While living in Santiago, Chile in my mid twenties, the Andes mountains had a pull that was irresistable. While the weeks kept me busy in the city, the presence of those 14,000 foot peaks ( Cerro El Plomo being the tallest visible peak at 17,783 ft) looming up from the valley floor kept me daydreaming of weekend excursions exploring the lakes, hot pots, canyons and glaciers found within the Cajon de Maipo- the most accessible canyon heading east towards Argentina.
Santiago with the Andes in background
No personal transportaion made getting there an adventure of it's own, but we managed to hitch hike, then grab a local bus, then at the end of the line, hitch hike some more on huge dumptrucks carrying plaster from the Yeso (plaster) mines high up the canyon. The drivers got bored on those long slow trips up and down the canyon and were happy to pick up a few gringos for some company and converstion.
Erik, Joanna and Jerry sucking wind at 12,000 feet. Embalse de Yeso in the background
It's been 15 years since I left Chile, but one day I'll make it back. I'll go for a real run in the Andes, make it to the southern portions that I never visited, and of course, I'll sign up for the Ultramarathon de Los Andes, an 80k romp through the foothills of Santiago.