Saturday, December 20, 2008
The Lake District
Wow, well it's been some time since I've posted, and this is mainly because since Ryan and I have crossed over the border to Argentina, we've been camping out in the wilderness in an area known as the lake district.
It's hard to even begin to explain the vast beauty of this place. Crystal clear lakes which give off a greenish hue, are surrounded by epic scenery; Volcanoes, tree covered mountains, old growth forests, and Swiss like towns which boast of log built houses and chocolate shops galore.
We arrived from Chile, in San Martin de los Andes. A charming town on the edge of a lake surrounded by tree lined mountain vistas. We quickly understood, although adventures were around every corner, there was really no way to get there unless we rented a car. A tad costly for our budget, but it turned out to be the best decision in the end.
Our first stop was Lago Huehulafquen. Yes I know its a mouth full, but it's a Mapuche word, which is the Native tounge of this area. As we drove in, we realized that we were definatley in epic territory. Insanely jagged peaks burst out around the crystaline lake, and when there weren't mountains, there were hillsides covered in old growth forrests from a differnt time, that twisted and turned from undergrowth to tree top. We were so inspired and awestruck by the first bits of the drive, we couldn't even begin to comprehend that Volcan Lanin laid around the next corner. It seemed that every turn we took brought us a new vision of Godly perfection. We finally got out and took a short hike to a beautiful waterfall, which Ryan embraced with all of his capacity (see picture below).
After this we decided to find some camping. What we discovered has to certainly be the most scenic camping I've ever done. Clinging to a gentle slope with large, sparsely placed trees, this camp ground had sites that nestled next to the gently lapping shore, and had vistas of the craggy peaks. Pure perfection.
However scenery wasn't the only thing that made this location great. As we were eating our dinner on the lake shore, watching the sun go down, an old man named Fransico, approached us, speaking a mixed bag of Spanish. It turns out that he had property next to the campground, and he was curious about us. He happened to be an actual Mapuche tribe member, who had been living on this simple parcel for over 55 years. When we told him we were from the United States, he was excited. We were the first people from the U.S. that he had ever met. This was such a distinction in his mind he decided to take us on a hike the next day, one that he usually didn't show people, but because we had came so far, he decided to show us.
When we met up with him the next day, it didn't dissapoint in any way. Not only was he very happy to accomidate me with my photographic tendencies, he let us into his world. On our way on the hike, he showed us wild blueberries that we could eat, showed us wild boar sign and told us stories of his epic hunts, and explained to us that he had a girl friend that wasn't pretty at all. He said at 66 he'd rather be single, and have the option of many women. When we got to the end of the trail he dazzled us with his private waterfall that ran only on his land. It was really an awesome moment on this trip, to have such a great conversation, and see what many have not. We felt blessed.
After two days at that lake, we moved on to several others in the next few days. Each having there own unique characterisics and charming visual qualities. I've never felt such a peace in nature like this. Flowing rivers, flower and fauna that were bizzare and stunning. I really felt like I couldn't soak enough of it up.
As we continued ever south, we approached our destination of the town called Bariloche. But before we got there we wanted to do one last adventure. We rented mountain bikes and traversed a peninsula 24km into the heart of lake Nahuel Haupi. I'm definitely not a mountain biker, and it showed. On some of the steep parts, I had to walk the bike up. But mostly it was cruiser. The trail went well into a primordial wood, that sometimes blocked out the sun, and bled ancient moss from its bark. Towards the tip of the peninsula, the forest changed into a different kind of tree. A rare grove called Arrayanes. A strange forrest which limbs twisted and turned, and had bark that resembled a birch tree with red bark. Truely a remarkable spot.
As we ventured back on the trail, we were treated to a rainbow of epic proportions. We could literaly see where it ended, which was right into the town we were headed too.
I now sit it Bariloche, on a rainy blustery day. Good for rest, and planning the next stages of our journey. It promises to get better, for in the next days we will see what this town has to offer, and start our journey down to the legendary Patagonia.
Oh...I've been taking tons of pictures, some of them have turned out to be quite cool. And although I've got requests to post more, its a real pain in the ass. I promise to put a bunch on my website when I return from this trip.