From where I stood, Cerro La Cruz and San Ramón towered brilliantly, gleaming bright white, just waiting to be trampled on by tired feet, yearning to be climbed.
Parque Quebrada de Macul lies just within reach of many different micro lines. The park trail has ample room for easy picnicking along a succession of waterfalls, and also hiking for the serious trekker, all in one. Best of all, it's free to enter.
The trail itself is no labyrinth – like many other Chilean trails, it splits occasionally, only to join up again further up the incline. The rewards of this hike come much sooner than expected; not 20 minutes after starting, a small river scrambles over a rock field, which is spotted with a few picnic tables hidden in the shade. As one continues up the path, more spots are revealed for a family or group of friends to relax, build a dam or stand under waterfalls, with breathtaking views of snow-capped mountains above.
For me, it served as the first test in a journey that will take me to the top of Cerro Plomo, the gigantic, 5,434 meter, snow-capped monster which holds the distinction of being the tallest mountain visible from Santiago. My guide, Hernan Donoso, soft-spoken and bearing the signs of someone who has been guiding hikers for over 40 years, decided to make this Part One of a five step program to prepare us for the adventure ahead.
Hernan calls this hike, "más por el sencillo." (more simple, natural.) "This will be an evaluation in 3 ways," he explains, in Spanish, at the start of the hike. First, we are to evaluate the other hikers in the group, next to determine if we like being led by Hernan, and, finally, to let him see if we are fit for the next stage.
Our guide, Hernan Donoso, showing us the proper way to use trekking poles
Finally, dragging my eyes away from the majestic peaks above me, I look back down to my hiking group nestled under Casa Piedras (Rock House). The shock of seeing smogville Santiago, buried deep under a flat cloud of grey, reminded me how close Quebrada de Macul is to the city. Turning away from the view took deliberate effort. I didn't want to let this sight go! What if these 3,000 meter wonders were to suddenly disappear? Suppose we lost them forever? Luckily, there they are, just a Bip! away.
Build-up to El Plomo:
Part 1: Quebrada Macul (~2000m)
Part 2: Punta de Damas (~3100m)
Part 3: Pintor (~4200m)
Part 4: Leonera (~5000m)
Part 5: El Plomo (5434m)
How to get to Parque Quebrada de Macul
+ From the Grecia Metro station, take one of the buses that runs east on Av. Grecia (towards the mountains) or grab a taxi/colectivo in the same direction. Av. Grecia ends at the intersection with Diagonal Las Torres (NOT Las Torres, which is still far enough away). From the intersection, walk south (the city to your right) for about one kilometer.
+ Tel: 02-22750171 / 22750112
+ Open: 9:00 – 18:30