After our long bus ride south from northern Chile and a quick pitstop in Santiago, we’ve spent the last several days in and around Las Trancas, a sleepy mountain town set in a gorgeous forested valley below two volcanoes. Las Trancas is situated down valley from the famous Termas de Chillán hot springs and ski resort; however, we bypassed the commercial hot springs in favor of a backpacking trek to some remote hot springs on the other side of the mountains.
After hiking through the forest we were surprised to see how much snow is still in the mountains! Apparently they had an epic winter here. We donned our crampons and headed over a high pass.
Here’s the view from near the pass, looking down into Valle de Aguas Calientes. (Photo taken on the way out). Though we knew by then to expect lots of snow, we were still a bit shocked to see the total snowpack coverage in the valley, and started to prepare mentally for a couple uncomfortable nights of camping on snow. The rivers you see down in there are all hot spring rivers, so at least we wouldn’t freeze to death!
A hot spring river cuts through the snowpack, showing how big of a winter it has been.
Very fortunately, after a bit of exploring we found a meadow where a series of hot spring creeks had melted the snowpack off! This lifted our spirits big time, as it meant that we wouldn’t have to camp on the snow after all. It was pretty funny to be camping on dry green grass, totally surrounded by snow! You can see our little gray tent in the middle of the photo.
It doesn’t get much better than this!!! The river behind Claudia was actually scalding hot, but this joining river was the perfect temperature for a soak… along with a tasty Chilean wine of course.
The obligatory nighttime tent shot.
After two days of soaking in the hot springs and generally chilling out, we headed back over the mountains to Las Trancas, for more adventures!