Melipueco-Reserva National China Muerta-La Fusta-Lonquimay.
In Chile’s Lake District, there’s a heavy wintriness in the air. Much of the autumnal fire has been doused, leaving the pale faced deciduous lost amongst the evergreens. The sky is a porcelain hue and slim fingers of mist linger in the morning, until sunshine permeates the clouds and bathes the forest in a gentle, filtered light. Here in the Reserva China Muerta, the dirt roads are loamy and volcanic, soft under tyre, winding steeply and unevenly into the lesser travelled reaches of the cordillera.
I’ve wanted to see Araucaria araucana – the Monkey Puzzle Tree - for some time, mostly on account on its name, romanticising it as a distant cousin to California’s beguiling Joshua Tree. These bandy structures grow at high elevations, a 1000m or more. They reach up to 40 metres high, and their tentacle-like branches are clad in stiff, sharp edged leaves.
Some stand alone, others in groves, and others blanket the hillsides. These Seussian-like creations are as enchanting and otherwordly as I my mind’s eye had envisaged.
If you would like to keep up with where I am between blog entries, I try and keep my While Out Riding Facebook page regularly updated – along with posting extra photos and gear ponderings. You can find it here.