Saturday, 11 June 2016

Frosty Friday

Winter mornings can be challenging at the best of times. When you're camping... the sun is up after 7am so we figured we'd stay in our tent and get up when we feel a bit of warmth from the sun, which we did.

I was first out - my eyes taking in the frost on the grass and wonderful icicles on the tent, plants, car and everything else. It was cold! The sun was up but not yet visible, trying to make its way out from behind a nearby peak.

I got our gas cooker going and before long we were eating breakfast (Oatso Easy) and drinking tea and preparing to head off. We guessed it to be around 9am by the time the sun was shining (softly) on our site.

And then Celliers saw the time on the clock in the car - 11am! And it was still  sub-zero!  Brrrr... we took a while to get ready. We shook the ice off our tent, dried it out and packed everything away before we headed off on the trail to the cascades. We'd had a taste of the trail yesterday afternoon and oh goodness were we in for more and more magical!

From what we've experienced, Chileans know how to build trails. This rainforest is incredibly dense and it is also wet and mushy underfoot. There are wooden steps and ladders and walkways and it is just spectacular.

It is about 20 minutes walk to the bottom of the one waterfall and at least another 20 to the high falls. The second part is definitely used less often but incredibly worth the effort. The trails are a marvel and they are beautifully maintained.

The dense vegetation with ferns and mosses and trees is a wonder. The falls are a treat. Even more special was seeing the ancient, indigenous alerca trees, which have been protected here. I stood beneath a massive one (of many) and was dwarfed by the girth of the trunk.

What a magnificent walk! The pictures we took really don't do justice to the scenery but they at least show some of the magic of the route.

Our drive to Chaitén was excellent and we stopped many times to take photos of lagos, mountains, rivers... and then near Chaitén we stopped to look at the sea from a beach. Celliers was looking at stones on the beach when I spotted dolphins barely 20 metres from him! We watched for them for ages, spotting many in clusters all around. A superb sighting. It seems dolphins are common in this inlet in front of the town.

At a hardware store in town (to get another gas cannister) I met a Canadian - Chilean chap, Nicolas. He is actually mentioned in our guide book (we only read this tonight). He runs various tours and is the guy to speak to when it comes to activities in the area.

He told us about a hike to a glacier, which must be near Volcan Michimahuida. It sounds great. We decided to head for the next settlement in El Amarillo to get a good start for tomorrow. Unfortunately we couldn't  find any available cabañas so we had to return to Chaitén, where we found one on the main road.

Nicolas told us about a South African couple living in El Amarillo. It would be nice to meet them and say hi.

Our plan is to head into Parque Pumalin in the morning  (not too early!) for a hike. The forecasted weather looks decent (mostly clear). Depending on the timing,  we'll stay over in the area or head directly for Futaleufú.

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