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Nature is Speaking To Us.

8 Jan

Mother Nature seems to be telling us to go away.

Our first clue was that Torres Del Paine, the national park in Chilean Patagonia that inspired this trip, was set ablaze just before Christmas and the whole park was closed. It is starting to open back up, so we have hope that we’ll get down there as planned for our treks, but hearing about it just 4 hours after we bought plane tickets to the area was wildly irritating.

Last week we arrived in Bariloche, Argentina to find a town shrouded in volcanic ash.  The volcano is actually located over the border in Chile, but the wind is blowing all the ash right into Argentina.  What is normally a spectacular view from our hostel window…well…it was a 50/50 chance that we  were staring out into pea soup.

Bariloche, Argentina on an ashy day

Bariloche, Argentina on a clear day. Same spot as above.

More ash.

Clear! Same spot as above.

We took a short hike one day and ended up ankle-deep in ash on some parts of the trail.   Partway up, the view was looking clear and we took the picture below.

The standard view of Bariloche's lake area on our way up the mountain.

By the time we got all the way to the top (which was just 30 minutes later) well, the view was totally obscured by ash.  The next picture is taken in the exact same spot an hour after the first.

Same hike, same spot, one hour later.

Dust clouds with every step.

There is ash everywhere.  It piles in the gutters on the streets.  It creates a haze on all the windows.  It settles in your hair.  Hiking on ash covered trails proved to be a dusty endeavor as every step produced a huge ‘pouf’ and we were thoroughly filthy by the time it was all over. Washing our clothes out in the hostel sink that night was quite a chore and it took us each nearly 30 minutes to get the water to run clear through our clothes.

Finally, we left Bariloche in search of clear skies, and we heard the place to be was El Bolson.  We arrived to a town shrouded in haze from yet ANOTHER FIRE.  For real.  El Bolson is located in another gorgeous valley, surrounded by rocky mountain peaks.  If the wind is quick, you get a chance to see the mountains.

Clear evening in El Bolson, Argentina

If the wind is taking a nap, you can barely make out the peaks through the haze.

Smoke in El Bolson, Argentina

We can’t seem to escape Nature’s heat!

We’re heading back into Chile today, and as we went to buy bus tickets this morning we were told the road was closed last night because the fire is encroaching.  As of right this minute it seems to be open again, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed that it stays that way.  If all goes well our next post will hopefully be about what an amazing time we hope to have rafting in Futaleufu, Chile!

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