Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, Petrohue, Cochamo

Monday, November 21st:

I arrived in Puerto Montt around 2pm. I got a hold of Ricardo and he was kind enough to come and pick me up from the bus station. Ricardo could speak good English but he was also good at speaking Spanish to me (click any photo for link to full album on flickr).
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He lived with his parents in a nice home up on a hill just outside the downtown area. We had some food and relaxed then went to a bouldering climbing gym in a friend of Ricardo’s house. Puerto Montt has a unique frequent cab system called collectivos which are everywhere there are actually over 2000 in the city. Ricardo had another Couchsurfer to meet so we went to meet her. Kim was from Philadelphia in the USA. Ricardo and I met her downtown and we all went to Ricardo’s basketball game. Kim and I went out for a bite to eat and chatted about our travel plans. Kim had been in contact with Ricardo about hiking into the Cochamo Valley but Ricardo couldn’t go until Friday.

Tuesday, November 22nd:

The weather was horrible with lots of rain and wind, Kim and I decided to go trekking anyway so we hitch-hiked to Puerto Varas, met up with another Couchsurfer, Marie from the Czech Republic who was working at a hostel in Puerto Varas. We tried to convince her to come to Cochamo with us on Friday but she had to work and needed the money. Kim and I went shopping for 2 night and 3 days of trekking with plans to return to Puerto Montt thursday evening to prep for Cochamo.
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The weather wasn’t actually that bad… Unfortunately we couldn’t see Volcan Orsorno but it wasn’t raining.
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We attempted to hitch from Puerto Varas to Petrohue by Lago Todos Los Santos by Parque Nacional Vicente Perez Rosales close to Volcan Osorno. After about an hour of rich mom’s with kids driving by us in SUV’s we saw a bus drive by and flagged it down. It took us right to Petruhue. We were immediately asked to pay to take a boat across the lake, pay to camp and then pay for a boat back. P1140451
We decided to just roam free and discovered a beautiful camping area just on the other side of a large pile of gravel that wasn’t open yet for some reason by was perfect, beautiful view, right on the lake, and best of all it was completely free.
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We met up with a couple from France and camped with them. We made dinner, cleaned up and went to bed right before it started raining hard.

Wednesday, November 23rd:

It rained on and off all night. We slept until 9-10am when the rained seemed to have stopped so we could make breakfast, pack up and figure out where we were going to hike. There was a map with a trail around volcan osorno over paso desolucion. We could see the base of volcan Osorno the who time but clouds obstructed most of the views.
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It was still a spectacular hike. It looked to be a really sweet downhill mountain biking trail that we were hiking up with fantastic views of the lake and the volcanos. It was extremely windy directly against us for several hours while hiking over the pass with periods of heavy rain on and off.
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Once up and over the pass we came to a refugio that was all closed up. A road lead down in the valley so we followed it. The map we saw in Petrohue did not have this road on it. We kept walking and hiked into a lush rain forest where we camped by the river.

Thursday, November 24th:

We got up fairly early and started hiking. We finally came to a road intersection and kept walking hoping to hitch but there was no traffic. We kept walking probably around 15 km. we finally made it to the main road that goes around Lago Llanquihue back to Puerto Varas. We were quite a bit north of the small town of Cascadas and ended up getting a bus to there and then hitching to Ensenada and catching a bus to Puerto Varas and back to Puerto Montt. We met up with Ricardo, I decided to go to Cochamo instead of Chiloe and we got things ready. We decided to just bring my large two person tent and have all 3 of us squeeze into it. We went shopping once again and got everything dried out, re-packed and were ready to go again.

Friday November 25th:

Ricardo and I had a successful shopping mission to get some white gas fuel for my stove and his new sleeping bag. I finally found a good deal for some crocs so got some. I also got some waterproofing stuff for my boots since the Cochamo hike was suppose to be extremely wet and muddy. I am very glad I got this at the same time all this was happening I realized that Kim and I forgot my trekking poles in the collectivos the night before… This was unfortunate because there was over 2000 collectivos in Puerto Montt so there was no chance to find the poles. We finally were off and caught a bus around 3:30pm to the entrance to the Cochamo Valley. It was a crazy full bus with people standing everywhere and people selling everything you can think of. We eventually arrived at the bridge that lead to the cochamo valley around 6pm. We decided we would walk the 6km to the trailhead and camp there for the night.
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We arrived around 8:30pm. The couple that lived there ran a campground but were not officially open yet for the season.
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They let us camp for free and invited us in to their home for tea & matte. More great Spanish practice. I had been practicing a lot with Ricardo and Kim which was great, writing lots of things down but still was lost.

Saturday, November 26th:

It was a rough night in close quarters in my tent with 3 but we managed to get some sleep. We woke up to a perfect sunny day! It was so amazing to have this after so many days of rain and clouds. We said by to the nice couple and their dog and were off.
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The hike into the valley was fantastic. Such amazing rain forest, big trees and spectacular views of the river and cliffs.
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The trail was pretty wild and diverse. Many people get things brought in my horse so the trail was designed for horses and a lot of it was though rain forest in a big dug out muddy trench.
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We finally arrived in the valley and were blown away by the views.
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This place is known as the “Yosemite Valley of Chile” and for good reason. Stunning granite domes with ridiculous climbing opportunities everywhere you look. We unfortunately did not bring any climbing gear, most of the climbs were difficult anyway and it was just as great to be in the valley soaking up the views.
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We went and visited the Refugio. A very beautiful set up. You actually had to take a fun ride on the pulley swing to cross the river to get there.
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It was so nice and we were thinking about hiking up to see a view because we knew the good weather wasn’t going to last but after 15 km of muddy hiking and a poor nights sleep we were done. We ended up hiking up to the climbing area known as Pared Seca where we could camp for free under ridiculously hard overhanging sport climbs.
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We found a nice spot with a view and cooked a good dinner and did a little bouldering around before cramming into the tent again.
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Sunday, November 27th:

Another bad night sleep and we woke up to overcast skies with some light rain. Ricardo and I did the Arco Iris hike up to the technical section. It was cloudy and rainy but we still got some views and we saw lots of ancient Alerce trees.
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These are giant trees similar to the redwoods in California. Very beautiful. Ricardo was telling me how in many areas in Chile during the 70’s people would burn entire forests just to get the inner layer of the Alerce trees because the wood was so good and they are worth so much. It is great that many of these 1000 year old trees are in areas where they will be protected. It was so great hiking with Ricardo because he knew so much about the local environment and could recognize lots of different bird calls including the elusive Chucao which we heard a lot but could never see. It was also interesting to see the reaction from people we met when Ricardo responded by saying he was from Puerto Montt. It was another example of how so many of the local people don’t have to opportunities to get out and explore the wilderness areas on their home country. It felt good to be out their with a local.
We ended up hiking back to the Refugio and buying some beer and drying out. Funny enough I met a guy at the Refugio who was on my flight from Toronto to Santiago.
We also met Mara and Lindsay, two girls from the states who we made plans to hike out with the next day. Kim finally found us at the Refugio and we went back to the camping area together to make dinner and chill out. We met a couple from France who were here to climb and another couple from the US and Germany. I helped fix there stove and I chatted with Jack who was from Ouray, Colorado and was a mountain photographer.
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Kim decided to sleep in the centralized kitchen area so we could all get a goodnight sleep. It was raining very heavily and I discovered that all the intensive seam sealing, waterproofing and patching I did still couldn’t keep a few areas from dripping… Tent was just old and the rain was very heavy. I put a small ground sheet over it and it did the trick.

Monday, November 28th:

Finally a great night sleep! It was looking to be a perfect day!
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We met up with Mara and Lindsay and hiked our way out. We started hiking just before 10am and made it all the way out to the bridge by 3:30pm.
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It was a perfect partly sunny day that was not too hot and not too cold. The bus was suppose to come around 4pmish but didn’t come until close to 5:30pm. So we had a long wait by the road.
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It was a beautiful bus ride back and we finally got a clear view of Volcan Osorno and other volcanos near to Puerto Varas.
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We made it back to Puerto Montt around 8 pm. Lindsay had a bus to catch around 9:30pm to Santiago because she was flying back to the US the following day. Lindsay stayed at the bus station and Mara came with us shopping and then back to Ricardo’s place.
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I ended up buying a bus ticket from Puerto Montt to Chaiten for the next morning. Mara bought a ticket direct to Coyaique for wed morning cause she had a friend to meet in Puerto Montt the following day. Mara was doing a work exchange in the Aysen region at an ecolodge then taking a NOLS mountaineering course for the month of January. It was a late night, drying stuff, cooking, having beers, hanging out and organizing all my stuff to leave to catch a 7am bus the next morning.

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