A Glacier and Volcano: Goodbye PatagoniaApril 21, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☁️ 10 °C
After my few days of sociability in Rio Tranquilo and Coyhaique, it was back to hiking and exploring, first in Queulat National Park near Puyuhuapi (pronounced pu-yu-wá-pee) and then in the town of Chaitén.
In Puyuhuapi, a made-up-the-night-before group chartered a van to take us up to one of the Queulat Park entrances. There were four possible trails to take. I went with the group on the “main trail” up to a glacial waterfall, immediately letting everyone pass me by so I could have the trail to myself.
Some notes about hiking. First of all, most hiking trails have a “destination,” but for me, the TRAIL is the destination. I enjoy it all: the changing scenery at each stage, the lichens and ferns, the smaller plants, the bushes and the trees. I examine everything that moves, as well as plants and vistas, with my close-focus binoculars. It takes time, because I let it take all the time I want just to SEE. In the case of the Queulat Trail, I did get to the end to see the melting water of the glacier form a spectacular waterfall to the river 2000 feet below. Another note: after slipping on a piece of wood and landing on my rear with a terrible wallop on this hike, I decided to invest in a hiking pole. My balance is improved 100% with just one pole.
The following day, I took a bus to Chaitén, a town just coming back to life after a surprise eruption of Mount Chaitén in 2008 covered the town with volcanic ash. I talked to a woman who went through it. She said there was a terrible explosion in the afternoon of May 2nd, 2008, and the order to evacuate the town came soon after. By nightfall, people were still leaving, and the next day all were gone. Only animals were left, and many perished in the ashes.
So, April 24 found me exploring the newly-constructed town, poking around the ashes which are still everywhere, and examining hills of dead trees and new growth. Toward the end of the day, I had a conversation with a house construction contractor. I asked if, given the risk of a future explosion, it was unwise to build new houses. He said that no matter what, construction would continue. But after further questioning, I found that no one in town could ever purchase home insurance for a future volcanic catastrophe.
Here are some interesting links: (you can find many others as well, of course)
1. From Geology.com: https://geology.com/volcanoes/chaiten/
2. From Wikipedia : https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaitén_(volcano)
3. From YouTube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HyDIyALTwL8
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