Monday, 22 November 2010

... Patagonia: These Boots Were Made For Walking (And They Did!)

The first thing I wondered when I awoke this morning upon emerging from my blanket cocoon was if I still had a roof over my head. During the night it had sounded like we were in the middle of a hurricane. Guess I shouldn’t wear anything that might double as a parachute for an alpine hike then. I might end up back in Buenos Aires! Thankfully the roof was still intact.

The northern section of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares consists of the shark-tooth summits of the Fitz Roy Range. Renowned as a mountaineering & hiking paradise of Argentina, the rugged wilderness if not the steep ascents will take your breath away. The scenery? Wow! That is, however, when the clouds clear.

It was certainly blustery upon starting the planned 9 hour hike to the glacial Laguna de los Tres. But I had come well prepared courtesy of MEC, North Face, Timberland and Billabong. In fact I was quite toasty warm but then again I looked like I was heading out to trek Antarctica. The trail wound its way through windswept forests and past massive granite boulders which provided some shelter from the wind. Unfortunately by the time I was being blown across the more open and boggy terrain it was also raining. It was that awful British-like drizzle that drives into you like a locomotive. This was before it turned into sleet as the elevation became higher. Needless to say I am now a worshipper of the great God Gortex.

 The visibility was a bit hit n’ miss but at certain times during the hike there were views of Cerro Fitz Roy (3405m) and Glaciar Piedras Blancas to the right of it. Incredible! At the foot of this glacier there is apparently a turquoise lake with dozens of floating icebergs.

By lunch time the wind had picked up to 79 km per hour. This unfortunately meant that the steep final part of the trek would be too hazardous to attempt which I was a tad disappointed about – namely because I was still dry, moderately warm and feeling energised courtesy of some banana sandwiches. The sun had also put in an appearance!

The walk back around Laguna Capri afforded some glorious views. I already feel so spoiled and yet today’s hike was merely a small glimpse into what is still to come. The tail wind ensured a more than steady pace back to the hotel. This was well timed as literally 5 minutes after the end of a respectable 7 hour-15km hike the heavens opened and the monsoon season seemed to arrive in Patagonia.

Anyone got a deck of cards?

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