Thursday, February 02, 2006

"El Volcan" Campground, Pumalin Park

At Caleta Gonzalo, I watched as clouds continued to form around this mountain, then dissipate

Before leaving Caleta Gonzalo, I ordered a sack lunch from the kitchen. It's one of the services they offer.

Riding the gravel today, I had little trouble, despite the presence of my nemesis, the road grader (with his satanic laughter.) I set the handlebars up higher, for easier handling from a standing position, but discovered this leads to increased horn-honking, as now the horn button bumps the tank bag when the handlebars are turned far to the left (as when parking.) How embarrassing!

Typical road surface in Pumalin (and many other sections of the Carretera Austral, the southern highway. Contrary to instinct, you need to goose the throttle a bit when it feels like you're about to lose control.

Visited "Los Alerces". Amazing trees, similar to the Giant Redwoods of California (and found in similarly-dwindling populations.) After wandering among these trees, I returned to the bike for my lunch and brought it back to eat along a riverbank, under the ancient trees. This is a spiritual place, which is what Tompkins obviously recognized.

Much like the redwood picture I took in May! The Alerces cypress trees are just as magnificent.

When in Pumalin, I just couldn't drink enough water! It tasted wonderful.


I arrived at the Pumalin's "El Volcan" campground late in the afternoon and had my choice of campsites. The "group area" offers lower rates, and it was empty, so it was an easy choice. There's a bath house right there, and it has large sinks outside for doing laundry. That was one of my first tasks after unloading.

Laundry day at "El Volcan" campground. All this beauty for $3!

Volcan Michinmahuida, from the campsite at "El Volcan"

A 1.8-kilometer "Nature Trail", wanders through the rainforest and identifies over 40 different species of trees and plants. I spent over two hours taking notes, studying the plants, photographing. The richness of this forest stands in stark contrast to the “managed” agri-forests that are everywhere replacing natural forests.

Nature walk at "El Volcan" campground. Much of Pumalin is rainforest.

According to blog reader Georgette, in her native New Brunswick, these are known as "fiddleheads" and "are very delicious and you can only get them once a year in the spring. You cook them like spinach and add butter."

You have to invest time and energy to absorb the knowledge which then generates an appreciation for the natural world. A mere two hours is barely enough to jog me out of my dullness. How can we jog the billions of humans?


Volcan Michinmahuida glowing in the late afternoon light. Sitting here snacking on some chocolate and drinking as much delicious spring water as I can. Life doesn't get much better!

Met my campground neighbors Astrid and Rodrigo. Poor starving students from Concepción, they are hitch-hiking around the region. We talked of wine (because we didn't have any to drink.) Astrid's uncle produces pepeño en garafa, a cheap local jug wine (with a plastic basket around the jug's base.) Even though he distributes the product, no one in the family will drink it, she said. It causes a "malo de lacanja", hangover headache!

Volcan Michinmahuida in twilight

A crescent moon hung low in the western twilight. Mosquitoes replaced flies as the major nuisance. The laundry I had laid out earlier didn't dry before the evening turned cold and damp. The process would continue tomorrow.  I gathered everything into the tent and retired at 10:00.


The psychological cycle in a day mimics the psychological cycle in a life, I think.

In the morning, we just want to be cleaned and fed. Then we begin to wake up to our world, and collect information. There is a no-fear self-confidence. We eventually lose ourselves in routine and the time passes quickly. Late in the day, the confidence wanes and reflection enters. And fear begins to show its face. Did we accomplish all we had hoped for?

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