Today is the day we drop tent and venture back to humanity, suitably relieved of any alcohol in readiness for the reunion with team Poland. The two days walking thus far has been harder than expected, partly due to the terrain and partly due to our waning fitness. Just how much of each factor remains uncertain. What is certain though is that there is a bus at 2:10pm today back to Pucon, the Chilean bus network with a trick or two to show Swiss watchmakers on punctuality is not to be second guessed. So for the first time in a couple of days we have a deadline more refined than a vague preference for arrival before sunset. With plans to be walking by 8am we rise at 7am for breakfast and pack up. The bags are a damn sight lighter and we’re dropping one sore foot after another only a little after schedule. We’ll declare that a success.
As with every day so far there’s a hefty ascent first up so it’s light on for conversation and heavy on determined trudging. It’s amazing what managing expectations can do, we make it to the top of the main ascent in less than an hour more than making up any lost time from setting off a touch late. Unlike day one however we can’t linger to praise ourselves too much time, that crudest of contrivances is an ever present and unwelcome guest. Gone are the clear skies and the beaming sun, the clouds are no longer high overhead, now blanketing us in mood to enclose our journey to a far smaller world.
With the ever preset mist we venture through the same forests that struck such definite awe in us just two days ago. While the awe remains the views do not, our ever upward gazes now obscured are drawn down to the atmospheric world we now inhabit. We make good time on this journey out which affords us very welcome opportunities to pause and appreciate. Spotting two Aguilas (large birds of prey) on a bare branch of a Monkey Puzzle we pause to gawk and take photos. We’re at the parks namesake, lake Huerquehue when the Aguilas take to wing. They skirt the mist shrouded lake, the only movement disappearing into the invisible vanishing point that lazily disappears beyond somewhere we can’t quite see. It seems we aren’t done with postcard shots just yet.
Happy with our timing and feeling far less pressure we take a longer route back to take in Lago Verde, Green lake. We descend from our small ridge of impressive trees to the lake shore and, you won’t believe it, this lake is visually pretty nice too. It’s just crazy up here, we felt on day one that it was just a postcard at every corner and that trend is continuing unabated. And on, we are keen to get the top of the rise that was the cause for all our pain the first day, yet reluctant to rush anything here. It’s a strange trap when hiking that we often fall into; we’re often pushing ourselves to reach a goal and this can often lead to us rushing through the very places we go to the effort to be within. So slowly we go, with time seemingly well in hand we stop to do what we came to do, appreciate being in a beautiful place. It’s no more complicated than that.
We do eventually reach that watershed and the descent is accompanied by the inevitable transition from appreciation to end goal, we just want to get there now. The views return that we remember from day one and with the weather coming in and feet rapidly blistering we’re fixated on finishing, our time of gracious wonder draws to a close. As is often the case the sense of accomplishment on reaching the park exit delivers a hateful realisation that there’s the better part of an hour to go on an all too boring road. A layer of icing that this cake really didn’t need. But eventually we do make it in, high fives and two minute noodles all around.
What a few days. We have a night bus tonight which is just about the last thing we could want, for now it’s back to the hostel to repack and have some food. The boring logistics afternoon an all too rapid rush back into civilisation, everything that we relished being so far from. It’s only when crammed into the bus seats for the inevitable fitful attempt at sleep that the whole point of venturing into wilderness returns to mind. We can romanticise escape from life’s demands but for us it’s only ever a temporary flight. Right now we drift off accompanied by the intangible wealth that can be held in places of no monetary value. May we always have the capacity to apportion value to that wealth and never value the goal beyond appreciating the wealth before us.