pair of subalpine lakes next to a large meadow where wild strawberries grow. The trek was about 38km and 875m up, it was all in all fairly relaxed. All our equipment worked great, though we where a little overloaded (textbooks aren't essential trekking equipment!).

We then stayed in a nearby campsite, which is connected with the local Mapuche (indigenous) people. The day after the trek we where wandering around the campsite at lunchtime and a Mapuche ceremony was occurring near reception. Turns out a group of Mapuche from Santiago are travelling around the country and re-connecting with all the local tribes. It seemed a fairly big deal - there was a TV crew and some obvious big wigs there. Kat & I watched for a little while, and then despite not understanding anything about it we managed to get interviewed by the TV crew - in full-blown 'only showered once in the last 4 days' mode, much to Kat's horror :)

We then went off to a harder trek called 'Banos de Caulle' (Baths of Caulle), a 50km and 1420m up walk to some hot springs. The first day was pretty tough, especially as we did a side trip and climbed up to the crater of the volcano, so that was 1.6km up that day. The volcano is long extinct, with the crater now covered in ice - the view from up here was an outstanding 360 panorama. The next day was through a very desolate 'post-volcanic' landscape - a huge black 'river of lava' and then nothing but dunes of grey pumice. We camped near several hot springs, which where very welcome - the rivers alternated between very hot (thermally heated) and very cold (snow melt), so the trick was to find where two intersected, and then find the spot where the temperatures mixed correctly. Once you've found the right spot, then don't move!

We then did a side trip to some geysers the next day, which were a little disappointing - there where a lot of fumaroles (gas vent) around, which were cool, but we couldn't find any of the promised boiling mud or steam jets. It also started raining after hour 1 of the 4 hour trip, and didn't stop, leaving us pretty wet by the time we got back to camp. We'd planned on starting back down after lunch, but decided to stay in the dry tent instead. The weather then got steadily worse, till we had a huge thunderstorm going on around us - the sound of the thunder rolling off all the nearby peaks was pretty amazing. The wind was very strong, and in the evening suddenly shifted around, collapsing half our tent. We scurried outside to fix it, with an American couple (Carrie & Abran) we where trekking with also in the same predicament. Their tent actually started lifting off the ground (with all their stuff inside) the wind was so strong. A couple of well-placed large rocks over the tent pegs and we where back in business - though didn't get much sleep that night, as the storm didn't really stop till about 9 the next morning. The tent held up admirably the rest of the night though, and we made a successful break for it after breakfast. Now to eat real food for a few days!


At 24 January 2007 at 19:34 , Blogger Colleen said...

Hi Kat and Tom,

Sounds like you had the real trekking out in the elements experience! It is reassuring to know that you bought the right gear. The landscape sounds pretty amazing and it must have been really interesting to travel through it all, although dunes of pumice for a day maybe maybe a bit wearing.

You have probably well and truly worked off all the good eating of Santiago by now.
Love Colleen


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