A little over an hour inland from Viña del Mar is La Campana Nacional Parque. La Mina, an old quartz mine is one of the attractions in the park and was what drew us and a few of our fellow teaching comrades to tackle the five kilometer hike.
When you don’t own a car in Chile the adventure before the adventure begins with transportation. As you know from a previous post, when you step on a bus you hope the driver isn’t the ‘wild-eyed‘ variety. (woolyandraeski.com/2014/06/01/a-long-humorous-lesson-about-public-transportation-in-chile/). Today we were spared that indignity but the transportation adventure has a second part.
After escaping the bus with our lives our destination was still several kilometers away. In Chile the next phase of the adventure is surviving a ‘colectivo’ taking you to your destination. A colectivo is a sort of taxi that whisks you to your destination at a dangerously high rate of speed. A colectivo gets its name from the way they ‘collect’ their victims. The driver keeps stopping and picking up new victims until his colectivo is full. Then the driver is happy and continues the adventure at a breakneck pace to your destination. In our case we filled two colectivos and the happy drivers raced each other up the mountain to La Campana.
Having safely arrived at the park we were ready to stretch our legs and enjoy our hike. It was a gorgeous 70°F/25°C degree mid-winter day. So up the hill we went. And up, and up, and up… Soon we were thinking “Where’s the down or level where you get to rest a bit while walking?” The trail ended up being almost all uphill to the destination.
After several hours of ascent and a few breathing breaks we reached the mine and stopped for lunch. While eating lunch we enjoyed a peek-a-boo view of the snow covered Cordillera de Los Andes. (Andes Mountains) Having learned our lesson about overdoing it (woolyandraeski.com/2014/03/30/pass-the-salt/) we chose to relax while our much younger comrades pushed on to climb the rest of the 1.8 kilometer hike which was steeper, rockier and more exhausting.
We started our descent at a more leisurely pace and were delighted to share our path with a fox along the way. And down we went. And down, and down, and down… Remember wanting that rest on the way up? Now those little used downhill muscles were starting to protest their overuse. I guess even leisurely can be overdone when you are tired.
After our exhausting day we all wanted to sleep on the metro (train) ride home. From the next day’s perspective we can assure you we made the right decision to take time to relax and not push beyond our limits. And we think we gave our younger teaching comrades something to aspire to in 30 years.