San Carlos de Bariloche – February 23-25, 2019

I had two reasons for wanting to be in Bariloche. It was a convenient end point for a trip on Ruta 40 in Argentina, and I planned on taking ferries and a through-the-Andes walk back into Chile from there. After talking to a local guide this second reason turned out to be not so practical. As much as I wanted to take this route back into Chile I realized that I would have to save it for another time. The guide suggested a bus route that would take me further north on Ruta 40, then west through the Andes into Chile and on to Osorno, where I planned to catch a minibus to the coast. This meant that I would have to give up the last trek of my journey but fate is fate and I didn’t feel up to pushing this one. It involved a twenty mile walk through the Andes and two back country border crossings.

  • Bariloche is a small city and a popular tourist destination. It sits on the south shore of lake Nahuel Huapi and there are views of mountain peaks from everywhere in town. On my first full day I take a bus to a hike known as ‘Circuito Chico’ and walk a ten mile loop On a narrow paved road through meadows and forests and beside lakes and beneath immense mountains. I hadn’t planned this hike as such, I actually got off of the bus in the wrong place but ended up being very glad I did. I was going to walk a mile or two but after realizing just how scenic it was and becoming totally embraced by the sunny, warm summer morning I decided to go for it. I know that you must be wondering, and so do I; how I keep ending up in these places? It’s important to me to pause my story here and talk about this just a little. My inspiration comes from friends and family, living or not, who for various reasons cannot or could not just step out their door and go trekking into the places they wanted to. As a hospice volunteer I spoke with many who expressed regret for not pursuing dreams and heading out their door into the wild blue yonder. They were brave enough to speak their truth but with no choices left to make. Every step I take is done with the inspiration given to me by those I have known along the way. I remember that whenever I’m tired and lonely and my knees or hips or back aches and I want to turn around and go home. So inspiration is my motivation and it’s a powerful thing. I just keep reminding myself to keep my emotional load as light as possible, just like my backpack. I’ve torn chunks of my travel guidebook out and left them behind after leaving a place. I don’t carry books to read, I’ve been busy reading my own mind. Anything that is going to weigh me down that is not essential to my journey is given away. I’m learning this to be important when it comes to emotional baggage. It’s easier to float without a bunch of stones in my backpack and beauty is easier to recognize when it appears before me. One of my biggest inspirations is a poem by Gianna Altano, whom I never met. She had cystic fibrosis and passed away a day after her 23rd birthday. I somehow came across this piece of her poem while walking on a beach in Santa Cruz:
  • Hear the waves crashing in. See the beauty that surrounds you. Look where we live. Enjoy every moment, and try to understand what a miracle this all is.

– Gianna Altano

And so I walk on through the miracle, knowing that it could change at anytime. Getting off the bus at the wrong stop. Sometimes I’m not sure where the bus is going when I get on. Just lucky right now, I guess…

It’s a long ten miles and I stop often to rest or fill my water bottle from an ice cold stream. I’m tempted to stick out my thumb and hitchhike a few times but am hooked on the charm of the constantly changing landscape and finally make it to the bus stop at the end of the loop and am lucky to get a seat on the bus. By the time I arrive in Bariloche the bus is packed. You would be amazed at how many people you can get on a bus in Chile! I stumble off (at the correct stop this time) and head to my room and call it a day.

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