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).
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.
The weather wasn’t actually that bad… Unfortunately we couldn’t see Volcan Orsorno but it wasn’t raining.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We arrived around 8:30pm. The couple that lived there ran a campground but were not officially open yet for the season.
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.
The hike into the valley was fantastic. Such amazing rain forest, big trees and spectacular views of the river and cliffs.
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.
We finally arrived in the valley and were blown away by the views.
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.
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.
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.
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.

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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
It was a beautiful bus ride back and we finally got a clear view of Volcan Osorno and other volcanos near to Puerto Varas.
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.
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.


Bariloche, El Bolson, Hielo Azul: Argentinian Patagonia

November 15th-21st

From all the hitch hiking I did on the coast I was inspired to hitch hike to my next destination, Bariloche Argentina. I had to take two buses to get to near the prison to the south of Valdivia. I made it there no problem and within a matter of minutes I got picked up by a truck driver with a very thick Chilean accent. I could still converse some words with him but he ended up calling his cousin who could speak English to talk with me and tell me he was going to Paillaco and needed to drop me off on the route 5 to Osorno. I got picked up literally right away by a girl from Valdivia who was excited to practice english bit didn’t really know much so i got to practice spanish more. She and he dad worked building hospitals and i noticed a big hospital being built in Corral when we were there and she was heading to osorno for another hospital project. She didn’t have faith that i would make it to bariloche and wanted to drop me off at the bus station. I told her it wouldn’t be a problem and i had lots of time. She droped me off at the intersection that led to the Argentina frontier. I had to walk about 200 metres and wait about 20 mins but i got picked up by a construction worker working 20km or so down the rd. He dropped me off and i waited another 20 mins or so in the hot sun. There was very little traffic but i got a ride to Puyehue by some ladies who worked in tourism that needed to deliver some papers to resort just outside the park. These ladies were very excited to meet me and show me everywhere (click any photos below for a link to full album).
After they dropped me off I had a long wait so I just kept walking… It was going on 5 pm and I wasn’t entirely sure if I would make it to Bariloche. It was a very beautiful, hot and sunny day and I just kept walking with my heavy pack through the park Puyehue which was absolutely beautiful. I got tired about about an hour and a half of walking and I finally found some shade so I took a break. I had walked a long way and passed a sign that said 15km to the Argentina border. I had seen about 4 cars pass by me in 2 hours and finally 3 cars came at once and one of them stopped to pick me up. It was Pablo and he was argentinian and heading directly to bariloche. He knew no english but I was able to converse with him using my pen and paper and my offline translation app on my iPod. I quickly learned some of the major differences between Chilean and Argentinian Spanish. About 5 minutes past where Pablo picked me up the lush green rainforest started to turn grey. P1140255

It was the result of volcan Puyehue that exploded in June of 2011. It destroyed huge sections of beautiful alpine rainforest in and around Nahuel Huapi National Park. P1140260
Even though huge amounts of ash and grey forest flooded the landscape, crossing the border was no problem. Soon enough we had driven around Lago Nahual Huapi into a dry desert like environment and back around the southern shores to Bariloche. P1140270Pablo was so kind as to phone my Couchsurfer Carla and figure out exactly where she lived. He dropped me off close to her place and I went looking for some food. P1140272
Bariloche is a hilly city and walking around with my heavy pack was no fun. I had a lot of trouble trying to get Argentina money and find a restaurant that was open around 6 pm. Finally I found one that accepted Mastercard and it had wireless Internet. I ordered a big sandwich and a beer And relaxed for a few hours while I waited for Carla to get off work at 9pm. I met up with Carla and she was so kind. We had a nice dinner together. P1140434
After a few glasses of wine I decided to show her my dry suit and she was a surfer so she had a wetsuit. We both put them on and she showed me how to dance the tango Argentina style in our goofy suits. It was ridiculous! Lots of laughing.

The next day I finally found a way to get money out and made my way to meet up with my friend Kara who I worked with in Mazama Washington with Outward Bound. She had done a mountaineering training in mid October that I was very interested in participating in but I had a lot on my plate at that time and felt too rushed to make it down in time for it. Oh well I still got to see the OB base camp and make some connections. The base was in an interesting neighborhood to the west of barloloche 20min by bus. I was originally in communication with Kara about climbing Volcan Tronador with her friend Bill but weather was not looking good so we decided to head further south to El Bolson and go trekking for 3 days up to glacier Hielo Azul.
It was a very nice trip with great weather. The map of the area was quite a bit off and the property owner at the trailhead would not let us pass through his property because he had not opened the campground for the season yet. He told us we had to walk back 3km and them down the river and follow the river back around to get to the spot by his property we could pretty much see from the gate. We ended up hiking back a few hundred meters back and bushwacking down to the river. This hike was great but it had some of the sketchiest bridges I’ve ever seen. The other thing that the trail kind of went more or less straight up with no switch backs so really steep up and down. The second day we hiking up to the glacier Heilo Azul from the refugio.
It was a great view of the valley and a more relaxed day of hiking
We hiked up and over more rugged terrain through interesting rain shadow forests of the Andes. We arrived down in the next valley and found the sketchiest bridge i’ve ever seen that led us to a campground on the other side of the river.
The next day we hiked out and made it back to El Bolson just in time to catch the bus back to bariloche. When I returned Carla had her whole family over for the weekend and there wasn’t much space for me at the OB base so I got a hostel for 50 argentino pesos a night close to $12. The weather was horrible with lots of ash blowing so I finally got some much needed relaxing in and had a good night on the town before I took a bus to Puerto Montt in Chile.

Bay of Fundy Discovery Course with Outward Bound Canada, Kennebecasis River, Grand Manan Island & the Fundy Footpath

From July 3rd to July 27th I flew out to New Brunswick to be a part of an amazing 17 day Outward Bound course. I was fortunate enough to have some family friends who lived in St. Martins and own and operate the Caves Family Restaurant who I sent a few days with before and after the course.

After spending a few days getting our gear and food organized the students arrived and we were off to the Kennebecasis River for the kayak training for a few days around Long Island. We then went off to Grand Manan Island for our expedition kayak section spending about 8 days in and around the outer coast of the island.







The second part of the expedition was hiking the Fundy Footpath from just outside St. Martins to the Fundy National Park over the last 6 days of the course.