Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Refugio Tinquilco

Harper looking over Lake Tinquilco
Wet and chilly hike 

We left Hosteria de la Colina Friday the 27th after one last scoop of ice cream and a milkshake.  Beverly and Glen were helpful and kind to the end.  The night before they took us all with them on a nice river hike where they run their dogs.  It made us miss Sadie.  Over our time there, Harper and Cal really took to Glen and Beverly.  Cal was like Glen’s shadow, walking behind him as they hiked, calling him to our table at breakfast as Glen passed through the dining room, hanging on his every word as Glen explained some science principle in 3-5 year old language.  Staying at la Hosteria was comfortable, familiar and easy.  They also helped us with so many planning details along the way.  We felt so lucky to have gotten the recommendation to visit there.

But all good things must come to an end, so after Beverly dropped us off at the bus stop in Villarrica we headed up to a refugio at Lago Tinquilco, northeast of Pucon. (A refugio is like a hut in Colorado but they serve meals and provide linens.)  The bus climbed the winding road all the way to the entrance to the Parque Nacional Huerquehue and we hiked in an easy 2 km to the refugio.  The walk in was beautiful, we walked through a bamboo grove most of the way and had lovely views of Lake Tinquilco.  Eventually we reached the forest and were greeted by some enormous araucaria trees and a winding trail to the big wood cabin.  Patricio and his son Camilo run the place and cook up excellent meals for the varied guests.  While we were there we met a Chilean/English couple traveling with their young kids, a Bolivian family who had lots of advice about our future travels, a tri-generational family from Norway who Danny got to rehash his study abroad experience with, and a few others, all very kind.  It felt good to be around fellow backpacker-types, and many with kids like us. 
This is danny's hand day 2!
A few hours after arriving unfortunately we had a few setbacks.  Danny was stung two times by a wasp just after we got the kids to bed Friday night.  We were head down to dinner with all the adults and he had an allergic reaction- his hand swelled a lot, he turned all red and blotchy with hives, and the two sting marks hurt like crazy.  It took more than three days for the pain to completely subside and the swelling to go down.  Then after we went up to bed after dinner we were met by a restless and feverish Cal.  He slept well all night but was hot as can be.  He was a little off the next day and spent it reading books, laying around, and napping in bed.  Not typical behavior for Cal, that's for sure.  This is the fourth time Cal has been sick in our travels and it was a bummer he was feeling crummy again, but luckily it was a 24-hour thing and he felt better on Sunday. 
The silver lining to both Danny and Cal being out of commission on Saturday is that we had our first real rainy day in Chile and so although we had plans to hike up to a couple mountain lakes we were content inside just reading, drawing and laying low.  Harper and I got out in the afternoon and hiked a little bit to some nearby campsites and played alongside the river.  She was excited to be outside and enjoyed the one-on-one time with me.  

On Sunday morning Cal perked back up a bit and although the rain was looming we set out for the Los Lagos trail.  We carried Cal most of the day which wasn't too bad and by the way down he was running the trail alongside Harper.  We all had a great day hiking.  Harper was grinning ear-to-ear just running up and down the trails looking for flowers to put into bouquets.  The path was well-marked and beautiful.  We climbed through forests of the araucaria tree we love and arrived at the lakes with only a little drizzle of rain.  It was too chilly to swim but the rainy, foggy day made the whole experience feel like a magical walk through some kind of fairytale forest.  We met only a few other hikers throughout the day and it felt like we had the forest all to ourselves. 
Back at the refugio we were met with a big fire in the wood stove and bowls of steaming chicken soup.  We took a hot shower and after the kids went to bed Danny and I enjoyed dinner with the other travelers. 
Cal after a rough fall into the mud.  He was laughing though after I took this photo and showed him the image!
The food at Refugio Tinquilco was outstanding.  Patricio, the owner, and Camilo, his son, put on quite a spread.  We ate pork roast over mashed potatoes (which were green from avocado puree added to the mix (and I can't wait to make this)), grilled meats and veggies, and Chilean chicken stew.  All of it was great.
The next morning the rain was coming down crazy-heavy.  We enjoyed a calm morning hanging out at the refugio and a good lunch.    Luck for us Camilo took us back down to the national park entrance to catch the bus because he was picking up his brother there.  We would have been soaked to the bone had we walked it with the kids so we were really grateful for the lift.  We had a long day ahead of us anyhow and starting it drenched would have been rough.

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