28th June 1835

We continued gradually ascending as we followed the valley; this became more contracted & is called near to the Cordilleras Maricongo. We saw during the day some Guanacoes & the track of the Vicuna; also a great many Foxes; I presume these latter animals prey on the small gnawing animals which manage to find sustenance, & abound in the most sterile & dry spots. — The scenery on all sides showed desolation brightened & made palpable by a clear, unclouded sky. Custom excludes the feeling of sublimity & this being absent, such scenery is rather the reverse of interesting. — We bivouacked at the foot of the "primera Linea" or the first line of the partition of the waters; the streams however on the other side do not flow to the Atlantic, but into an elevated undulating district, in the middle of which there is a large Salina or salt-lake. Besides this ridge, there are two others to pass before arriving at the descent on the Eastern slope. — The outline of the Cordilleras in this part is very tame. — I climbed up on foot to very near the crest; from the Puna I experienced, I cannot suppose the elevation is less than 8,000 to 10,000 ft; There was a good deal of snow, which however only remains here in the winter months. The winds in these districts obey very regular laws; every day a fresh breeze blows up the valley & at night, an hour or two after sunset, the air from the cold regions above descends as through a funnel. — This night it blew a gale of wind, & the temperature must have been considerably below the freezing point, for water in a short time became a block of ice. No clothes seemed to oppose any obstacle to the air; I suffered much from the cold, so that I could not sleep, & in the morning rose with my body quite dull & benumbed.

In the Cordillera further Southward people lose their lives from snow-storms, here it sometimes happens from another cause. My guide, when a boy of fourteen years old, was passing with some others the Cordillera in the month of May, & while in the central parts a furious gale of wind arose, so that the men could hardly stick on their mules, & stones were flying along the ground; the day was quite cloudless & not a speck of Snow fell, but the temperature was low. — It is probable that the thermometer would not have stood very many degrees below the freezing point, but the effect on their bodies, ill-protected by clothing, would be in proportion to the rapidity of the current of cold air. — The gale lasted for more than a day; the men began to lose all their strength & the mules would not move onwards. — My guide's brother tried to return but he perished & his body was found two years afterwards, lying by the side of his mule near the road, with the bridle still in his hand. Two other men in the party lost their fingers & toes, & out of two hundred mules & thirty cows only fourteen of the former escaped alive. Many years ago a large party all perished from a similar cause; but their bodies to this day have never been discovered: the union of a cloudless sky, low temperature, & a furious gale of wind, I should think must be in all parts of the world an unusual occurrence.

Captain Fitzroy’s Journal:
Daylight found Seymour and myself still talking, though he had given me his bed. Partly at that time, and partly in subsequent conversations, he gave me the following account of the loss of the Challenger; but without mentioning his own exertions or conduct, which I heard of from his officers.

I will take this opportunity of mentioning that there is a large fox, called 'culpen,' in the Araucanian country, which was mentioned to me as being more like a wolf than a fox; but at that time I paid very little attention to the subject. Stevenson says, "the culpen is rather more foolish than daring, but not void of the latter quality. It will advance within eight or ten paces of a man, and after looking at him for some time, will retire carelessly." "Its colour is a dark reddish brown, with a long straight tail covered with shaggy hair; its height is about two feet.

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