I tend to be naive and slightly disorganised when making weekend plans. I think it’s an approach to planning that I have learned from my husband, Dirk. If you put your fate in the good powers of the universe, things just magically seem to work out for the best. Well, that, and of course the fact that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him – Romans 8:28.
With that approach we went on a weekend camping trip with our two fantastic flatmates Pedro and Marion, not really knowing what to expect. Pedro is a mountaineering instructor, so we borrowed a tent and warm sleeping bags from him and he rented a car for our trip to Cajon del Maipo , a scenic place that Pedro has told us about. We left Santiago on Friday evening around 6pm, hoping to reach Cajon del Maipo by 8pm (it gets dark late in Chile, so you will still have light after 8pm to pitch a tent).
Just a two hour drive from Santiago and suddenly you find yourself between mountains. The valley was much more than I expected! I was surprised by the amount of snow on the mountains; it has been very hot in Santiago, clearly the weather in Cajon del Maipu is a lot different than the city.The difficult roads forced us to put up camp in the valley. I was glad when we chose a camp site – the wind was so cold it made my ears feel frozen within seconds.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, we were ready to hike up to a glacier. I got a bit concerned when I was told to bring warm clothes, waterproof pants and a headlamp…what was my group planning to do? Hike until nightfall? Swim in a river? Without asking to many questions, I just obliged and went along with the proverbial flow.
To say I was amazed is an understatement. With every step the scenery unfolded into something more magnificent! More mountains, more snow, more colours!
The patches of snow came closer to the road, until they were close enough for Dirk to make a snow angel!
Pedro (whose backpack is like Mary Poppins’ bag) took out ‘gators’ for everyone to put on over our shoes to protect them from the snow. And before we knew it, WE WERE HIKING IN SNOW!
Finally, after about five hours of hiking, we were there! We reached the hanging glacier! Depending on the light, it was blue in some places! Immediately when you reach the top and see the glacier, you can feel a change in the temperature. It’s as if the glacier freezes everything around it. Suddenly the sunny day was cold and we could see rain clouds coming.
Pedro took some yerba mate cafe out of his magical bag. It’s tea made from herbs and even though it warmed us up, I thought that it tasted like drinking cigarette filters through a straw…the others seemed to enjoy it though.
On the way back we had to stop to build a snowman quickly.
Tired we arrived back at camp (in the rain), ready for a warm meal and sleep…but the weekend did not end there. We woke up the next morning to this scene:
During the night the rain had turned into snow (as predicted by the wise Pedro) and our surrounds were sprinkled with white icing! Thanks to our warm sleeping bags and durable tent we were not cold at all during the night.
On our way back to Santiago we had a delicious traditional lunch at a town called San Alfonzo.
I think the best part of the weekend was the desert on Sunday: one pie made up of eight different pieces!
While we were away hiking, Dirk set up his camera to take pictures of the clouds over the mountains every 10 seconds for a time lapse video.
- Horse riding in Cajon Del Maipo (theredhandedjill.wordpress.com)
- Cajón del Maipo (kelshka.wordpress.com)