GPT05 - Río Colorado
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Recent Alerts and Suggestions
- 2018-Dec / Martin Lizondo / Regular Route Southbound
Volcán Planchón Peteroa in "alerta amarilla", so passing is not allowed. I had to skip the section and continue GPT6 from Puente Inglés.
Season Section Log
- 2021 Dec: 03-09, SOBO, RR, Kris&Stiina
We also decided to combine sections 5 and 6 to avoid in’n’out to and from Parque Inglés. It took us 6 and a half days and some of it was bloody hard. I have never before experienced my ass being handed over to me by a trail. We got beaten to the point where first signs of weakness started to show and I have to admit we kind of even started discussing a plan B and bailing this ditch trail. But only for a moment, once you hit the rock bottom there is only one way to go - up! It was literally and figuratively, and as terrain improved so did our mood and we laughed off the silly thoughts we had had earlier.
The first 45km of the section 5 were great, awesome hiking and then shit hit the fan real quick. Ascent up from the ford at km 45 was hard but alright. And then came the descent down to Rio Negro (51km), very steep and very loose scree slope. We wanted to make it to Rio Colorado for the night to cross it early in the morning in case there is no bridge. But because the trail or I must rather say the lack of it was really taking more time than we expected, by the time we got to Rio Negro it was already getting dark. The river was very rapid and murky so you couldn’t gauge the depth of it and couldn’t see where to step, we had to really concentrate to cross it, luckily it was only balls deep.
It was dark as we got across it and we continued the fun, albeit type 2 fun, illuminated by our headlamps. Then came the insanely steep gully that allowed you to enter the valley of Rio Colorado. Something was off with the elevation lines on Gaia and it showed that we will be descending right over the cliff, it was luckily only a glitch. As we couldn’t see much ahead we kept descending ever so carefully on this very very challenging terrain, I would even go as far as to say that it was stupid and outright dangerous. But there was no other way, you just had to stay focused. There were also some rocks falling off the cliff under which we were descending. In a sense night was a good time to do it because you couldn’t see all the dangers - only what lie within the beam of the headlamp.
Then came an extremely slow going, pretty much crawling speed traverse down to Rio Colorado, which we fully improvised as there was no trail anyway and got down to Rio colorado about a kilometer before the bridge, where we set up camp abit past midnight.
So yes, the bridge was there - a decent one, seemed permanent and it was a relief that we at least don’t have to start the day by risking our lives fording Rio Colorado. The river was pretty wide and the current seemed pretty fast, it wasn’t murky though but you couldn’t see how deep it really was. But we think it could have been forded in case there would be no bridge. There were a few places that looked doable with somewhat laminar flow. The excitement of the existence of the bridge didn’t last too long as we were slapped back into reality by the difficult terrain, it wasn’t as dangerous anymore as the previous night but difficult nevertheless. Once we got closer to the pass the trail appeared and it was actually pleasant hiking once again.
To sum it up the descent down to the Rio Colorado valley, then traversing it and the first part of crawling out of the valley sucks big time, but the rest of the section is really nice and not too challenging terrain-wise. I wouldn’t want to skip this section because it had some breathingtaking views. Just that on the hard part of it you can’t really enjoy any of it as all your effort is elsewhere.
The guards at Laguna Mondaca were the nicest people we have met in Chile so far. They invited us to stay at the property, gave us food and drinks. They insisted we don’t use any of our supplies or gear. They even provided us with a room with a bed and we got to recharge all of our electronics and got a hot shower aswell. It was perfect! And just to make it clear there are no fancy villas there just a few small simple houses where the owner of the property comes for fishing once in a while. And guards weren’t armed either.
It took us 4 days to get to Laguna Mondaca and not far after it we joined the section 6 which took 2 and a half more days.
Section 6 was really something, we haven’t had such a strong otherworldly experience anywhere else. It was really like being on another planet at times. The blue sky was the only thing that gave it away that we were still on Earth. Really bizarre landscape and definitely the most beautiful breathtaking section of the six that we have done so far.
