Tales from today, preserved for tomorrow.

Water

Volviendo a Chile

Time had run out on my short trip to Brazil and I was on a flight back to Chile. It was early morning on the 15th of February, my 47th day in South America. Though I had 2 weeks until I officially started volunteering at the Valle Chacabuco and future Patagonia National Park, I wanted to get there a week early to do some exploring around this relatively untouched area of Patagonia.

Kevin C had told me about this little town in Chile called Pucón that, though touristy, is a great center for outdoor activities. Seemed like a perfect place to spend a few days before I had to head south to Aysén.

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Crossing the Andes back to Argentina

About an hour after we were told that they had no cars available at the Puerto Montt airport, despite my reservation, I was over the initial frustration. This wasn’t completely unexpected for me, as I’ve read many stories of this happening at other small places. Regardless it meant we couldn’t go to Cochamó and had to find a backup plan. Puerto Montt wasn’t very appealing to us so we decided to give Puerto Varas a try.

It didn’t take long for us to realize we made the right choice of leaving Puerto Montt. Though touristy, PV definitely is more attractive and kind of reminded me of Jackson, WY with a beach with the picturesque Volcán Osorno as a backdrop. We walked into the Casa Azul and made reservations for 3 nights and set out to figure out what we would do for the next 3 days.

I really wanted to climb Osorno with Ange and a guide because I figured it would give both of us good exposure to volcano climbing with less risk. Not to mention apparently guides are required now after two Frenchmen died in crevasse last month (still need to verify this story). Unfortunately we discovered once again that prices have skyrocketed since my guidebook was published. All of the companies wanted at least USD$360 per person, which was almost double the USD$200 my guidebook reported. Next option was seakayaking which was still expensive but 1/3 the price so we booked it.

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Gauley Season!

Usually the best season to raft/kayak is in the spring when the snowmelt is bringing fresh water down to the rivers. The Gauley River is a special exception. Each year before winter the Army Corps of Engineers drain Summersville Lake into the Gauley, bringing consistently high water levels and thousands of whitewater enthusiasts to the area. Over the period of 30 years, it went from being considered an “impossible” stretch of whitewater to one of the most popular day trips in the country.

There were several ECPers in the campsite next to us, so we joined them on Sunday for a day of climbing.

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New Zealand

New Zealand landed the top 2 spots in Trip Advisor’s 2008 Travelers’ Choice Destinations list. The #1 spot was taken by Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

My home country is a beautiful place. The Pacific Northwest has rain forests, glaciers and volcanoes. Arizona has deserts and the Grand Canyon. Florida has beautiful beaches. The northeast has endless expanses of deciduous forests and rolling green hills. So what could New Zealand have that the United States doesn’t? Consider this: It took 4 separate vacations and a dozen flights over the period of 2 years to visit these 4 corners. I saw the same and more in 2.5 weeks in New Zealand with just a camper van.

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