Hello, my name is Mariana and two years ago I made my first single backpacking trip to Lake Paimún. I would like to share with you my impressions about the place and about encouraging yourself to camp alone from time to time.
I think the camping experience is always rewarding for anyone who enjoys the contact with nature.But traveling and camping alone has a plus, that of enjoying also the obligatory connection with Campingtopgear.
Traveling from Junín de los Andes to Paimún
When I decided to go alone to Paimún, I chose that destination because I already knew it. I had traveled a couple of years ago with whom I was my partner back then and I always wanted to return. I think it is advisable, to undertake a trip alone, to try to choose a destination that gives us a certain sense of security or familiarity, however minimal. It has to do with the simple fact that although one can be very proactive, there are never any surprises even when accompanied and finding oneself facing the same eventualities in an unknown place can be distressing or generate an unnecessary bad moment.
Lake Huechulafquen on the way to Paimún
The trip there is pleasant, part of the terminal of Junín de los Andes in any of the three schedules offered by the Castelli transport. They travel about 60 kilometers from Junín to destination, much of it inside Lanín National Park and bordering Lake Huechulafquen, where the road becomes steeper and more sinuous because it is “cut” over the hills. The landscape on reaching the Huechulafquen reveals blue hills and a white effluvium on the lake that leaves anyone breathless. Every now and then small houses are seen on the shore of the lake, animals behind the stalls and yellow pastures and millenary araucaria that sprout around the green rock. It is advanced slowly by the narrow way, so you can have a good look and even take good pictures.
Camp in Paimún
The charter ends its journey just in front of the chapel of Mary Help of Christians of Paimún, small and picturesque in its architecture. Just behind there is a National Gendarmerie post on which rises the imposing snowy peak of the Lanín volcano. Many go only by the landscapes that are seen during the trip there and to visit the chapel, but the majority of the tourists undertake on foot or by bicycle the road towards Piedra Mala, that is born right there.
View of Lanín
Bordering the lake to the left is a recreation area and next to the lake down the stone beach you can see a wooden pole with a bell and a sign that invites to touch it so that the rower can come by one and be able to cross. According to the available family member, slowly cross the narrow and calm lake in the little boat that will take us on the other side. Once on the other shore welcome some dogs and another poster announces the leaner rower and stay rates at the camping Ecufué.
When you go up the beach you can see the house and the facilities of the mapuche landowners, where you will find the supplies and hot water services. They charge the camper when he leaves, so they leave him alone with that green and broad land on the giant feet of the hills to choose where to set up camp. If one takes what is necessary he forgets money, telephone, noise, concrete, asphalt, voices … until he leaves. In general until today has been rare the attendance, perhaps for the lack of comforts that supposes the wild. This has been a blessing in many ways, since it helps to preserve a considerable distance between each tent, added to its great extension and the natural barriers that the terrain presents. However there are always walkers and travelers traveling and with whom you can share. Paimún in particular receives many visits to his chapel, but the campsite Ecufué, being on the opposite bank, is a place that does not seduce at first sight by its simplicity. There are no delimited plots, no electricity points along the campsite. It is the closest thing to how nature would have preserved the land if the man was not there, so I was attracted to him in the first instance and therefore does not top the list of options for those who go with children or need some comfort, which makes in General there are very few people. Virtually the only signs of the man’s hand are seen in the indictment of a thaw brook running through the area, the wooden latrines that are set far enough away from each other and a small Mapuche cemetery climbing up one of the slopes in the distance.There is no telephone signal or wifi there, nor can you get more than toilet paper, matches, food and drink.
Paimún night photo
The campsite is kept free of weeds and the grass is kept very short at ground level. The first time I went until I came to imagine the Mapuche with the mower going over the endless irregular slopes and made me laugh. I soon realized that it was the animals that did the gardening, when a row of white sheep appeared parading in front of my tent just before the sun went down. The horses also go out to graze in the afternoon, although they stay away from the campers.
Paimún night photo
They have a small store next to the house of the Mapuche where you can get the most basic and have hot water for those who want to take a bath. I highly recommend the eggs they sell there, which are from their own laying hens and judging by the color of the yolks and their taste, those animals have never eaten anything man-made. Every time I make an omelette I dream of those chickens!
Water is never a problem in the mountain range due to the numerous thawing streams that can be used, especially in areas such as this far from the population. From the stream that crosses the campsite you can drink without problems. In my humble opinion, these waters are generally the most delicious and come fresh as fresh from the refrigerator even 30 degrees in the shade.