Regarding the difficulty, compared to section 5 it didn’t feel that difficult at all. Walking on sand is challenging, yes, especially going uphill. But on the other side going down is much easier on the soft sand - you can just run/jog without much impact on your body as the sand absorbs it all. Shoes got completely wrecked and we took many “shoe-emptying” breaks because they were just filled with rocks and coarse sand.
We even took a dip in one of the lakes close to Descabezado and seeing how water is just coming out of the sand and turning into a river was really really cool, just as the whole landscape around there.
We camped at the lake about 5km from Los Cipreses. When we arrived to the road to take bus to Talca the bus stop didn’t have any schedule and the shop close by was closed. So we couldn’t find out about the bus schedule and the traffic on the road seemed pretty dead. But luckily after 15 min of waiting a car that was going to Talca picked us up, perfecto!
Overall plenty of water on both sections, a lot of exposure to the sun, and some challenging terrain. It all together made for a great experience, just what we were looking for. It humbled us and we definitely had to adjust our expectations and recalibrate our way of hiking, it is GPT - not more and not less.
For more stories of the trail, pictures, videos and in case you want to ask us anything you can find us on Instagram: @smallfootprint_bigadventures
- Start Date: December 24, 2019
- Section: GPT 5 + 6
- Duration: 7 days
- Name/Alias: Ian Hikes
- Overview: So, I decided to combine GPT sections 5 and 6 in order to avoid a 30k out and back resupply section into parque ingles. I thought this was a good decision for me and really enjoyed being out there for a week. In my opinion this was the hardest section of the GPT in between sections GPT 01-10. I went the first 5 days without seeing another person which I thought was quite cool. So, these two sections are quite remote, and you are way out there in the mountains. There was also some pretty intense river crossing in “GPT Section 5” that I found to be manageable (keep in mind I’m 185cm and have lots of thru hiking experience.) but still a little difficult. The rivers were also very dark and murky which made it hard to see where you would step. There was also an improvised bridge crossing the Colorado River that I used, and thought was safe to use. These two sections are dominated by a volcanic profile with much of the route on ash and volcanic rock. Most of the route is very exposed and there are not many trees or vegetation that grow in the volcanic ash/rocks. There was plenty of water with springs coming out of the hills everywhere and then disappearing into the sand.
- Difficulties: It was slow going walking thru the sand, especially when hiking vertically. Exposure to the sun. River crossings. Isolation and remoteness. Hiking up and down lose rock and scree fields.
- Highlights: Hot Springs. Great views of the volcanic region. Mountain Lakes. Sunrise and Sunsets were epic with the landscape.
- Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions at email@example.com
- 2019-Dec-8 / Martina & Ivo / Regular route southbound
Six (hard) days for this section. After the first pass there was a tiny snowfield to cross, nothing to worry about. River crossings didn't cause any problems. The bridge Puente Las Yeguas was in excellent condition. The navigation through the cross country parts was quite demanding and took us a lot of time. Right of way conflict before the Laguna Mondaca: The whole valley is private property and belongs to a guy who comes by helicopter for fly fishing at the weekends. His guards spotted us several hours before we arrived at their puesto but welcomed us very friendly and explained everything. They let us camp at the Estero del Volcan. At Parque Ingles we found food and accommodation. There is a bus to Molina (for schedule see section "Access to route").
- 2019-Dec 9 / Ty & America / RR SOBO
7 nights 8 days for us. Super tough section. The entire area around Rio Colorado is extremely challenging; down & up. We went the alternate route to the Hot Springs. (OH-CC-A@05-C-#001). I was tough with multiple steep gullies, then we got there to see the hot springs were COLD. Then the optional hike to Re connect with the RR from the hot springs (OH-CC-A@05-E-#002) was completely impassable. I didn’t go all the way up to the canyon wall. All I could see were route that would take some serious climbing. We had to down climb and take the lower route to climb up again. Property dispute near Volcan Mondaco had no problems. Quiet and didn’t seem like anybody was there for us. Parque Inglés - Molina Bus leaves at 7 am on the weekdays, we hitchhiked.
