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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mahuida Climb and Caches, Santiago, Chile

Ecuador is a cool place in every way. In particular it's a cool place because the weather stays in the spring time temperatures pretty much year round. I recently flew to Santiago, Chile and stepped into summertime. A good friend and I decided to climb one of the mountains to the east of the city. There are four caches on this mountain so we geared up with plenty of water and set off. Mahuida is a park. We traveled out to the park only to find that it was closed. Every Monday it is closed. The caching page didn't say that. We prevailed on the guard and then the manager to allow us to climb anyway. The kind manager took down our passport numbers and registered us to climb. He was very understanding when we told him I'd come from Ecuador to climb and only had that day free, the rest being occupied with a conference. We started out at 1900 feet and climbed to just shy of 5000 feet above sea level. There used to be a cache on the summit of the mountain but the last several attempts have been DNFs so we decided not to go for it. The first cache (Parque Mahuida GC1MBJY) required a strenuous hike on a step grade. As we climbed we got a continously better view of the sprawling city of Santiago. We could see Manquehue Mountain to our north, one we climbed and cached last year. The day was clear with very little smog so we had a panorama of the whole valley and the city. This time of year is dry so the bushes were very brittle. These were some great caches hidden in some out-of-the-way places. The challenge was not finding the cache but the climb to get there. Each cache was located right where the cache page said it was and none were needles in a haystack type caches. I honestly prefer these to the cache hidden among a thousand rocks or seashells. After reaching the second (Mahuida III GCKZFN) cache we cut across two draws with steep embankments. That took us several hours but brought us to the third cache (Mahuida 2, GCJX45), hidden in a small cave. By this time the sun was beating down on us and it was hot. The cave was a cool place to rest for a while. From here it was down hill to the last cache, (Parque Mahuida GCJTAZ). This one proved to be the hardest to fine. From here we started down the trail to find our car. We made it to the entrance to the park and the ice cold water fosset! This was another great day of climbing and caching! If you are ever in Santiago on a Tuesday through Sunday, you might want to give this mountain a try. There is a small fee to get in the park.
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