Thaw stream to Laguna los Patos
Regarding the recommendations I could make to anyone who wants to travel alone, I think they are pretty obvious to anyone who has ever camped, but there are some details that can be useful. Weight is the most important thing. One must remember that there is no repartija, the only backpack goes in one’s own back and it should fit everything, but also should not be too heavy. Unfortunately this point demands some money. I was able to get a fairly light salewa tent for one to two people that allowed me to save kilos and build time, which worked very well for me, since I saved valuable space and time (it arms in less than ten minutes, in case of rain Or some other urgency and its disarmed size does not amount to three quarters of a rolled insulation).
Resting on the way to Laguna los Patos
I left behind anafes, bottles and other implements that would make the task of cooking easier and cleaner, but they would demand space and weight that I need for other things. I opted for a medium enamelled jug that could pose directly on the wood fire and a cup of the same material, so I could heat a coffee in the morning without needing more than that. I brought dehydrated food, but remembering the famous yolks I filled a small diffuser with a little oil to enjoy that food. Instead of bringing shampoo, soap and detergent, I simply brought a white soap pan (Federal type), which in addition to being useful for any cleaning task, is not as aggressive with the environment as other products.
Laguna los Patos
Another important detail is to keep in mind that when traveling alone there is no “hold me” or “hold me back”, so typical of us women. That’s why I think the rule should be “if I can not handle it, I will not take it”. There are places and situations where we will need both hands, or go no further than our most basic balance so as not to fall down a steep slope, or when we need to descend into the water through fallen stones and trunks. I mean that when we leave we must be able to manage ourselves free and comfortable with the things we carry and try not to overload ourselves with the idea of what we may need. Moreover, what we do not carry may push us to use our ability to solve survival situations .. is it not one of the reasons we camped? For example, I forgot on that trip to get a small ax to chop the wood. It was very late and it was dark enough to enter the forest to look for small firewood, and I had to contrive to feed the fire by breaking a stone and using its blade and its weight as a primitive ax. I also forgot an opener and the Seville and a stone served me very well. Sometimes, less is more.
Laguna los Patos
When you build the small backpack for hiking or just for walking exactly the same thing happens. If you are accompanied perhaps in two backpacks you can take more things and you do not meditate too much if you are carrying items that will later hinder you or make you tedious. I carry my cane (which acts as a staff), my lures, my fishing permit, my Sevillian, the camera, the tripod (when traveling alone is more than useful, as well as to capture night shots), a coat Lightweight, a handkerchief to protect my head and a canteen to fill on the way. In Paimún you can take the path to “Laguna los Patos”, a small beach that opens towards the north side of the lake facing the Lanín volcano. It is a short and difficult road, although it can be slippery by stretches and not recommended on rainy days. The route is brief and with abundant shade, as it crosses the hill through the forest, and has streams and cascades of fresh water that cross it.
Sheep in procession
Personally I consider that it requires not courage, but real inner peace to enjoy it and to appreciate being a witness and part of all those things.
Out of the pragmatic, going alone, camping, eating, fetching firewood before dark, fishing, sit and observe, enter the forest or walk the paths without company does not differ in essence to do the same accompanied. Even so, experience yields a completely different result.Personally I consider that it requires not courage, but real inner peace to enjoy it and to appreciate being a witness and part of all those things. There is, if you will, a self-contemplation in the context of sleeping on the floor, warm in the fire and admire in silence the beauty of what surrounds us as it is. Camping alone, in a remote place, gives way to a serene acceptance and respect for what is alien to us, which in my experience refreshed my simpler and more primitive perceptions. In a way, it is a return to the most elemental of oneself. That’s why I recommend it, it may not be for everyone, but for those who are comfortable with the idea, it’s worth a try.
We are the ones who must be marked by the place and not the place by us
Finally, my last recommendation: the most important thing for the camper must be, alone or accompanied, that when returning, leave the place as it was when it arrived. We are the ones who must be marked by the place and not the place for us. Being able to enjoy these paradises is a privilege that must be honored and protected, so that in the future we may enjoy it again and others may also enjoy it. Respect for the natural space is something non-negotiable. Those who are allowed to cross the earth to protect their tent from the rain, fill the gutters when retiring; Who bring bags and produce trash, take them with you; Make campfires, be sure to extinguish them when you leave; Who decide to bathe in the lake, avoid using soaps and other contaminants, nobody died for not soaping the pupo for a few days. Enjoy the silence and the mountain, see the starry night and sepia dawn in this quiet place of the world with so much respect that you can do it again tomorrow!
I hope you visit Paimún and that you dare to camp alone sometime. Greetings, campers!