Patagonia- part 2

Thursday’s hike was a killer. As hard as any I can remember recently. It was to Laguna de los Tres. It started well with a taxi ride to the far end. A nice ride along unmade road beside the river. The nights storm had past just leaving a rainbow to greet us at the trail head.

Past the local hostel then up a valley, keeping to the east side. Through nice woods again, the usual variety of low maqui and in the more sheltered areas nice mature trees. After a couple of hours came to a famous look out piedras blancas.

Then on up the valley to where a side trail went up to the laguna de los tres. And by up I mean up. After the relatively easy approach it kicked up to an average gradient of 40% for 1 k. B and L sensibly decided against it, promising to wait for me. It was tough.

The view back from half way up
And just as one crested the ridge and thought one was there, there was another ridge to climb

But eventually I made it, though not without a 15 break close to the top. Anyway a nice closeup view of Fitzroy and the neighbouring peaks. A light lunch and then down again. Going up was tough on the lungs, down tough on the knees. Pretty damn tired when I got down.

Only another 9 k to go, fortunately mostly downhill. We passed a nice lake. Very tempted to jump in to freshen up, but didn’t.

Eventually made it back.

Beer, shower, dinner, bed.

Fitbit: 31k, 3300ft vertical, 5900 cals

Friday 31st.

We planned a later start, 9 rather than 8. After breakfast I still was not ready for the day, so asked for an extension till 10. “Good idea” said Ben, apparently both he and Liz has an attack of the stomach flu during the night. Any way we met up at 10 and set off very slowly, none of us having any zip.

The route we had chosen went steadily up hill. It took us 2 hours to do 3 k. At that we said enough and headed back down stooping for lunch and a snooze on the way.

Some good views

Yes it is big
Looks like the weather will change tomorrow

And a young condor?

When it finally took off we saw that it had two white stripes on each wing

The sun had brought out all the yellow flowers, and a head wind.

Anyway, much quicker down than up.

Tea and cake at B and L’s bijou hostel. Then back to hostel for a nap, shower, GandT. Beautiful evening, all the outdoor patios full of hikers enjoying their post hike beers.

Dinner at B and L bijou hostel.

Not your usual hostel fare.

Rain forecast for tomorrow. Hopefully it will mostly pass in the night.

Fitbit: 21k, 1900ft vertical, 4900 cals.

Feb 1st.

It certainly rained overnight and was still at it when I left in full rain gear. I called in to say goodbye to B and Liz. Took my time hoping the rain would continue to ease. The route I planned to take, towards Laguna Toro, required registering at the park office, so it was 10 before I was really started. The first 3 k followed the route B, L and I had done the previous day. But this day my legs were working and I motored up in about half the time we had previously taken. However the view at this point was not so good with the high mountains hidden in the clouds even if had more or less stopped raining by this point.

There are mountains in there somewhere

On wards and upwards. The trail was obviously much less used, and very muddy in many places. And innocent looking grassy areas were just plain water logged.

So old forest

And high pastures

And resident cattle

Eventually took me to a crest looking down into the next valley

Now, to turn round or go on, knowing going on meant going down and then back up!

Anyway only 2 hours in so decided on down. An hour and a half latter I arrive at the valley bottom and the first of three fords. I did it just for fun. I reckoned at least an hour and a half more to the laguna so decided to head home. By this time I had already ditched the rain jacket, now it was time for the rain pants to go. So it was just shorts and a fleecy for the return trip.

Very few people on this trail, I think I saw 5 in total. However I did see two birds

No benches along the way, but they many dead trees made excellent resting spots.

Soon I was descending back into town, and of course it started raining again. The jacket went back on, but I could not be bothered with the rain pants but was glad to get back to the shelter of my hostel.

28 k in 7 hours and 3700 ft of vertical. Average gradient 6%.

Shower, with my boots and socks, then out for a steak dinner.

Tomorrow I move on. I think I have got my legs into good shape, and the last two days I have been Tylenol free. So next 3 rest days during which I have planned a boat cruise to a glacier, and bus trips down to Torres del Paine and the next stage of the adventure.

Fitbit, as of 8.30: 34k, 4150 vertical, 5500 cals.

Patagonia Jan/Feb 2020

Another solo trip planned. I asked around my friends but no takers, though 2 thought it a great idea but that my timing did not suit them. They did a version of it in December instead. On the other hand it was not as solo as I expected. When expressing Christmas greetings with by brother Ben I discovered he also had a trip to Patagonia planned, and that we would overlap, being in the same place at the same time for a few days. A nice surprise.

Anyway the plan was for a two part trip. Firstly some day hiking in El Chalten, Argentina and then by down to Torres de Paine in Chile and do the 8 day O circuit. Then home again.

The travel down took 24 hours but went pretty much as scheduled. Flew via Miami and Beunos Aires to El Calafate. Not much sleep but otherwise pretty smooth. Had upgraded to exit row seats so at least had plenty of leg room.

The final transfer from the airport to my hostel was a very good with the driver dropping off all his passengers, all hikers, at their various hostels around this very spread out little town.

Found brother Ben waiting for me, supper, very nice, lamb and polenta, orange crepes and a nice glass of Malbec, and also cheap $(us) 20!

Bed, comfortable and warm. 4 others crept in later. No snorers.

Next morning up at 6.30. Transfer to El Chalten arrived punctually at 7.30. Sunny but cool and breezy morning. Transfer took 3 hours (130k) with photo stops along the way. Mainly Koreans on the bus but also 3 Argentinos one of which I chatted to a bit. Before entering town we were taken to the park visitor centre for a talk on park etiquette.

Dropped off at my hostel, at the far end of town. Checked in, but too early (12 noon) to get into room. Left bag in the bag room and walked back thru the town (20 mins) to bus depot cum tourist info centre. Got some cash from as atm and directions to where B and L are staying, only 50 m away. They arrived just as I was leaving having left them a message. Arranged to meet later.

In the afternoon we did a nice small local hike up a small hill to a couple of viewing points. Lots of others on the trail, but only one large group so it did not seem crowded.

After hike stopped for a beer then went to our separate residences. Met up gain later for a very nice supper followed by an ice cream in a neighbouring parlour.

Bed by 10. 18k, 930 ft vertical, 22,300 steps.

Wednesday. Hike to Laguna Torre.

Met at 8.15 and off we went. A cool and slight overcast morning, just right for hiking.

As yesterday, lots of people on the trail. Trail easy to follow. Good signs at the junctions. Km posts so one knew how far one had gone. 10 k out and the same back.

Steady progress was made following a river

An early look back down the river

and the mountains got gradually closer, though their tops remained stubbornly covered by clouds. Most of the hike was in low trees, but there were some parts in nice old woods.

Eventually got to the lake and was suddenly hit by a strong cold wind.

We were, for some reason, surprised to see icebergs in the lake. But it is fed by a glacier, just visible at the far end of the lake.

We decided to try the extension to the look out at the far end of the lake, but it was very exposed to the wind and half way there we had had enough and so started back.

Before we left the lake we were delighted to see about 8 condors wheeling about above us.

When about half way back suddenly the sun came out for a while really making the snow a the glacier shine out.

There some flowers still out

And several small birds like this one

At the end of the hike, as we came out into the valley we were again hit by the wind. I am gaining a healthy respect for the wind. It induces a chill factor of around 10C.

In the evening when we went out for dinner it seemed to be blowing a full gale. But at lest any rain showers are soon blown past.

Another great, and cheap, dinner. Lamb stew and rice for me. Then it was bed time.

Fitbit: 28k, 2700 ft vertical