I’m pretty sure all I do here is hike. And I’m okay with that. The city is surrounded by the Andes and I LOVE it. Last weekend and this weekend were filled with hiking trips. And of course both have stories.
So last weekend a group of us wanted to hike Saltos de Apoquindo, which is a crazy hike with a super cool, or bacán, waterfall! We met bright and early at 7:45 at the metro station so we could all travel together. As we were on our way to the hike, we walked through a farmers market. I wanted to buy everything there; it looked so good! We finally found the entrance to the park that held this hike with a waterfall. It happened to be beyond Católica’s sports complex, past a whole slew of soccer fields and even an equestrian practice/training area. The kind gatekeeper graciously broke the news to us that alas, we could not access the waterfall from here. That entrance was different than the one we were currently at. So we decided to aprovechar (to take advantage of/enjoy) our time and hike the trails there. We hiked to Alto Naranjo, which is a mountain in the foothills of the Andes. Although we were supposed to follow the yellow trail the whole time, we turned onto the green trail, which was a teeeeeny bit harder. Okay, maybe it was a lot harder. It literally felt like we were scaling the mountain at times. But the view at the top was definitely worth it!! You could see the Andes forever, and there was an awesome view of Santiago. I really don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing this city from afar.
Also, I’d like to point out that these mountains are some of the most arid mountains I’ve ever hiked. There’s only dust beneath my feet, compared to the luscious leafy floor of the mountains of the Upstate. Needless to say, we were covered in dirt when we returned to Santiago! No worries. Nothing a pool the temperature of Antarctica couldn’t fix.
This past Friday, we decided to try to find Saltos de Apoquindo again. We looked up directions to Parque Natural Aguas de San Ramón, thought we knew where we were going. We were able to navigate the metro, but the bus up the hill was where we took a wrong turn…literally. We caught the right bus, but it was going in the other direction… Are you kidding me. When we realized we were riding into neighborhoods/the city and not towards the mountains, we started to panic. We asked some random ladies on the bus for help and they replied, “Just stay on the bus so you don’t get lost! It’ll go around in a loop.” We even reached out to the bus driver, which I’m pretty sure felt sorry for us gringas by this point. By the time we got off at the correct bus stop, it became a race against time. They closed the trail to Saltos de Apoquindo at 10, because it takes about 8 hours to hike the whole thing and they close the park at 6. It was currently 9:45.
So here we are, at the bottom of the hill. Hoping that we see a taxi colectivo in sight. We only found one… And one taxi was not going to fit all 8 of us girls. So the group decided to split up, with half in the taxi and half walking. We’d catch another taxi if we saw one. Welp, we didn’t see one. And the people in the taxi had the only directions…smart move, right? Alas, we kept walking up the hill, in hopes that we could find this place on our own. At one point, we got to a dead end. We called the group that went via taxi, hoping they could give us directions. However, they were no help. There was what seemed like an old entrance to the park that wasn’t in use anymore, so surely there would be another entrance nearby. Brenna and I thought we should go left, but everyone else said go right. So we went right. And after 20 minutes, we realized the street numbers were going down (when we should have been going up). But that wasn’t the only thing going down. We were walking downhill… At this point, we knew we were far from the park, and everyone was ready to give up. But Brenna and I were not! Even if we didn’t hike this trail today, we would at least find the place and know exactly where it was!! When we got back to the dead end spot, we went in the other direction and it was literally 2 minutes away from there, I kid you not. You don’t know how happy I was to have found this place, after hours upon hours of traveling.
Because it was most definitely past 10AM at this point, we hiked the smaller trail, which had views of a waterfall and a swinging bridge. The trail was difficult at the beginning, but flattened out towards the middle of the hike. We peacefully ate our lunch by the creek, which made me want to be at camp all the more!! Shoutout to Asbury Hills! Also I’d like to note that the creek was SO cold. Much colder than any creek hike I’ve ever gone on.
So upon my hiking adventures, I’ve come up with some life lessons.
- Go with your gut. If only Brenna and I would have gone left and not right…
- Always know where you’re going. Aka look up the directions yourself and be familiar with the area so you don’t spend an hour riding a bus around town. Because I know everyone loves to do that.
- Put on sunscreen. Because you’re hiking in Chile where the ozone layer is thinner and because you’re ascending the Andes, it is absolutely necessary to apply sunscreen a bajillion times during the hike. Or you will end up a lobster. Guaranteed.
Chile is pretty much the best country ever. Apart from the US obviously. There are so many opportunities to explore, and so many trails to hike! Claudia, my teacher for my advanced Spanish grammar class and for my medical Spanish class, has mentioned the names of some of her favorite trails nearby. Surprisingly, I haven’t been to any of them yet. However, my goal is to hike them ALL.