Friday, September 01, 2006

Siete Tazas

Originally posted to El Cantar de la Lluvia on Monday, April 3, 2006

On Saturday, Ben Kenobi and I decided to go for a ride down to the Siete Tazas nature reserve. I had just installed my new rack, still unpainted, and I wanted to see how it fared. As soon as Ben got off work, we met at on the highway, and with the tents and camping gear strapped to the bikes, we set off.

Due to our time of departure, and because I didn't want to exceed 95 km/h on my bike (the front wheel was slightly off-center, producing an unpleasant resonance at high speed), we arrived at the Carabineros checkpoint, at the bottom of the climb up to the park, quite late. We spoke to the Carabinero stationed there that night, and he explained that the CONAF ranger came down from his post at 9 PM, and that we'd have no way to set up camp if we carried on. Instead, he offered a camping spot on the other side of the dusty road, beside the river, just after the access barrier. It was large, sandy, under some trees. We accepted and started to unpack. The only problem was that this riverbank had apparenty been used on many occasions as a group picnic and mass defecation zone by travellers. There was toilet paper scattered everywhere and an unpleasant aroma of shit sometimes caught your attention. Fortunately, we found an area that was free of such unpleasantries, and put the tents up there.

We made choripanes on a wood and charcoal fire, drank beer, and then lay down to sleep, tired and dusty.

That night, I froze. My summer sleeping bag is extremely thin, it probably takes up no more than a litre of volume when compressed. Unfortunately, I had not brought anything other than my leather jacket for warmth. I tried sleeping in a tshirt and shorts that I had optimistically broufh, but after an hour I gave up and put on my heavy, stiff, dusty and bug-spattered jacket. It's the second time I've had to sleep in with this thing on, I think I'm getting used to it.

As soon as it was light I got up; I couldn't sleep from the cold, and anything was better than lying there, shivering, not sleeping.

I made a fire, and for that, I had to go looking for sticks everywhere, even on the other side of the river. Ben was still snoring. I boiled some water, toasted some bread to have with dulce de leche, and woke Ben up with some nice quotes from a well-known-to-some phone prank once played on some poor building superintendent, Manolo Cabeza de Huevo.

A quick walk around to have a look at the campsite.

We left the tents and set off with a light load to explore the Siete Tazas park. The road up to it was certainly a lot easier without all that weight on the back of the bike (on mine, at least, because having a full or empty top case can't matter that much if you're a Transalp) and after a while we reached the park.

Ben obviously wanted to have his picture taken by the sign at the entrance to the park. "No, Ben, dude, the slope is a bit too steep for the Transalp, besides, your back wheel is practically slick, take some distance before you ride at it". Ben aligned himself perpendicularly to the slope, rolled back slightly and...

Houston, we have a problem. With a bump, the Transalp had its back wheel in the ditch beside the road. Trying to get out, all Ben managed to do was dig a nice 20 cm notch in the side of the ditch. That back tyre was not going to get a grip any time soon.

We tried everything: laying stones, pushing, pulling, heaving, everything. Myself, in black jeans, heavy leather jacket, back protector, shin and knee protectors, double gloves and helmet, I was exhausted. In the end, we got it slightly turned with slow rocking movements, and the back wheel was only able to get enough traction to get out of the ditch when I pulled like mad sideways on the rack. And thus, Ben got his damn photo:

So did I.

Siete Tazas is beautiful, with many paths, waterfalls and deep valleys to explore. Ben said it was one of the few things that look better in person than in pics. We left the bikes beside the ranger's hut, and wet our heads at a tap near by.

The path down to the river was clearly marked, and there was even a raised wooden walkway that I suppose allows you to visit the park during the rainy season. After a while we got to the Siete Tazas themselves, enveloped in a cool and refreshing air, and bombarded by the echo of the water's roaring against the rock's smooth and rippled walls.

We carried on downriver, looking for other waterfalls. After walking down paths that were sometimes closed in, sometimes open and spacious, we got down to the river.

Jumping from rock to rock is always fun, especially when it's gigantic river rocks. We went upriver all the way to one of the waterfalls.

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After that excursion (and on our way back, having overshot the path up from the river by 500 m) we decided to carry on to the end of the road, past the entrance to Siete Tazas, to the hostería. We were well received, and we had a delicious plateada a lo pobre.

And to top it all, deck chairs under the vines. This is the life!

After lunch we carried on, and explored a plain, apparently chewed down to the ground by cows.

Back at the campsite, time to take the tents down.

The ride back, in daylight now, seemed shorter, but just as hard due to the bikes' weight.

A last view from the bridge, and it's off to Santiago.

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Blogger Loredana Braghetto said...

aún no conozco el 7 tazas.
pendiente en mi agenda viajera.

8:58 PM  

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