Being Saturday there was sure to be fun and shenanigans had tonight. We heard that a Brit was going to be playing covers at Oliva’s, a local pub, after dinner, and then everyone was going to head to the disco right next to Oliva’s for mischievous times and dancing. To protect the innocent, the details of the night shall remain untold. However, it’s safe to assume there was plenty of dancing and drinks downed as we closed the disco and at the spry hour of 5 am. This was easy to do as we had already made the decision to have a down day on Sunday, as the forecast was lousy, and the partying so primo.
The truth is I don’t think I ever truly envisioned what I would do as an adult as a kid. Now I of course said I’d like to do this or that, maybe having titles of prestige like doctor or lawyer, or a title of adventure like special forces or helicopter pilot, but even as I continued through life, into college and into the “real” world, I never gave much time or thought to what I was to do next, just going with the flow of things. I had an idea, but in this day of age where we’re surrounded by unlimited electronic distractions, habits of fighting boredom for a few seconds with a swipe or two on our smartphones, or constantly having music playing in our ears, the true dissection and subsequent decision of one’s life quest hadn’t really happened for me. But I had an unexpected treat coming to me the next day which gave me an opportunity to be left to my thoughts.
Monday arrived with a bluebird setting and medium winds; another resort ski day.* That asterisk is the caveat that winds may close down the lifts and you better have a Plan B in place. At this point in time you bet your last dollar I had a Plan B in place. I had skins with me and planned on hiking up to the volcano due east of the resort, Volcan Neuvo. On the second lap up while on the T-bar, as sure the sun rises in the east, the wind picked up just like the forecast said, and the lifts stopped spinning. Plan B is a go; midlayer off, skins on, and time to hike. I gain the ridge and who do I run into? My new roommate at the hostel Leon. Mr. Leon is a funny German Italian, or is it Italian German, from a small village in Italy where he ran the business side of his family's winery. He came out here to get out of Italy and to run the business side of a winery in Chile. Anyhow back to the story, Leon had skinned up from the base with a group of 4 Frenchies. After a quick chat about their agenda while battling the deafening 45 kph wind, I decided to hike with them. This turned out to be quite the hike as the wind was head on blasting us with ice pellets, and gusting up to 60+ kph at this point. Thank goodness for balaclavas. It was so bad that I had to keep my helmet and goggles on. A few hours into this brutal beating of an Andes adventure, we summited the volcano. The crater was smaller than I expected but the view around was more than I could have asked for. And the skiing was actually a treat on the south west aspect of the volcano considering how wind beaten the terrain had been on the hike up.
Now that we had skied down the second phase of the group's plan came out; they wanted to ski down to "Aguas Calientes" (the hot springs) in the valley to the south. I really wanted to go and had only chatted with someone on where they were located without having them pointed out on a topographic map. The Frenchies said they believed they were just down in the valley below us in the streams that were visible from our location. I was told they were around the corner in the next valley lower. At this point I was starting to reconsider making the trek as I didn't plan or prepare for such long day. But really wanting to hit this spot while at this point not knowing if I was going to stay in Las Trancas, I gave into group think while knowing deep down the majority of the group's travel description didn't fit the description I'd gotten for a local guide with over 12 years experience. After a long 20 minute skiing traverse we could see the "hot" springs. I stayed high and waited for the sign that the water was actually hot, as we couldn't see any steam due to the wind. After everyone went down, I finally dropped in only to find out that the water was indeed not hot at all. Sucky monkey balls. (We'd find out later that we were only 200 meters away from the hot springs hidden around the corner.) If I would have stayed at my previous location, I was a mere 20-30 minute skin out to the top of the resort. Now I'm a good 60-90 minutes out.
Matt straightlining a shot
Me skiing some fast pow
Natacha, myself, and Nick being forced off the lift at midmountain
The "jungle" around the waterfall