Start: December 12, Pucon
Finish: December 23, Puerto Montt
Grills Used For One Dinner: 5
Four-Legged Road Blocks Overcome: 2
Days With Rain: 9 of 12
Fish Caught: 0
The weather has finally caught up to us. I can count the number of times we've had more than two consecutive days of rain on one hand. Our time in the Lakes District brought us six consecutive days of rain and a lot of soggy gear. But we're from Seattle, meaning we don't believe in umbrellas, and we know how to shop for good rain jackets.
We did our best to make the most of our time in Chile's Lakes District. We started with a few days spent hanging out with friends old and new that culminated in a barbeque nearly rivaling our Thanksgiving pig roast. From Pucon we drove through the back roads to visit a handful of other lakes and rivers en route to Puerto Montt with the hopes of catching a couple world famous Patagonian trout.
Our campsite in Pucon with our friends Mark and Sarah at FromAtoB.org and their gigantic rig that's aptly named the beast. I've pitched my tent in its shadow a couple times now and can definitely say it makes for a good wind break and gives plenty of shade from that pesky morning sun.
Also in our campsite are the Pickerings at ChaseTheRace.net, a couple from England with their three children. As you can see, this 6x6 monstrocity dwarfs even The Beast and plans to follow the Dakar this year. I can't blame them for the size though. As kids Jessica and I went on an RVing trip across the US and can say from experience that you need a heck of a lot of space when there are youngin's on board.
After battling a day of rain, the weather breaks and we wake to sunny blue skies. Perfect weather for a barbeque. Above we have five grills in action, by far the most fire juggling I've ever attempted. Cornbread, potatoes, carrots, corn, peppers, onions, four racks of baby back ribs, one gigantic chunk of pork spare ribs and two whole chickens are on the menu.
To give the adults a bit of peace and quite from the kiddies' shenanigans (often involving a water gun, decided not cheeky or fun in cold weather) Kobus sets off on a mission to teach them how to fish. Small trout are seen, but nothing is brought to shore.
Joining us for our epic dinner along with the Pickerings and Mark and Sarah are two ex-overlanding friends we met in Pucon from South Africa and Australia. They started their trip driving a van but nearly ended with disaster after it caught fire and nearly burned to the ground as a result of brake failure. Luckily no one was injured and they managed to salvage most of their gear and continue the trip as backpackers.
From Pucon we take the back roads towards Lago Ranco following dirt roads through rural Chilean towns. More than once we encounter a Latin American road block, this time in the form of a couple dozen sheep.
Along the way we also stop to take a picture of this ancient steam engine sitting in a field in the middle of nowhere. Steampunk fans eat your heart out.
We camped next to another set of waterfalls called Salto del Nilahue near Lago Ranco. It was a short five minute walk down to he falls from our campsite, but it proved impossible to get any closer than we stand above due to the rain-filled river.
The river bank was coated with pummice rocks which provided a half hour of entertainment for a few bored campers. Floating rocks are fun!
Back on the road to Lago Ranco we hit yet another road block. Kobus wisely pulls over to let the gauchos steer their steers clear of our path.
At Lago Ranco we have two of the worst days of weather we've had since leaving Oregon. Above is a shot of Lago Ranco and the two-foot wind-driven waves crashing along the shore. Luckily the campground had shelters with wind breaks and we were able to hole up under cover and spend a day getting work done on our laptops.
For dinner Kobus experimented with a recipe we learned from the Pickerings during our stay in Pucon. They learned it from an Argentinian cookbook and gave us a sample of their first attempt at the recipe. Certainly not the cleanest way to cook a chicken, but the results were good enough that we knew we'd have to give it a shot.
After seasoning and safely wrapping in foil, the chicken is covered with mud and cooked for a couple hours on charcoal. The results were spectacular, as expected, although doing the dishes was decidedly less fun.
After two wet and windy days on Lago Ranco we head to Puerto Montt where we spend a day and half running errands including filling up our propane tank, checking out the ferry schedule for Chiloe and doing a bit of Christmas shopping. The weather in Puerto Montt proved to be no better than farther north, so we hunkered down under our newly purchased tarp and hoped the sun would make an appearance in time for the holidays.
Before heading to Chiloe for Christmas we drove east of Puerto Montt along the start of the Carretera Austral to a campsite on a river. We had hoped to finally catch a couple Patagonian trout. Unfortunately, the rain followed us.
The river was too blown-out to be very good fishing. It rose at least a foot and a half in the day since we arrived, and was moving way too fast for wading or fly fishing. Oh well. At least we got to thoroughly test out our rain gear.
Our last day on the river the campsite host drove by several times to check on us and make sure we were ok. He told us that the rising river was often a problem given where we had camped, and that we should move to higher ground. Eyeballing the water level, I gave us 2-3 feet more until the river was at our doorstep.
It wasn't raining hard, it was just raining frequently, so we decided to wait it out and watch the water level over the next couple hours before deciding to move. Fortunately, after our host returned for the third time and pleaded with us to move, the rain stopped. By the time we woke up in the morning the river was back to its original level.
Up next: We load Blue up on a ferry to the island of Chiloe where we spent Christmas in the rain with old and new overlanding friends.