This was a nice change in plans, Paco seems to put us on some new adventures sometimes. This time was nice because it took us to part of The Carraterra Austral that we didn't get to drive. And we got to kayak some of the most beautiful fjiords in Chile, with hot springs.
3/2-wed-Drove up to the Rio Petrohue, along the way the tranny started to slip like crazy in Drive. Oh, no this means trouble. So I downshifted to 2nd and moved onto the mouth of the river as it came into a huge fjiord. Very remote and beautiful. We were told about the current Chinook salmon run, I wanted to see for myself what was up. Well, there were boats all over. We drove past a place on the road with 4 catarafts on trailers sitting next to a sign saying Olmos de Ralun fishing lodge. I parked walked up into the lodge reception area and found the wife of the owner of the lodge. She brought out her english speaking university student daughter and we got the whole schpiel of what was available. We decided to try a half day of Chinook fishing for the next day. This would include a boat, guide, and fishing equipment, and a lunch all for $150.00US. Happy about the possibilities of catching a big one, I drove down to a couple of access places we were told about to find a spot to camp the night on the River. We found a great place on the river with grass and good view. We got out the Pisco mix and it then began to sink in that Paco was in real trouble. So a discussion occurred about what we needed to do and a plan emerged. The most important part was to get back to Puerto Varas, all in one piece. Karla made another terrific dinner with veggies mixed into a rice mix. We went to sleep that night with mixed feelings about what this was going to do to our whole, remaining trip.
3/3thurs-met at 8:30 am at the lodge. We were greeted by the owner and met our Guide, Danial. We got set up and were driven to the river in a new grand Cherokee, pulling a nicely outfitted cat with all the fishing frame set up. We put in and started to float. Danial spoke little english but he tried. He set up our poles, and told us that we would have to wait about 3 seconds after we casted before we started to reel in the spinner. This was after we had decided to fish for Chinook rather than fly fish for trout. Just after we started to float down the river, which by the way had cleared up from its muddy look the day before, a huge salmon surfaced. The hunt was on.... The sun was out and a light wind, the forest on either side of the river was lush and as we looked up river Orsono Valcano was in full view, just incredible. I remember what my Dad's father said about him not needing to go to church, because every day he fished he was with God with no restrictions. We have certainly entered a great cathedral a la natural today. After three hours of casting, and watching numerous chinook rise, we found a hole that look promising. We worked it for about a half hour when I caught a big one... It was no more than an hour before that Danial had shown us photos of the huge 40 pounder that was caught two days ago with this same exact setup I was using. We had a big one and fought it for about 30 minutes before Danial, was working hard rowing, jumped out of the boat into the shallow water to net it. We brought it on board and he removed the hook, which took a while. At that point we decided to release it... Danial put it back into the water and began to message it heart. He worked at it for about 20 minutes and told us that it was not going to work... So we kept it. A valiant effort but we had really fought and took all the fishes energy. I was excited and saddend at the same time, the adrenalin was still pumping through my body. We went ashore and weighed it 15 kilos, or (2.2X15=33LBS) My arm was feeling it.
As we rowed past other fishermen, we saw a number of fish, one in particular was the size of the man holding it and almost as wide, these fish are huge. I guess that this fish weighed over 60 lbs. Or more.
We arrived at the take out and were taken back to the lodge where Danial cleaned and filleted the fish. We had thought that the fish was a male, but the eggs inside told us differently. This added a touch more saddness at having to take her... We took about ¼ of the meat and gave the rest to Danial, who was very appreciative.
