|There is a little known but beautiful park in Northeast Washington DC, right across the Anacostia River from the National Arboretum that comes to life in mid-July to early August when the gorgeous lotus bloom in a riot of pink and white flowers. This is the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens where normally you meet just a few souls but this time of the year there are many more than usual but still relatively few compared to other places and given the beauty of the place. I still think of it as a well-kept secret in the Washington area.Lots of photographer there and for a good reason. In addition to the lotus flowers there are water lilies in the ponds, some of which will not bloom until late in the summer and early fall, as well as short trails to explore the marshes.
This past Sunday when I visited the gardens it was pretty hot with a harsh sun light, not the best for photography, but I think I managed to get a few shots. There is always next year for better light so this year I did as all photographers do: get the shot and live another day or another year for better light.
To my fellow photographers, good light!
|I first went to visit this gorgeous Chilean National Park in January 2001 after returning from a trip to Patagonia, January being the high summer time of the year in Chile, and I had always wanted to share the beauty of this park, and the region in general, with my son. So we carefully synchronized our calendars and planned the trip for February, the same day a major earthquake hit Chile and we were forced to abandon out plans right before heading for the airport in Washington DC. We could not synchronize our calendars again for a trip to Chile until this past February/March and Parque Nacional Huerquehue was foremost in our list of places to visit.
Huerquehue in Mapudungun – the native Mapuche language – means “place of messengers” but I do not know the history, or the story, behind the name. To reach the park, one must travel to Villarrica and then Pucón, and while the roads around Villarrica and Pucón are all paved and relatively on leveled terrain, the last ten miles or so make it for an interesting drive on gravel-grade roads. The last couple of miles the road goes bordering the Tinquilco lake; the park ranger station and the parking lot are located half way the length of the lake and that is where the hiking trail begins, first bordering the lake and then continuing through the park and to the top of one of the mountains that encompasses the park. The trail is exhausting but not necessarily too difficult and along it there are magnificent “coigue” trees that soar to the sky for what seem tens, if not hundreds of feet, native wild flowers and a silence only broken by one’s steps.
The immediate goal of the hike, if one has enough energy, is to reach the lakes section of the park, three of them at the top of the mountain: Lago Chico (Small Lake), Lago Verde (Green Lake) and Lago Toro (literally Bull Lake, but not sure if it means the animal or if it is named after an illustrious person since Toro is a familiar last name in Hispano-America). Our round trip amounted to 8.8 miles and it took us about eight ours.
One knows when it is getting close to the mountain top because your lungs and legs are complaining the loudest at that point and also because you start seeing Araucaria trees, a magnificent tree that only grows in this region of the world; some of these trees are estimated to be around 2000 years old. A common name for these trees is Paraguas (umbrellas) because the tree has a long, long trunk crowned by branches and leaves forming a circular flat top.
Once you reach Lago Chico, the others are not far away, all of them with clear, transparent water and surrounded by native vegetation and Araucaria trees.
Having reached the top, one would think the return trip would be easy, but as anyone who has climbed a steep mount can tell you, the descend is nothing buy easy, but the rewards of having seen the lakes at the top, and taking in the views of the valley and lake Tinquilco below, are priceless.
Oh! And I realized that in ten years of aging, you gain a lot of new respect for a mountain.