At some point, things start to feel familiar. Climb up above the treeline, enjoy great 360 views after reaching a windy peak or pass. Descend to a verdant valley where the piñones drop on the ground around you when strong gusts of wind bend the araucarias’ branches. Arrieros come over for a pleasant chat, or simply wave from afar. And pitch your tent in a remote spot with some water and ideally some shade. We got to enjoy it all again on GPT12, the last part of our hike in this central region of Chile.
The main novelty was the weather. It was not awful, but just bad enough to soak our shoes and to force us to literally sweat it out under our rain jackets.
The weather gods started by conjuring up some menacing clouds on the other side of the valley. Next, a swelling wind started pushing them to our side. The gusts and gales got so powerful that suddenly, a thundering roar came down from the forested flank we were traversing. Panicking a little, I thought of a landslide and wanted to get away as soon as possible. However, as sudden as it started, the crackling noise died down. We did not leave anything to chance and quickly hiked away. Looking back over our shoulder, we could see a cloud of dust obscuring a giant araucaria, but instead of proudly pointing towards the heavens, it was leaning on some of its buddies. This was no landslide, as there was no rain yet, but it was a tree being unrooted by force of wind only! We were relieved to reach an open plain soon after.
Once the rain set in, Aeolus mollified a little. The backpacks got their rain cover, the humans their rain coats, and for half a day, we walked through light drizzle or plain rain. We were happy to find that an araucaria grove at our intended camp site was dense enough to block the rain in a spot just large enough to pitch our tent. Though rain and wind continued through the night and we were freezing by the time we got inside, all our stuff stayed dry, our bellies were full, and our sleeping bags were plenty warm.
In the morning, the wind and rain were gone and the Chilean sun was out in full force. Do the weather gods listen to cowardly prayers of fair-weather hikers like us?