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Today we set out for the hardest walk of our trip – down the Quebrada San Ramon to see Copiapoa krainziana and Copiapoa taltalensis – the one that I still prefer to call Copiapoa rupestris. There was also a very diverse collection of C. cinerea, including white spined plants (‘Copiapoa albispina‘), plants with yellow wool and spines in the apex (Copiapoa cinerea subsp. haseltoniana / C. tenabrosa) and with an Eriosyce, E. neohankianus.

Eriosyce taltalensis (Hutchison) Katt. (syn. Neoporteria neohankiana)

There seemed to be more places with ankle deep water and grasses and sedges than in previous years – or had I taken a wrong turn. Ian had taken a number of GPS readings and when I get home, I’ll map these on to Google Earth and check if we had followed the main route in the Quebrada, or had taken a wrong turn. Angie decided that she had enough some 5 km in – and promised to stay put and take lots of images. We returned here some four hours later, but by then she had gone – walking back to the mouth of the Quebrada? She was not at the car on the beach, but had written a message on the car that she was walking back to Hotel Plaza. Back at the hotel, there was no sign of her at the hotel – she had managed to get lost and eventually made it back, long after we arrived back. She seemed confused and dehydrated – this walk was not for the faint hearted, but all’s well that ends wall.

In the mean time, Al, Ian and I had marched on in semi robotic mode. I was continuously plagued by uncertainty – had I taken the correct turnings? I found the first Copiapoa rupestris, a sure sign that C. krainziana would appear soon. My legs and knees were hurting; Al marched on; Ian decided that he had had enough – there was still a long walk back to the beach where we had parked the car! I struggled on to tell Al of Ian’s return. I saw him soon after the Quebrada turned left – waving wildly. I walked on as fast as I could. Al had found a comfortable rock and sat down next to a great plant of C. krainziana

Copiapoa krainziana – Quebrada San Ramon

It felt like a great achievement! As Al had had a rest while I struggled to meet up with him, we suggested that he should walk back to where I had left Ian, in case he was still there, waiting to catch us on the way back. Soon, he and Al came round the corner. We were all very happy, but there was one thing seriously amiss – it was the only krainziana where in the past there had been quite a few plants. Had I taken a wrong turn? Would I be able to find the way back? I promised to never walk back here again! During the walk back I thought that I might do it again in the future, but only if I had brought my SatNav along or if we could find the ‘easy to reach by car’ location that Ian had been given by Elizabeth and Norbert Sarnes. Ian and his Magnificent Seven in days to come.

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