Here it was, mid afternoon and now we had to dive back to Puerto Varas and reconnect with the mechanic to see what we could do with Paco's tranny. A bit of a tense 45 mile drive... We got back to Rodrigo, our mechanic and told him of our problem. He checked the tranny fluid and said this was not good and I should not drive it fast or far. He then said that with a few phone calls he may have a solution to our problem. Within an hour he had called a transmission specialist in Santiago and gotten a quote and the ok to have our tranny rebuilt. The trick was it needed to be removed and then sent to Santiago. This would take less than a week if all went well...I am sure you all know this same senario with auto repairs.. We made arrangements to have the trans removed the next day. Then asked Rodrigo if he could pull us to a campground for the duration of the repair, NO PROBLEM. We figured out money and then found a campground that we had noticed in Llanquihue. Baumbach's Camp was a full service facility, warm water, electricity, and even a BBQ with carbon for sale... What a deal.. Oh, and a view across the lake of Mount Orsono and Calbuco, was incredible. We cooked the salmon on the barby and watched a beautiful sunset. We slept better that night knowing a possible solution was in the works. Her Baumbach was a character, we even had wifi internet access after talking to him a bit. A german descentant and proud of it...
3/4-Fri-Carefully drove Paco back to town, 10 miles. Dropped him off a Rodriqos and went to walk through town. We had a cash flow problem that took some time fixing first. We needed some serious money up front with this specialist in Santiago. Rodrigo walked to the bank with us to see if he could help, we got the money from both our ATM and our Credit card. Whew. It was going to cost us around $2000.00. This would include the shipping, repair, and labor. I thought that this was a good price as well as quick service, in a week...
We then went to town for a walk and found a great little restaruant on the Lake, Mediterrano. After lunch we happened to walk by a kayak treking company, they offered trips to the northern Pumalin national park, Fjiords with a camp at the hot springs.... So why not take a 3 night 4 day trip while paco is being fixed? So after some discussion and logistics we found a trip that would leave on Tuesday and return on Friday. With all the cash problems in the morning with the mechanic it was nice that they took Visa. So we went back to the mechanic at around 1 and the tranny was out. We told him that we needed to make some final arrangements with the Kayak company and would be back a 4 for the haul back to the campground.. Went back to the Kayak company to see if our plan would work and they could find the equipment necessary. That was a yes. We would join a trip with a family from San Fransico area. Tuesday morning.. We paid for the trip and made arrangements to stay at a Hospidaje (hotel) Monday evening. So now we got to go finish the sections of route 7 that we couldn't do because of no room on the ferry in Chaitan.
Back to the mechanic who was ready to haul Paco to the campground, we told him about the Kayak trip and that we could leave the van with him for the week if he didn't mind. NO PROBLEM, so off to camp. Karla would not ride with me on the way. Got there in about 20 minutes... set up and had another bbq with the remainder of the Salmon. A great day, for shifting gears and organizing new adventures.
3/5-Sat Finaly a day to sleep in and just relax. The sun was out, the view was great and the showers were hot. We called the girls and read our books. Called Dad in the afternoon talked to him quite a while.
3/6-Sun- Another day of R/R. I cleaned the air filter and dusted off the engine. Read, took another shower, Karla did the same and of course took a long walk along the lake shore.
3/7-Mon- Rodrigo picked us up at 3 in the afternoon, we checked into our Hospedaje(hotel) with a kitchen in the basement. Found out that the transmission was damaged beyond expected damage and I would have to pay for some other replacement parts not included in the original plan. So we had to get some more money before we left on Tuesday.
3/8-Tues-Woke early for us, 6:30 am. Went to the bank got the money needed for the tranny, Rodrigo showed up in his car and he wished us a good trip and said that all should be done on Friday... We then were picked up by our guide in a van with the Kayaks for the long drive back down to the Petrohue river and along the Fijord that it goes into, a long rocky dirt track that we were planning to take had we gotten on the ferry in Coleta Gonzalo. This was a 4-5 hour drive and a nice stop at a Termas(hot spring) with lunch. We arrived a Cholgo for the night on a fjiord south of Hornopiren. This was a sheep pasture with many surprises to watch for as we walked around.
