After finishing our hike at El Morado, I had thoughts of checking out the Banos Morales hot springs, or heading further to the Banos Colinas hot springs, but J didn't think that was incredibly appealing in the mid-afternoon sun. Instead, we headed a bit deeper into the canyon.
Just down the road is a turnoff for Refugio Lo Valdez, a historically German lodge and restaurant, where we stopped for lunch.
There, we enjoyed sandwiches, beer and wine, and delicious kuchen (German pastry adopted as a Chileno food), and expansive views of the Argentina-Chile border. This place also has assorted maps and is a great launching point for ski-touring and climbing.
On the somewhat steep and tight climb up here, though, the little Yaris wheels spun a bit on steeper, loose dirt, so it seemed like a good time to head back down the canyon.
On the way back, some of the same exact mountain view from the morning took on a breathtaking emerald hue that the pictures don't properly convey.
We also spotted an impressive waterfall just off the south side of the road that somehow we had missed earlier. The convenience of being right of the road made it seem less of a destination than had it been at the middle of a hike, but that didn't take away from the grandeur. Put this waterfall in Colorado or Wisconsin or many other states, and it would be a prime attraction.
We parked on the side of the road and hiked up a dry streambead and some talus to reach some trails that headed right up to the waterfall. Several other parties were enjoying it as well. Comically, some young Chilean guys were very tentative and daring each other to go underneath the icy falls while a friend videotaped and encouraged them. As they hesitated, I walked right in and gladly washed the day's worth of dirt off of me.
The other guys then took a quick turn underneath it and we talked and joked, they asked where we were from and I told them how it was winter in Colorado and so the water feels very nice compared to the hot temperature outside.
We headed back to the car, now as it was getting to be late afternoon, ready to head the half hour or so back down to San Alfonso.
That's when the hitchhiker, heading in the same direction, asked for a ride...