...and then there were two...

In the states, summer seems to be marked by the giant S'mores displays in the grocery stores. In Cochrane it is marked by the popsicle delivery at the local store. Everywhere we looked- Popsicles!! We had definitely walked out of winter and into summer. Hard to believe we were in waist deep snow a few days before. As the thick of summer approaches, we can't wait to bathe in these glacial rivers and will soon be swearing off the extra weight of our down pants/jacket and thermals.

Semi-healed after a few days in Cochrane, we were back on the road! As you probably know from Trinity's uber long adventure, her bright pink reebok-type sneakers gave her giant blisters and she left Sarah and I while we began our trek through Conservacion Patagonica, Valle Chacabuco, Reserva Nacional Lago Jeinimeni and Chile Chico. As Trinity mentioned, Doug Tompkins (owner of The North Face) has started another project here in Chile regarding the national parks- Conservacion Patagonica. The idea is to remove all traces of the previous ranchers in Valle Chacabuco and turn it into a national park, thereby connecting Reserva Tamango and Reserva Jeinimeni. Fellow travellers had told us this was a beautiful valley, but the trails were still "in the works". Sarah and I headed down the canyon and assumed we would stumble onto the trail at some point. Alas, with over ten years of regrowth and minimal use we realized we were not going to be able to follow the old "cattle trail" and started forging our own path.

The natural history is hard to ignore when looking out over these valleys. You can easily see how the plates shifted, where the erosion has been the greatest and how the regrowth has begun on top of the boulders. The stones in the wide valley floor look like they are covered in corral and range from emerald to purple to burnt orange to robin's egg blue, evident that we are walking on land that used to be filled with water. Luckily, Sarah kept me on track so that I didn't spend all day staring at rocks.

Our trail varied between a faint cattle trail, bushwacking through throny bushes, boulder hopping, navigating through dense forrest or hiking for hours in flipflops down the middle of the canyon and crossing the river every 20 feet. At the birth of the river there are so many veins it seemed impossible to choose a good path- but local guides told us if you know where to go, it is possible to cut them down from 14 to 4. We eventually stumbled upon cairns (rock piles) which led us finally to a legit trail around the cliff-lined lakes, back to a road and on to Chile Chico. We took the ferry across Lago General Carrera to Puerto Ibáñez and hiked to the 10-house "town" of Villa Cerro Castillo with plans to meet Trinity on Thursday. A couple days to get a bit of reading done! We just keep saying "it always works out in the end."

Highs:
-Getting to the first lookout over the valley to have lunch and being able to see for miles
-Eating fresh spinach out of the greenhouse at the Estancia Chacobuco
-Seeing herds of guanacos numbering 50+
-Swatting at horseflies and being able to kill 3 in one blow (there were seriously a ton of horseflies...)
-The temperature outside is hot enough now that we sometimes look forward to river crossings
-The rocks in the valley and their wide variety
-Waking up in the middle of the night to a sky full of stars and an orange glow from another full moon rising over the patagonia peaks... really breathtaking.
-Lago Jeneimeni, as blue as the sky (maybe even more blue), framed by gorgeous rock faces
-Actually getting a good night sleep on the road in a nook among thorn bushes to snuggle up
-Meeting some French travellers and attempting to "go out" on a Saturday night in Chile Chico (NOTE: if you guys read this we are sorry we never said goodbye! We thought for sure you would make it on the ferry!)
-Paying for a family's dinner via credit card in a restaurant in order to get a little bit of cash
-Being able to pay for the hostel by buying the señora groceries with our Visas (we are getting very creative)
-Seeing puma tracks

Lows:
-Seeing puma tracks... while bushwacking in the woods, realizing my knife was in the bottom of my pack and Trinity had taken the pepper spray
-Discovering all the various types of pokey bushes
-Lacking a good night sleep on the road: one night we were on big rocks, another on lumpy/pokey bushes, another on sand with tons of wind...etc
-Waking up at 6:30am sweating and having to get out of the tent...
-Crossing a waist deep river which knocked me off balance and stole my flipflops, even after swimming downstream after them I exited the river soaked and one short of a pair
-Going to bed at night with the buzz of horseflies ringing in our heads from constantly swarming us all day, they might drive us insane by the end of summer (supposedly they are only going to get worse)
-Arriving in yet another, and another, and another town that has no ATM that accepts Visa
-Missing our trecera amiga, Trinity, as she battled her own adventure on the road


