Trip Start Jul 15, 2007
Trip End Dec 22, 2007

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Flag of Chile  ,
Sunday, October 7, 2007

In early October I went on the most physically taxing adventure my body has ever endured. I had thought that the 3 chileans and 7 other gringos I went with were bringing me on a weekend camping trip filled with normal camping fun times. Normally, chileans show little to no interest when it comes to physical exertion but the ones who led our trip Pedro and Mattias were quite the opposite. They were crazy. They picked up 7 of us at the McDonald's in Vina and we piled our 9 backpacks into the back of a tiny cargo van with 2 people people sitting shotgun and the rest of us squashed into the back like the mexican immigrants at the beginning of Men In Black. It was a terrifying ride but thankfully La Campana is only about an hour outside of Valparaiso, but the whole time we were sitting in the back watching the maniac drivers stopping short about 2 feet away from our rear window.

We saw an enormous tarantula walking up to our campsite after dark. It made it creepier that we could only see it when we shined the flashlight on it.

The real shock came the next morning when Pedro told us our options for the day. We could either leave all of our camping supplies and hike to the top of La Campana or bring everything with us and hike to a waterfall, either option would have taken about 6 or 7 hours out of the day. So we decided to pack everything up and start our 1300m ascent to the pass over the spine of the hills and head to the waterfall. Less than 15 minutes into our steep climb with my (relatively) heavy pack my calves were already burning and my lungs were working harder than they had since a relatively hard beach Ultimate frisbee game a few weeks before. Pedro announced every 100 or so meters we had climbed and we stopped after particularly strenuous stetches because of asthma related problems of a group member, needless to say i was extremely grateful for the chance to rest. We finally made it to the pass and ate tuna sandwiches and fruit to replenish our bodies, it was amazing to know where all of the calories we consumed had gone. Especially after 2 and a half months of eating generous portions of delicious chilean food. The site from the pass and the cleanliness of the air took my breath away (pardon the cliche) i felt victorious and exhausted. And then Pedro pointed to a patch of grass way out on the horizon and announced that we would be camping there later tonight.  We descended the steep hillside for a good 30-45 minutes and all i could think about was how awful it was going to be to climb back up the next day but we made it! We never reached the waterfall, not enough hours of daylight to do that but we feasted on spaghetti and hamburgers when we finally reached our campsite. The innumerable stars in the sky were also refreshing because their visibility is poor in the city.

The next day I almost broke down several times because I doubted that I could make it up the hillside but i used all of my energy reserves and then tapped into some adrenaline for the remaining 100m ascent and the feeling that swept through me when I reached the top was unmatchable. All in all it was a humbling and wonderful adventure and i hope that it was the first of many epic backpacking trips.

I couldn't get the Map pin to work for this entry but La Campana is about an hour northeast of Valparaiso I think...
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