Hiking in the Snow
Two weekends ago, our Chilean History and Society class took a trip to the Cajón de Maipo to see the “El Morado” Glaciar. As this is an IFSA class, the rest of our group was invited and most of the group took advantage of this opportunity.
Cajón de Maipo is located about two hours South of Santiago, and is well-known for good hiking near Santiago. We met at 8:30 in the morning and were back in Santiago by 7 at night. It was a great day of trekking, not too strenuous, but beautiful and relaxing.
After napping through the majority of our drive there, we pulled up to a beautiful vista of mountains capped in snow. We piled out of the van and got ourselves together while our environmental professor went to the office to get us set up. The best part? The bathrooms at the base were free AND had toilet paper.
Thus commenced our hike. We were given bastons (which were actually surprisingly helpful) and started off up the mountain. After hiking Manquhue (an extinct and very steep volcano) the weekend before, nothing could compare, and the uphill was decently easygoing, although we were sweating by the end. At some point, we hit snow and then the fun began. With almost every step, we’d fall up to our knees in snow and had the new challenge of trying to jump into each other’s tracks, find stable snow, and just generally not fall over. Having not seen snow in awhile, it was fun, though difficult to navigate. By the time we stopped for lunch, our feet were soaked, but we were still warm.
We stopped at a dry point to lunch, and then our professor began his teaching again. From our lunch spot, he pointed out the glaciar and how far it has retroceded recently. (Who says global warming isn’t real?)
Due to the time of year and our limited hiking gear and skills, we weren’t able to climb all the way to the glaciar, but we did get to a point where we could kind of see it!
After lunch, our glaciar lesson, and a snowball fight, we headed back down. The hike down took no time. We returned to Santiago, made an emapanda pit stop, and as far as I know all crashed in our Chilean beds as soon as we could.
Something this trip reinforced is that I really should’ve brought more hiking gear. Just a helpful tip for anyone going to Chile!