Guanacos are not nearly as skiddish in Chacabuco as they had been in Tierra del Fuego
Enjoying lunch with a view, the wind up here kept the horseflies away!
Amazing canyon showing the power of water
Sarah navigating through pokey bushes
One of the many gorgeous waterfalls
LOVE these rocks! Just a couple examples...
We call this one "African Sunset"
My brother called me his "crazy sister wandering through the woods in South America"- this pic is for you Ry
Cairns! Not that it is hard to find your way down this wide valley but still good to see...
Lago Verde or Lago Jeinimeni... not sure, but beautiful all the same!
Reserva Nacional Lago Jeinimeni
Happy to see "a road"
Sarah showing off her Parisian pastry skills to the Frenchies
On our 35km hike from Pto Ibánez to Villa Cerro Castillo (that is Cerro Castillo, the peak)
Our nook! Too windy to actually set up the tent, so we just cuddled up on the tarp

We look forward to spending Christmas with other "holiday orphans" at the NOLS Patagonia headquarters and maybe even a night in a hotel! After Coyhaique we have quite a bit of ground to cover to get to Bariloche for mid January, where I will fly to my brother's wedding and Sarah and Trinity will be one short of our threesome yet again...

2 comments:

  1. Glad to know you are keeping up the family tradition of looking at rocks! I enjoy your virtual rock collection. But "pokey bushes"? Can you be a little more botanically specific? :)

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  2. Trinity,
    We all love your blogs and are following you progress with every update as well as navigation longitude & latitude message. Thank you for keeping us informed.

    I thought I would bring you up-to-date on some of the happenings around here and news from everyone else that I know of.

    First, the weather here in the States is breaking all records. Today (1-5-12) the temp here at Dana Point was close to 80 degrees. In Fargo, it was 50 degrees. You can imagine how weird that must feel to the people in the Midwest. We all wonder what type of weather we will have this Spring....will that be our winter???

    We had a busy holiday season. Roberta and I took a trip up to see Ulysses & Laura, et al, and had a great time. I baked a cake for them while we were there. Then Roberta went to New York to visit Linda, Pete and Ian. When she came back we headed back up to the Bay Area where we attended a performance of the Nutcracker at the Marin Public Center. It was quite a performance and Kate was on of the ballet performers. She did a magnificent job. We had a great time seeing everyone.

    Roberta and I spent Christmas week here in Dana Point enjoying the unseasonally warm weather. We gave each other one present.....we went and saw all the new release movies. We saw “We Bought a Zoo”, “Sherlock Holmes”,
    “Dangerous Method”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Mission Impossible – The Ghost Protocol”. All were excellent movies and we really enjoyed ourselves.

    I wish I could have sent you a cake. I sent one to Electra & Sonnet and they finished it in a couple of days. That is the way it is with this cake. Same held true for Alexis and family, and especially Dale and his family. That cake was gone in 24 hrs.

    North Dakota State University is playing for the NCAA Div I AA football national championship this Saturday against Sam Houston State. Should be a great game.

    Not much more news except that the Iowa caucauses were held on 1-3-12 for the republican cadidates, and Mitt Romney & Santorun tied for the most votes. Actually, Romney won by 46 votes, I think. Ron Paul is still in the mix as well as Newt Gingrich. Next comes the New Hampshire Primary, then South Carolina and then Florida. It is still anybody’s game right now. The media is playing a big role in choosing candidates by their editorials. I thought the press was suppose to stay neutral and just report the news as it happens......Oh well!

    That’s it for now. Hope you get this email. I’ll try to be a little better in sending you newsworthy stuff.

    Love to you all....keep sending those spot locations. They really allow us to track you. When I google the location I am amazed how you are in no-man’s-land!!!

    love....dad & (roberta)

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