March 17, 2008
HAPPY BIRTHDAY BIG HENRY!!!
It sounded like home last night with the wind whipping itself into a frenzy outside our cabaña.
Today should have been the rest day as I was feeling pretty sick and could have used that 3-hour nap Anders took yesterday. Anders entertained himself (and me) by mimicking me throwing up. Me into the toilet, and Anders right next to me making funny noises into the bidet. He thought it was hysterical and kept smiling at me like we were playing a funny game. It was pretty amusing.
We headed south and east to Parque Nacional Los Alerces. The paved, shorter road was closed for construction so we took the lengthier, (mostly) dirt road. It took longer than I expected to get thereeven without the route changeso we stopped at the first place we got to with a baño and a trail, which was Puerto Limonao on Lago Futalaufquen.
Mostly we hung out by the lake and played with rocks. Then we took a short walk down the Sendero Puerto Limonao through the forest and along the lakeshore. I couldnt stomach (literally) hauling Anders around in the backpack, so we only walked as far as he wanted to walk.
Los Alerces contains a system of deep blue lakesturquoise along the shorelineconnected by rushing rivers. It all ultimately drains to the Pacific Ocean, which surprised me since it is on the east side of the Andes. The mountain ranges surrounding the lakes are covered by trees in the genus Nothofagus (coihue, ñire, and lenga) and cypresses. To the east the transition forests of maitén and ciprés lead down to the Patagonian Plateau.
The tree the park is named after, the alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides), is a relative of the sequoia found in California. These trees are the oldest living things in Argentina and the third oldest in the world. (Extra credit for anyone who can tell me what the two oldest things are maybe the bristlecone pine?) It grows only in the Patagonian Andes in wet or flooded soils near bodies of water. This hearty giant thrives in thin, poor soils and can reach heights of 70 meters (230 feet) and live for 4,000 years.
We didnt get into the area of the park where the alerces grow, but I hope we can visit them on our way north in a few days. It is a long way on a dirt road, which Anders may or may not tolerate. Plus, I need to find a place to stay in El Bolson, since driving to Bariloche would be too far, and without the wifi connection (or a phone and the ability to understand Castillano over the phone) its tough. I guess we could wing it. Without Anders Id do that in a second.
After leaving Puerto Limonao we drove back towards the park entrance, but stopped at Sendero Pinturas Rupestres. This very short trail leads to pictographs painted by the ancestors of the Tehuelche and Machupe peoples who inhabited the region before the Spaniards arrived. The Campaña del Desierto (an Argentine military campaign from1879-1883) pretty much destroyed the native Patagonians. Some Mapuche families still live near the park, and in other parts of Patagonia, but there arent many left.
The red and orange pictographs decorate a sheer rock wall and are fairly faded, but still visible. The concentric circles, crosses, rectangles, labyrinths and schematic human figures (that look like hour glasses), are similar to those found in northwest Patagonia.
We continued up the trail past lupines with dried seed pods and made a short climb up a steep hill to a rocky outcrop where we could view the Río Desaguadero Valley, Lago Limonao and the Andes. The Park Services supposes this viewpoint was used by the folks who painted the pictographs to keep and eye on their territory. The view certainly was spectacular.
Now to bed and hopefully to wake to a healthful tomorrow!
🙄 This just in from my friend Chris. “That looks like a Buff-necked Ibis (Theristicus caudatus)! Either that or a Black-faced Ibis (Theristicus melanopis), I can’t tell from just the one photo.”