Puyuhue National Park - Gauchos and Volcan Osorno
Trip Start Jan 26, 2000
30Trip End Jun 14, 2000
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The first day was fantastic, through temperate rain forest, a steep uphill climb to a volcanic plateau. We got excellent views across to the Argentinian border and Mt. Tronador, at 3400M (11000ft), a huge glacial covered mountain which stood head and shoulders above all those around it. Also visible in the other direction was Volcan Osorno, a huge perfectly conical, snow capped volcano. When we got to the refugio(shelter) there were 3 gauchos (cowboys) who had come up to round up 250 cattle and send them down to the valley for winter. As you can imagine it turned out to be a highly amusing evening and very soon the conversation turned to Pinochet, as it always did when I talked to Chileans. I had learnt from a very early stage that the best way to pacify them was to switch the topic of conversation to the Falkland Islands (and visa versa in Argentina). There was a deep rooted mutual dislike between the two countries and any opportunity to take a dig at the opposing country would be seized upon immediately.
Next morning we awoke to rain and sleet, there was no way we were going anywhere, there was a nice wood burning stove in the refugio, this was the perfect opportunity for me to try to learn some more Spanish. The gauchos on the other hand were up at 6am, radio blaring with dodgy Spanish music, and out on the mountain with just the minimal of clothing. They didn't even have any rain gear, all they appeared to have for protection were wool ponchos wrapped around themselves.
5 gauchos returned that evening (don`t ask where the other 2 came from), while 2 more herded 250 cattle down the path we would have to walk out on. I had visions of us being able to slide down the hill on cowpats!
Day 3 and the rain hadn't abated, so at midday we made the decision to hike out as we didn't have enough food to wait any longer or go any further. The cowpats weren't as I imagined going down, but after 2 days of rain and 250 cows the path had degenerated into a bog and I found my feet sinking in to levels higher than my boots in places.
I think the weather combined with this was too much for Manny and he decided he wanted to head up to the north of Chile and some warm dry weather. I said good bye and continued through to Bariloche for what was to prove a very eventful 5 day trek.