Tall pine trees, to the likes of which we had never seen, that stood long and straight wrapped in a thick spiky bark under an umbrella of drooping cylinder branches covered in hard green triangular leaves with softball sized cones tucked inside, and looming with the threat of a fall, within their depths; this was the first image that struck us we turned our cars on to the route of the seven lakes.
Scarcely seeing trees, other than those put there by man, for the last month or more, there couldn’t have been a more dramatic creature to welcome us in to the lakes district. They sprang up from the green hillsides, shaded the banks of the sparkling trout filled rivers and framed the snow covered volcanoes set in the backdrop. Originally planning to drive to the first lake and camp we had to deviate from our plans and spend two days amongst them camped on the banks of the river.
One of my favorite camping spots of the trip, we basked in the perfect 70 degrees sun, hiked to the top of a hillside to get a better look at the volcanoes in the distance, bathed in the cool mountain waters of the river that also provided us with fresh trout, and, of course, drank wine by firelight.
As we slowly made our way down the rest of the ruta of the 7 lakes towards Barilloche, we stopped often and drove very little every day. All our camps were lakeside or riverside and all typically involved a quick dip (a.k.a shower) or a long swim.
In the summers growing up in upstate South Carolina I spent almost every weekend at one of the nearby lakes. As a kid it was always my favorite place to be and to this day emerging myself in cool, clean lake water evokes the same feelings as back then; I can’t get enough!
Once we reached Barilloche all Jed and I could think of was throwing on our backpacks and getting up to Frey. Frey, an area well-renowned for rock climbing, was one of the spots we had dreamed of since beginning our journey.
The approach was about a three hour hike up from the local ski resort to the refugio which sat at the mouth of a horseshoe shaped canyon whose sides were made up of layers of granite domes and towers all funneling down to the lake at it’s center.
We spent three great days climbing and exploring up there and on the fourth morning woke up in the clouds and rain and decided it was time to head back down and meet up with the others for the Badass Bariloche Bovine Bonanza!
The Bonanza was a possible once in a lifetime event where 9 groups of overlanders accounting for a total of 22 people all happened to be near the same area at the same time, whether heading north or south, and met up for a three day feast including the roasting of one small pig, a lamb and a large rack of ribs, not to mention copious amounts of alcohol. A scene best described by simply watching this time lapsed video of dia de bonanza. (courtesy of LifeRemotely.org)
Hanging out and getting to know this large group of travelers was a great experience for Jed and I. Much time was spent on the examining of rigs and organizational skills. Current and future ideas of travel were cropped up and bounced around. it was fun to hang out with very different and yet also like-minded people.
And all the swapping of stories and ideas helped to re-energize my efforts for moving along with this blog. It had been over two months since the events and Peru and we had moved on with our lives and our travels but let our blog fall behind. I knew I wanted to document the rest of our trip but I was intimidated about how to start again.
With all the attention the events in Peru had generated, I felt I needed to address the going-ons since then and associated with the event, but mentally, I could still not wrap my head around doing so, and so I had just let it go. Being around these great people, whom, many of, also write blogs, brought in to focus the real reason we were traveling in the first place. It was for ourselves. Documenting and sharing our story was something we wanted to do but it was also mainly for us and those who loved us. I needed to start again where I wanted to put my energy, and so at the end of the three days of Bonanza, was when I finally sat down and wrote the short and sweet, Moving On, because that is exactly what I realized we had successfully done!
Check out some of these other great blogs of fellow travelers at the Bonanza: