Sunday, August 29, 2010

What a Stellar View

Words cannot describe the beauty I saw today.  The pictures can't even do it justice.  And the way I had to get to the scenery made it that much more rewarding.

We decided to do a hiking trip in a reserve right outside Santiago.  I was down for a couple of reasons.  First, the smog starts to get to me.  And second, it was only going to cost me a metro ride out to Las Condes and back, and I like cheap fun.

Meeting at the metro was the easy part, but then we had some dificulties figuring out which bus to get on because we weren't sure of the direction we needed.  That didn't stop us for long, and we were soon on our way to the Reserva Ecológica Contrafuertes Cordillerano (that's Spanish for Andean Mountain Buttress Ecological Reserve).  

Clea, Chloe, and Jemma waiting for the bus
 We got there and started hiking.  We, or I at least, was not quite expecting what we had gotten into.  It was tough.  It got especially tough for me when we started to get up higher- my lungs were struggin' with the altitude.  We kept going though.

We wondered if we were taking the right path a couple of times, but we followed the arrows made of rocks and found our way up the hill.  

Helpful arrows point the way up the hill   

We had to stop and play in the snow that hadn't melted yet:


I want you to understand that I am making this sound like a walk in the park compared to what it actually was.  There was sliding down loose gravel and fearing we were going to slide into a cactus or two.  Not to mention it was beyond steep at points.  Jemma even slid down some parts on her butt.  And I almost ended up on my butt a couple of times.  When I got home, my feet and ankles were black with dirt, and I was wearing shoes the whole time.  After hours of pressing on to get to the top, we were rewarded with one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen: The Andes (without the haze and smog blocking a perfect view).  Look:

This is a real photo.  I know it's hard to believe, but it's not a postcard.  And it's not photoshopped.  To be honest, this picture doesn't do it justice either.  It was amazing to clearly see the mountains.  The hike was a bitch; the altitude made it really hard, and combined with the terrain... but the view once we got over that hill was spectacular.  

The grossest part of the whole adventure was being above the smog.  Looking down trying to find Santiago and only being able to find a gray cloud of smog was straight up nasty.  And I live in this:

All in all, it was awesome.  I got to challenge myself hiking up the Andean foothills for about 6 hours or so, and I was rewarded with a stellar view. 

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