Tuesday, 8 December 2015
Forest, Lakes and Mountains
Refuge Tinquilco (www.tinquilco.cl), nestled comfortably near Lago Tinquilco, had been recommended by Sharon and Rich. We headed up there - 30 km from Pucón, much on gravel, and the last 2 km from the Park entrance on foot as Sparky's ground clearance is questionable.
Patricio welcomed us with a pot of the best coffee we had tasted for some time. We seem to have adopted Chilean time. Breakfast at 9, elevenses at 12.30, lunch at 3 pm, dinner at 9.30 pm. You can only resist for so long.
By around 1 pm we had set off on today's 22 km ramble with about 900 metres ascent. It took us through wonderful forest, lakes and mountain scenery in the Huerquehue National Park. There were plenty of people around. For good reason, this is a minor classic.
Chico, Toro and Verde are the names of some of the lakes. There were others, small jewels in the forest.
A Magellan Woodpecker completely ignored us. Glossy beetles were trapped and photographed. The lakes were surprisingly duckless. Monkey puzzle trees draped in old men's beards rose majestically above us.
At one point we met Thomas, who had shot off to an unknown destination immediately after breakfast at Hostal La Tetera. We chatted for some time before bidding our final farewells.
Mirador Renahue was the furthest point reached. Here at over 1400 metres the mountain views were at their best, and we enjoyed a long look down a deep canyon to distant Lago Caburgua.
The loop walk continued along a path that was officially shut due to fallen trees. We managed to clamber over them, hampered only by a severe bout of cramp on my part.
A short diversion on the final descent took us to Cascada Trufulco, a long, thin waterfall that didn't photograph very well in the low light that had arrived with some thick cloud late in the day.
Back at the refuge by 7.30, we discovered that our 'Presidential Suite' had a low water pressure problem. Never mind, after a quick wash we were soon enjoying our usual cuppa, slightly envious of Anne and David, a couple from near Sheffield who had lived near Puerto Montt from 1988 to 1992 while David built a salmon farm, as they tucked in to their Pisco Sours, skilfully produced by Patricio, who is also authoring a cookbook.
We had passed a very happy looking pig on the way to the refuge. She hadn't noticed that one of her relatives had been snaffled by Patricio and converted into the best braised pork ribs you could imagine. Served on a bed of deliciously lubricated mash after a very tasty salad.
Patricio had earlier mentioned that he had recently visited Europe. It took a while to drag some of the facts behind that trip out of him. But then they flowed. From his early days as a leader of student uprisings in the Pinochet era, Patricio graduated to film making and had been invited to Geneva to attend a festival in which his award winning 90 minute documentary, 'The Judge and the General', on General Pinochet was a 'headline act'. The film has still not been shown in Chile, where there is still quite a lot of pro-Pinochet feeling.
A ubiquitous red flower of the forest
Thomas and Sue
The view down to Lago Tinquilco from one of several miradors
Sue in the forest
Monkey puzzle trees
A view from Mirador Renahue
Typical lakeside vistas (2)