Sunday, 12 June 2016

Crunchy ice

Thank goodness for down. We crawled to the surface and felt the subzero frigid air outside a little after 9am. It looked all frosty and foggy outside with frozen puddles on the roadsides.

We hit the Chaitén ferry office to book our ferry back to Puerto Montt next week. We were aiming for Friday but the only option is Thursday. This is a different route to the one we took to Chaitén and should offer great views.

With that done, we took the road to El Amarillo. Last night, returning to Chaitén,  we'd seen that the road was quite wet in places and would be iced. It was! It's a good thing we were driving slowly - we saw a bakkie off the road. It must have happened shortly before we got there. The carabineros were there already and the driver looked ok. We continued slowly through to the Pumalin Park.

It's a good thing we weren't there earlier. At 11h30 there were big sections of frozen road - iced vegetation along the road too. Like a scene from Frozen.

A signboard said something about the glacier trail starting 20km from the gate. We took the road and enjoyed spectacular frosty scenes along the way.

We got to the end of the decent road, beyond which was logging and squelchy mud.

We saw two locals on horseback (we should have taken a photo of them!) and I asked where the glacier trail started. They were concerned that we wanted to do the trail as it is quite long  (and it was already 12h30). I explained that we were just going to do a short section and then return. He seemed happy with our plan. I caught something about the trail being about 100 metres along the road and to the left.

The younger guy started speaking to me in rapid Spanish. I halted him and said I only had a little Spanish and to please speak slowly. He had a good laugh.

Off we went.

We didn't find the trail.

We saw some logging tracks but not one indication of a hiking trail. Maybe they remove the signs in winter? We haven't seen any other tourists around so we're definitely the black sheep travelling around out here in the cold!

We followed the logging road (and later more a cattle road) for a couple of kilometres. Ice, thick mud, steep ascents, bridges and a river were just part of the charm. After a snack on top of a hill, in the sun and with views of Volcan Michimahuida and the glacier, we turned around to head back to the car.

Once out of the Parque we headed for the town of Futaleufú. The scenery was extraordinary - of mountains,  snow-capped peaks,  Lago Yelcho (bottom and top) and glimpses of Rio Futaleufú.

We got to the town after dark and found a decent cabaña. We are exhausted from the driving and time on the road so we're thinking of spending a few days here.

We look forward to enjoying some hiking trails. The problem with the late, freezing mornings is that we're left with too little day. From 11 until four-ish it is pretty pleasant out. We've also had great weather the past few days.

Speaking of 11... a number of times I've seen once on signs outside restaurants as in listing breakfast, lunch, once and dinner. Once is the number eleven.

If you cast your mind back to The Hobbit and Lord Of the Rings, you'll remember that the hobbit enjoy elevenses. Like a tea time - they stop on their journey for a snack. I can't remember whether it is morning or afternoon.

I asked Mane about this. Here once is afternoon tea and the offering at cafés would be a tart - like an apple tart or such.

The parallel to Lord Of The Rings is interesting. I wonder whether there is a connection? Did JRR Tolkien experience once and then translate it to English as elevenses.

I like.

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