Espolon Lake, Lodge and River, Chile, Dec. 24-26, 2017

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Espolon Lake, Lodge and River, Chile, Dec. 24-26, 2017

Postby Tony Crocker » Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:15 pm

We spent three nights Dec. 23-25 at the newly opened Espolon Lodge, accessible only by ferry.
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The lodge is on the south side of Lake Espolon between Rio Ceniza and Rio Tigre (not the same river we rafted Dec. 23). It's 45 minutes on the ferry from Puerto Calderon and 15 minutes the other way to Puerto Poletto and the remote upper Epsolon Valley. View of lodge cabins from the ferry:
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Between the left and center cabins is a wood fired hot tub. The cabins are not heated, but they provided hot water bottles to take to bed if you wanted.

The main lodge building is here.
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Between the lodge and the cabins is cooking pit where they prepared an excellent slow cooked lamb asado on Christmas Eve.

Just before that dinner we took a short but rugged hike to this stream, source of Espolon Lodge's electricity, intake pipe here.
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Three of those pipes lead to this cistern, and strained water leads from the bottom of it farther downhill.
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Two pipes bring strained water to this turbine.
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Proprietor John (at right) built the turbine and is showing it to guide Pauli here. It's a 5kW system and in this part of the world it produces 24/7/365, so no battery storage needed.

On the morning of Dec. 24 we rode mountain bikes into the upper Epsolon Valley from Puerto Poletto.
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We stopped at this bridge. Guide Colo here:
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After lunch we headed down the upper Espolon River by kayak.
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It rained much of the time we were kayaking but fortunately not while we were biking.

John had recently adopted these puppies Lupo and Cusco from a nearby ranch.
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They are about a month old and Lupo followed us on that hike to the hydropower system, needing to be carried over a couple of stream crossings.

On Dec. we went back to Puerto Poletto, this time to ride horses. Ernesto leading us up the gravel road.
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Liz and me here:
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We crossed the upper Espolon River at this bridge.
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It was another wet day, and with this amount of rain it was fortunate we were on horses and not on foot.
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We had lunch in the shade by the Rio Blanco, then returned to the ferry. Liz always enjoys a riding opportunity.
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On Dec. 26 we left the Espolon Lodge and finally got a break with the weather. We took the ferry to Puerto Calderon and hiked north, parallel to the lower Espolon River. Soon we get a panoramic view of the mountains north of Futaleufu.
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We get one overlook of the lower Espolon cascade through the Devil's Throat.
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View of lower Espolon where we will be kayaking.
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Cow skull tied to dead tree.
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Waterfall by the trail hiking down.
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Lower Espolon rapids below Devil's Throat
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After lunch we kayaked and rafted a calmer section of the lower Espolon.
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We were back on foot before the Espolon River merged with the Futaleufu
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Cerro Teta is in background.

We then get a view overlooking the Futaleufu flowing onto Inferno Canyon.
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Bob and Alexa here:
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We then had a short but steep hike up to the Uman Lodge. At the top of a cliff it blends into the scenery from behind.
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But the rooms and public areas have commanding views. Espolon River joins the Futaleufu below.
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There is an indoor as well as outdoor pool at Uman Lodge. Liz and I were soon in that hot tub at the end of the deck.

The good weather Dec. 26 allowed the Lake Obsession trail to dry out enough for us to climb it the next day.
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Tony Crocker
 
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