Monday, January 7, 2013

Day 57: A Day With the Aussie Girls

Dscn4339bOctober 7: The overnight rain didn’t amount to much, but having the tarp up was definitely a good idea! By morning, the rain had stopped and the day was considerably nicer. Partly cloudy for the most part, but those lingering rain clouds were still in the forecast for tomorrow. It seemed like “chance of rain” was becoming a regular part of the weather forecast nowadays, probably due both to the change in geography and season. So far, though, I’ve managed to avoid hiking in the actual downpours except for two days of my entire hike. =) But I had no illusions—I’ve been lucky. So far.

I walked a few kilometers with Indi in the morning, just chatting about ourselves and what we were doing on the trail. For someone I’ve camped with for the last three nights, I didn’t really know much about her. We generally walked at our own pace during the day, then when she was around, there were always four other people there as well, so it’s not like I really got to talk to any one of them beyond a superficial level. So I wound up chatting with Indi for the better part of an hour, talking about the kinds of things I’d usually talk about with people I met for the first time.

Later in the afternoon, I caught up with Emily and did the same thing. =) I kind of wish it happened earlier, though. We only had one more night before we reached Santiago, and we all intended to find lodging in town the next day. Three of the five girls would be leaving back to Australia after reaching Santiago. Two of them planned to continue on to Finisterre—Kathy and Erin—so perhaps I’d catch up with them out of Santiago. But in any case, I felt like I should know these people better considering that I’ve camped with them for the last three days. It seemed a little belated to only do that now, though.

I caught up with Kathy and Jen in Pedrouzo, who were sitting at a table outside of a bar/restaurant in the late afternoon and they were quite happy to hear that the other three girls were literally just a minute or two behind me. About five minutes went by, however, and I found myself scratching my head wondering what the heck happened to them.

Dscn4345b“I swear!” I told Kathy and Jen, “I saw them not more than five minutes before I arrived here! I walked faster than them, but not that much faster! They should have arrived seconds after I did!”

The other girls finally arrived. Apparently, they had a stray dog run up to them and they paused for several minutes to pet it and give him attention. I knew there had to be an explanation for their delay.

We killed a couple of hours at the bar/restaurant, waiting until later in the afternoon to find a place to camp. There was still a lot to cover in 50 Shades of Grey, so Erin pulled out the book and continued the reading. They were determined to finish it before we reached Santiago and three of the five girls would be jetting off. I kind of wanted to know how it ended myself, and this was the last night I’d camp with all five of them. I wanted to get the book finished tonight!

After our two-hour break, we headed out in search of a place to camp. The trail now passed through a forest of eucalyptus trees, very much like those I’m familiar with from the Central Coast. I did not, however, want to camp among them. They’re very dirty trees, shedding bark and dropping branches and sharp little acorns. It’s very difficult to find ground by them that’s good to camp on, and these trees did not prove to be the exception to the rule. With six of us in the group, that also limited our camping options to only larger campsites. We passed a couple of places that we could have fit one or two of us, but had to pass them by.

Dscn4346bEventually, we reached an area that had been clear-cut. There was, technically speaking, space available, but it was an ugly little space. The ground was torn up, lumpy and in disarray, more dirt than grass. Kathy wanted to stop there, but I felt certain we could find something better up ahead, so I asked them to wait a bit before setting up camp and I’d run ahead on the trail to scout it out for better options.

I left my pack with them, then started jogging up the trail. I had absolutely no doubt in my mind that I could find something better than that miserable wreck of a campsite. I jogged and I jogged, up a hill towards the Santiago airport. The airport was hidden below the trees out of view and when a plane took off, it darned near scared the crap of me! Woah! I found a few natural-looking clearings out of the eucalyptus trees, but they were covered in thick vegetation with thorns on the brush. I probably jogged for a half hour, certain I’d find a good site to camp just around the next bend in the road.

But I didn’t. I finally gave up the search and started the long job back to the other girls.

Huffing and puffing, I reported my findings. “Yep,” I told them sadly, “This really is the best place to camp for at least the next couple of kilometers.”

We set up camp, and the girls wanted to hear me read 50 Shades of Grey again, so I read a chapter and a half before they got too tired and went to sleep. I was a little disappointed not to reach the end of it. I wouldn’t know how it ended! Oh, well. I guess it didn’t really matter all that much….

A little happy graffiti on the trail. =)

It looked like they were building a new highway across the
trail at this point. The torn up line extended as far as
the eye could see in both directions. Muddy mess is what I’d call it!

A trailside memorial for a hikers that never made it to Santiago.

The only thing worse than walking next to a road is
walking ON a road. So I’m at least grateful that they have
this path next to it, separated from the traffic. =)

Erin reads aloud from 50 Shades of Grey as Jen looks on. =)
(The other girls are here, but they’re around the table off the left
side of the photo.)

In search of a place to camp. But first, we needed to get out of town….

The tunnel here was kind of amusing to me since it seemed
so unnecessary for a road with such little traffic! =)

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