Monday was “Day One” on Villarrica – time to collect some good data! We woke up early to a nice view of the volcano from the observatory and split off into two groups: Kelby & Yves were the Los Crateres group and Tehnuka, Nial, & Kayla were the Glaciar Turbio group.
Since the Glaciar Turbio site was inaccessible the day before, Kayla acted as a Spanish interpreter and talked with one of the vertedero workers (see “Day 0” post) to sort out exactly where we were meant to be going. The route was to be down an unmarked trail through some stunning waterfalls. The worker pointed us in the right direction, but the trip ended up being somewhat of a bushwhacking adventure that Kelby might classify as a “boondoggle”.
The road leading to the trailhead quickly turned too rough for our low clearance Hyundai 5-door to handle, so we parked the car and began our hike down the road. By the time we reached our parking spot, we had already passed several junctions not marked on our map. Hopefully we were in the right place. The plume was straight overhead – a good place for it to be for our scans – and the sky was clear, so we decided to take some measurements even though we were quite far (5 km or so) from the volcano.
After a half hour of scans we walked along what appeared to be a logging road for a while until we decided that we should simply head towards the volcano. We knew where we wanted to end up, and we had our GPS and map in hand. No problem. We soon found ourselves at the edge of a steep cliff overlooking a gorgeous view of Villarrica towering over a gorge filled with large cascades. What a sight!
The problem? The Glaciar Turbio site was at the bottom of said cliff and up the river. Time to begin bushwhacking our way through some bamboo forest and down an arroyo leading to the river at the bottom of the gorge. With some time and effort, we made it. We had an absolutely incredible view of the amazing landscape. Down by the river, we set up the DOAS for more scans while we ate lunch.
This would be a good site to scan the plume for now, but we still were not at our intended Glaciar Turbio site. And we still hadn’t found the unmarked trail shown on our trekking map. We left the DOAS to scan away for a bit while we scouted out how to get further up river.
We quickly found that there was no way to get up river on the side we were currently on, and we hadn’t seen anywhere to cross – at all spots, the river was much too wide and fast. Heading back down river, we were quickly dead-ended again with no way to cross the river. Surely, the unmarked trail was on the far side of the river, but we had no way to get to it.
By mid-afternoon, we decided that it was time to start heading back, so we packed our gear and bushwhacked our way back to the logging road. We never made it to Glaciar Turbio in the end (our best guess one possible wrong turn on the way to the trail head), but we did get a bit of good data and saw an amazing place!
After hauling and stashing two car batteries and some tripods at the Los Crateres site, the hike up was much more enjoyable this time around. Kelby and Yves brought up the UV camera and two DOAS spectrometers with them to the site. With a nice view of the pume all day long, it looks like Los Crateres will be a permanent base camp for us.
Over the next few days, someone will be stationed at Los Crateres while another group either goes on more recon near Glaciar Turbio or up to the crater rim.