Every effort and precautions taken to be able to go to Huerquehue were worth it: The previous failure tries took us to the away from the bed alarms and the prepared the day before lunches, the temp changes to the extra pair of socks and coats and thanks to the chileans and their incredible punctuality on their transport made us reach to the park at the time we must had to come.
Anyway, overcome the n°1 challenge of reaching the park there was the n°2 challenge: To get to the lakes of Huerquehue – 7km uphill, they say about 3,5 hours – and then to come down – 2 hours aprx according to the ranger. Basic.
Everything would be much easier if at the feature distribution they had given me the ones of being an early bird and having an almost perfect physical condition like some people (when I say some people I want to say Der), but ok, at least I don’t have asthma today, so breathing and walking are two things I can do at the same time, That counts.
On the matters of walking uphill things are getting interesting, the early rise is worth just on seeing the sun touching tenderly the mountains and the lake and the trees, to see the freezed grass at some areas and the silence almost make you forget the 7km of path ahead. ALMOST.
The first photographic stop we made it on a path aside the Tinquilco lake, it looked beautiful like a mirror, and the wind made the superficial tension of the water crisp and it made it look textured. Gorgeous. That is enough to cover the expenses of the lack of sleep and the cold. But of course on that of taking pictures there’s always a risk of stock a foot in the freezing water and that was exactly what happened a few meters ahead, because one can’t be perfect 100% of time at some points you have to screw up things and become frozen half the way (Pictures are stunning).
Going up by fairy tale landscapes and the 7km which I’m sure that are measured this way:
7km would be the red line and the black lined path what you walk really.
The cold was leaving us and we began to transpirate ¡YES! To transpirate, wen it’s 3° outside you can sweat. Amazing, imagine you take off your wool hat because your head is being cook and suddenly your ear hurts so why my ear hurts?, you’d think and you’d touch your ear just to realize that it’s cold and stiff as a polar bear’s nose, a little time more and it’s goone. God, to put back your hat on and forget about that. Everything to not arrive home also mutilated, because frozen on one foot you already are.
So: woods woods, tree tree, spin spin, I walked 3 steps and Der ran 100 meters, he’d stop and wait for me and he’d look at me with this face of: “Hurry up we’re not getting up on time to the lakes because we only have 6 hours and I’m getting hungry and if we do not get on time we cannot sit down and eat” and I’d look to the floor with my face of: “tell me I can do this, fuck.” So that was the biggest part of the way, we got to the ranger station half the way up to realize they were all inside the house with calefaction, smoke was coming out the chimney and they didn’t even looked out the windows to watch us pass.
We took a “break” just to rip off the ice film that the map has on it to see where we were and where do we go from there. Climbing primitive stairs up and not-so-well marked paths (there was a part in which we almost took a path that it looked like one but wasn’t) until we came to an overlook. Before it there were some waterfalls, one turns from the main way and one has this pretty waterfalls to watch, we decided to keep going directly to see the lakes and watch the waterfalls on the way down, personal decisions. Anyway, at the overlook you can see Villarrica’s Volcano in all it’s splendor, you can also see tiny lake Tinquilco and if you’re an artist like me, you see the horizon and the perspective point and get all inquired about how is so nice and odd to be so elevate. And other thing: It also begins the snow.
At this time of the year there’s snow at the mountains and to you beens of seasons is common, for us tropical animals snow is a fantasy like dinosaurs. We have nice beaches and that’s it: rain and sun. So yeah, it was our first encounter with snow: hello snow!, to be honest with first impressions it looked white, amaizingly slippery and a bit complicated to walk. Oh and cold. Walking up the last trail of mountain with it was a whole challenge n°3 for what I wasn’t ready.
I want to thank all trees on my way to give me the support I needed they were so nice to be there for me at the times friction seems not to, also I thank the sun for warming a bit complete sections and make snow a little more crumsy and easy to step on. And everyone that went on the road before me and left footprints on the side of the path that were more easy to follow. Arriving to the lakes with this full of snow meters wasn’t easy, it took lots of muscles and reliability of my poor legs that in some way listened to me, courage on my lungs for keeping and keeping my body with oxygen during the path and the most important thing: Tons of patience of Der to not leave me alone and go watch the lakes by himself.
At the end, we are there. Lago Chico was the first lake spotted by these walkers and it is beautiful, it had a frozen part and lots of white snow around it. Then we walked to Laguna Verde and after Lago Toro. Stunning, Pictures say lots more than my words.
