Yesterday, my work group and I traveled from Bariloche to Junin de los Andes. The drive north took approximately 3 hours. We stopped frequently to see the sights. What were the highlights of the trip? The first was the massive amount of volcanic ash we saw coating the hills and suspended in the air from the erupting Puyehue volcano in Chile. It erupted in June and still continues to spew ash. This area of Patagonia gets little rain, so the ash that has fallen continues to get swept and suspended into the air from the wind. It coated everything including my hair, clothes, the car, the surrounding landscape, and filled up my shoes when I got out of the car to take pictures. A couple of times it felt like we were driving through dense fog. The hills looked like they had snow on them, but it was ash. Piles of plowed ash lined the sides of the roads. It was quite impressive.
A couple other highlights to mention were how similar the landscape felt to that of Washington State. I felt as though I was driving through eastern Washington. Vast stretches of shrub steppe and grasslands, ponderosa pine trees, and large rock outcrops and river valleys were all around. It wasn't until I saw a few guanacos on the hills that I felt like I was not in Washington anymore! Also, there are many magnificent rocks here that are quite different. And, everything is huge and vast.
Tomorrow I am going on a field trip that will take me closer to the mountains. I am hoping to see some araucaria trees growing in the wild. I will post more pictures soon. Unfortunately, where I am at I have little internet connectivity. So my posts will be brief until Saturday. More soon!