A little recap of a "hike" through what we thought were the Andes mountains, but really turned out to be Cajon de Maipo (a range near to the Andes)...
Jon and Karen (THE cutest couple, ever…they had little performances every night...Jon plays the guitar, Karen plays the cello, and they both sing together) recommended a hike in the Andes, so a group of 5 of us jumped on the metro (like the L from Chicago), got off at this produce/fish market, purchased way too much fruit from a Chilean entrepreneur (he lured us in with free samples, which was smart on his part because it was by far the best fruit I have ever had….not kidding), bought oatmeal bread from German woman who had just baked it that morning (it was still warm), then took the "C02 bus" to the base of the mountain, and got off at the "Escula Italiana" (which had an impressive sporting campus…and sand-based field hockey fields!!). From there we asked a few people how go “climb the mountain” and we eventually found a map.
At the market, right outside of the metro (left)
The fish at the market...look at the size of the clams!!(right)
We chose the 1 hour hike, but once we reached “the end,” we all weren’t satisfied with the view. So we asked a biker and his wife for directions to get to a better “Mirada” (viewpoint). He then drew a map on paper and said we should be able to do it in 30 minutes and that there was a loop we could return on. First lesson of the day: 30 minutes for a Chilean = at least an hour. We hiked a bit more and came to a steep, muddy, and snowy/icy hill and were debating whether or not to continue. Liz, being the older/more cautious of the group, alluded to not going up the steep, slippery hill that was off the path. I really wanted to get up to the top for a better view, so I ventured up the hill and discovered it wasn’t "that bad"…so Liz and Eric followed (the other two girls turned around when we get new directions because they were tired).
The hike on the way up (left)
The map that a random biker drew for us (right)(obvious how we got a bit lost?)
We hiked up the hill to a great view…and around each turn and down various paths, it always looked like the view was getting better. That being said, I kept convincing my two travel comrades to go down the path for a few minutes, check it out, and turn around if it didn’t lead anywhere. Needless to say, we never turned around and just kept going up and up, all the while the view kept getting better and better. We reached the top and saw a path that looked like it went down, so we followed it. This steeeeep and rocky path eventually ran into a waterway…which then lead to a road…and by this point, it was 4:00pm and we were worried we weren’t going to make it back before sundown. Second lesson: start hikes earlier in the day just in case one wanders off the path…
The view from the first "mirador"(picture spot) (left)
The next view from the next "mirador" (right)
The very top of the mountain (note: cactus + snow = Chile is awesome (left)
And another one (right)
We found a house in the middle of nowhere, guarded by multiple rottweilers, and called for help. A man came out and spoke reallllly fast, broken Chilean. I served as the translator, and managed to get some directions out of him. We ended up heading towards the electric tower and following a ZIG ZAG of a path down to the bottom of the mountains. We made it to a suburb-like area, but were not able to get in because the town was enclosed by a fence with barbed wire. At this point we had been “exploring” for a few hours and finally made it to civilization, but we had no way of actually getting into the town to catch a bus. Luckily, a woman who was at a stop light nearby yelled to us that there was an opening up 100 m where we could crawl under. So, the three Americans climbed under the fence and broke into the town. We found a bus stop and asked a local girl how to get back to the Escula, and she (willingly) helped us. Within minutes we were on our way back to the metro.
Along some random path..."lost" (left)
Eric crawling under the fence into civilization (right)
It was an adventure to say the least, but I had a smile on my face the entire time and am glad we did it. The pictures don’t quite do justice, but, hey, pictures never do.