To go back we had to use the same path we walked up here and there were about 2pm. And we hadn’t eat. There was hunger, coldness, hotness, pain and a long way down. And snow.
After getting back a small section of 400 meters to the main road and last 15 minutes on that, my boyfriend saw a tiny time problem and feared the worst, he wouldn’t be able to eat on the mountain. So he took me by one arm and pulled me all the way down, sliding down the mountain like an snowboardist without the board and me behind him. Cool: “Put a foot in front of you and the other behind and push yourself with that one and keep yourself straight with this one” “To push what? Which foot?”, I fell down 18 times counted. On my ass, on my arms, on my side. Never on top of him, that ever never. He gave me a stick that reached my knee on high “to support myself when I was falling down.” Thank you little stick, the poor one arrived half size to dirt. When we arrived to the overlook where you could see the volcano we ate, until that part were about 15 minutes with the slide activated. We lasted 10 minutes eating and we were back to the road. Dirt and a bit of snow were ahead, then mud and then ground, beautiful and dry dirt.
There are no explanations needed right?.
We went through the waterfalls and stopped to see them, 400 meters into the woods to visualize a big fall of cold water that surely came from the lakes that were upon it, I don’t know if it was because I was tired but it didn’t seem like the big thing, I just were thinking on the 800 meter that I just had added to the route. I wanted to get home.
To define our relationship status at the moment I would say: To go down a mountain quickly is to me a nightmare, my knees hurt and my feet too, I overthink that and the problems on the knees older people have. So I go really thoughtful and I go down calmly. Aender is of that people that goes down a mountain by running. “Honey it’s stressful to see you going down so slowly.” ?
After a path of hollow silence on our way down we arrived at 4:22pm to the park entrance to wait for the bus YAY! Mission accomplished! We saw Huerquehue and its lakes.
We took the bus to Pucón and then to Villarrica where I got a croissant o “media luna” filled with arequipe or “manjar” as an award for going up and down with the grace of a wet cat.
To realize that we were over budget with transportation and we had to get on top of the hill to get home afoot.
I love you Der.
Total Expenses one person 6600 Pesos chilenos (11 Dolars)
Arriving to Pucón
If you are already at Pucón it’s really simple and you don’t have to be worried about this step, if you are at Villarrica it’s really simple first you set an alarm that you’re allowed to hate to wake you up between 6am or 7am whatever you want, the idea is to be at the Jac terminal at 7:50am where you are going to take the first bus to Pucón. If you are not at Pucón or at Villarrica, then go look for accommodation.
Bus to Huerquehue
This bus just has 3 departure schedules (DEPARTURE: 8:30, 13:00, 16:00 RETURNS: 9:30, 14:10, 17:10), the cost is 2000 pesos, if you get the return ticket it’s about 3600 pesos and you save 400 pesos. Ideal is if you want to see the lakes and take magnificent pictures you take off in the first bus at 8:30 and return at the 17:10, if you don’t do this, your trip doesn’t have any sense because there are about 7 hours of getting and coming, now if you are at Villarrica you figured out that if your bus departs at 7:50 and lasts about 30 minutes on getting to Pucón you’ll have about 10 minutes to get to the other bus, luckily for you the Jac terminal is right across the street from the bus to Huerquehue terminal, we got at 8:28 to the bus, and already my mind was planning to return to Villarrica and sit at home to see the lakes from the internet at this point.
The entrance to the Huerquehue Park
The bus will get you to the very entrance to the park, where you go to the ranger’s house to pay for the access, for being low season we paid about 2000 each, if you are chilean you pay a little less. Already here your 7 hour adventure begins, to climb mountains, to watch lakes, to hug trees, to get drown, to have hunger, to hug the rail, to slip on snow, to fall again on the snow, enjoy it. By the way it is just one path, so your return is the same, ideal is to get to lago Verde, if you get there it means you saw already the other two Lago Chico y Toro, they’re close.
Now you must wait for the bus to come back for you to get to Pucón, if you live at Villarrica your adventure continues with all the tiredness you carry on top of you you get a Jac to Villarrica for another 500 pesos chilenos. If you have a little extra cash you stop at the Lider supermarket and you get your girlfriend a croissant with manjar and then tell her she must walk 5km uphill more to get home, the croissant would be cheaper than the transportation.