Fire and Ice!
Trip Start Mar 31, 2010
34Trip End Jul 29, 2010
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The hospedaje we are staying in has a lot to do with that feeling
Morning sunrise greeted us with a pink hue on the volcano (which is visible from every street in town), the very same volcano we were about to climb that day. With a >1400m elevation gain in <5 hours, we were a bit nervous, but we figured with 17 people in our group there must be people of all fitness levels, and we certainly wouldn't be the stragglers. We weren't. Apparently all this other trekking has paid off and we made the ascent with no problems! Also crampons are really awesome. The only problem was breathing at the top - not so much from the altitude but from the incredible noxious fumes of the volcano. Sara, unaware of the toxicity of the fumes, actually keeled over the other side of the mountain gasping for air after she first skipped up eagerly to view the bubbling lava. It made us think, how crazy, these noxious fumes are the very same chemicals that make the rich soil of the forests below, and the excellent mineral thermal baths throughout the area. This was a seriously active volcano. We stared deeply into the great hole in the Earth, totally humbled
If that wasn't enough excitement for one day, we then got to slide down little snow paths wearing a black diaper-like thing and a thin plastic circle with a handle, using our ice picks for "speed control" (read: used very infrequently). And once the snow and sliding paths were gone, we were treated to an entirely impact-free descent through the loose volcanic sand. It felt like being on the moon! Each step took us five times further than a normal step. We descended in 1 hour what had taken us over 4 hours to climb. What an incredible day.
The next day we debated between river rafting and a zip line/canopy tour. You can already see from the pictures which was the winner: eleven lines and over 3000 meters of zip lining through the jungle, over the Trancura river, from tree top to tree top. Since the tour group said we needed at least four people to make the trip we brought all three of the girls from our hostel - two from England and one from Switzerland. "Team Wohlenberg" had such a great time! And Jayson took some really kick-ass videos.
We finally figured it was time to move on from Pucon. We really felt like home here! It was a tough decision to finally buy tickets to move on to Santiago, but we knew we had to keep moving. Our tickets were for a night trip, so we spent the day hiking in Parque National Huerquehue, and little Elmut and the neighbor family came with us. It was one of the most beautiful hikes we've been on! (Although, how do we compare? Everything has been so beautiful beyond belief.) We saw some waterfalls over smooth granite rock, three lakes with perfectly clear reflections, and lots of incredible views of the volcano
In the evening we boarded the Pullman bus to Santiago, a 10 hour overnight ride on excellent leather seats with fluffy pillows and blankets and a super attentive staff. Saying goodbye to Pucon, and to Patagonia even, we waved out the window to Eric (our hostel daddy) who was waiting to wave as the bus pulled out of the lot.
P.S. Catch 22 in the grocery store: we wanted to buy a bottle of Cristal (beer) but they only had returnable bottles. They wouldn't let us buy one without returning an old one... How does one ever get the first bottle? Chicken or egg, chicken or egg??