I went to this weekend with two of my friends from church. Cajon de Maipo is a little town located in the Andes mountains about 1 hour north of Santiago. As you first start to ascend these mountains, it looks a little like the Appalachian Mountains. There are trees everywhere and its green. The temperature is only slightly colder than in Santiago. At the end of this part of road, there is a tiny little town with one cross street. We bought and ate delicious empanadas from someone’s carport. Apparently, they have been names the best empanadas in all of the Santiago Metro area.
Leaving this area, the road starts to get significantly steeper and the mountain side turns brown. A large gorge divides the mountains and look surprisingly similar to the Grand Canyon. During this part of the drive, the temperature begins to drop. By the time you reach the next little “town,” which basically consists of a group of roadside stands, the temperature has dropped almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit. From here the land begins to level out some as you approach the dam that stops the water melting from the snow in the spring from flooding Santiago. This huge lake is crystal clear and filled with pure water, so pure that you can drink it. We filled our water bottles up here in the lake.
When we started to drive again, it started snowing and the road started to wind. The next flat plain was at 4,000 meters in altitude or more than 13,000 feet. When we got out of the car we started running because we had been cooped up all day, but quickly found out that our bodies were not used to this much air pressure. Additionally, we opened our water bottles we had filled at the stop before, only to have them explode all over us when opened it. It was snowing heavily when we got there so we searched for something to go sledding on. Eventually we found old potato bags in emergency shelters for hikers. I successfully sledded, this time on ice and not grass, and did not hurt myself. It was overall a super awesome day.