Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Melimoyu in pictures

My worrying was for naught, and I made it back to Coyhaique last night without any problems. The bay was actually pretty windy and choppy yesterday morning, but I stayed the previous night in the nearby "town" (15 houses, maybe), and the little boat from the ferry, which is much more intrepid than the small motorboat, was able to come to the dock to pick me up.

I feel that I should reflect a little on my time in Melimoyu, but I don't exactly know where to begin or what to say, other than it's an absolutely beautiful and soulful place. So rather than waiting for words to appear, which might be a while, I'm going to just go with the pictures. Enjoy!

Towards Melimoyu Bay on a clear day

The little boat at high tide. The incline of shore is very gradual, so at low tide the boat would be stranded far from the water line.

The guest house. I stayed in the staff house close by, which was much more modern-looking in design and also very comfortable.

The boardwalk leading to the quincho, the requisite Chilean barbeque pit for cordero. Note the dense vegetation - it was nearly impossible to go anywhere without a trail. We referred to this trail as the carretera (highway) because of the boardwalk.

Moss growing on an arrayan tree. These trees have smooth, cinnamon-colored bark, and give an unusual feeling of lightness to the otherwise dense forest when they appear in groves.

An unfurling fern of some sort. I don't remember the name, but this one has a very strong and stiff stalk, which Sebástian claims can be very useful to hold onto when climbing a steep slope.

Almost architectural lines in the forest


I think this is what's referred to as Old Man's Beard, but it might be something different. In any case, it's hanging from everywhere.

Sunset on incoming clouds up the valley

Most trees in this temperate rain forest, with a relatively dense canopy that blocks much of the sunlight in places, have a tendency towards "up." Here, fledgling trunks - either new seedlings that have taken root in an old tree or shoots from the old tree - race towards the light.

Not sure what kind of flower, but it grows throughout the clear, marshy area along the coast.

Everything was green. Mucho verde.

Weathering #1

This forest type is called Siempreverde (always green) for good reason

Weathering #2

Fuchsia magellenica, presumably named for the Magellenic temperate rainforest, the forest zone along the southern part of the Chonos Archipelago. Melimoyu is in the Valdivian temperate rainforest, but it appears that there's significant overlap of plant species with its neighboring zone to the south.

Weathering #3

Cross-section of a tree stump

Green everywhere. It seems that the entirety of the forest's surface are is used for photosynthesis.

Melimoyu Volcano, at the end of the valley. The smooth white of the glacier creates quite a contrast with the surrounding forest. Melimoyu means something like "four teats" in a native language - you can see two at the top and one on the right flank, with the other hidden on the back side. The peak is quite close, but without a trail, it could take more than a week to get there.


  1. wow, truly beautiful photos! we'll miss ya this weekend but understand you have a pretty good excuse. ;-) Looks like an incredible trip. ENJOY!

  2. beautiful beautiful shots Brad - in an environment that wet, I would wonder if there's *anything* that withstands the growth of something on it, other than the glaciers... it would seem to me that any surface is game for something green to grow on it.

    really enjoying your eye for lighting & composition - love the white flower on the black background, the small asymmetries in many of your pictures, and the way each of the wide mountain shots seems like it has a little window in it - different every time, but similar conceptually.

  3. I want to see a picture of a pudu. :)

    By the way, these are incredible pictures. I especially love the "mucho verde" one. Something about the green contrast and the detail. The unfurling fern reminds me of the Kuru in New Zealand--actually a lot of the wet/green forest reminds me of treks there. Oh man it looks so beautiful. I sit here at my cube and just imagine what you're experiencing right now....

  4. Brad, where are the pictures of the other local beauty? The Chilean ladies that are swooning over your gringo locks, that is. I am sure you are showing them as much appreciation as you are to the wilderness :)

  5. Amazing photos, Brad! I especially like the way that were able to capture light bouncing off the plants in spite of the heavy canopy. Can't wait to see the rest of your photos (and you) in a couple of weeks!

  6. Love the shots of the flowers. Holding down the fort here as the snow piles up. You'll be back just in time.