3/9-Wed-Woke early in the rain. It stopped raining and we packed the kayaks for a 4 hour paddle. We had to leave by nine because of the tide flow. So that this 12 mile paddle would be with the wind and tide at our backs. My GPS clocked us at an average of 5.5mph for the whole way to the fjiord. We saw dolphins and Parrots after we got into the Quintopeu fjiord. Sandy and Dave had never paddled a kayak before so they were enthusiastically apprehensive about going so far. They did just fine. There were no places to pull off so we were committed to get to the camps that had been established. We arrived at camp around 4 and set up our tents. Then the guide Jass, Steve and Kayland , and Karla and I paddled to the end of the fjiord to see the river come in and a glacier high in the mountains that fed the river. Beautiful, but the 3.5 mile round trip was a windy surprise on our return.. Making for a 3 advil night for me.. It rained all night.
3/10-Thurs-woke with waterfalls all over, such a beautiful site.. woke early again for tide and wind reasons like wednesday, but this day proved to be more difficult than expected because of the high winds toward the end of the day. It was a blessing that it was at our backs. Before we entered into the second fijiord we must have passed 15 or 20 salmon farms, some had no fish because of a Norwegen virus that got here some how and killed many salmon. That was a couple of years ago and Jass told us that things are starting up again, but slowly. As we passed open ocean around a point to our fijiord the wind picked up and we had 3-5 foot swells with 30+mph winds. This was not fun. My fun meter was on 0. The boat we have lurched as waves hit us from behind and I got caught unprepaird a couple of times, which threw me off balance. We paddlled to our site at the Hot springs and I clocked the speed at 5mph with out paddling. That is fast. Again we had the wind and tide at our backs, I don't know what we would have done had it been in our faces. Jass was positive and always there to help encourage us that it wasn't much further. This is the norm for this area, she said that she had seen worse. We found a nice covered kitchen area with a potty nearby. We got a late lunch and immediately got into the hot tubs.. The tubs had been carved out of the mud rock to make a number of different ones, that ranged from a single person to one with room for 5=6 people. An intricate system of little canals had been dug from the source of the hot water to each of the tubs. Rock and weeds were used as small dams to divert the water to whichever hot tub need warming up. There was one tub that was way to hot to get into, it was the closest to the source. The whole group enjoyed hours visiting while soaking in the warm water. Some fishermen rolled in about an hour after we had gotten there and set up camp. The shared their beef lomo with us, mmm, we had a sausage spagetti with many veggies, quite good. We also shared our wine as they did with us. Karla and I were the only drinkers in our group of 6. Quite a change from when we were first married, us being the only drinkers????
3/11-Fri-We thankfully were going to be picked up by a boat this day and taken back to our starting point in Cholgo. The boat arrived at about 10 and we were back at our starting point changing and loading the gear at around 4. This is when we heard of the Tsunami and the warnings about ports closing and evacuations along the Chilian coast. We went a different way back, shorter and we had to use ferries to connect with the roads. This is when we found out that the road we were taking back through Puerto Montt, was going to be closed at 9. We were just having empanadas at the ferry dock at 7:30pm, giving us just enough time to get off this road. We arrived at our hotel back in Puerto Varas at 9:00pm.
3/12-Sat went to pick up the car at 10 am and found that there were some more unexpected delays. Rodrigo, went on the google translator and told us the whole story. Transmission parts not available to fix the destroyed shaft, so my tranny was junked, he found another used one to rebuild, had it rebuilt and was picking it up this afternoon. So it will be in the car and ready to go by 1:00pm Monday. All the other things that I had him fix had been done, brakes, extra wheel for my spare, and the exhaust leak. So we had more time at Ellen haus Hospedaje. We found a kitchen in the basement to cook our dinners. Spent the afternoon talking to Jess on the skype and we found a great number of books to exchange our seven books with for our little library.
3/13-Sun-A nice day of rest and walking along the lake. We had a wonder steak/chicken dinner and met our German travelers while walking the lake. Had a nice relaxing afternoon reading and napping. We will see what happens tomarrow.