We left ‘Villa,’ as we came to call it (via the locals), with full hearts and heavy packs. Weighed down with nine days of food for our adventurous route to Cochrane, our plan was to walk along the ‘Ruta de los Pioneros,’ the route the pioneers had taken from Cochrane to settle in Villa O’Higgins. We had acquired first hand route information, GPS points, and some mediocre maps to help us along our way.
|A close-up our mediocre map|
|Fidgit along Lago Christie|
|Getting directions from the First Gaucho|
|Mountains reflect in the waters of Lago Alegre|
|Sitting on the porch of Don Rial's place|
|Me, Don Rial, and Fidgit|
|Fidgit enjoying the view along Rio Bravo|
|Rio Bravo winding its way along the valley floor|
|Fidgit and the mountains at the pass|
Down, down we went, and there were cairns on this side of the pass too! We followed them to an obvious camp, then steeply descended to the river. The river was very strong, Fidgit and I had to yell to converse over its mighty roar. This was not a place for us to cross if we wanted to heighten our chances of living longer than 5 more minutes. We weren’t sure what to do, but knew crossing that river was out of the question. So we did something we’ve gotten into the habit of doing on this trip- we swallowed our pride, and went back to the last place we knew for sure we were on the right path to reassess.
|Me following the cairns the wrong way|
Following the trail again, we walked down to the river once more and were able to cross it at a place that was manageable albeit cold enough to make my skin feel like a billion tiny needles were poking at me, not to mention the immediate loss of feeling to my toes. Before falling asleep that night, I thought back to all the choices we had made that landed us right where we wanted to be, and what a crazy place it was! Also, how lucky I was to be there.
Waking the next morning, we walked to the road with Fidgit leading the way. We started at treeline, went from meadows to thick forest, and then the forest thinned and there were more signs of civilization. The trail was intermingling cow/horse path, and finding the correct one to follow is one of Fidgit’s strengths.
|Mt San Lorenzo and Glacier Cayuqueo|
The road walk into Cochrane from the glacier was 1.5 days, long, hot, and dusty. I was happy to get into town and have a cold beverage, though sad this section of our walk was over. From being eye to eye with glaciers to walking the last 5-ish kilometers along the dusty Carretera Austral, this section of our walk seemed to have everything, and what an adventure it was!