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  • Day41

    Cochrane, My Southernmost Destination

    April 14, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    If you look at the map, and pinch it in quite a bit to see the rest of Chile, you’ll see that Cochrane is pretty far south. In fact, since the regions of Chile are numbered from one to twelve, starting in the north at the Peruvian border, Cochrane is in region eleven. It is a not-pretty town of around three thousand inhabitants, founded in 1954, and only connected to the rest of the country when the Carretera Austral was completed in 1958. It is the last town on the highway. By the way, the “highway” is basically a one-lane gravel road.

    I was dying to go there in order to visit Patagonia National Park. Frankly, if I were to copy one elderly woman, who, with an ingenious two-wheeled cart she could pull along behind her, walked the entire length of the Carretera Austral, I would experience all of the exquisite scenery I might require for the rest of my life. But entering a national park anywhere in the world is a special experience, and this is a very new one, so I was excited.

    I stayed at an Airbnb listing: a room with a shared bath in a house occupied by a single woman and her fourteen-year-old daughter. It was efficiently heated by a ubiquitous wood-burning stove, so I waited every morning to get up when the fire had been made so my suffering in the bedroom cold would be limited to only a few minutes. Lucía was friendly, though shy, so it took a few days together for us to get chatty. By the end, she was plying me with homemade bread, and made a rare shellfish dinner for us all on my last night.

    Patagonia National Park can be approached from two points, but only one, the Tamango Section was open to me when I was there. Twice I hiked on private property toward a now-closed park entrance. It was a splendid walk, and made easier by being a dirt road: I could look around all I wanted with little fear of falling. I fall on the average of once every two weeks—either by slipping or by inattention. I have since bought a “bastón,” or walking pole, to have better balance. The trail in the park proper was beautiful every step of the way. I rejoiced.

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    My sister the scofflaw!!!


    wow! mh

    James Collenette

    What a fine wild place. I think you've been lucky with the weather as well! James.

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