Lee Arbuckle has been a citizen of the world since the early 60's when he volunteered for the Peace Corps in Colombia.

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Lee Arbuckle has been a citizen of the world since the early 60's when he volunteered for the Peace Corps in Colombia.

The Osorno Volcano, Petrohue, and the Lake Region of Chile

Part I of the Patagonia Journals by Lee Arbuckle Photos by Lee and Maggie Arbuckle

Currently in semi-retirement in his native Montana, Lee Arbuckle has been a citizen of the world since the early 60's when he volunteered for the Peace Corps in Colombia. He has since dedicated himself to agricultural development and financial market development both in the US and abroad. From cattle rancher to consultant to USAID/Honduras project manager he has lived and worked or traveled through much of Latin America in addition to working and traveling in Africa, Europe and the Far East.

January 13, 2000

We set off to push to the Southern end of South America, the southernmost point of the inhabited world. Back in the sixth grade in the Albion country school, the one where I was the best looking kid in my grade, I had a marvelous geography book. It was out of date, a McGraw Hill book, but it was thick and rich with text and pictures to satisfy all the imagination of a sixth grade boy in 1955. A geography book from a period when geography was a respected course in primary school curricula, and more than a quarter of the population of the US could still locate the main US cities on a map.

Because I was the only kid in my grade, upon finishing the year's requirements in the different courses, I could study what I wanted. That geography book and a good set of maps absorbed me for most of the hours from Xmas to the end of the year. That was when I got the Latin American "bug" from pictures of large two wheeled carts in Chile, with five or six foot wheels, and huaso horsemen. Pictures of the Argentine Patagonian steppe and gauchos particularly stuck in my Montana ranchboy mind.

In 1971, I married a beautiful South American girl from La Paz, Bolivia. On our honeymoon we drove from La Paz, through Bolivia, northern Argentina, across to Santiago on San Martin's trail, and then down the length of Chile to Puerto Montt and over to the Bariloche region of Argentina.

Now in 2000, 30 years later, we were going back to pick up where we left off the last time and push all the way down on the Chilean side to Tierra del Fuego and back up through the Argentine Patagonia. We were apprehensive of the changes we might see in returning to the south end of the Chilean Lake region. Some of the best slides from memory's eye in that area were the Osorno volcano, Todos los Santos Lake against the Andes, and the houses nestled around the lake settled before the area became a national park.

Foto #1 gave us an announcement of the Osorno volcano when the clouds started to lift, silhouetting Araucanian pines against the sky. Memory's thirst began to be slaked, and we hurried on to check into the Hosteria in Petrohue long owned by a wonderful Swiss Chilean family. Thirty years ago we camped in the area and that was great, too.

Foto #2 shows the volcanic ash slopes of Osorno as foreground to Todos Los Santos lake, with the Andes in the background. The lake was formed when the volcanic flow cut off what was then part of Lake Llanquihue and forced it to drain South. That valley became the northernmost estuary of the South American Continental Ice Mass, Relocavi. Foto #3 shows the layers of the ash flow. Lake Todo Los Santos Foto #4

On our boat ride up Lake Todos los Santos to Peulla, another slide from memory surprised me, Foto #4. The small farmstead then new and in good repair now looks a little down at the heels. I suppose I do, too. Over 100 small properties lay within the boundary of the Vicente Perez Rosales Park at the time it was organized and were allowed to remain. Purists might object, but the cabins and other structures are unobstrusive and add flavor.

In Peulla we got off the lake boat and took a smaller boat up a gentle river that is the main tributary into Todos Los Santos lake, Foto #5.

Quiet water, soft light, blend with lush flora, Foto #6. Just over the top of the Andes lay Bariloche, Argentina and beautiful Lake Nahuel Huapi, but this trip we turned back.

With a group, Maggie hiked up Osorno above tree line, while I went fishing. With the camera she caught magnificent views of the Lake, Foto #7, of the forms the ash flows take, Foto #8, and of the view up at Osorno now covered again with clouds, Foto #9. Maggie caught views, but I went fishing and caught 2 trout, one a 4 kilo rainbow, but sorry!, she had the camera so you have to take my word for it.

From the slopes of Osorno the tallest mountain in the area, El Tronador rises above its handmaidens Foto #10. That evening at the Hosteria Petrohue we were treated to our best and last viewing of Osorno, Foto #11 before we started south.

[ Home ] [ Patagonia Recommended Reading ] [ Osorno Volcano ] [ Chiloe ] [ Patagonia Gallery ]

Lee Arbuckle May 2000

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