High Mountains and Low Valleys Posted by Trinity on Friday, December 23, 2011Imagine hiking uphill over several false peaks of boulderfields in 90+ degree weather with no breeze and in direct sunlight. It's tough work. Now imagine being constantly swarmed with large, biting horseflies. This was our first day on the trail into Reserva Nacional Cerro Castillo. The three of us were absolutely miserable - we were brushing handfuls of horseflies off our arms, nausious from the heat, and cussing the world. We couldn't even take a worthwhile break because we'd have to drape ourselves in our hot, clammy rain gear for horsefly protection. However, with extreme lows also come extreme highs because we woke up to this the following morning:
Waking up on the "right side of the sleeping bag", this day turned out to be one of our favorites yet - or maybe just in comparison to the day before? The day was balanced between finding comfort on a well-marked trail (although it would be considered "unimproved" in Colorado) and a healthy dose of adventure crossing over a snowy pass.
Laid-back trail-finding never lasts long in the Andes. On our third day, the published trail progressed from a retired ranch road through forest, to a decent trail following treeline, to superbly-built rock cairns over a mile-long pass, to absolutely nothing on the opposite side of the pass (tips on the do's and don'ts of making and following rock cairns). So we embarked on a seven-hour stretch of trailblazing which included hiking over yet another pass in a cold, windy rainstorm to circumvent an impassable waterfall luge (when we couldn't cross through, we crossed over!). The next morning the forest opened up into a wildflower meadow as a hawk cawed in the cliffs overhead - moments later we found the trail that led us out of the Reserve.
High As A Mountain
Low As A Valley... or Lower
We spent the holidays ultra-lounging in Coyhaique. Thank you to Tony and Sharon Field (Sarah's parents) and Jimmy and Laura Field (uncle and aunt) for sponsoring three days in an actual hotel. We've eaten well, watched Home Alone, Christmas Vacation and Miracle, slept in warm beds, taken in the sunset and an owl coasting on the wind from the hot tub (they took a picture of us for their advertisements), drank alcoholic apple cider, champagne, carmenere (wine), gin and tonics and homebrewed cinnamon and mint alcohols. We celebrated the holidays at NOLS with a large traditional asado (lamb cooked on stakes) on Christmas Eve, Sarah's delicious crepes for Christmas morning breakfast, and cookie decorating. Christmas was hot and sunny. I even went climbing!!
Currently en route to Futalefu where we will begin our next hiking leg after some white water rafting on "the Fu's" world-famous rapids. Looking forward to getting there... we're having to navigate untrustworthy bus schedules and little-traveled roads. Much easier to hike!
Shelley comparing pack size with the NOLS students we ran into on the trail.
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