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.
La Campana Welcome
Our United Nations – People in the picture are from Belgium, Canada, Estonia, Scotland, United Kingdom and the United States.
Looking back towards town from the La Mina trail. (The mine)
Having a Park Ranger friend has its advantages. With over 700 miles of trails, choosing a hike in Glacier National Park is made easier when Peggy shares her favorite. Of all the trails we hiked this summer, this was our favorite.
Approached from the eastern side of Glacier National Park; Iceberg Lake’s five mile trail starts with a section park rangers affectionately and appropriately call the stair-master. After huffing and puffing up the stair-master the trail levels and the rest of the hike is filled with stunning panoramic views that accompany each step.
Bears are abundant and hikers are encouraged to be noisy. Many people wear bells but isn’t that like ringing the dinner bell for those mostly hairless squishy things that are pink and tender in the middle? In seriousness we were given an informative tip for bear encounters on the trail. Essentially bears are lazy and use the trails because of the easy walking. If you encounter a bear you should do two things; make a lot of noise and get off the trail. Climbing uphill is recommended because you are getting off of the bear’s path and counting on his laziness to continue on the trail leaving you alone. If they follow you up it’s time to break out the bear spray.
Glacial fins, ancient sea-beds lifted up into mountains, and finally carved by glaciers ages ago tower above you. Flowers are blooming and color fills the meadows and valleys. Cresting over a ridge a small lake comes into view below the flower filled slope. Yet the trail passes by up another hill and then you see it. Ice filled turquoise waters surrounded by massive rock walls and the trail leading to the shore’s edge.
Ironically passing clouds photographers normally desire are shading the lake turning the
brilliant colored waters to dark blue. As we eat lunch we watch patterns of sunlight breaking through the clouds and passing over the lake spot-lighting the brilliant colors only rock flour laden waters can produce. A large whale shaped block of ice reflects brilliant blue as the sun’s rays pass over. The frigid water’s siren song calls until
you are compelled to dip a toe into the water. A teenager creates a memory he’ll never
forget as he jumps into the water. In a flash he’s out, wrapped in a towel and shivering.
Birds serenade us as we take in the beauty. Every direction reveals nature’s majesty and we are thankful for the 1910 decision to preserve the land for future generations.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain