Monday, 30 November 2015
Volcán Osorno (The Slopes)
Sue Brookes, who joined us recently with her husband Graham for our weekend in Leyburn, suffered a serious stroke whilst out shopping a week ago, following which she passed away yesterday (Saturday). Our thoughts are very much with Graham and his family. Sue was a lovely person with a gentle countenance. She will be much missed.
We woke at 7.55. Just in time for 8 o'clock breakfast (pictured - top, the other pictures being in chronological order in line with this text).
We'd had a relatively late night after Nico's excellent lentil and sausage meal, but he had a disturbed night - having been woken at 1 am by some late arriving Columbian guests!
Our plan for the day was confirmed as being sensible, so we set off under a clear blue sky above a white capped volcano to Petrohué, 25 km away.
After registering our entry into the National Park - obligatory in this part of Chile, we embarked on a 21 km, 7.5 hour stroll with about 800 metres ascent. It was good to get our walking legs mobile again after the relaxing interlude of the last few days. Good also not to have to carry rucksacks full of camping gear. Just as well really as conditions underfoot were rather heavily tainted. The recent volcanic eruption had deposited about 50 to 70 centimetres of ash and pumice in this area. That meant we effectively spent the day walking on sand dunes.
Our route took us through a corridor of bright yellow broom, to some way up the lower slopes of Osorno, which last erupted in 1850. After contouring for a while and crossing the sites of three lava flows, we turned left to head for a Mirador that sported fine views over Lago Todos Los Santos. Continuing past that, another 200 metres was gained before we decided to pause for lunch before heading back down. At around 800 metres in height, some 600 metres above the lake, we were still a good way below the start of the snow on Osorno's cone. Apparently it's a five hour climb from a refuge below the snow to reach the 2652 metre summit, ice axes, crampons and rope all being required.
After romping back down to the path junction at which we had earlier turned left, we turned left again along the Sendero Los Alerzales track. A collie dog had attached itself to us for a while, but it decided not to take this path. From here on we only saw a couple of people. (Sue counted 16 all day.)
After rising to a rickety viewpoint, the path decended to the lakeside, where after collecting some lake water to quench our thirsts (yes, even the lake water is drinkable here) Sue stripped off and went for a swim. This is Not Allowed, as she found out later when she told the Ranger and we signed out of the park. (She had one of those "I went for a swim, Oh No I Didn't" conversations and thoroughly confused the Spanish speaking Ranger.
Before that, the normally easy beachside path had been made a bit more laborious to negotiate than normal by the thick layer of ash deposited in April. Caracara birds carefully monitored our progress.
Apart from the flourishing Broom, the flora and fauna seem to be making a recovery from the ash and stones dumped after the eruption. We even found a Magellan Orchid that had succeeded in bursting through the thick layer of debris.
On return to the car, we found a worried huddle around another vehicle in the car park. It was Chris, last seen on day 4 or 5 of our Torres del Paine Circuit, on a day out in a very battered hire car with a couple of girls. He seemed very pleased to see us and we soon got the car going with the aid of some jump leads that someone else produced. It's a small world!
Then it was back 25 km to La Quila and a welcome pot of tea on the balcony overlooking Osorno, which we continued to admire until the sun finally left it's slopes much later.
Some neighbours of Nico, Pierre and Magali, joined us for a while. Lots of beer and wine was consumed whilst Nico prepared another excellent meal for us and the two Germans, Stefan and Susanna.
Pierre spends half his time here and the other half running a hotel in the Massif Centrale in France - www.regordane.com in Garde-Guerin. His life only has two seasons, spring and summer.