Tuesday 24 November 2015 – around Tocopilla
Fourth attempt at seeing Copiapoa tocopilliana and Eriosyce (Rimacactus) laui in nature….. and the fourth failure! Too much of a rush? Over optimistic? We had Brian Bates with us who, in the company of others, had seen them on two previous occasions. For our first attempt we drove towards R5, out of Tocopilla and turned right on a track sign posted to a dozen or so mining sectors. Again, in our excitement to get out, we forgot to visit the Copec to top up with motion lotion. So, when after some searching to get close to the handful of GPS locations that we had with us, the amount left, according to our unreliable gage, dropped to 60 km it seemed prudent to go back for more fuel, a hot dog (at the Shell garage this time) and some Colas, before heading up the mountain road again, this time up the zigzags at the back of town that we knew so well from our previous visit. This time things seemed to go fine, until (we assume) water and or earthquake damage forced us to abandon the car and continue on foot. The track to the flag, now only 1.2 km away, reached an abrupt end as another deep hole opened up before us. Back and up and over seemed the answer, but still smarting with back ache and muscle pains from Sunday’s walk on Cerro Perales, is just could not manage the gradients. Promise to self: sort out back problems once back in the UK before any other attempts here at cactus exploring!
I was in good company, Jonathan agreed that this was to steep for him and Brian, despite putting on a brand new pair of walking boots, peered over the top of a hill and cheerfully joined the quitters.
In a final attempt, I tried to get to a small mine north of Mina Esperanza, from the third visit but this was no longer in operation, the huts abandoned, but still with some excellent views over the Ocean.
I’m very happy of the 90 images I took in an amazing landscape, as was Jonathan with the 3D movies taken while we were listening to Toto’s soundtrack to the film ‘Dune’ based on the book by Frank Herbert.