Thursday, November 15, 2007

Baños de Colina 2

Originally posted to El Cantar de la Lluvia on Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Autumn was a few days around the corner, and I wanted to visit Baños de Colina a second time. Last time, in spring, it turned out to be quite a special ride.

The final run up to Baños de Colina. See the roads on the hill?

A bus? Here?

I rode up to the barrier. It's 5000 pesos per adult, 2500 per child. I talked to the guy in the little hut. I explained that I had come in Spring, but that I hadn't been able to go any further because of the snow. "No, it ends there" he said. I insisted a little, said that's the only reason I'd come, to see where it went; I pouted, I sighed, and finally he let me through. "See for yourself. The road ends there. I wouldn't want to deny you your dream".

And it did indeed end at the same place where it disappeared under the snow last time. It wasn't that the snow had cut me off; it was simply that there was nowhere else to go.

I turned around, and found where Baños de Colina dumps its trash. A real shame. You can even see the burnt stuff they had to throw away after the fire. Is this how you take good care of the Cajón del Maipo?

Just as I was about to head over to the entrance, I saw a different road, hugging the river closely, and I went down to have a look. As usual, I lost my balance on the large stones.

I said goodbye and thanks to the man at the gate, and headed back down towards Santiago.

End of the ride? No! On the hill you can see in the second picture (the one with the goats), there is a mine, a plaster mine, a yesera.

This is the first pit I came across. The whole road is covered in fine dirt with the texture of talcum powder: it sloshed easily to either side of my front wheel. This is the first time I lowered my tyre's pressure (to 18 psi), and I could feel the difference.

A drill for setting explosives, I presume.

Around it, on the ground, these bags. I wonder if they drilled the holes and then left them covered, ready to be filled with explosives later on.

In the dust on the ground, thousands of tiny craters: every blast resulted in a shower of rocks.

Can one go higher? Why, of course, you know how it works: I love roads that go up and up and up. So up I went.

You have no idea what the view was like up there. And everything bathed in sunset light. Indescribable.

Higher, ever higher.

Until I was able to climb no more. Walking around, I felt out of breath. Google Earth puts me at 2500, 2700 metres above sea level.

Looking down...

I turned around and rolled downhill some 30 metres, and came across a branch that went steeply up the side of the hill, probably only doable in a tracked vehicle. I left the bike and started climbing, chest heaving.

Nothing but a small flat spot, probably cleared for a future blast.

Looking towards the Baños de Colina valley. I wonder if that's Cerro Amarillo in the distance?

Time to go back.

And with that, I went home.

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