- 2019-Dec-17 / Matus & Anna / Regular SOBO and Optional to meet optional start of GPT06
It took us 5 days including 1 zero due to bad weather. I agree with everything what was written in previous updates for GPT05. Cross country sections were difficult, but in some of them we managed to find old unused trails which worked for us. River crossings - Rio Claro in the afternoon was ok. Rio Negro in the afternoon was REALLY challenging, almost not doable. After hour of trying we managed to find one spot we could cross. I wouldn't want to cross Rio Colorado without that bridge at any time. Optional trail to meet optional start of section 6 was fine in the valley. Problem was to connect it to the climb. We had to climb very steep slope to get there. From that point trail was in good condition.
2019-Dec-19 / Melissa/ Regular Hiking Route SOBO. It took me 6 full days (5-9 hrs hiking) and 1 1/2 day (3 hrs.) not including 1 day of 0 hiking due to weather-rain and needing rest. Route finding, the three inclines of over 3,000-4,000 feet of elevation gain in a mile was insane, terrain-gotta love sand. The entire incline up Las Animas white crumbly/soft sand and make sure you have plenty of water here because the white reflecting sand and sun can easily dehydrate you and there is nowhere to get water except this flat section near the top that has very little stream from snow melt. Crumbling rock/scree that is barely able to be hiked up with a waterfall in between after think it was called Laguna Grande tracks #61.7-67.2 end of that track. Take the route up to the left where the rock is tan don’t hike up the black it’s dangerously eroding. The gps was not helpful in that section because all three directions seemed correct (right,left or up the waterfall). I had no issues with right of way dispute. I agree with all that is stated above. Very hard and challenging section.
|GPT05: Río Colorado||Hiking||Packrafting|
|Group||B: Zona Arrieros||Total||112.2 km||40 h||-||-|
|Region||Chile: Maule (VII)||Trails (TL)||64.1 km||57.1%||-||-|
|Start||Los Queñes||Minor Roads (MR)||19.2 km||17.1%||-||-|
|Finish||Radal||Primary Roads (PR)||-||-||-||-|
|Status||Published & Verified||Cross-Country (CC)||28.9 km||25.8%||-||-|
|Traversable||(Maybe: Dec, Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr)||Bush-Bashing (BB)||-||-||-||-|
|Packraft||Only Burden||Ferry (FY)||-||-||-||-|
|Connects to||GPT04, GPT06||Investigation (I)||-||-||-||-|
|Options||190 km (4 Options & Variants)||Exploration (EXP)||-||-||-||-|
|Hiking||Packrafting||Total on Water||-||-|
|Attraction||3 (of 5)||-||River (RI)||-||-|
|Difficulty||6 (of 5)||-||Lake (LK)||-||-|
|Direction||Both ↓↑||-||Fjord (FJ)||-||-|
|Character||Forest, Alpine Terrain, Volcanic Terrain, Summit Ascents, Mountain Pastures, Arrieros, Unpeopled Areas|
|Challenges||Demanding River Fords, Exposure to Elements, Clambering, Demanding Navigation, Resupply Distance, Possibly Impassable, Right-of-Way Disputes|
Satellite Image Map
Section Planning Status
Recommended Travel Period
Benefits of Hiking and Packrafting
Recommended Travel Direction
Section Length and Travel Duration
Suitable Section Combinations
Services: ATM and Money Exchange
Accommodation: Hostals and Hotels
Transport: Ground Transport
Transport: Shipping Services
Resupply on the Trail
Location, Names, Available Items and Services
Access to Route and Return
Access to Start
Bus timetable obtained in January 2020 File:CuricoQuenes.jpg
Return from Finish
Monday to Thursday
Molina-P.Ingles: 11:30 / 13:30
P.Ingles-Molina: 15:30 / 17:00