Edit Blog Post
Published: March 23rd 2015
: There is a bit of a science to packing a rucksack that is to house all of your worldly goods for the next six months, and unless you fancy lugging around a pack the size and weight of a small car everywhere you go, it is necessary to make some firm decisions about what not to take with you. With this in mind, my hiking boots, nor my trusty blue wooly hat, almost did not make the cut. After all, the vast majority of our intended destinations would be hot and humid, not the sort of places a heavy pair of boots would constitute comfortable footwear. In the end, we both found our packs were far emptier and lighter than we had expected, and with several days tramping through the Amazon on the itinerary, in went the boots. As for the hat: being a gentleman of the follicularly-challenged variety, the old American Express slogan springs to mind - don't leave home without it! As things turned out, I was very grateful to have both boots and hat in my bag. Patagonia is hiking country, and being located far, far south of sunny Buenos Aires, it can get pretty cold, even
in summer. I guess the glacier was a bit of a clue!
On the morning of our first full day in El Chalten, up early and breakfasted, we were well rested and keen to get out there put some miles behind us. The weather, although still overcast, was a major improvement on the previous day, with little wind and only a mild drizzle. Grabbing a couple of sandwiches for lunch on our way through town, we made our way to the start of a 10-mile walk from the town, through the mountains to a lake, 'Lago Capri'. It started with a twenty or so minute climb up up a muddy path, along which we exchanged numerous 'hola's with a good number of park volunteers who appeared (we presumed) to be maintaining the water channels running alongside. Soon enough, we were clear of the workers and our exertions were rewarded with a fine view out over the valley. For the first time on our trip, it felt like we were away from the tourist crowds, and the freedom to be out walking in the fresh air felt superb.
Although we occasionally passed other walkers on the same trail, by
and large we were by ourselves. We carried on, the path taking us further up into the mountains, and into a wooded area. The mild drizzle was persisting, but we were well wrapped up in multiple layers of clothing and our waterproofs. Indeed, we were both feeling pretty pleased with ourselves, in that we had managed to bring along lots of thin layers of clothing on our travels, which meant that there was not need to carry around bulky jumpers that would get worn for five days and then occupied precious backpack space for the next five months. The only gear we'd picked up in town was a pair of gloves for Sarah and another pair of socks for me. Not too bad. An hour or so into the walk the drizzle started to turn to fine snow, falling through the trees and lending an almost Christmassey feel to the day.
Two hours in, and we'd arrived at the lake. We took in the view, as well as the obligatory snaps, and took a look at the map to see if it was worth heading back, or pressing on. We were both still feeling pretty full of beans, and
opted to carry on for another hour, to a campsite located further into the mountains. As we set out, the path left the forest and entered a wide valley, becoming much more exposed. The snow started to get heavier and the wind picked up; the conditions we starting to take their toll. Still, the view remained spectacular, and on the way we crossed a number of crystal-clear mountain rivers, meltwater from an upstream glacier. Rounding an outcrop, we came into view of the glacier itself; far, far smaller than the whopper we had visited two days previously, and nestled between two mountains, but still impressive enough and that incredible shade of blue. Conditions were worsening, however, with the wind driving the snow into our faces, and by the time we reached our destination we were both numb with cold and keen to start making progress back towards the town. We scoffed our sarnies, a bit of chocolate and drank some of our water (which by now felt as cold as one of those mountain rivers), and started heading back.
We both felt much improved with some food in our bellies, and knowing that each step was taking us closer
to home, we got into a rhythm. The two-and-a-half hour walk back went by pretty quickly and soon enough we were back in town. After hot showers to restore some warmth to our chilled limbs, and with our clothes now dry(ish) it was back out into town to find somewhere for dinner. We plumped for a cheap-looking restaurant, on the basis that it was one of only two in the town that accepted credit card. A funny thing about this remote town is that there is only one cash machine here, which does not accept cards with a chip in it, i.e. any modern UK cash card. Despite this, the vast majority of restaurants and hotels only accept cash payment. Knowing this, we'd brought plenty of cash with us, but prices here are high and cash does not go far, so we were trying to use cards where possible. As it turned out, the food was delicious. I had some lamb ribs again, whilst Sarah went for a lamb goulash. Even before we'd finished, the exertions of the day started to take their toll and we ended our meals with heavy eyelids. We paid up, went straight back to the hotel and hit the hay instantly.
Tot: 2.282s; Tpl: 0.044s; cc: 11; qc: 57; dbt: 0.0416s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb