Monday, November 03, 2008

Siete Tazas

In Chile, they celebrate November 1st and since it fell on Saturday this year, we had a long weekend. We decided to leave after school on Thursday and go to the Reserva Nacional Radal Siete Tazas, which is southeast of Santiago. It took us over 4 hours to get there, with one kiddie break of about 15 minutes. By the time we got there, it was dark so it was a little tricky to find our cabin in the dark but we did it - just lots of pulling over to shine the headlights onto signs. :)

On Friday, we decided to do the hike to the Siete Tazas (Seven Cups) and the Lion Waterfall. It was an easy walk to the falls and they were gorgeous. We decided to go down to the river to see what it was like. The hike down was a bit tough but it was definitely worth it. The river was beautiful and Kirsi had a great time throwing stones there. Aidan was sleeping for most of the time at the river and I didn't want to climb around on the rocks with him in the Moby wrap so I stayed put and enjoyed the scenery. Der, Kirsi, Kristin and Dean went along down the river and got to see more of the nature there.

We ended up getting back to the cabin late which meant a later nap for the kiddos but that was no problem. They both slept at the same time so Der and I actually got to enjoy a nap ourselves - deep sleep is fantastic! Kristin, Dean, Kirsi and I went to the little shop at Parque Ingles to buy some drinks and charcoal for the fire and to see where the other trails are. Since it wasn't very far at all and we'd be going super slow, we let Kirsi sit in the backseat without her carseat. She was soooo excited to sit on the seat with a seatbelt on. She kept saying over and over, "This is so cool!" That night we made a campfire, Kirsi's first one, and it was great. She had a blast collecting sticks and throwing them in the fire. She even helped Derwin roast a hot dog. It was a late night for her but she had such a great time.

Saturday morning, we got to the next hike by 9:30 so that we could get a good start on it. The CONAF man said yesterday that we'd be able to do the Chiquillanes Trail easily with Kirsi so Der and I decided to do it. The sign said it was 7 km and that it would take 4 hours. We figured we'd try it since the guy said it should be easy for Kirsi to do. Oh my goodness! That was the hardest hike I've ever done!! At the beginning, we were going up most of the time but it wasn't a gentle slope up, there were many steep parts of the trail. I wasn't sure if I would make it!! I'm not in good shape to start with (I can do basic hikes, no problem but not intense ones) and I was carrying a 15-pound baby on top of it! For some parts of the hike, Der carried both Kirsi and Aidan - Kirsi in the backpack and Aidan in the front carrier. What a great husband, giving me a break! (He probably wanted me alive and well so he wouldn't have to carry me down! lol) We hiked through a bamboo forest before getting up high into scrub land. It was beautiful. It was a couple hours, I think, before we made it to the top but the view was stunning. We saw where we began and we were amazed at how far and high we were. We were at the top of one of the hills and the snow-capped mountains were not much higher than us!! We took a break at the top of the hill for about half an hour. I needed to recover and Kirsi was begging for a snack.

We thought the hike down wouldn't take very long but it wound around the other side of the mountain and it went up and down for quite a while before going down. There were some really slippery sections on the trail. Poor Kristin didn't have hiking shoes so she was suffering the most with slipping. Once we got back down into the bamboo, the trail got better and it was a fantastic hike the rest of the way. During the hike, I was exhausted and sore but now, looking back on it, I'm very glad I did it. I can't believe I made it and it was a beautiful hike.

Kirsi was truly amazing. She hiked about half the way herself. She loves climbing up the hills and she found a stick and was looking for tarantulas, like Uncle Dean had done on Friday (they saw one on the trail). She loves hiking and is such a little trooper. About 3 hours into the hike, she actually asked us if we could back to the car so she could go to sleep! That was the very first time she had ever said that to us! We went as fast as we could to get back to the car. And we made it back in just over 4 hours. Pretty impressive for having 2 little kids with us! Dean and Kristin could have done it much faster without us but they were great and hung back to stay with us. Kirsi loved hiking with them - they are so good with her!

That afternoon, Kristin, Dean, Der and Kirsi went for a horseback ride. Imagine horseback riding in the Andes mountains. It was a great way to end the day and Kirsi absolutely loved it! She got to ride on a white and brown horse and was super excited about that! We had another campfire, the perfect way to end a great day.

Sunday morning, we packed up and then went for another horseback ride. Kristin and Dean came again but this time, I went with Kirsi. She chose a different horse and was happy that it was a girl horse this time. We went on a different trail than they had gone on Saturday, so that was good for Dean and Kristin. It was absolutely gorgeous. Riding through the forest and seeing the snowcapped mountains was so beautiful and a great way for me to end our weekend there. Danilo, the guide, showed us the white mushrooms that look like Christmas decorations. They are actually the fruit of the "roble" tree (oak) and are edible. When they get old, they turn orange. If you breathe hot air on to the old ones, a vapour is released. Super neat!

Before we left the park, we stopped to get some pictures at the river. We got a family picture done - only our second one since Aidan was born - and a group picture. They turned out great! We also stopped at a waterfall called the Velo de la Novia which is amazing. The river valley is super deep and the waterfall looks so neat coming out of the volcanic rock.

We hit the road around 1:00 and we got home after 5:00. We had to stop for gas and then a couple times for a very unhappy baby. I ended up wedging myself in the back seat of our Yaris, in between the two carseats, to try and keep both kids happy. By the time Aidan fell asleep again, my legs were numb! It was a great trip and we're excited to get out and do some more hiking and exploring. We had a fantastic time with Dean and Kristin too. They are so good with the kids, it's wonderful to see them with Kirsi and Aidan. This is the first time we've met Dean and he's a great guy. We love spending time with them and can't wait till we can do another activity with them.
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