Often when we get some comments or feedback about our adventure, we hear you telling u show much you envy us, how much you like our stories and pictures, and how much you’re jealous of the weather we got in autumn time in Patagonia compared to Swedish spring (hahaha, snow in Uppsala on the 19h of April, that made us smile!). Well, it is not everyday as it looks like or sounds like and for every pics with some sunshine and nice lights, there are all the places we will have no pictures and only wet or clouded memories. Or there are also the long travels, not all are comfy, or the moment we (Fred) clearly misunderstood something, and we end up at the wrong place with the wrong bus timing.
Do not get us wrong here, we are spoiled kids, and we absolutely do not complain in any way about what we are doing, and we do not think we would want to trade that with anything else right now.
But for today, we wanted to talk about our latest stop before we reach Santiago de Chile, and talk you through our feelings, the good (that we easily communicate on, and the less goods ones).
After Puerto Varas, we reached the town of Pucón the 1st of May, when everything or almost was closed. No tourist information, no national park rangers office, no bus or minibus company offices open. In short not much to help us plan our next move.
From the information we could gather we decided to go to the Huerquehue National Park, famous in the region for its lakes and native forest landscapes. It seemed that we could do two one-day-hikes there. One hike, called Los Lagos, that would take us to several lakes, and a second hike to go to the highest summit in the area and that would give us nice views on the surrounding volcanoes. Yes, it is full of volcanoes here too!
We had a look at the weather, and decided to give another go to camping. The temperatures are higher here, than in Patagonia. The weather forecast was clouded with no rain the first day, and sunny the second one. And also by camping we would be able to start early the second morning the hike to the summit, without being dependent on the minibuses timing to drop us in the park. As it is low touristic season, the bus timings are reduced to the minimum of three daily. Not convenient for several hours hikes.
Happy with our plan we went to bed, and woke up the next morning to finalize it : we had to buy food for the night out, and we wanted to double check all of our plans with the National Park rangers in town. For once we found the guy to be nice and full of information. He told us that the last bit of the summit hike was closed due to snow, but that it was still fully possible to hike and enjoy most of it. And he also told us that the other hike to the lakes will be good, and that we will not have trouble camping. Wonderful, after some empanadas for lunch we are ready to head for the minibus station towards the park. As usual the ride is bumpy and we arrive there in the early afternoon. We wanted to set off quickly, to prepare the tent for the night, and then run for the lakes trail, as fully approved by the ranger this morning. But the ranger at the entrance of the park has other information :
- “All the trails are closed!”
- “Well, that is new.”
- “Yes, the summit trail is closed”
- “You mean the last bit is closed, but we can still go up to the second to last mirador? (Like your other buddy ranger told us this very morning)”
- “No everything is closed, one woman got lost for four days on this path recently, who did you talk to, he must have know that all the rangers were out to look for her for four days”
- “Well no clue, but that is a setback for sure. We just lost one of our two days hike.”
- “And now it is too late for going to the lake trail, it is too dangerous. And this one too is partly closed, there is snow at the top”
- “There is snow at 1200m, but the temperatures are above 10°C here the past week, since we have been in the region and at these heights?”.
- “Yes, there is snow, you have to do only the small loop, and only tomorrow is possible”
- “Okay, so where can we set the tent, and do nothing until tomorrow?”
- “Too much rain over here, the camping ground is not good, it is not suitable for camping”.
- “It’s getting even better, so now we lost one day, and it is not possible to camp here, and the bus that brought us just went away and we can only do nothing but to wait three hours until it returns.” “Wait, there is a refugio close by, what about we go there and see what they can offer us?”
- “Yes, that you can do.”
You have to imagine that discussion happening with Fred’s terrible spanish, and translations in swedish to Merima in between as well as other swedish comments between us about the situation. It seemed that the nice park ranger in the morning was mostly nice, and not so ranger at all in the end. Or at least a very badly informed ranger.
So here we are, ready to hike and camp, but with mostly nowhere to hike, and nowhere to camp. And the feeling that we mostly lost our day for nothing. But we take our stuff, and start to walk towards the refugio. It is open (small miracle) and the lady in there gives us the prices of the rooms, which happens to be the priciest we paid for sleeping anywhere so far since we left Sweden. When we ask if we can camp, well yes we were but she would not recommend it. It is very muddy everywhere around here. And while walking it we did notice that it was indeed very damp and muddy. But suddenly she offer us to plant the tent under a sheltered area that is used for barbecuing and ping-pong during summer. At least it is dry there, so we decide to go for that alternative. That is what we came here for anyway, camping. Well and hiking too, but that will be for tomorrow.
We install ourselves, and take all our time because anyway we have nothing else to do for now on. We take a small walk after that, and come back to the refugio to be close to the fireplace, to get some dinner, and then play UNO and Milles Bornes, until it is time to go to the tent.
Next morning, after some peanut butter and bread, we set off for the only hike that was still possible to do, called Los Lagos. The path is going upwards through some deep forest, and passing some spots with waterfalls. Every now and then, there is a nice spot with a view of the valley. And today the weather is nice and clear, so we can actually see in the distance the almost conical shape of a volcano! Another one yes, not related to the Osorno volcano from two days earlier. This time it is the Villarica volcano, still pretty active, and mess creator from time to time when it starts to blow up. And still very nice to look at too, even though when you realise a little bit of smoke comes from the top you start to wonder if you should be that close to it. Oh well, YOLO!
The hike in the forest is nice, we see some very different kind of vegetation compared to earlier, including one of Chile’s native trees, the very distinctive Araucaria. It is like a very classy Christmas Tree if you want. It is also known in english as the Monkey Puzzle Tree. No explanation attached. At the end, when we realised that it was absolutely no snow at all at the top of the small loop trail (not like the park ranger had said) we decided to keep walking and went for the longer loop. Another hour of going up, checking out more lakes, seeing more forest. We even saw a couple of Magellanic woodpecker, hard at work. They made the forest sound like the concert hall of a band of percussionist.
After reaching the top, we lost no time and started running downhill back to the refugio. We only made a couple of stops to drink fresh water from the waterfall. Back at the refugio, we still had the tent to pack, and to make it in time before the last bus leaves. We arrived precisely on time, so did the bus, so only after being installed on our seats could we take a breath, a bit of water and share a well deserved KitKat!
‘The following day is another day, and we decide to take it easier for once. Late wake up in the morning, no rush to pack our stuff in the hostel, a walk in town to do a bit of shopping, or more exactly window shopping. And then, we hop in a minibus going towards a place called Los Posoles. A true resting day here must include incubating your body in some hot water, termal water! Because the whole area is full of earth activity (remember the smoking volcano not far?), there are a lot of Termas. Some rivers in the valleys around Pucon are warm. Super warm! So local people for generations have enjoyed taking bath in some hot ponds, and by combining the hot streams with a nearby colder river, they made different temperature pools in which it is very pleasant to do just nothing. And for once we got lucky, and decided randomly to start by the coldest of the pools, and then to go from colder to warmer.
Of course, a day that relaxing would have been too tiring for us, so at the time of going out of the pool, just to make it for the minibus back in town at 17:00, the guy at the reception tells us that the 17:00 would not come today and that the next bus will be here at 18:30. Refusing to wait that long, we simply started to walk in the right direction, trying our chance hitchhiking with the very few cars we met. No success at first, until after half an hour of walk, a car stopped (the family in the car recognised us from because we shared the hot pool moments before), and dropped us in town.
After all this relaxation, time to put the backpacks on again, we have a night bus to Santiago to catch !