My family and I visited Parque Huerquehue near Villarrica Chile on Saturday. This not only included myself, my sister and her husband, but my 8 year old niece and 6 year old nephew. We spent 6 hours in the forest, hiking, having lunch and taking in the incredible scenery; including waterfalls, and Arauncaria trees.
While not a difficult hike, stretches are steep. Along the way to the top there are side trails for viewing waterfalls. Once at the top, there are three large mountain lakes. I am told that during the spring and summer the lakes are filled with ducks; as for now, they are filled with ice. We in fact did not see any wildlife, but did see the tracks of what appeared to be a medium size canine in the snow, and there is in fact a fox that lives in this region. The only other hikers we encountered where a couple of ecology students from Berkley who where vacationing in the area – down from studying in Santiago for a year. We stopped at one of the three mountain top lakes. Lake side rocks made for stadium style seating as dishes of ham and cheese, salad, cookies and hot tea made their way around.
After lunch we hiked over to Lago Verde, where, while tossing snow balls at my nephew he fell in the freezing cold waters of the lake. His mother, who was almost right next to him, yanked him out of the water within a couple of seconds and the water had not soaked all the way through his pants before we had him out of all of his clothes except his thermal underwear which was still dry. We had present a towel and some extra clothing – go moms – so that after getting him changed and making sure he was ok, we did not rush down.
On the way back down, I worked my way out over a waterfall that is approximately 200 meters high. Because of the water level, this necessitated me removing my shoes and socks and rolling my pants up. As my nephew already knew, the water was fridged. I did not have a thermomator, but it felt like 33 degrees to me. My feet quikly began to numb. I did not take my camera for fear of dropping it however, I can attest to the view, peering midstream over a rushing waterfall. We made the trek down with any further excitement. At home, all felt the achyness of being out-of-shape, but agreed that the pain of the next couple of days would be worth what we gained and vowed to work on being in better condition for the next hike – for myself, I am already failing at this, spending more time in front of my computer and less taking in the awesome nature around me.