Hiking in new terrain means learning new lessons. Back in the forests of the Eastern U.S., I almost never had a problem finding a place to crap that afforded some privacy. But here in the Andes, with little more than a ground cover of moss or grass, there’s virtually no place to hide. I didn’t consider this before setting out to hike in Chile’s Monumento Natural El Morado, a park in the Andes located about an hour and a half drive from Santiago
El Morado is the purple mountain. This glaciated, purple majesty stands like a massive fortress at the end of a narrow valley. The night before trekking to see his majesty, I ate an egg salad sandwich for dinner. About half-way through the hike, those eggs were ready for re-laying. But damn, where to seek relief in a place with no fucking trees, a place so barren that other hikers could see me from 2 kilometers away? Further complicating the sitch was that I was hiking with 3 Chileans. I mean, like how embarrassing….gringo can’t hold his shit.
Lucky for me, right about when my sphincter was ready to concede defeat, we came upon a couple of large boulders. I waved my hiking companions on and made like a marmot for the boulders. Next time, no dinner the night before. Or maybe I’ll start packing a beige shower curtain, I mean ‘cause nothing provides cover like a shower curtain matched to the hue of the landscape.
Intestinal inconvenience aside, the hike was spectacular. The whole day it was like we were walking through a giant natural hallway, and at the end of the hallway was the house of Thor.
Close to the base of El Morado was a lagoon formed by meltwater. At the lagoon we stopped to rest, snack, and take in the place. A colorful little bird came near looking for handouts. We all enjoyed the tameness of this bird, which at one point landed on the hiking boot of our guide. You get a glimpse of this scene in the video.
My hiking companions for the day included two domestic tourists, both lawyers, and our guide, who was also a lawyer. There are many, many lawyers in Santiago and many, many psychologists – two sure indicators of an advanced society.