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Argentina & Chile

Early in the morning Ciro Vivar heads out with the mules in tow. We pack our gear into the cars and are able to drive up the road and meet him him for loading. This makes the first six miles quite bit easier on the poor animals. It's going to be a long day for everyone as it's somewhere in the range of seven to ten miles to reach the valley.

Ciro Vivar organizes loading the gear.

Yoshihiro Takahashi about ready to hike.

Yoshi starts the hike.

Hiking in is not the most pleasant experience. The jungle is thick and green, making views rare. The trail is often wet, muddy and slippery.

An early creek crossing.

The greenery is incredible.

Only a few miles up the trail Ciro passes us.

Several hours into the hike we finally get a view, and I can't resist taking a self portrait.

Fabian Bonanno reaches the valley.

Andrej Bijuklic and Klemen Valentincic are stoked to be in the Cochamo Valley.

It's kind of Pacific Northwest meets California scenery as Yoshi, Andrej and Bojan Rusjan unpack.

We have the afternoon to relax and take in the valley.

The Cochamo River still looks a bit too high as it flows through the valley. We debate about what to do, as we only have enough food for one night. Eventually we secure a whole lamb for the following day and decide that we'll kill time in the valley, hoping the river drops a little more overnight. The valley is beautiful but hard to explore in the rain. While it's often said to be the Yosemite of Chile, and it has granite, it's different in many ways. While not as gigantic and grand as Yosemite, Cochamo valley has no road through the middle with ten thousand of tourists driving through every day. There is some regulation, but certainly nothing like the NPS rule set. Currently the Cochamo valley is protected as a tourist destination, but there is a lot of hydropower interest. Let's hope it doesn't turn into another Hetch Hetchey.

Evening fog and rain comes in.

As we're here so early in the year, it's nowhere near warm enough to tangle with swimming the slide.

Rain falls on and off during the night, and continues on into the next day. We hike around the valley a little, but spend most of our time in the hut trying to stay warm and hoping that somehow the river will fall and the rain is lighter than it sounds. In the evening our lamb is delivered, and the local shepherd and his wife join us for a feast. We split it in half, cooking it 50% Chilean and 50% Argentinian.

Fabian Bonanno prepares the lamb Argentinian style.

Cooking a side of lamb Chilean style.

As our meal is almost done cooking, talented whitewater photographer Tino Specht shows up out of nowhere, proving that it is indeed a small world. He's working on a Chilean television show and has come over the mountains on horseback. That sounds like quite an adventure!

It's just a brief visit as they have work to do. We go to bed early keeping our fingers crossed for no more rain. If this is going to be harder than the bottom nine miles of the Middle Kings it can only be terrifying if water levels are at all too high. Only the morning will tell...

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